The golden child of the Caribbean has an unfair advantage: It’s the only coral island in a sea of volcanic friends. Plus, the Brits ruled it for 341 years, leaving behind a wonderful combo of old-world European charm mixed with exotic, tropical flare. While small (it’s only 167 square miles), Barbados requires renting a car so you can experience the whole island, and asking for directions, since the street signs are basically non-existent and Google Maps won’t be of much help.
The country is broken up into eleven different Parishes, each with it’s own unique vibe. The west coast Parishes—facing the calm, turquoise Caribbean Sea—are best known for their luxe hotels, world-famous golf courses, celebrity sightings, and super impressive restaurants. (Fun fact: Barbados was the first spot in the Caribbean to receive its own Zagat guide.)
If you’re looking for a party, Christ Church Parish on the southern coast is where you can mingle with tourists, locals, surfers, and (everyone’s favorite) cruise ship crowds at the dance halls in St. Lawrence Gap. While you’re there, hit up Oistons, the Parish’s capital, for great surfing by day and the locals’ favorite street party, Oistons Fish Fry, by night.
The rugged east coast, which faces the wild Atlantic Ocean and has a drastically different landscape than the mellow west coast, offers a more laid-back, no frills kind of vibe. You’ll find dramatic cliffs, pieces of coral the size of a small house scattered along the beach, and a little town called Bathsheba, home to what some argue is the best wave in the Caribbean.
A photo posted by Sandy Lane Barbados (@sandylaneresort) on
Eat: A meal at The Cliff Restaurant may cost you a month’s salary (kidding, kind of…), but it’s worth every penny. Built into the side of a coral sea wall overlooking the water, it offers a dining experience like no other and boasts the best food on the island. #Ball #so #hard.
Surf: There are tons of good spots coast-to-coast, which is why surfers from around the world continue to come back to Barbados. Bathsheba is the real gem, featuring all of the elements—like relentless trade winds—that the Atlantic Ocean has to offer. Put your time in though, and you’ll be locked in a love affair for years to come. For tamer conditions, the south coast has plenty of options for surfers of all levels.
Shop: The Chattle Houses in Holetown are rainbow-colored huts speckled along the main road offering everything from cigars to home decor, great beachwear, and everything in-between.
Party: Let’s get one thing straight: Barbadians love to party. Get down like one by heading to Harbour Lights or Club Xtreme in Bridgetown for some serious reggaeton dirty dancing. Or, rally your friends to booze cruise on the Jolly Roger for a drink-all-day-sleep-all-night adventure. Just don’t piss anyone off, or you’re walkin’ the plank.
A photo posted by HarbourLights Barbados 4367225 (@harbourlightsbarbados) on
Words by Maggie Malloy, as featured in Whalebone’s sixth issue, the Travel Issue. For more reasons to book a flight to an island country in the next 10 minutes, check out Jesse’s Caribbean Photo Gallery.