With its pink sands and emerald-blue waves, Barbados has one of the most unforgettable coastlines in the Caribbean. But there’s more to this island than its glittering shores, including a capital city heavy on history and legend, a buzzy nightlife scene, and a vibrant local culture. Here are five reasons why Barbados is one of the best islands to visit in the Caribbean.
The intimate, 10-room Little Arches Boutique, on the island's southern coast, proves that size doesn't matter when it comes to living lavishly in Barbados. With its Mediterranean-inspired architecture, private terraces in every room, and perch above the island's most pristine beach—Enterprise—it's tough to find any fault with this adults-only retreat.
Midway along the island's famous Platinum Coast, you'll find The Colony Club, whose winding pools surrounded by gardens, home to hummingbirds and green monkeys, set the scene for ultimate relaxation. After some well-deserved R&R, get a taste of local Bajan culture during a dialect class, a calypso and steel pan drum lesson, or on a local rum crawl—all organized by the hotel.
If you're seeking true tranquility, look no further than Cobblers Cove, a pink beachfront plantation house and outlying cottages turned 40-suite escape, each with four-poster beds and their own private terrace. While the operation is small, service never wavers from being top notch. Seeking even more privacy? The Great House at Cobblers Cove offers both a private rooftop and pool.
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The Caribbean is known for its cuisine, but Barbados stands out for its unique, diverse flavors that marry Indian, English, and African culinary influences and traditions—marinated meats and fish often paired with spices and sauces and slow-cooked over open fires.
For an elevated taste of its culinary scene, bring your appetite to Holetown. The views from The Tides, an elegant four-level restaurant overlooking the sea, are an idyllic backdrop for enjoying refreshing rum punches and multiple courses of Asian-inflected seafood platters like spiced carrot and coconut bisque and their signature rustic seafood stew.
Further down the coast, you'll find equally breathtaking views—and exceptionally elevated Bajan cuisine—at The Cliff, the place to celebrate any occasion. Time your reservation during sunset (be sure to request a table with an ocean view) and begin with a pre-dinner drink in the upper-level bar before making your way down to the torch-lit decks, which sit above a cove swirling with stingrays, for a meal—cajun salmon; roast duck breast—worth remembering.
Barbados, the easternmost island in the Caribbean, is ringed by coral reefs and has a much flatter terrain than its neighbors. Take in the beauty of the region during a stroll through Hunte's, a botanical garden and true oasis in Saint Joseph’s Parish renowned for its stillness and serenity—and loved by both travelers and locals. Over the years, owner and legendary horticulturist Anthony Hunte transformed the property, once a massive sinkhole, into his own tropical masterpiece of sunny clearings, patches of dense rain forest, and countless multicolored flowers, all interspersed with well-placed fountains, benches, and stepping stones. Because Hunte personally welcomes guests into the space, it's impossible not to feel his sense of pride for the environment he has created.
The many palm tree-lined golden beaches that line Barbados' coastlines make it a top spot to disengage from the daily grind and tune in to island time—be it lazing on the sand or elevating your heart rate. Silver Sands is a world-class beach whose secluded lagoons are ripe for swimming, while constant breezes are perfect for going wind- or kite-surfing. Soft adventure enthusiasts can still whet their appetite on a catamaran cruise or private sunset charter—arguably the best way to see the island. Knock back a local rum punch or two to work up some courage before cliff jumping at Crane Beach.
“Why is the rum gone?” may be a familiar query on some tropical islands, where the once-pervasive spirit is often passed over in favor of more trendy cocktails, but not here. While rum-like liquors were produced elsewhere during the 1600s, Barbados perfected the drink on its sugarcane plantations during the 17th century, and it remains a cornerstone of the island’s social life. Stop by any of the more than 1,500 roadside bars on the island for a taste—or, better yet, take a rum tour in a local distillery like Mount Gay (founded in 1703, it's the world's oldest rum brand). Whether you go for the clear or classic variety (browned and aged in oak barrels) is all a matter of choice.