Barbados is one of the oldest English outposts in the Caribbean and has been an independent nation since 1966. It enjoys one of the Caribbean’s highest literacy rates and standards of living. Its location puts it deep into the southern Caribbean on its eastern edge. It is also boarded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, so while its western shores are washed by the gentle Caribbean the east coast is famous for good Atlantic surf. The Bathsheba area on the Atlantic coast is a popular location for major surfing competitions.
Beaches & Nightlife
Geography places a majority of the activity and hotels on the northwest coast of the island stretching down to the western South Shore. Starting out on the northwest coast at Speightstown and going south along the sea, you come to the high rent neighborhoods of Barbados. This area is dotted with palatial estates and upscale beach properties. The centerpiece of this area is the Royal Westmoreland Golf Course and Sandy Lane Beach. The Sandy Lane Resort is a destination popular with celebrities and international jet setters. Nearby is a number of premium restaurants and upscale shopping at Limegrove Center. The area is also famous for good beach bars.
Traveling farther south you pass a number of good beaches and the seaport as you approach Bridgetown. The capital is the island’s government center and features a number of good restaurants and shopping with Barbados’ major department store being Cave Sheppard. Leaving Bridgetown and again heading due south you find another beach with good resort hotels along with the Garrison and Drill Hall areas. In the center of this is Harbour Lights, one of the island’s destinations for night life for tourists and locals alike.
Heading further south you will find properties with names like Hilton, Marriott and Radisson dotted along more great beaches and also a number of smaller local hotels. There is also a nice boardwalk that starts near Bridgetown and winds its way south for a number of miles. Perfect for a hike along the sea. Near the end of the boardwalk is Rockley Beach. This is one of our favorite areas to stay. There are a number of places to eat from fast food (Chefette is Barbados’ own fast food chain, featuring mostly chicken) to upscale eateries, gift and beach shops and grocery and wine stores. The center of this is the Accra Beach Hotel which, while old, is a beautiful beachfront property. We would also recommend Coral Sands which is very nice newer hotel, along with several other smaller properties in Rockley. For dining check out Mojo’s and the Tiki Bar along with Champers (our favorite) which is a good upscale restaurant in this area.
Next down the coast is the St. Lawrence Gap area and is usually referred to as just “the Gap”. It’s another really popular location in Barbados for restaurants, bars and nightlife. There are a number of hotels in this area but be warned that the party scene can be pretty loud late into the night and the streets busy. Following the coast out of the Gap you will find another stretch of great beaches with good resort hotels. We have stayed at Bougainvillea Beach and Coral Sands in this area and they’re both very good properties.
Friday Night Oistin’s Fish Fry
Next is Oistin where everyone regularly goes on a Friday night for a waterfront fish fry. Oistin is a traditional Bajan fishing village and the Friday Oistin’s Fish Fry is an event that has been going on forever: fresh fish cooked amidst a carnival atmosphere. It is something not to be missed.
Next comes the international airport area and after that is the Crane Beach and Crane Beach Resort which is an upscale resort. The area features cliffs with pocket beaches below and gets its’ name from a crane that was used to lift cargo up the cliffs in early days. This hotel is an excellent resort but somewhat isolated. If your intention is to relax and spend quality time with the family, enjoying sand and surf it’s a good choice.
Getting around Barbados can be a challenge. There is public bus service and a number of tour operators but to really see the island it is best to rent a car. You need to be warned though, because the traffic is English drive or driving on the left that can take some getting used to, specially on the island’s narrow roads. The island also makes use of lots of traffic circles (remember that the traffic in the circle always has the right-of-way). In recent years GPS has helped but the roads in some areas are mostly unmarked and can be a maze – even our Bajan friends have admitted to getting lost.
Things To Do and Not Do
Eat flying fish with Bajan hot sauce
Visit Harrison’s Cave and Hunte’s Gardens
Take a ride out to Bathsheba and the northeast island coast
Take the tour at the Mount Gay Distillery
Cross a street without looking both ways (your instincts can kill you)
Wear clothes with camouflage (it’s against the law)
Look for warning markers before touching plants – some can be poisonous.