Barbados is world-renowned for its charm and hospitality, as well as its breathtaking natural beauty—featuring, of course, the gorgeous beaches that make this island a paradise. But there’s more to Barbados than just sunbathing and dancing at the fish fry (though both activities are highly encouraged.) The easternmost nation in the Caribbean, Barbados is not sheltered from the ocean’s currents like other destinations in the island chain, resulting in the best breaks east of Fiji. Luckily, there are beaches that can accommodate both beginners and expert surfers alike, as well as plenty of options for beach bums.
Batts Rock Beach, Saint Michael Parish
Batts Rock Beach is popular with snorkelers and is close to the happening Bajan destination of Bridgetown. The waves are gentle, perfect for beginners looking to test their skills at hanging ten. We recommend signing up for a lesson with Burkie’s Surf School. The founder, Alan Burke, is the first-ever professional surfer from Barbados. Afterward, grab a cocktail at the trendy outdoor beach bar, La Cabane.
Paynes Bay Beach, Saint James Parish
Set out for the high seas with a catamaran sunset sail just off the coast of Paynes Bay Beach, in Saint James Parish. The sandy coastline offers a beautiful vista for viewing the sunset, and we recommend booking a room at the extraordinarily elegant The House Barbados. The boutique hotel is legendary for its first-class service on the island, and we suggest taking advantage of the Beach Ambassador program while you’re there, and maximize your leisure and pleasure while reclining seaside beneath that Caribbean sun.
Animal Flower Cave, Saint Lucy Parish
There’s more to Barbados than just sandy beaches, and Animal Flower Cave is the perfect example. The coastline from above looks like the dramatic cliffs of Ireland, with the waves crashing against the rocks below. Purchase a ticket for a guided tour beneath the surface, in the mouth of the cave. (Wear sneakers for this journey!) Take a swim in the reflecting pools overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and pretend you’re Rihanna—this is where the Bajan native filmed one of her music videos, after all.
Crane Beach, Saint Philip Parish
Formerly a harbor, Crane Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches—not only in Barbados but in the entire world. We suggest capitalizing on that legendary surf with some boogie boarding while visiting the sandy coast. But if you’re feeling a little less active, then there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than by relaxing along its blissful shores.
Bottom Bay Beach, Saint Philip Parish
Located just south of Crane Beach, is the strikingly beautiful Bottom Bay Beach. The coastline is famed for its pink coral cliffs, which make the beach perfect for sunbathing and drinking in the tropical view. Travelers should be warned that the surf is quite strong, so visitors should plan their surf lessons and swimming excursions elsewhere. Do keep an eye out for turtles crossing across the sand, and whales spouting off the coast in the distance.
Harrismith Beach, Saint Philip Parish
Harrismith Beach is accessible to travelers by foot and is a short walk from the sandy shoreline of Bottom Bay Beach. This idyllic coastline is well-known for its beauty, so head there early and stake out your favorite spot, before the rest of the world (read: tourists) wake up and meander down to this gorgeous coastline.
Archers Bay Beach, Saint Lucy Parish
Travelers looking for a little bit of peace and quiet will rejoice at the solitude of Archers Bay Beach. The isolated nature of this beach means the coastline is slightly narrower, and there is really only space for a few visitors at a time. So, would-be sunbathers are advised to wake early and claim their spot for the day. Given the small, quiet nature of this beach, there is no lifeguard on duty, and visitors are advised to use precaution when swimming in the ocean.
Silver Sands Beach, Christ Church Parish
The beach at Silver Sands, in Christ Church Parish, is as beautiful as its name suggests, though there is more to Silver Sands Beach than the picturesque shoreline. Head out onto the water for some world-class windsurfing and kite-surfing—the waters off the coast of Silver Sands Beach are considered to be the perfect conditions for both activities. Who needs to hang ten when you can go fly a kite? (Metaphorically and aquatically, of course.)
Miami Beach, Christ Church Parish
Don’t let the name fool you: the Barbados version of Miami Beach is far more low-key than its American iteration in South Florida. Also known as Enterprise Beach, this destination is fabulous for shelling. Drive up the narrow road towards South Point Lighthouse, and the beach will be to the west. Visitors should also make sure to check out the vendors selling rum punch—after all: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or: When in Barbados, drink as the Bajans drink.
Oistins Beach, Christ Church Parish
Oistins Beach is a short walk from Miami Beach. Visitors should visit in order to enjoy the Friday night Fish Fry with locals. Catch fire-dancers on the beach, and enjoy the local ambiance of seaside bonfires and live music. Oistins is, quite simply, the ultimate place to be to kick off your weekend in Barbados—just don’t forget to watch the sunset over the water before joining in the festivities.
Cattlewash Beach, Saint Joseph Parish
Cattlewash Beach boasts a rugged coastline that will be well-appreciated by nature-lovers and discerning island-hoppers alike—the view is quite spectacular. Due to the wilder conditions of this area of the island, however, the beach is a perfect fit for sunbathers, but less so for swimmers.
Bathsheba Beach, Saint Joseph Parish
Bathsheba Beach is the top surfing beach in Barbados (a favorite of Kelly Slater, who frequents the break here), home to the legendary swell, the Soup Bowl, beloved by surf-fanatics worldwide. The Bathsheba Pools are said to have reinvigorating qualities for swimmers, and legend has it that King David’s wife (for whom the beach is named) once bathed in these waters. This coastline is also home to Bath Beach, perfect for travelers who are looking to relax in the calm waters of the mellow surf. Either way, with beaches like these, you can’t go wrong.