With its balmy weather and jaw-dropping beaches Barbados is the perfect vacation destination – but where are the best resorts for families?
The answer all depends on which type of family you are and what kind of getaway you’re looking for. Are you adventure seekers or beach buffs? Traveling with toddlers or teens? Looking for luxury or on a tight budget? Pair those preferences with the right resort and you’re sure to enjoy an unforgettable vacation.
In terms of accommodation, the region offers a diverse range. Some families opt to stay in all-inclusive hotels, while those who prefer some privacy may opt for a self-contained villa – these properties come with private pools and amenities as well as the services of a private chef and a housekeeper.
This guide will help you find the best resort in Barbados for your next family vacation.
With its gorgeous beaches and year-round sunshine, Barbados is a great choice for a family vacation. And considering its relatively small size (21 miles long and 14 miles wide) it offers a surprisingly diverse range of activities and attractions. Out and about you’ll find everything from ancient caves and grand plantation homes to submarine tours, drive-in movie theaters and championship golf courses.
Accommodation-wise, the majority of family resorts are located in the south and west – you can find accommodation in the north and east too, but the sea can be too rough for safe swimming. The upmarket west coast has white-sand beaches that are lapped by calm seas and overlooked by luxury villas and hotels. The south coast is more heavily developed and offers buzzing nightlife and lively Atlantic surf.
The most popular tourist spot on the west coast, St. James is known for its upscale resorts dotted along its pristine Caribbean Sea coastline. Miles of pristine beaches include well-known names like Paynes Bay, a hub for turtle spotting, and Sandy Lane where you’re likely to spot an A-lister or two, although there are many lesser-known gems along the coast.
The main center is Holetown, the site of the first British landing in 1625 and now popular for its nightlife and designer shops. Also in the region are important historic sites like St. James Church, one of the oldest buildings on the island.
Sandy Lane Estate
One of the most famous resorts in Barbados, this sprawling estate is home to luxury villas set in private and secure grounds. Guests can use some of the leisure and dining facilities at the swanky Sandy Lane Hotel including the Sandy Lane beach club where you can relax under a parasol while discreet staff cater for your every whim. The platinum beach will occupy your little ones for hours, and guests of all ages can enjoy a wide range of water sports.
Perfect for families, the plush homes at Sandy Lane Estate are set in manicured gardens and come complete with private swimming pools and spacious sun terraces. Many homes also have added perks like hot tubs, game rooms, home theaters and gyms. What’s more, all villas come with the services of a butler, housekeeper and private chef, so you won’t need to lift a finger throughout your stay.
This resort is ideally located close to the island’s top golf courses. You’ll find 3 fantastic courses at Sandy Lane including Old Nine, the Country Club and the world-renowned Green Monkey. Also within easy reach is the Barbados Golf Club and the 9-hole Rockley Golf Course, both in Christ Church.
For cheaper stays along the same stretch of beach, Paynes Bay is a good option. This beachfront spot is home to ample family accommodation in a range of styles and price ranges. You’ll find everything from huge mansions decked out with amazing amenities, to cozy condos where you can enjoy shared leisure facilities.
One of the best beaches for families, Paynes Bay has gently shelving sands and clear calm seas. There are sun beds all along the beach, plus parking, showers, toilets and on-duty lifeguards. You’ll also find a good selection of friendly restaurants and bars within walking distance of the resorts. A popular spot is Paynes Bay Fish Market where you can dine on freshly fried fish at the casual snack shack for just a few dollars.
A number of water sports activities are available from the main bay including jet skiing and catamaran sailing. The shallow reefs and calm waters here also make for excellent snorkeling conditions. Kids will love spotting the huge sea turtles just offshore – you can go on a boat tour right out to where they congregate and swim around with them.
This 750-acre estate in the north of St. James is home to a championship golf course and dozens of beautiful colonial-style vacation rentals. Families can choose from a choice of apartments with spacious terraces and golf course views, or opt for one of the custom-designed villas set within private gardens for complete seclusion. All villas feature a private leisure pool, a team of staff and a sun terrace with a barbecue area for casual dining.
Guests can enjoy access to the private club at Mullins Bay, arguably one of the finest stretches of golden sands on the island. You can lounge with a cocktail and watch the world go by, or take advantage of the warm waters for a spot of swimming, snorkeling or kayaking. A complimentary beach shuttle is available to take you from Royal Westmoreland to Mullins Beach. Other facilities at the resort include a communal pool, tennis courts, golf, a fitness center and a spa.
Out and about you’ll find fantastic shopping and dining at the Limegrove Lifestyle Center in Holetown. It’s also just a short distance to top natural attractions like Harrison’s Cave where little ones can join the Junior Explorers Tour, and Barbados Wildlife Reserve in the northern parish of St. Peter – visit at afternoon feeding time for close-up views of green monkeys and other local critters.
Once a sleepy fishing town, Fitts Village is now a popular vacation destination packed with things to see and do. You can wile away the hours snorkeling in the clear blue sea, shop at the Chattel Village plaza or enjoy dining at award-winning restaurants like The Cliff and Cin Cin by the Sea.
The accommodation here is mainly comprised of private beachfront villas set right on the sand. Compared with staying at a hotel, renting a villa offers many advantages for families. You’ll have a private pool and plenty of space to spread out and enjoy family time together. You’ll also benefit from the services of a private chef who will happily prepare family meals.
Located at the northern end of St. James, this region can be summed up in just a few words; quiet, relaxing and idyllic. The sands are soft and cream colored, the sea is crystal clear and the water stays warm all year round. You’ll find some local shops and restaurants in Reeds Bay, and a wider choice at Speightstown to the north and at Holetown to the south.
Reeds Bay has plenty of great-value villas and apartments to choose from. Opt for a condo and you’ll enjoy lofty sea views and lots of fantastic shared amenities. Villas come in a wider variety of sizes and offer private swimming pools, large living areas and direct access to the power-like beach.
Located along the island’s south coast, Christ Church is one of the largest and busiest parishes. It’s home to the majority of restaurants, bars and tourist attractions, plus it has some great family beaches. Watersports and outdoor activities abound in this area making it ideal for visitors of all ages.
There are some great golf courses in Christ Church, and history buffs will love the historic attractions at Bridgetown. Those in search of a livelier vibe should head to St. Lawrence Gap or Oistins where you’ll find buzzing bars, rum shacks and the renowned Friday night fish fry party.
Christ Church is home to a good choice of family-style accommodation including condos in exciting resorts and large villas in private estates.
Hastings is a small beach resort on the scenic south-western coast. It’s sandwiched between Bridgetown, the island’s capital to the west, and the party hub of St. Lawrence Gap to the east. The beach is backed by swaying palm trees and a wooden boardwalk with a play area and a bandstand. Just a five-minute walk away is Rockley Beach, a popular spot for drinking, dining and water sports.
The town runs parallel to the beach and offers plenty of pickings for families. There are a couple of malls including Lanterns Mall and Hastings Plaza, as well as a range of dining spots to suit all tastes and budgets. You’ll find plenty of great-value accommodation here in the form of beachfront condos in fun-packed resorts. As well as bright bedrooms decorated in tropical colors, these apartments offer sea-view swimming pools, on-site restaurants and casual beach bars.
Hailed for its tropical beaches and thumping nightlife scene, St. Lawrence is the place for action-packed stays. It gets its party personality from St. Lawrence Gap, a strip of rum shacks, Bajan restaurants and reggae-fuelled dance spots. For those who prefer to relax, the region’s talc-like beaches are the perfect retreat.
Facing the town is St. Lawrence Bay which has knee-deep water and a shallow reef teeming with tropical fish. Along the coast are livelier spots for strong swimmers, surfers and watersports enthusiasts.
History buffs should make a beeline for Bridgetown, just a 10-minute drive away. It has a Unesco-listed Garrison crammed with army buildings including an old military prison, now the Barbados Museum. If rum and sports are more your thing there’s the Kensington oval cricket ground and the Mount Gay rum distillery – the world’s oldest commercial rum distillery.
Located just 3 miles from the airport, Enterprise is super-convenient for families. The beach here is one of the most popular beaches in Barbados, with a sheltered cove on the north side of the barrier and big surfer’s waves on the south side. Picnic tables, snack shacks and beach bars line the sand, plus there are on-duty lifeguards patrolling.
Also known as Miami Beach, this wide expanse rarely gets crowded during the week. It’s right next to Oistins Fishing Village so you’re sure to spot some fishing boats bringing in a good catch for the Friday night fish fry, popular with locals and visitors alike.
Accommodation in Miami Beach consists mainly of vacation apartments and is some of the cheapest accommodation in Barbados.
The northern parish of St. Peter is home to some fantastic family resorts, plus you’ll be close to a number of historic sites including the town of Speightstown, St. Nicholas Abbey rum plantation and the interactive Arlington House Museum. It’s also the only parish besides St. Lucy that extends from the west coast all the way to the east.
Mullins Beach is not as large as the other family resorts in Barbados, but that is actually one of its charms. The south of the beach is home to an array of private villas, while the north has rocky cliffs and dramatic views. You can rent beach chairs, loungers and umbrellas from the vendor on the beach, or get your shade from one of the many Casuarina trees lining the coast – either way you’ll enjoy plenty of peace and quiet.
Just a stone’s throw away is the exclusive Mullins Bay development featuring a handful of elegant vacation homes. It has 24-hour security ensuring total privacy throughout, as well as a tennis club and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Guests staying at Mullins Bay have access to both the Royal Westmoreland beach club and nearby Sugar Hill Resort.
Other villas in the area are located along the beach and offer spacious accommodation for families. Amenities include en-suite bedrooms, private swimming pools, air conditioning and easy beach access. Some villas also come with staff, water sports equipment and complimentary resort membership.
Also known as Little Bristol, Speightstown is one of the island’s major centers and boasts a long and intriguing history. Much of its character can be seen in its architecture, a mix of old colonial buildings and colorful modern ones. Out and about you’re likely to encounter sidewalk vendors peddling fresh produce, fishermen unloading their catch along the jetty and locals hanging out at the shopping esplanade.
The town is also home to several beautiful beaches which tend to be quieter than others along this popular coast. Whether you choose to stay at Speightstown or you just want to visit for some shopping or a good meal, this region offers something for everyone.
Head to the far north of Barbados and you’ll find the beautiful parish of St. Lucy. The most undeveloped area on the island, St. Lucy features a wild and rugged coastline pounded by Atlantic waves. Most vacation homes are located along the clifftop overlooking the crashing Atlantic Ocean below. This area is an ideal choice for families who want to relax away from it all.
The Animal Flower Cave is a must-visit attraction in this region – you can explore the cave, take a dip in the natural rock pool and enjoy a delicious meal at the clifftop restaurant. It’s also a great place to spot Humpback Whales from February through April.
St. Lucy also lends itself particularly well to surfing, especially for more experienced surfers. Beach-wise there are only a couple of small bays in this parish and although they’re not ideal for swimming they all boast golden sands and stunning coastal views.
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