Planning a Caribbean holiday? Chances are Barbados is on your list of possible destinations, since it’s famous for its year-round sun and scenic beaches – but it’s well worth doing a little digging to find out what else it has to offer before booking your trip.
Beaches and weather
Ok, so it might seem a little obvious to name Barbados’s beach-and-sun combination as one of its top attractions – but I don’t think anyone’s going to jump up and deny that they are, in fact, among the things that make this island so appealing.
A huge plus point is that the weather here is year-round sun – but it’s generally considered best to visit in the dry season (December to June). When it comes to beaches, I won’t even attempt to give you an exhaustive list, but here are a few key points you need to know before you travel:
• There’s very little beach in the north – it’s mostly cliffs round here
• East coast beaches are best for surfing, thanks to their rougher seas
• Southern beaches are calmer and more sheltered, so they’re perfect for things like romantic walks and sunbathing
• If you’re into water sports, the south-east beaches are a safe bet for stuff like windsurfing, thanks to livelier conditions
Harrison’s Cave and other natural wonders
People might be particularly drawn to the island by its awesome beaches, but there are so many other natural wonders to see here that it’d be a real shame to confine yourself to the sand. One of the sights you should make sure you check out is Harrison’s Cave, a 2.5 km long stream cave system that you’ll find in the island’s central uplands.
Enter through the Boyce Tunnel to see this limestone cavern filled with streams, deep pools, waterfalls and towering columns. It’s a pretty spectacular sight, and one that’s particularly romantic if you’re travelling with your partner.
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for the baobab trees. It’s thought these were brought to the island from Africa in the 18th century, but no-one knows for sure. Head to Queen’s Park (which is in Bridgetown) to see the biggest. To give you an idea of its size, 15 adults joining hands around the trunk can just about cover its circumference.
Sunbury Plantation House
Barbados has a really interesting history, which you can find out more about by visiting one or two of its plantation houses. Built in the 17th century, Sunbury Plantation House in St Philip is a particularly good choice. Take a tour around the inside and you’ll be told about its plantation-era past, while you’ll also get to experience the atmosphere of the period yourself.
The rhythms of the Caribbean
You can’t head to Barbados and not experience the rhythms of the Caribbean at least once. A street known as The Gap (officially St Lawrence Gap) is the place to go in the evenings, since there are loads of bars and clubs pumping out reggae beats. The Reggae Lounge is a particularly good place to go; an open air club, it’s somewhere you can shake your stuff amid tropical greenery, and the music is pretty varied too – a combination of calypso, reggae and rhythm and blues.
Ultimate activities for thrill-seekers
Ok, sitting in the sunshine is one way to make the most of Barbados’s amazing landscape, but I reckon getting involved in something a bit more active has to be high on your to-do list too. There are loads and loads of activities to try, like quad biking, kitesurfing and zip-lining.
Since there’s some seriously amazing marine life here, though, anything that lets you see it has definitely got to rank among the most exciting options. For something a bit different, try swimming with turtles – there are lots of cruises and tours that’ll help you interact with species like hawksbill and leatherback.