Come on New Yorkers — now is the time to plan your getaway from the frigid cold air. Lucky for us, the Caribbean islands are some of the few destinations that can be enjoyed year-round. The weather is always beautiful and warm, the waters are clear and refreshing, and there are things to do no matter what time of day.
Barbados is the easternmost Caribbean island and boasts many perks that other Caribbean islands are known for: incredible beaches, scuba diving, nightlife, and all-inclusive resorts. It is also one of the few islands that are comprised almost entirely with coral rock and limestone as opposed to volcanic rock.
Barbados has a wide array of beaches. Bountiful coral reefs protect most of the island, particularly on the west and south coasts where the Caribbean Sea lies. There are calm, crystal clear waters and fine grain sand on the west side of the island. Accra Beach and Carlisle Bay are very popular and are excellent for swimming.
Barbados’s north and east coasts touch the Atlantic Ocean where there are short and tall cliffs that guard the land. Hidden beaches lie within these cliffs, particularly on the south-east coast. Some tourist maps highlight the roads and paths that lead to beaches like Bottom Bay, a popular one among locals, and Crane Beach, a beautiful long beach with pink sand.
Keep in mind most beaches on the east coast are not safe for swimming due to very strong undercurrents and no lifeguards. Watersports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, fishing and sailing are available at almost any west coast beach. Silver Sands on the south coast is great for kayaking, windsurfing and amateur surfing, while the The Soup Bowl at Bathsheba Beach on the east coast is perfect for pro-surfers. Zed’s Surfing Adventures is a fantastic surfing school that offers small group lessons at Surfer’s Point on the south coast.
At the very center of Barbados is Harrison’s Cave, dubbed “de heart uh Barbados.” Harrison’s Cave is a natural wonder that harbors an intensive gully system which deposits filtered rainwater into a reservoir providing fresh drinkable water for the entire island. Visitors can take a tram tour through the cave or take the highly-recommended eco-adventure tour where you strap on a headlamp and other gear and explore natural passages that the early explorers discovered.
St. Lawrence Gap is the tourist hot spot for a lively night out. Plenty of locals and travelers from all over fill the bustling bars and clubs on a Friday and Saturday night. It’s easy to reach St. Lawrence Gap by bus, taxi or rental. Not far from St. Lawrence Gap is Oistin, a fishing village on the south coast. Oistin’s Fish Fry is also very popular on Friday nights. In addition to a number of vendors that sell varieties of fried and grilled fish (and Barbados’s famous rum punch), there is also a huge stage for live music and dancing as the night goes on. Souvenir vendors set up close to the beach where you can find typical Caribbean knick-knacks like African-style masks, colorful shot glasses and postcards, as well as unique hand-crafted accessories that can only be found in Barbados.
Barbados is also host to a number of festivals year-round. Barbados Reggae Festival is a week-long international musical event that takes place in April. Events include a reggae beach party, dance contests, and party cruises that last late each night. The Crop Over Festival is a hallmark of Bajan culture and history. The festival celebrates the end of the sugarcane harvest season taking place around the island over twelve weeks from May to August. Exhibitions of music, dance, art and craft reflect Barbados’s African heritage and modern lifestyle. The Grand Kadooment Day, a daytime street carnival and parade, marks the end of the long festival.
For those seeking an easier, relaxed time in a far away island, The Crane Residential Resort on the south-east coast is Barbados’s first resort hotel. Located on a cliff overlooking Crane Beach, this five-star resort is geared towards those seeking a secluded beach haven where the days are filled with food, drink, pools and beach time.
For a more typical Caribbean landscape, Turtle Beach Resort on the south coast overlooks a flat white sand beach where turtles come to lay their eggs every year. As an all-inclusive all-suite resort, Turtle Beach has everything you need including pools, tennis courts, spas and restaurants. It is also within walking distance to St. Lawrence Gap, as mentioned above.
And The Hilton Resort is always available for a big splurge.
Safe travels, New Yorkers.