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Barbados guide

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Barbados at a glance

BARBADOS, set on its own to the east of the Windward Islands in the south-eastern Caribbean, has the greatest depth of tourism in any ‘small’ Caribbean island, with a full range of budget and luxury options. Easily accessible from Europe, the States and Canada, it has a good variety of excellent beaches. It is a busy, developed island with gracious and approachable islanders and a strong island culture. There are excellent hotels, including some of the Caribbean’s best known, ideal for independent travellers as well as some all-inclusives, superb villas. Excellent restaurants and sports, golf, watersports and on-land activities, excellent gardens, some good visible history. Large cruise industry and shopping.

Read about Barbados History, Population and Politics in Island Essentials.

The Definitive Barbados Island Guide gives you independent reviews, listings, and information from top travel journalists and Caribbean specialists.

Best for:
White sand beaches, restaurants, lively and sophisticated social scene, great villa life, good service, gourmet dining, golf, shopping
What for:
Beach, Carnivals & Festivals, Corporate & Incentives, Cricket, Cruise, Family, Flowers & Gardens, Golf, Music, Solo Travel, Weddings & Romance
Not for:
How to get there:
Numerous direct flights from the UK, North America and other Caribbean islands
Top tip:
The fully staffed villas are some of the best in the Caribbean, great polo, burgeoning art culture

Barbados in depth

By James Henderson

About Barbados...

Barbados is like a trusty friend. It is easy to get to know, gracious and friendly, comfortable to be with, lively at times and always comes up with the goods. The island has excellent beaches and places to stay and the climate is good even for the Caribbean. It is also easy to get to and will encourage you to have a good time. All in all, Barbados is a great island for a first time visit to the Caribbean.

Barbados is also many different things to different people of course, but for its size it has more to offer than any other island in the region. The West Coast, along its stretches of sand and equally pretty cliffs, has a string of the Caribbean’s finest hotels and restaurants, and it really does have a regular following of millionaires in the media and business. There are private properties worth tens of millions on this island. The South Coast has a completely different feel, younger and more active, and it is considerably less expensive. Barbados has impressive depth, with good hotels across the price range and well-priced packages.

The island’s relative development means that it may not fit everyone’s idea of a tropical escape. It is pretty crowded along the south and west coasts (although in the cane fields and farmland inland it can be surprisingly quiet and there are some remote, quiet getaways in the east). The island is also more sophisticated than many travellers expect of the Caribbean. But what Barbados sets out to do it does well. It has the exquisite luxury, the ‘scene’ and the activity.

There is depth of other sorts too. The gardens in Barbados, hotel gardens included, are probably the best in the Caribbean. There is excellent windsurfing and kitesurfing, and golf for those who prefer something a little more sedate. Polo is now an attraction and, like cricket, horse racing and the annual motor rally, it can make a lively family day out. The music is fun too. There are excellent calypsonians and bands to be heard in the lively clubs. There is even opera in Barbados from time to time. The island has an extraordinary history, much of which is still visible in the plantation houses and the story of rum. There is an active National Trust.

And if Barbados is a good place to pick for a first-time visit to the Caribbean, then that’s just as well. Like a trusted friend, though, some people find themselves comfortable with it and never want to risk going somewhere else.

News: Barbados’ Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having been inscribed on 25 June 2011 by the World Heritage Committee during their 35th Session in Paris.


This Definitive Guide about Barbados s maintained by a team of top travel writers and our own in-house team of Caribbean specialists.  The guide contains independent reviews about Barbados, its accommodation, things to do, places to see, getting around, how to get there and links for travel to Barbados. 

Contributors include Jane Anderson, Deana Bellamy, Peter Ellegard, and Sara Macefield.  Picture editor, Holly Cocker.  Senior Picture Editor, Alexander Gray. 

Or read our other island guides

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Barbados weather

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When to go and weather

Looking for inspiration?

  1. Ride the waves at kitesurfing mecca Silver Point
  2. Drive along the breathtakingly beautiful East Coast
  3. Go underground at Harrison's Cave
  4. Hobnob with the stars watching a polo match
  5. Step back in time at the impressive Jacobean plantation house - St Nicholas Abbey

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