The Caribbeans Islands are absolutely gorgeous and make great destinations for beach-loving visitors. However, there's something about Barbados that makes it a super popular destination. Perhaps its location is in the eastern Caribbean, surf waves, the stunning sunset, powdery white beaches, clear turquoise seas, or the rum!
An island chain in South America, here is everything you need to know about traveling to "Los Barbados."
Best Time To Visit Barbados
There are two main considerations when deciding when to visit this beautiful island.
First, its peak season is actually over the winter months. Barbados has a consistently warm climate thanks to the trade winds, and many visitors like to escape the wintry views of their hometown and take a holiday to Barbados. However, if the temperature doesn't fluctuate much, the precipitation does! Like most equatorial locations, Barbados really only has two seasons - a rainy season and a dry season. The rainy season starts towards the end of June and runs until December. Thankfully, Barbados lies outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt, so the rainy season typically doesn't involve hurricanes.
Taking the busy and rainy seasons into account, the best time to visit Barbados is from March through May.
Top Attractions In Barbados
What used to be a 1600s mansion is now a colorful museum and rum distillery. A tour of St. Nicholas Abbey will take you through the history of this eccentric place with a rum cocktail in hand.
Animal Flower Cave
Located under the cliff of North Point, St. Lucy, this is the only access point to the Animal Flower Cave. A natural gem in this tropical paradise that is fascinating to explore. Located along a cliffside is a large cave system that houses a large colony of animal flowers (which are actually small sea anemones). There are guided cave tours, and the last chamber in the cave has a natural rock pool that reaches 8 feet deep. And yes, you can swim around in it!
Holetown + Folkestone Marine Park
This historic town is Barbados' oldest English settlement. It's a quaint village with brightly colored homes, many interesting shops, and small attractions. Nearby is the Folkestone Marine Park, a fantastic marine life museum, and a chance to do some snorkeling in a protected space. Holetown is also home to the Chattel Village, an outdoor shopping venue designed to look like the traditional wooden chattel houses that once covered the island.
Sam Lord's Castle
On the southeast coast of Barbados, you can explore the remains of the mansion that once belonged to the famous pirate Sam Lord. It was once a fascinating museum and then a hotel before burning down ten years ago. The ruins are still available for visitors to explore, though!
Things To Do In Barbados
Go To A Festival
There are many festivals and events held all throughout the year in Barbados. The most popular one is the Crop Over Festival, a Baja celebration that lasts a full six weeks in July and August! The Oistins Fish Festival in April is popular with the local communities and is a great chance to see what Barbados is like for those who live there. But don't feel like you need to hit one of those two festivals, or you're out of luck! Music and film festivals, sailing weeks, agricultural exhibitions, surfing competitions, and rum festivals run all year long in Barbados.
Enjoy A Fish Fry
The weekly Friday night fish fry at the Oistins Bay Gardens is a must! Each Friday is like a mini festival in itself, with plenty of locally brewed beer, delicious seafood, and a full night of dancing! These fish fries are a highlight of every trip to Barbados.
Explore The Beaches
You can't go to Barbados and not spend some of your time at the beaches! Some of the beachside belong to private resorts, but many are open to the public. Some, such as Batts Rock Beach and Paynes Bay, are particularly great for snorkeling. Others, like Crane Beach, are so picturesque that even simply sunbathing will be an experience in itself.
There are many activities available in Barbados for thrill seekers, but one that tops the list is kitesurfing! The conditions aren't right for kitesurfing in many places around the world, so while you're in Barbados, be sure to give it a try - it might be your only chance!
Barbados is known as the surfing capital of the Caribbean Sea. Being the easternmost point of the Caribbean island chain, Barbados enjoys the full power of the ocean currents without other islands breaking them up. Waves average 6 feet in height; some can crest up to 12 feet! Know your skill level, and look up which beaches are best for your ability.
Dive Down To Sunken Wrecks
It's always fun to explore coral reefs by diving, but if you head to St. Peter's Bay, you can explore more than just the wildlife. There are some impressive shipwrecks there that divers can investigate, as well as a sunken submarine!
Take A Catamaran Cruise
If you're less of an adrenaline junkie, a day on a luxury catamaran will be well spent. It's a great way to scope out locations to explore around Barbados on the following days of your trip. However, the sea is the star on these cruises, not the island! Most of these cruises will stop for snorkeling in places where sea turtles tend to frequent. Schedule a sunset sail, if possible. Enjoying the tropical view with a rum punch is the perfect way to end the day.
Catch A Sunset
Speaking of sunsets, you really do need to make a point to be on the west coast of Barbados during sunset at least one evening of your trip. The sunset is fiery and powerful in the southeastern Caribbean Sea! Some favorite establishments have capitalized on this, and you can enjoy the view from both the Mount Gay Rum Bar and Daphne's.
Enjoy The Rum
Barbados is known worldwide for its rum, and rum punches are handed out liberally. Enjoy it! If you'd like to lean into this "rum culture," enjoy an elegant dinner at the Rum Vault. This four-course dinner will be guided by a Rum Ambassador, who will talk you through the history of this liquor while mixing up incredible rum cocktails. Nearby is Mount Gay, an adults-only rum establishment.
Visit Mount Hillaby Peak
Situated in the parish of St. Andrew, the peak of Mount Hillaby is the highest point on the Eastern Caribbean island of Barbados. Reaching one thousand one hundred and fifteen feet above sea level, you can capture the most stunning views from the peak, with an overlook of the area known as Scotland District to the north and east.
You can either hike to drive up to the peak. It is slightly difficult to drive up as the road is narrow, and the condition can be rough with the wind, but it is doable.
Where To Stay In Barbados
There are hotels, boutique properties, and all-inclusive resorts in Barbados to suit a large variety of budgets and accommodations. The west coast of Barbados is nicknamed "the Platinum Coast" and is the most luxurious section. The sea is particularly beautiful here, and the most luxurious resorts and villas will be along the west coast.
If you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, book your lodging along Barbados' south coast. The beaches here are less tranquil but great for people who want to swim and surf. To really get away from the rest of the tourists, look for accommodations on the east coast. The east coast of Barbados is rugged and beautiful, with waves that only the most experienced surfers can tackle.
Where Is Barbados Located?
Barbados is located within the West Indies, east of the Caribbean Sea, and the western area of the North Atlantic Ocean. With ethnic groups of people of mixed African-European and African descent, Barbados is the easternmost of the Caribbean islands, situated between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean itself. Saint Lucia lies north of Barbados, with Trinidad and Tobago to the south and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the west.
How To Get To Barbados
The two main ways to get to Barbados are by porting there as part of a cruise or flying into the Grantley Adams International Airport. International flights from the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom run to Barbados multiple times a day, and other locations worldwide frequently have flights available. The main cruise lines porting at Barbados are Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruises.
Transportation Within Barbados
Once you land in Barbados, you'll use taxis, small buses, and rental cars to explore the 21-mile island.
ZR taxi vans are perhaps the best way to get around Barbados. These white and red vans are like a mix between a taxi and a bus and run on set routes all throughout the day. Public buses are also available, although they mostly stick to the main cities in Barbados. You can hail a private taxi, but they come with a high price tag.
Travel On A Budget
If you need to pinch pennies while taking a Barbados holiday, there are many activities that you can enjoy on the cheap or even for free!
There are guided hikes led on Sundays by the Barbados National Trust, taking you all over the island to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Look for food tours that will take you to a wide variety of Bajan eateries in only a few hours. You can enjoy many beaches without paying for access. Although there are lessons for just about every water activity imaginable, you can always bring your own snorkeling gear and enjoy it on your own!
Bring Comfortable Footwear
Barbados may not be a big island, but it's also not particularly walkable. There are some sidewalks, but not many. Definitely wear your tennis shoes, and carry your sandals down to the waterfront.
There are many things about Barbados that make it a prime holiday location. English is the official language, and the United States dollar is accepted just about everywhere.
Drink Tap Water
The tap water in Barbados is perfectly safe to drink, although it is high in calcium, so don't be alarmed by a white residue in your coffee pot.