TRAVEL | The Ultimate Travel Guide to Barbados
I’ve been fortunate to visit the beautiful island of Barbados many times. Recently I returned from another incredible visit full of sunshine, relaxation and cocktails. Here is my ultimate travel guide to Barbados to help you plan your own trip there or give you some travel inspiration!
Barbados is a popular destination and as such relatively easy to find a direct flight from the UK. I flew from Manchester with Virgin Atlantic plus there are also regular flights from London with both Virgin and British Airways. From England, it’s about an 8-hour flight which I think goes quickly. I love to watch a few films and before you know it you’re touching down in paradise. Barbados is a popular starting point for cruise ships too which means there are plenty of flights from around the world.
Where To Stay
There are two main areas of the island which I’d recommend staying at. I tend to stay on the South Coast which is home to St Lawrence Gap (aka The Gap). The Gap is where the main nightlife of the island happens. All along the coast, from The Gap to Bridgetown there are plenty of hotels to pick from. On this most recent trip, I stayed in 3 hotels (due to price & availability). I’d recommend all of them. The Rostrover is right in The Gap so ideal for restaurants and bars. South Beach is great, it’s over the road from the beach, has a nice pool and great staff. I then stayed over the road from South Beach at Accra Beach hotel which is directly on the beach. Wherever you stay in this part of the island you can easily walk to places or catch a bus or taxi.
The other area I’d recommend is the West Coast which is often classed as the more high-end side of the island. It’s home to the exclusive Sandy Lane resort and many other world-class properties. I’ve stayed on this part of the island before at Holetown. Holetown is a small town with shops and restaurants all within walking distance. If you want to visit some of the higher end restaurants this is the perfect spot.
When To Go
What’s great about Barbados is it has sunshine and warmth all year round so you can visit anytime. However, they do have a rainy season from June to November which means you can get more rain through the day and the humidity is much higher. I once visited in August and the humidity was noticeably higher plus we did have some rainy days. I would say the perfect time to visit is from January to March but I wouldn’t let the weather put you off when you are booking. The weather was really nice in May, with almost non-stop sunshine!
It’s easy to get around Barbados. There are 3 types of buses which are all BDS$3.50 (whether you are going 1 stop or 20). You can visit anywhere on the island via bus travelling on either the blue, yellow or ZR buses. The small ZR’s are known as the Reggae buses and these need to be experienced at least once! They often have music blaring and will fit in is as many people as they can.
Taxis are also easy to access. They are usually reasonably priced and we always find the drivers to be friendly.
The beaches are one of the best parts of Barbados, with their wonderful, golden sand. On both the south and west coasts, the waves are much calmer and the sea is usually a beautiful turquoise colour. All of the beaches on the island are public which means even where hotels are built in front of them they are not owned by the hotels.
On this trip, I visited Carlisle Bay which really is breathtaking. Here the water is so calm and the perfect turquoise colour, it’s worth a visit on the bus! If you walk towards the Hilton hotel you will also find Cuz’s Fish Stand which is in the top 10 eateries on the island for the fish cutters, you can also enjoy Chris Coconut Cocktails for a refreshing cocktail in a coconut on the beach!
One of the highlights of Barbados has to be Bajan food. I’d highly recommend staying room only so you can enjoy the delights of the island. There is somewhere to eat for all budgets from fast-food such as the local chain Chefette (which is similar to KFC) to KFC itself which has to have the best location of any KFC in the world, right on the boardwalk overlooking the sea.
There are so many restaurants on the south coast to choose from, some of my favourites for fine finning are Tapas, Champers and Primo.
Over At St Lawrence Gap I also like Cafe Sol which offers tasty Mexican food and does 2 happy hours every night for those perfect cocktails!
Some of my favourite fine dining restaurants on the west coast are The Cliff which is on many lists for the best restaurants the world, Lone Star (which is great for a beachside lunch), Tides and The Fish Pot which is north of Speightstown. These are all lovely to visit if you’re not on a tight budget.
I’d also recommend The Cliff Beach Club which is next to the famous Clif restaurant. I’ve been twice for lunch and each time the food was exceptional, alongside the service and the view of the water.
It doesn’t have to be all about fine dining. One of my favourite places for food is Just Grillin’ which offers delicious grilled fish, I love the platter with caesar salad and either rice or potatoes. Just Grillin’ is great for lunch or dinner. They have 2 locations, one on the south and the other on the west. I’d say this is a must visit place in Barbados. On the south coast this year there was a new restaurant called Salt which was delicious plus Shakers is great for a more traditional experience.
For any of the restaurants which look out to the sea, it’s worth booking a reservation in advance and asking for an Oceanside table if they have one available.
Night Life and Happy Hours
St Lawrence Gap is the place to go if you’re looking for a livelier evening. There’s a variety of restaurants (some mentioned above) and bars. Cafe Sol, Cocktail Kitchen and The Dive all have two happy hours every night.
Oistins is another place to visit, it’s the local fish fry. Although it’s open all week, Friday nights are the best night to visit. I’d recommend jumping on a bus early before the crowds arrive to get your food.
Cocktails are a popular drink on the island especially rum punch. Rum is the drink of Barbados. I usually start the night with a Banks (the local beer), have a few rum punches (be warned they can be strong) and sometimes have a rum and ginger before bed! I especially like Mount Gay which is made on the island.
If you’re looking for a sports bar then Bubba’s is a good one to catch all the action, it also has a couple of happy hours.
The South Coast Boardwalk has a few bars along the way – It’s also where you will find Tapas which is a favourite restaurant (mentioned above). We often walk down to Blakey’s for their happy hour – Happy hour is always the best hour!
On the west coast, Zaccios do a great happy hour for cocktails around sunset – I can highly recommend the banana daiquiri!
Things To Do
For a small island, there are so many fun things to do. Over the years I’ve visited I’ve been on island tours, snorkelled with turtles, been on catamaran trips and a jeep tour.
On my last trip, I did a half day island tour which included visiting Harrison Caves, St Michaels Plantation House where we tasted rum made there and we also took some photos at Bathsheba.
For a first visit, there is the capital of Bridgetown which has shops and a mini Nelsons Column. Just outside of Bridgetown is the Mount Gay Distillery which makes rum. If you enjoy rum, the tour is really interesting and you get to sample some of their different rums!
If you enjoy watching sport and can time your visit right, cricket is the sport of Barbados. There is the Kensington Oval which is now where all the big games are held. A day out to the races is also lots of fun. The racecourse is on the way into Bridgetown from the South Coast, we did entry only and sat with the locals – It was a great day out!
Barbados is a wonderful island to visit if you’re looking for a relaxed trip with incredible food, good cocktails and friendly people. I am already looking forward to my next trip!
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