make the most of the beaches
With its different coasts, Barbados offers beaches that range from powdery sand and cerulean waters of the Caribbean, to the perfect swells of the eastern Atlantic coast
The West or Platinum Coast, is arguably the most beautiful and also the most tranquil. It’s the perfect place if you’re looking to go swimming, jet skiing, scuba diving or snorkeling. The beaches are unsurprisingly popular and get quite busy in the peak months.
The South Coast is the most versatile. The beaches aren’t quite idyllic and the sea’s a little rougher, but they’re still a truly lovely place to be. But the fabulous amenities are the draw of the South Coast; this is the most concentrated tourist area, with towns like St Lawrence Gap offering a great selection of bars and restaurants close to the beach.
The East Coast beaches are popular with surfers and walkers who love the rocky scenery. Please note that swimming is not advised here. It can be extremely dangerous – even deadly – for even the most experienced swimmer.
The North Coast is the smallest and the rockiest. The cliffs and crags make public access to the beach a bit of a challenge, although not dangerous. As with the East Coast swimming is not advised. There are reported to be good surfing conditions at North Point Cove.
Hidden on the south-east coast of the island, Bottom Bay is one of Barbados’s hardest beaches to find. Because of this, it’s largely avoided the large-scale development that has occurred on the island’s other beaches. Beautiful white sand and smooth, rolling waves make Bottom Bay one of Barbados’s most aesthetically pleasing beaches. Surrounded by cliffs, it offers a postcard-perfect environment that’s hard to find elsewhere in Barbados. Located just north of the sprawling historic mansion known as Sam Lord's Castle, the pink-sand cover of Bottom Bay is protected by high jagged cliffs. The sugary beach is lined with coconut palms, but the crystalline waters feature a significant undertow, making Bottom Bay a perfect spot for picnics but not swimming. The postcard-perfect views are inspiring many to build homes here, so make sure to pack your picnic basket and visit before it's all private property.
Crane Beach is neither unknown nor isolated. In fact, it’s arguably the most famous beach in Barbados. Despite the crowds, this beach offers incredible scenery and the best bodysurfing on the island’s south-eastern coast. Surrounded by luxurious resorts, Crane Beach is easy to access and ideal for visitors to Barbados seeking a combination of natural beauty and luxury dining. After a day at the beach, drop into one of the beach’s many fantastic restaurants and bars for a refreshing sunset cocktail.
Although perfect for bodysurfers, the water at Crane Beach can get a little rough for swimmers. Experienced swimmers can easily handle the waves, but young children may find the beach’s surf a little bit too intimidating.
This easily accessible, 300-yard-long tranche of soft golden sand is, with good reason, one of the most popular beaches on the west coast.
Tourists, celebs & locals, families, couples- Mullins is usually quite busy, and you can be hassled a little but once you’ve said a no to the offers that’s the end of it
The beach shelves gently and the sea is usually calm, making it ideal for safe swimming. There are also various water sports on offer, small children have a cordoned play area with inflatables and slides, and there are sun loungers to rent from Robbie, who has the small shack next to Mullins Beach Bar
A shack on the beach sells beer, rum and ice creams. Mullins Beach Bar and Restaurant, right above the beach, has an extensive, though not the cheapest menu. It's a great spot to watch the sunset.
Mullins is towards the northern end of the west coast, near Speightstown. There are public parking spaces in the Westmoreland Beach Club car park across the road from the beach, and more parking up the side lane.
Gibbes' 300-yard arc of pristine golden sand, backed by soaring trees, is a strong contender for the west coast's most beautiful beach. It's entirely uncommercialised. All you'll find here are some of the most desirable villas on the island - including Michael Flatley's (the yellow one in the middle).
Villa owners, yachties (boats often drop anchor in the bay), those in the know. Out of season, bar scuttling crabs you may have the beach all to yourself.
The water is usually calm and perfect for swimming, though it's a little rocky underfoot. You will also probably want to ogle at the mansions.
BARS & BITES
None - bring a picnic, there's lots of shade. Or pop along to Mullins Beach Bar and Restaurant in the next bay.
It's immediately south of Mullins Beach - if you're willing to get your legs wet, you can sometimes reach Gibbes by walking round from Mullins (it depends on the tide). There's no sign to the beach. Access from the road is down a track immediately north of a house called Dudley Wood; if you have a car, you can park 100 yards away up the side lane.
This long curve of white sand is one of the liveliest, and finest, strands on the south coast.
This beach, known either as Accra or Rockley, is one of the widest and most famous stretches of sand along the Barbados coast. Several vendors line the beach selling clothing and local jewellery. Waves are moderate without an undertow, making it a great place for windsurfing, sunfish sailing, snorkelling, boogie boarding and body surfing,and it is one of Barbados' best swimming beaches. Located on the Atlantic Coast, there are minimal waves and almost no undertow. Facilities here include ample parking, picnic spots and changing rooms. Stroll north along the perfect sandy beaches to a small waterfall and the remains of a train line that once ran from Bridgetown to Bathsheba.
Anyone and everyone - families, couples, tourists, locals.
Sea conditions vary a lot here, but often there's some surf - good for jumping around in, or riding on: there are boogie boards to rent. The water stays shallow a long way out, making it a great beach for families with young children. Otherwise, you could hang out in the shade of the casuarinas and sea grapes at the rear of the beach, browse the beachwear stalls, sunbathe (there are loungers to rent), or stroll along the south coast boardwalk, which starts at the beach's western end.
Enterprise Miami Beach
Also known as Miami Beach, this magical, 250-yard-long strip of white sand on the outskirts of the south coast fishing village of Oistins is an understandable favourite with locals.
Lots of Barbadians, especially at the weekends, and any day in the early morning and the hour before sunset for a stroll, jog or dip in the sea.
The main tranche of beach is exposed and gets big waves. However, beyond the breakwater at the western end there's a sheltered and shallow spot where you may find dozens of children having a bathe on a fine evening.
Mr Delicious Snack Bar, a permanently stationed van behind the beach, does tempting Bajan snacks such as fishcakes. Or bring a picnic: there are tables galore for that very purpose under the grove of casuarina trees backing on to the beach. Excellent lunches are on offer at Little Arches - one of our recommended hotels - a two-minute stroll along the lane east from the beach.
In Oistins, follow the signs to Enterprise Beach - it's at the eastern end of the village.
Perfect powdery sand and crystal clear tropical water makes Mullins Bay one of the island’s most desirable destinations and is widely regarded as one of Barbados’s top snorkelling beaches. Teeming with tropical fish, the clear waters of Mullins Bay are the perfect place for snorkelers to see the island’s marine life up close. From time to time, sea turtles are even spotted swimming close to the beach’s stunningly beautiful rock formations.
Mullins is a favourite hangout, a charming bay surrounded by a quiet beach, perfect for relaxing in a chaise lounge. There's a beach bar here serving cold drinks and simple lunches so you can fuel up before taking to the waters in a jet ski. If you prefer to move at a slower speed, rent snorkelling equipment and leisurely explore the tranquil waters.
Effortlessly beautiful and perfectly tranquil, Mullins Bay is one of the island’s best beaches for rest and relaxation. Visit in the early afternoon and make sure you’ve got a mask and snorkel – the beach’s perfect clear water is not to be missed.
Located alongside Bridgetown, Carlisle Bay is one of the most excellent beaches on the island. While far from sheltered or remote, this beautiful bay is home to the best snorkelling in Barbados, particularly in the Carlisle Bay Marine Park. From cannonballs to rusting ship anchors, a wide variety of artefacts litter the ocean floor in Carlisle Bay, making this lovely beach a great destination for snorkelers in search of a unique experience.
Surrounded by luxurious hotels, Carlisle Bay is one of Barbados’s best destinations for late afternoon swimming followed by a tasty dinner. Watch the sunset with your favourite tropical cocktail or explore the historical Needham’s Point Lighthouse
Sandy Lane Beach
Perfect turquoise water and stunning tropical reefs make Sandy Lane a picturesque tropical paradise. Although it's known for its eponymous hotel, you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy Sandy Land Beach’s stunningly beautiful pearl blue water. Popular with vacationing A-listers, Sandy Lane is one of Barbados’s most prestigious beaches. It’s also one of the clearest, boasting excellent visibility and little in the way of surf to disturb swimmers.
Sandy Lane Beach’s accessible location and popularity with tourists can make it very crowded during the high season. Visit during the early morning or late afternoon to enjoy the beach at its best, without any large crowds to bother you.
A windy outcropping ideal for windsurfing, Silver Sands beach is internationally recognised as a world-class beach for this sport. Located on the southern coast of Barbados, Silver Sands holds the Waterman Festival every February; a competitive contest for surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing, the festival has been going strong since 1989. The Silver Sands Resort is located here, offering affordable accommodations on prime oceanfront real estate.
Crane Beach, formerly a harbour, is one of the most beautiful beaches along the coast of Barbados. It's home to one of the prettiest and oldest resorts on the island, The Crane Beach Hotel. Simple luxury and elegance define the hotel that sits on a beach named one of the 10 best in the world by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The waves here are perfect for beginner surfers or for body surfing, while the coastal coves offer sheltered swimming close to shore.
This picturesque East Coast fishing village hums with activity when the surf contests come to town. That's because this famous beach is the surfing capital of Barbados; the surfing sweet spot is known as Bathsheba's "Soup Bowl." If you don't surf, there are pools and reefs ideal for snorkelling and sunbathing. The breath-taking beach's wild landscape makes it one of Barbados' most popular.
This is one of the longest beaches on Barbados; it has a rough and rugged character that makes it a spot for sightseeing and sunbathing rather than swimming. Because of the waves and undertows, this beach is often deserted, so pack a cooler and hit the beach that was once the bathing spot for herds of cattle shepherded from the surrounding villages.
This popular beach on the South Coast of Barbados is idyllic for swimming, jet skiing, body surfing and romantic shore-side strolls. Across the street is the Dover Playing Field where you can often catch a cricket match or see Bajan footballers in action.
Situated 1 mile north of Holetown, Folkestone is home of the government-run Folkestone Marine Park. This gorgeous beach features many water-related activities, a marine museum and coastal environment displays. Snorkelling along amidst the fringe reef or diving off a private boat are perfect aquatic afternoon activities.