Barbados is one of my favourite islands to visit & I’ve been fortunate to visit this beautiful Caribbean island many times. To help you plan your own trip to Barbados - Something I really recommend you do, here is the ultimate Barbados travel guide with some of my favourite Barbados travel tips.
The Ultimate Guide to Barbados
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Flying from the UK it takes about 8 hours to fly into Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados. You can pick BA or Virgin Atlantic from London or like I did, travel Virgin Atlantic from Manchester. During the winter season, they have more flights available as this is the "peak" season for visitors to both the island & those heading on cruises.
Where to Stay
There are two main areas of the island which I’d recommend considering for your stay. The West Coast is where many of the premium hotels are located. You will find places such as the exclusive Sandy Lane resort and many other world-class properties.
I’ve stayed on the West Coast of the island once before staying at Tropical Sunset in Holetown. Holetown is a small town with shops and restaurants all within walking distance. If you want to visit some of the high-end restaurants in Barbados this is the perfect spot.
Although the West Coast is nice, I prefer to stay 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. In fact, all along the coast, from The Gap to Bridgetown there are plenty of hotels, bars and restaurants.
I usually stay at South Beach hotel which is self-catering and next to a small mall with eateries, shops and a small supermarket.
There are plenty of hotels to choose from on the South Coast, I have stayed at a variety for a night or two & they all have been good.
Wherever you stay on the island it is easy to get around Barbados. The island itself is 21 miles long & 14 miles wide. If you're not going too far, it's easy & safe enough to walk (of course, like anywhere, you need to be aware of your surroundings), the only problem about walking can be the heat!
There are lots of taxis around which are usually reasonably priced & the drivers are almost always friendly.
There are also 3 types of buses to choose from, they are all BDS$2 for any journey & you can get pretty much anywhere on the island if you want. The buses are either blue, yellow or ZR buses which are white. The small ZR’s are known as the Reggae buses and these need to be experienced at least once on your trip - They often have music blaring and will fit in is as many people as they can!
The beautiful Barbados beaches are one of the best parts of the island. The sea on both the South & west coast tends to be much calmer & 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.
I love going down to Carlisle Bay which is just outside of Bridgetown. Hop on a bus, walk along the beach to Pebbles Beach for a coconut cocktail and then a fish cutter at Cuz's Beach Truck.
Bars & Restaurants
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 so much good food, I genuinely don't think I've ever had a bad meal.
Some of my favourite fine dining restaurants on the west coast are Lone Star (which is great for a beachside lunch), Tides & The Fish Pot which is north of Speightstown. These are all lovely to visit if you’re not on a tight budget.
Also on the west coast is Zaccios which is great for lunch and they do a fun 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 & Castaways which at St Lawrence Gap. Also at The Gap, I like Cafe Sol for Mexican & The Dive which is a modern rum shop. Both of these have 2 happy hours each night, as does Cocktail Kitchen.
For all of these restaurants, it’s worth booking a reservation in advance & for the ones which are situated by the sea always ask for oceanside.
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 macaroni pie. Just Grillin’ is great for lunch or dinner. They have 2 locations, one on the south and the other at Holetown. Also enjoyed on the south coast, Shakers is a great option 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 Oistins 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 rum which is made on the island and Black Barrel goes perfectly with ginger beer or ale!
If you like to watch sport then Bubbas on the South Coast has plenty of TV screens & good food for any sports fan.
The South Coast Boardwalk also has a few bars & restaurants along the way – Alongside Tapas (mentioned above) we love Blue Pineapple & Baby Doll, these are both new but welcomed additions for both food & drink. They both have happy hours, as does Blakeys towards the end of the Boardwalk. We always love to search out the best happy hours!
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. I've been in March, May, August & November, with predominantly good weather - August was certainly the most humid.
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, snorkel with turtles, been on catamaran trips, visited Nicholas Abbey and taken a jeep tour.
For a first visit, there is the capital of Barbados which is Bridgetown. Here you will find shops & 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!
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If you enjoy watching sport and can time your visit right, cricket is the most popular sport 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!
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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!
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About the Author:
Caroline Towers is the founder of Dreamers who Travel. When not travelling, she is researching & dreaming of the next trip!