Family Vacations to Barbados - Family Traveller (USA)

Barbados – Family Vacation Guide

Barbados is a beautiful island with long white sand beaches, a different style of sea every few miles and stunning weather. Temperatures sit at roughly 80˚F all year round. The food is delicious, the islanders are 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, no one has found it out yet.

Explore Barbados


Why Go

  • Weather

    Average temperatures of 80˚F year round with cooling trade winds. June to November is officially rainy season and low-season for holiday costs.

  • Celebrate

    The island’s spectacular Crop Over Festival runs from late June to the start of August each year.

  • Accessibility

    Only 20 miles long by 9 miles wide, and far less hilly than most Caribbean islands, Barbados is good for bicycling. Buses charge a flat fee of two dollars for all journeys.

  • History

    Barbados Garrison in Bridgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Culture

    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

Bridgetown is bright and energetic. Its mix of elegant colonial architecture, grand public buildings and ice-cream Caribbean colors is dazzling on a sunny day, and luckily there’s an endless supply of those in Barbados. Go shopping on Broad Street and Swan Street, catch a Bajan Bus for a drive around 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 who will 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 historic colonial hotels. Family rates tend to be significantly lower than coast resorts.

Speightstown

Speightstown’s one of the island’s oldest towns and second only to Bridgetown in size. Full of character and charm, filled with historic colonial buildings and intriguing history, it’s the place to visit for great seafood, street parties and parades during Crop Over. It’s also home to pretty specialist shops and local arts and crafts galleries.

  • Don’t miss: the bustling harbor, cafés and restaurants on the Esplanade, street traders selling fresh fruit and vegetables, Crop Over festivities and beach barbecues.

Holetown

The island’s first settlement and 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 turned 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 harbor.

  • The beaches around Holetown are where to find good value family-friendly resorts with all the sea, sand and luxury of the south for less exorbitant prices.

East Coast

  • The east coast is good for cute family beach cottages and apartments with fantastic sea views. It is 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 around cheerful fishing villages, eat local or enjoy a bit of breeze.

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 130 feet, 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.
  • Personalized Snorkel Tour
    A perfect first time taste of snorkeling for kids aboard the Jolly Roger, with 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.
  • Karting Experience, Busy Park
    Kids over 12 can take a fast kart around the circuit at the legendary Barbados Bushy Park racetrack.
  • Bajan Bus Tour
    A tour on a colorful, open sided Bajan bus is a fun way to see a bit of beautiful Barbados and indulge in a little piece of history at the same time.
  • 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. It features a small, well laid out 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. Crop Over is usually held 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

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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