Holidays in Barbados 2013/2014:
Friendly and very British, Barbados has a rich cultural heritage, gorgeous sand beaches, and lots of activities. The island is not large at just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide but you’ll find everything you could wish for in this little patch of Paradise and with place names such as Clapham, Dover, Hastings and Scotland you’ll feel at home immediately. It’s an ideal holiday destination for couples, families and friends.
A relatively flat coral island, Barbados is the most easterly of the Windward Islands and has a varied landscape of gentle rolling countryside in the centre of the island, pretty sand beaches on the sheltered west coast (a luxury hotspot for celebrities), a wild and windswept but beautiful Atlantic east coast, a hilly northern region, and a bustling southwest coast - the most populated and lively tourist area on the island and where the capital Bridgetown is located.
The west coast is where you’ll find the most glamorous hotels and chic restaurants but, wherever you stay, make sure you drag yourself away from the beach for a day to explore the island. Evenings in the Caribbean are magical so do sample the fashionable waterside restaurants, the lively nightlife in St Lawrence Gap, and the weird and wonderful cocktails in Holetown’s trendy watering holes.
Things to do/Attractions
Browse duty-free shops till you drop in Broad Street Bridgetown, discover the history of rum and enjoy cocktails with expert shakers at the Barbados Mount Gay Rum distillery, take a 4x4 safari tour of the island or a catamaran tour around it. Search out Barbados’ green monkeys in Welchman Hall Gully, and visit Harrison’s Cave in the parish of St Thomas to see the impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
As well as every water sport under the sun, cricket to watch at Kensington Oval and seasonal horse racing at Garrison Savannah, there are several excellent golf courses on the island including Royal Westmoreland, Sandy Lane Country Club, the Green Monkey and Apes Hill. For garden lovers there are the Andromeda Botanic Gardens and Hunte’s Gardens, two hidden gems.
St Nicholas Abbey, one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere, 300-year-old Sunbury Plantation house, and George Washington House, are heritage sites worth a peep.
Eating out is BIG in Barbados, and you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s expensive The Cliff, relaxed and seductive Daphne’s, trendy Lone Star, and contemporary Cin Cin on the west coast – all classy restaurants overlooking the sea and frequented by celebrities. The romantic settings are awesome but can be pricey.
Tantalise your taste buds at the Fish Pot Restaurant at Little Good Harbour, minutes from Port St Charles: it is part of a converted fort that sits on the beach at Shermans. Here you can choose tasty appetisers such as grilled king prawns or tempura fried soft shell crab and mouth-watering main courses such as braised lamb shank, roast rack of elk, or seared scallops.
On a clifftop above Accra Beach is Champers Wine Bar & Restaurant, a leading restaurant on the south coast and in Maxwell Bay near the fishing village of Oistins you’ll find Azul restaurant enjoys an enviable waterside setting. On the east coast The Crane offers Japanese sushi and Thai delicacies, and the popular Atlantis Hotel sumptuous lunch buffets.
For great value Bajan food and lots of atmosphere take lunch at the Waterfront Café in Bridgetown, flying fish with cou cou is typical. You’ll also find street food stalls dotted around Bridgetown serving fishcakes, barbecued chicken and barbecued pigs tails and, on a Friday or Saturday night, visit Oistins fish market. Stop by a Roti stand and tuck into a West Indian wrap stuffed with curried chicken, beef, vegetables, curry and chick pea filling or, for an extra kick, try goat!
Head for St Lawrence Gap in the south if you’re in a party mood, you’ll find dynamic bars, restaurants and nightclubs with live entertainment.
Live local bands, fire eaters and limbo dancers are part of the fun at a nightclub in the Carlisle Bay area, five minutes from Bridgetown, where you can also enjoy beach parties, rope swinging, beer games and wicked cocktails.
On the west coast the nightlife in Holetown, St James, is pretty hot too with its bars and watering holes popular with tourists and locals alike. You’ll find a chic lounge club for evening drinks, dancing and the hottest DJ’s, the coolest cocktails, fun Fridays and lively street parties.
Not to be missed
Visit the east coast and tour the island clockwise to make the most of the view from Cherry Tree Hill, there’s a fantastic panorama of the wild Atlantic coastline and the Scotland District of Barbados.
En route stop off at 17th century St James Parish Church in Holetown, it’s the oldest church in Barbados with three magnificent stained glass windows, the original 17th century church bell, and various objects d’art. Many celebs and VIP’s have worshipped here including, reputedly, Prime Ministers and Presidents.
Don’t miss the excitement and buzz of Fish Fry on Friday and Saturdays at Oistins fish market: expect Calypso music, dancing, bars, arts and crafts, and food stalls selling traditional Bajan food.
Best for families
There’s a Kids’ club, fun, games and babysitting services at Bougainvillea Beach Resort; an excellent kids’ club at Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels and Southern Palms Beach Club and Hotel has a lovely beachfront location with mini-golf, water sports, beach games and boogie boards; it’s a room-only hotel with self-catering options and spacious suites with kitchenette, ideal for families. The Savannah Beach hotel, exclusive to Virgin Holidays in the UK, has a family entertainment centre that includes a supervised kids’ club, a teens’ club with interactive social gaming and a family room with table football and a pool table, great for a family holiday in Barbados.
Best for couples
Enjoy Champagne breakfast daily and fine dining at The House, an adults-only fab hotel located bang on Paynes Bay beach on the west coast - it’s intimate, has plenty of privacy for romantic dining and oozes ambiance. The Waves Resort and Spa, also on the west coast, has a relaxing spa area for adults only and relaxing 4-poster day beds are dotted around the property.
As for activities, why not sail away on a sunset Champagne cruise, hire a Jeep to explore, chill out at romantic waterside restaurants, or let your hair down at a beach extravaganza dinner show. Barbados is a perfect island to spend a romantic break with the one you love.
Say ‘I do’ in lush gardens full of bougainvillea and hibiscus such as at the Colony Club by Elegant Hotels or the Sugar Cane Club Hotel and Spa, in a gazebo with beautiful sea views at Sea Breeze Beach Hotel, or beside a beautifully decorated arch and torchlit fountain at Mango Bay.
With exotic tropical gardens, vivid flora, coral sand beaches, swaying palms, stunning sunsets, the warm Caribbean Sea and fabulous hotels, who can resist choosing to marry or honeymoon in Barbados?
You’ve got to visit a symbolic rum shack while you’re on the island so call in at Nigel Benn Aunty Bar in the parish of St Peter; it’s a rum shack not much bigger than the size of a London taxi. The shack was bought from the winnings of the famous British former boxer known as ‘The Dark Destroyer’ for his aunt, and is decked out with Old Brigand rum ads. The rustic rum shops are fascinating, they’re domino hotspots and quite rowdy when local men get absorbed in the game.
Hidden away in the Parish of St Thomas you’ll find Fisher Pond Great House, a historic plantation house where the owners put on one of the best Bajan Sunday buffet brunches you’ll find. Beautifully decorated tables are set in tropical gardens as well as inside the elegant house. The renowned food critic Michael Winner loved it, so that says it all!
Weather/Best time to go
The best time to visit Barbados is from December to May when there is little rain, lots of sun, and humidity is lower. Typically Barbados is hot year round but constant trade winds help keep humidity down. The months from June to November are the wettest although days can pass without any rain and, as is normal in the Caribbean, there is a hurricane season between July and November although they are very rare.
Scuba diving in Barbados will open up the doors to reefs blossoming with sponge, coral and plant life, where you can spot hawksbill turtles, giant sand eels, sea horses and shipwrecks. Don’t like diving, or have children in tow? Then discover the underwater wonders by day or night without getting wet on the family-friendly Atlantis submarine. For fitness fanatics there are also guided hikes and horse riding trails along coasts, on beaches, and through the countryside and, for an extra kick, a ziplining experience.
Car Hire - Being such an easy island to navigate your way around, hiring a car is the best way to explore the island. Don’t forget to bring your driving licence! Please speak to our Concierge rep for more information.
Why not extend your stay in Barbados with a Caribbean cruise? Take in some of the most amazing sights and islands the Caribbean has to offer.
Tailor-make your ideal Caribbean holiday by combining hotels we feature in different destinations. Try a twin- or triple-centre holiday across different islands or combine with a US city or theme park visit.
- Cricket at Kensington Oval
- Historic plantation houses
- Nightlife at St. Lawrence Gap
- Friday Night Oistin’s Fish Fry
- Gorgeous beaches
January - Jazz Festival events throughout the month
February - Holetown Festival.
March - Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup.
April - Annual Game Fishing tournament.
July/August - Crop Over.
October - Barbados National Surfing Championship.
December - Carols by Candlelight.
Please note: all events listed are for helpful information only and many are subject to entrance fees and/or prior reservation, and may be cancelled at any time. Please check with the relevant tourist office if you need further information on these or any of the other events in this region.
Postcards from... Top ideas from our travel experts
Our Top 5 hotels
Only from Virgin Holidays, the Savannah Beach is a beautiful resort offering some of the best accommodation on the South Coast.
Only from Virgin Holidays, this hotel offers guests a brand new standard of luxury. Overlooking the calm waters and white sands of Prospect Bay, it’s the perfect place to simply kick back and enjoy some serious rest and relaxation.
Nestled on a secluded corner of Barbados, this hotel has some of the best views of the South Coast. St Lawrence Gap, with its lively bars and restaurants, is a short taxi ride away. For those who want a more laid back holiday with its 2 beaches, 2 swimming pools and 3 Jacuzzi's what more can you ask for?
This is a beautiful resort, with its lush gardens and impressive 3-tiered pool, complete with waterfall and swim-up cave bar. Flowers cascade over walls and balconies, and everything leads down to a glorious beach with a generous array of water sports, including water-skiing, all free for guests.
The spacious, attractive suites at this elegant hotel look out over the pristine gardens, breathtaking ocean and swimming pools. With a wide selection of water sports included you will be hard pressed to fit everything in. The refreshing breezes of the south coast make for excellent windsurfing and Hobie Cat sailing.