Barbados is a beautiful island with long white sand beaches, a different style of sea every few kilometres and stunning weather: temperatures sit at roughly 27˚C all year round.
The food’s wonderful, the islanders are warm and welcoming and some of the world’s best hotels are happy to call this little slice of perfection home. If there’s anything that Barbados doesn’t do beautifully, its millions of ardent admirers haven’t heard.
Barbados is mid-haul and flights from UK to Bridgetown all year round take just under 9 hours.
Average temperatures of 27˚C year round with cooling trade winds.
June to November is officially ‘rainy season’ and low-season for holiday costs – London has more rain in July and August than Barbados.
The island’s spectacular Crop-Over Festival runs from late June to the start of August each year.
Only 33km long by 14km wide and far less hilly than most Caribbean islands, Barbados is good for cycling and buses charge a flat fee of $2 for all journeys.
Barbados Garrison in Bridgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
English afternoon tea and cricket are as much part of life on Barbados as Calypso and Caribbean cooking.
Where to go
The west ‘Platinum’ coast is where calm seas are sheltered by coral reefs and most of Barbados’ exclusive hotels are built, including celebrity haunt, Sandy Lane. A little further south, luxurious family resorts have a more relaxed atmosphere and many are so turtle focused they have special beach lighting during winter hatching season. The south coast also has the advantage of being less than 20 minutes from the airport and closer to Bridgetown for a wide range of kids activities.
Bridgetown’s bright and energetic in the best island-capital tradition. Its mix of elegant colonial architecture, grand public buildings and ice-cream Caribbean colours is dazzling on a sunny day and there’s an endless supply of those in Barbados. Go for shopping on Broad Street and Swan Street, catch a Bajan Bus here for a drive round the cool, green plantation lands, hire a bike and explore the south coast or join a city walking tour and have the chattiest, friendliest guide on earth give you the insider’s lowdown on Bridgetown.
20 minutes from the airport, half an hour from the Platinum Coast and closer still to the beach resorts and hotels in the south.
Don’t miss: Barbados Garrison, tax-free shopping, Batts Rock Beach for the Green Monkeys, Bridgetown Boardwalk, quaint stores at Old Spirit Bond Mall and Independence Square.
If beachfront isn’t a top priority, Bridgetown’s good for self-catering and historic colonial hotels – family rates tend to be significantly lower than coast resorts.
Speightstown’s one of the island’s oldest towns and second only to Bridgetown in size. Characterful and charming, filled with historic colonial buildings and intriguing history it’s the place to visit for great seafood, street parties and parades during Crop-Over and pretty specialist shops and local arts and crafts galleries.
Don’t miss: the bustling harbour, cafés and restaurants on the Esplanade, street traders selling fresh fruit and vegetables, Crop-Over festivities and beach barbecues.
The island’s first settlement and still one of the most authentic for a glimpse of life in Barbados when boats sailed here for trade not tourism. Visit the Chattel Village to see 18th century ‘mobile homes’ as sweet, little stores. Eat at least once on First Street for Caribbean cooking at its finest and spend a few hours on the broad, sun-drenched Holetown Boardwalk – a great view of the original Barbados harbour.
The beaches round Holetown are where to find good value family-friendly resorts with all the sea, sand and luxury of the south for less exorbitant prices.
The east coast is good for cute family beach cottages and apartments with fantastic sea views – much, much less expensive than the south of Barbados.This is the coast where Barbados keeps it rugged drama, rock formations, best surfing and quieter beaches. It doesn’t have the dazzling gloss of the Platinum west and that’s no bad thing if you want to kick-back, be barefoot, wander round cheerful fishing villages, eat local or enjoy a bit of breeze with your sun.
What to do
St. Nicholas Abbey, St. Peter
A beautifully restored plantation house with an operational sugar grinding mill and excellent guided tours.
Atlantis Submarines, Bridgetown Atlantis Submarines dive down to depths of almost 40m, so kids too young to snorkel can see what’s underwater too.
Harrison’s Cave, Allen View
Travel under the earth by tram to the heart of Barbados’ most spectacular and biggest cave.
Personalised Snorkel Tour A perfect first time taste of snorkelling for kids aboard the Jolly Rodger, small groups and qualified guides.
The Barbados Museum, Bridgetown Small social history museum with a good children’s gallery where traditional Caribbean toys and games are laid out for kids to explore.
The Barbados Garrison, Bridgetown The most historic building on the island and a World Heritage site, Barbados Garrison has excellent guided tours and does after-dark tunnel visits – fun for teens. Barbados Garrison
Karting Experience, Busy Park Kids over 12 can take a fast kart turn round the circuit at the legendary Barbados Bushy Park racetrack.
Bajan Bus Tour A tour on a colourful, open sided Bajan bus is a great fun way to see a bit of beautiful Barbados and indulge in a little piece of history too.
Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill, St. Andrew Parish Once you’ve visited a few plantation houses, it’s a breath of fresh air to see where the honest toil went on back in the day. Nicely laid out little museum too.
Crop Over Festival A revived version of the 18th century end of the sugar harvest celebration and basically one of the biggest, sunniest, brightest and most exciting carnivals in Barbados. Usually the first week in August.
Educational value for kids
The Museum of Antigua & Barbuda in St. John’s has a good archaeological collection and interesting Arawak Indian exhibits.
An island of sailors, Antigua is a wonderful place for kids to learn some basic yacht craft.
John’s weekend market is a fun morning visit and packed with local life.
Visit for carnival and kids can see where Notting Hill came from originally.
The sheltered waters round Antigua are ideal for diving lessons and the island has several excellent schools.
Spend the day at the English Harbour and put the British element of Antigua into context for kids.
Dickenson Bay is water sport heaven and almost everything’s taught by well-qualified local instructors.
Getting around with kids in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua’s a small island but dense with interesting places to visit, hiring a car is the best way to get about. Cycling is very common too and there are several bike hire shops in St. John’s. The catamaran ferry runs to Barbuda every day and walking on the island is the only way to go.
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