Fantastic beaches, stunning sights and buzzing nightlife are just a few of the things that make Barbados so popular with vacationers.
Aside from the sun, the sea and the sand, Barbados has more attractions per square mile than any other Caribbean island. It’s not just its attractions that make it so popular though. Increasingly, visitors want not only to experience island life, but to meet the locals and share in the traditions and celebrations that Bajans are famous for.
You can dance at a music festival, dine with the locals at a fish fry or take a bus tour around the Unesco-listed Bridgetown and its garrison – and that’s just the start. Here’s our round-up of the top 5 reasons to visit Barbados.
You can party with the locals
Famed for its rum, dancing and music, Barbados always has a good party worth attending. There are festivals and parties every month of the year, so there’s always something for visitors to experience.
The island’s most famous festival is Crop Over, the origins of which date back to the booming sugar cane industry. The end of each successful sugar cane harvest brought huge celebrations and that tradition has continued to this day. Running from the start of July through early August, Crop Over features a grand opening gala where the king and queen of the festival are crowned. It continues as a month-long party extravaganza culminating in the elaborate Grand Kadooment carnival on the final weekend.
There are dozens of other big festivals throughout the year including street parties, sports festivals, cultural celebrations and culinary events. There are plenty of smaller festivals too, created by the island’s many communities to celebrate local and regional talent.
There’s tasty food galore
From fine-dining restaurants to beachside shacks, there’s a diverse culinary scene in Barbados. Its fertile farmland produces the freshest local fruit and vegetables, and its excellent fishing waters provide delicious seafood.
Not to be missed by any visitor wanting a dose of local culture is the Oistin’s Fish Fry, a Friday night food fest attended by locals and visitors alike. A stone’s throw from the beach in the Oistin’s Bay Gardens, the event features music, dancing, craft stalls and all manner of fresh fish cooked right in front of you.
For fine dining, the island’s most famous restaurant is The Cliff which serves smart meals in an idyllic clifftop location. Situated in Derricks on the exclusive west coast, The Cliff also has a beach club next door which is a little more casual and affordable.
You’ll find fantastic Mediterranean food at Cin Cin By The Sea, a trendy restaurant in Prospect that offers sweeping views over the west coast. Or for something more authentically Bajan the West Indian lunch buffet at the Atlantis is a must-visit.
If you prefer to eat on the beach, local deli Cutters (named after a local sandwich filled with battered fish) will fix a picnic for you and even deliver it to the beach. Other casual options are the myriad rum shops around the island. Just drop in and the friendly locals will make you welcome whether you want to sample some rum, grab a snack or join in a game of dominoes.
Look out for the Barbados Food and Rum Festival, which usually takes place in the third week of November.
There are loads of sporting events to enjoy
Cricket is the national sport of Barbados and there are matches all year round at the famous Kensington Oval in Bridgetown. Horse racing is a big thing on the island too – namely the Sandy Lane Gold Cup, which takes place at the famous Garrison Savannah and attracts jockeys from all over the world.
If you’re passionate about golf you can tee off on first-class courses at Sandy Lane and the Westmoreland Golf Club. The Green Monkey course at Sandy Lane was designed by legendary golf course architect Tom Fazio and is said to be one of the best courses in the world.
There are a number of swimming and surfing festivals around the coast including the Open Water Festival in early November and the Pro Surf Festival later in the month. Early December sees the Run Barbados Marathon series, a weekend event with everything from a fun run to a full marathon and plenty of distances in between.
The kids will love it
With miles of white sand beaches to play on it’s easy to see why families return to Barbados year after year. But beyond the beaches the island offers plenty more kid-friendly fun.
Little ones will love the Junior Explorers Tour at the spectacular Harrison’s Cave attraction. Equipped with nature packs, explorer hats and flashlights, the junior explorers can embark on a guided adventure to learn about the fascinating caves and the creatures that live in them.
You can take the whole family to visit the capital city of Bridgetown, home to a Unesco World Heritage Site and dozens of shops, museums and tourist sights. Or you can do something a little more adventurous like ride in a submarine, board a pirate ship or explore tropical forests populated with green monkeys.
The west coast is the most popular tourist spot with its sandy beaches and glamorous resorts, but the landscape changes dramatically from one region to the next, with each area offering activities for young and old alike.
You’ll get great villa deals
If you’re planning a trip to Barbados and you’re not sure where to stay, there are plenty of resorts all over the island. Whether you’re looking for a quiet beach retreat or an adventure-packed week in the sun, you’re sure to find some great deals on luxury vacation homes.
You can see all of our Barbados villa deals here.