BARBADOS TRAVEL GUIDE
Barbados is one of my favourite places to visit, I’ve been fortunate to visit this beautiful island many times. I went back again May, here is my travel guide to help you plan your visit to Barbados or give you some travel inspiration!
Barbados is a popular destination and I flew with Virgin Atlantic from Manchester in the UK, there are also regular flights from London with both Virgin and British Airways. From England, it’s only about an 8-hour flight which I think goes quickly. A couple of films and a bit of food and you’re pretty much there! It’s a popular starting point for cruise ships so 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. The West Coast 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 once 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. I stayed at the Tropical Sunset which is right on the beach.
The area I’ve stayed the most is on the South Coast. The South Coast is home to St Lawrence Gap (aka The Gap) which is where the main nightlife of the island is as well as plenty of restaurants. In fact, all along the coast, from The Gap to Bridgetown there are plenty of hotels and restaurants. I usually stay at South Beach which is self-catering and next to a small mall with eateries, shops and a small supermarket. It’s across the road from the beach. I’ve also stayed at Accra Beach which is almost opposite South Beach but it is directly on the beach. This year I also stayed at Coral Beach, again this is on the beach and a bit nearer the Gap. Wherever you stay in this part of the island you can easily walk, bus or taxi.
The beaches are one of the best parts of Barbados. All with wonderful, golden sand. If you stay on the Caribbean Sea side which is 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 are not owned by the hotels.
On my most recent visit, there was an influx of sargassum seaweed on the South Coast, it’s the first time I’ve known this so it meant I didn’t get my usual amazing beach photos from the South Coast. It’s something which is plaguing the whole of the Caribbean in 2018.
One of the highlights of Barbados has to be the 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. Some of my favourite fine dining restaurants on the west coast are The Cliff, 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.
This year I visited the new Cliff Beach Club which is next to the famous Clif restaurant. It was wonderful to go for lunch, great food, an amazing view and fantastic service. I’d highly recommend it as it was a highlight of this trip. Also on the west coast is Zaccios which is great for lunch and they do a great happy hour for cocktails around sunset – I can highly recommend the banana daiquiri!
Moving on to the south coast, which is where I’ve spent most of my time, the restaurants are endless. My favourites include Tapas, Champers, who do a budget-friendly 3-course set menu and the new Primo restaurant where the lobster macaroni is something I’ll be dreaming about for a long time! The food was really delicious. At St Lawrence Gap I also like Cafe Sol which offers tasty Mexican food and does 2 happy hours every night!
For all of these restaurants, it’s worth booking a reservation in advance and asking for an Oceanside table if they have one available.
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. We also enjoyed Shakers for some traditional Bajan style food.
St Lawrence Gap is the place to go on an evening. There is a variety of restaurants (some mentioned above) and bars. Cafe Sol has two happy hours every night. We also found The Old Jamm Inn to be busy on a night.
Oistins is another place which is worth a visit, it’s the local fish fry. Although it’s open all week, Friday nights are the nights to visit. I’d recommend jumping on a bus early before the crowds and 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 and Black Barrel is goes perfectly with ginger beer or ale!
We like to visit the two sports bars on the South Coast. Bert’s which also does great pizza and Bubbas who have plenty of TV screens are both great for food, drink and sport. This year we managed to sneak a table to watch the Champions League final.
The South Coast Boardwalk also has a few bars along the way – It’s also where you will find Tapas which is a favourite restaurant (mentioned above). We often walked down to Blakey’s for their happy hour – Searcing out happy hours is one of our favurite things!
It’s easy to get around Barbados. There are 3 types of buses which are all BDS$2 and you can get pretty much anywhere on the island if you want. There are blue, yellow and ZR buses. The small ZR’s are known as the Reggae buses and these need to be experienced! 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 friendly.
Best Time of Year
Barbados has sunshine and warmth all year round so you can visit anytime. They do have a rainy season from around June to November which means you can get more rain through the day and the humidity is much higher. I would say the perfect time of visit is from January to March but I wouldn’t let the weather put you off when you are booking. The weather was nice in May, we had a little bit of rain but it soon went away!
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 also 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 fun in Barbados. There is the Kensington Oval which is now where all the big games are held. In the past, I went to see games at the University. 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 one of my favourite places to visit and I am fortunate to have visited a number of times over the years. It’s such a great place to relax, soak up some sunshine and some wonderful great and drink. I absolutely love it and would recommend everyone to add it to their list of places to visit!
Caroline Towers is a blogger, blogging educator & multi-passionate business owner. She is the founder of The Content Edit. In her spare time she loves to travel, go to the movies, watch sport & drink prosecco!