Okay, so you’re looking for a little winter getaway. We feel you. The local weather forecast is not looking great.
You’re after that warm sunshine on your skin, delicious food in your belly, chill vibes, good nightlife. You want palm trees swaying in the breeze, some fun adventures, and a whole lot of uninterrupted RR.
But you’ve already checked off, or at least considered, the tourist hotspots of Hawaii, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Some of them may seem unappealing outside of the tourism epicentre, or present challenges to travelling around. You may feel confined to the resort grounds or overwhelmed with where to start. Some may be lacking in the culinary department, or maybe they skew a little too Girls Gone Wild: Spring Break Edition.
All beaches are nice beaches, but Barbados has taken the concept of a beach, added a side of rum punch, and served it up in the form of the most pristine aqua blue waters and whitest sand you’ve ever seen, both of which stretch for as far as the eye can see. The picture-perfect tones are going to feel so good on your skin and look equally as good on your ‘gram.
All beaches are public in Barbados, and many have chairs with umbrellas that you can rent for $5 to $10 a day. From the flawless Caribbean shores of the west coast to the rugged surfer’s paradise of the east coast, this island’s 60+ beaches will leave beach bums spoilt for choice.
In Carlisle Bay expect crystal clear waters filled with colourful fish, awesome shipwrecks, and marine life such as turtles and stingrays. Some great options for exploring this underwater world are sailing on the Cool Runnings catamaran cruise or diving with Barbados Blue.
Sandy Lane Beach is where celebs like Rihanna and Mark Whalberg post up in their next-level luxury pads. From jet skis and sailboats to yachts and snorkelling, this area is always alive with activities.
Then you have Nikki Beach, which is home to an epic pool party club as well as – you guessed it – a drop-dead gorgeous beach. Located on the northern, quieter part of the island, this is where you can come to turn up the heat.
Enterprise Beach, known as Miami Beach, is possibly the most gorgeous of them all. With typically calm waters, this beach is located on the south end of the island near Oistins, which is famous for its Fish Fry on Friday and Saturday nights.
You won’t have to go far to track down a beach, because many hotels in Barbados such as the beautiful Oceans Two Resort Residences have rooms that all face the ocean as well as their own beautiful beach to frolic in. If you’re in the area, make sure to check out Barry’s Surf School next door!
We’re not even going to try and pretend this wasn’t our main motivation for going on this trip, and while Barbados exceeded expectations across the board, visiting Rihanna’s childhood ‘hood was definitely a highlight.
You won’t be able help but fangirl (or fanboy) out when you visit the street, which has been renamed to Rihanna Drive, and the house she grew up in. Rihanna is truly the diamond of Barbados and the mutual pride between her and her hometown is just the most beautiful thing.
3. Friendly locals
Barbadians (commonly referred to as Bajans; kind of like Canadians and Canucks) are some of the most endearing locals in the world. They are always joking around, super friendly, laid-back, love to impromptu dance (and those hips do not lie), and their accents just coax you right into island mode.
4. Safe and developed
Some places in the Caribbean or Mexico may feel a bit off the beaten path for vacation seekers, especially if they are bringing little ones. But Barbados is super safe and clean, and you can rest assured that your accommodations will be up to standard.
Even the tap water is some of the best drinking water in the world. This is due to the island being made of limestone instead of volcanic rock like many other Caribbean islands, which acts as a natural filter. There are always exceptions no matter where you are in the world, but food poisoning or contamination are not severe concerns in Barbados.
5. Adventures for everybody
Scuba diving or snorkelling
If you want adventure, Barbados has it all — from underground to underwater. Being a diehard dive enthusiast, we had the most incredible dive with the oh-so-charming Andre from Barbados Blue. It’s no surprise that diving in the crystal clear waters atop soft white sand makes for an amazing dive. We explored several shipwrecks adorned with fish of all colours of the rainbow, and the visibility was incredible. We even popped out of water mid-dive in an air pocket inside the sunken ship, which was an awesome and unique experience.
An epic adventure you can’t find just anywhere in the world is exploring an underground cave. Harrison’s Cave is Barbados’ most renowned attraction (besides RiRi), and you can explore this 2.3 km crystallized limestone cave on an hour-long tram tour. The true adventurers can join the Eco-Adventure tour for some spiderman crawling through tunnels, wading through pools, jumping in an underground waterfall, dodging stalactites and stalagmites, and all around living your best Tomb Raider life.
Barbados is mighty, but it is small — in the best way. You can drive around the entire island in three hours. A great way to get the lay of the land is to the Island Safari, which will take you around in a 4×4 to hit up all the must-see spots.
Taxis are affordable and since you’re likely never more than an hour away from home (from the north end of the island to the south) it’s totally do-able for a day trip or nightly outing. Public transit is also super accessible here and the busses are super tourist-friendly.
Many visitors also rent a car for the day, which allows you the freedom to stop at every gorgeous beach and every adorable patio bar (okay not every one, because then you would be stopping every two minutes). As long as you’re comfortable driving on the “wrong” side of the road, as Barbados was colonized by the British and has maintained their driving customs.
7. Health and wellness
After an intense day of crawling through caves, scuba diving through shipwrecks, or, you know, just laying on the beach (being out in the sun is tiring, okay?) you deserve to pamper yourself. Luckily, Barbados has that covered too, and maybe it’s their soothing accents, but these people know how to deliver next-level relaxation.
Take a treat yo’self day at Port Ferdinand spa, where the massage or facial treatments will put your mind and body at ease. We got our first-ever facial here and finally understand the meaning of baby-bum-soft skin. Glorious.
Barbados is also gaining ground in health and wellness experiences where you can namaste to the sound of the crashing waves. Check for classes at Ocean Spray Beach Apartments for the most peaceful oceanside yoga pavilion.
8. Incredible eats
Barbados’ foodie scene is next level. Try a high-end dining experience by eating literally everything off the menu at Hugo’s (prioritize the scallops), and get your ‘gram on at the Bali-inspired turf-meets-beach of Blue Pineapple, complete with floor seating, umbrellas, twinkle lights, tiki torches, and of course, blue pineapples.
You don’t know the meaning of a fresh, organic breakfast until you’ve tasted the locally grown ingredients from Coco Hill Forest. Served at Ocean Spray Apartments (the yoga spot mentioned above), the banana pancakes are to die for, ginger pineapple juice will go straight to your soul, and the sausages win over all the other breakfast sausages. We spent about five minutes contemplating how they actually got fruit to taste so fresh. It’s their mantra of “eat what you grow, grow what you eat,” that delivers all the drool-worthy goodness.
9. All the rum punch
You’re not going to be the homeland of @badgalriri and not have an epic party scene. Being the birthplace of rum, Barbadians can be found drinking their signature beverage, rum punch, at all hours of the day.
One of the liveliest areas to mix and mingle is the strip of St. Lawrence Gap, which is filled with open-air bars and restaurants. There’s also an epic day party at Nikki Beach, where you’ll feel transported to a pool party that rivals Vegas or Dubai.
10. Next level sunsets
It goes without saying that sunsets are pretty no matter where you are. But something about those Barbadian sunsets is pure magic — just look at those colours. #NoFilter.
11. Festivals galore
Barbados always feels like a party, and its frequent festivals definitely contribute to the lively vibe of the island. From Jazz Festival and Holetown Festival, to Dive Fest and Crop Over, these events never fail to bring the community together for a good time.
And now, we will leave you with one last photo of Rihanna living her best life at Crop Over in 2017 (Pssstt — rumour has it she comes back home for this festival every second year, so you do the math!)