The best beaches in Barbados
Hidden away behind a crescent moon-shaped archipelago at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, Barbados is the easternmost island in the entire Caribbean region. With the gentle, lapping waters of the Caribbean to the West, and the wild cascades of the Atlantic to the East, it is renowned for having the most diverse beaches of any of the islands -- but with over 70 miles of sand to discover, where should you head to first? To help you get the most out of your Barbados escape, we’ve put together a short guide to choosing the best beach for your holiday style.
Best for… mouth-watering food
Welches Beach, on the island’s south coast, is home to a throng of popular food trucks as well as the infamous open-air barbecue, Oistins Fish Fry. A true Bajan beach institution, it attracts a huge crowd on Friday nights -- festivities tend to kick off at around 7pm, so after a sunset stroll down the rickety pier, head to the shack to indulge in a traditional menu of fried fish, jerk chicken, fried breadfruit and macaroni pie. All the seafood is fresh from the adjacent market, and is cooked right in front of you on an open-air grill to a soundtrack of calypso tunes and soul classics. The night normally attracts an eclectic crowd of locals and tourists– expect elderly gentlemen in suits, local grandmas in bonnets and a throng of holidaymakers from across the globe –so come prepared for a moonlit dance party that lasts long into the night.
Best for… a taste of history
Legend has it that Sam Lord, a notorious local pirate who lived in the early 1800s, made his fortune by hanging lanterns in coconut trees to lure merchants’ ships onto the rocks on the south coast. The beautiful Georgian estate that he built with his riches still perches atop the coral cliffs there, and is five minutes’ drive from the magical pink-sand cove, Bottom Bay. Visit both to immerse yourself in local history, then relax on one of the island’s prettiest undeveloped beaches – there’s a magical atmosphere between the swaying palms and soaring cliffs, and it’s easy to while away the afternoon with desert island daydreams from a fabled era of smugglers and buccaneers.
Best for… beach-combing with the family
Accra Beach is easily the liveliest beach on the south coast, and is one of the broadest stretches of white sand on the entire island. Its popularity means that there’s a huge range of facilities to keep young children occupied, and calm waters with a lack of undertow mean it’s a safe swimming spot for all ages. Be sure to walk all the way to the end of the beach, where you’ll find a sheltered manmade bay with a good stretch of shallow water perfect for wading with little ones. You should be able to point out shoals of tiny fish, as well as collect some pretty seashells by the shore.
Best for… a taste of the high-life
All beaches are free to the public in Barbados, even at the most luxurious resorts, so head to the glittering sands at Sandy Lane to spend a day among the rich and famous. Sandy Lane Resort has won a string of awards for being the top resort in the Caribbean, and it attracts a whole host of celebrities every year – past guests include Elton John, Simon Cowell, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and even Queen Elizabeth II. Even if you don’t spot a star, you’ll certainly feel like one as you sashay past the fleet of Rolls Royces to spend a day on its sweeping white sand.
Best for… catching waves
The east coast fishing village of Bathsheba – named for its white-crested coastline, which is said to resemble a milk bath – is the island’s surf capital, and it hosts an annual contest each year which attracts competitors from around the globe. Travel between October and April to experience the best conditions, with cascading Atlantic rollers at Sandbank and Ragged that are great for beginners and intermediates, and Soup Bowl, a legendary wave off the coast, at its most consistent. Pro surfer, Kelly Slater, has ranked it as one of his top three waves in the world.
Best for… hanging out with the locals
The stretch of sand just north of the Fairmont Royal Pavilion Hotel is officially called Alleyne’s Beach, but it’s commonly referred to by the name of its popular rumshack, Ju Ju’s. Once a hidden gem, the establishment is growing in popularity with tourists now for its no-frills charm, rum punch and must-try homemade fries, while the beach’s gentle tides and low undercurrents make it a great spot for swimming. What’s more, the island’s animal residents seem to agree -- out in the bay, you’ll find a family of wild sea turtles that you can snorkel alongside in their natural habitat. The easiest way to reach them is to take a small boat from the beach and bring your own snorkel and mask -- you’ll save a bundle on doing the same thing at the more popular Payne’s Beach. Remember that the rumshack is a popular local hangout, though, so head out early in the morning to avoid disappointment -- it gets very busy at lunchtimes and sunsets.
Best for… adrenaline junkies
Silver Sands, a blustery outcrop backed by rolling dunes on the island’s south coast, is internationally recognised as a world-class beach for windsurfing. The strong winds mean that it’s not suitable for swimming, but the protective reef creates perfect conditions for a number of watersports. The Waterman Festival, an annual competition for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts, has been held here every year since 1989.
Best for... natural beauty
Although it’s not technically a beach, there’s one truly unique coastal experience on the cliffs of North Point that shouldn’t be overlooked by visitors. Animal Flower Cave is the only accessible sea-cave in the whole of Barbados, and provides stunning views of the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean: you can venture inside with a guide to discover a world of colourful sea anemones and take a dip in one of the cool natural pools. Entry costs around £7.50, and you can buy tickets from the restaurant at the top of the cliff.
Do you have any Barbados beach recommendations that we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments.