For many travelers, Barbados is one of those special places that keeps them coming back, year after year. With spectacular white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise surf, a vibrant local culture and bustling city vibe, this island is unlike any other in the Caribbean. From rum shacks to fish markets, lush, tropical mountains and wild, deserted coastline, Barbados is a destination that’s pretty hard to beat. Here are 7 reasons why we can’t seem to stay away.
1. Beaches for all
It’s not on every island that you find beaches for every type of traveler, but Barbados has all the bases covered: All along the posh West Coast, the water is clear, shallow and calm. Protected from the wind, these shores are ideal for families with small children. On the South Coast, the water is a bit livelier and wavy, perfect for diving or for those who are just learning how to surf. For strong swimmers and seasoned surfers, there’s no better place to be than Bathsheba, a rugged part of the East Coast on the Atlantic. Unspoiled surf for miles, this is truly a big wave paradise.
2. Oistins Fish Fry
Every Friday night, locals and tourists alike head to Oistins, a fishing village on the South Coast for their informal weekly celebration of food, music and drinks. With many vendors to choose from, just look for the one that has the biggest crowd and take your pick of what was caught fresh that day. Top off your grilled or fried fish with a local Banks beer, life doesn’t get much better.
The only thing that rivals a relaxing day at the spa is a relaxing day on the beach. Why not have both? The Indulgence Spa at Royal Westmoreland right on Mullins Beach–said to be one of the best in the Caribbean–will take island relaxation to a whole new dimension. Everything you might expect from a traditional spa is available, from skin wraps to scrubs to full-body massages, but the Exotic Coconut Rub & Milk Ritual wrap will leave you in a state of pure Caribbean bliss.
4. Rum shops
A fundamental part of Bajan culture, rum is the drink of choice for many islanders, and rum shops can be found almost everywhere you go. But this isn’t the clear white liquid you mix with a Coke (although you certainly can); drinking the local rum here is more like savoring a good scotch– straight up with some ice on the side. Deep, flavorful, caramel colored and complex, if you weren’t a rum fan when you arrived, you will be before you leave.
5. Tip Top Cuisine
The food scene in Barbados is a cut above. With a strong local food culture as well as as lots of European influences, there are plenty of food options for all tastes and budgets. Aside from the popular local food chain Chefette (for the best rotis around), and the famous flying fish sandwiches at Cutters, there is also amazing Indian food at Aspara Samudra, incredible Italian at Cin Cin’s and for a very special evening, The Cliff is one of the top restaurants in the whole Caribbean.
6.Take a Zip
In the Walkes Spring Plantation in St Thomas Parish, you’ll find high-flying vacationers exploring the island’s treetops. A fan-favorite for those looking for an adventurous day out,Aerial Trek Zipline Adventure’s 100-feet course is a surefire way to get well-acquainted with nature on the island. It doubles as a crash course in the island’s ecosystems too, as the knowledgeable guides describe the plantation and its friendly inhabitants as you take off from each of the 8 different platforms. And if you’re looking for an extra-entertaining Christmas card photo this year, the staff is ready and willing to snap pictures of excited zip-liners.
7. Private Villas
There’s no better way to experience the island than within the comfort of your own private villa. With the freedom to explore Barbados and all its charm at your leisure, you can take a day to lounge by the pool or relax with a book on the beach, then head out to dinner, or have something prepared by a top local chef right in the comfort of your home.
There’s really no bad time to travel to the Caribbean, but some times may be better than others. The worst time to go depends on what you want to avoid most. Winter is the heaviest tourist season, while weather at other times of the year varies significantly.
Winter is the busy season throughout most of the Caribbean. Prices soar and many attractions are crowded. Some places even sell out at times, especially around the holidays. Some travelers enjoy the crowds and the fact that everything is open all the time, but if this is your idea of a lousy vacation, then any time from December to April would be the worst time for you to visit.
Caribbean beaches are relatively pleasant throughout the year, so there are plenty of other times to consider visiting. However, traveling between March and November has its own disadvantages. While prices are significantly lower and crowds are much thinner, there are also fewer services available than during the peak season. Hotels, attractions and even transportation can be more limited for the rest of the year. If you prefer to have as many options as possible, avoid the off season.
Aside from the prices, summer is the worst time for most people to visit the Caribbean. The weather can be uncomfortably hot and muggy at the best of times. More important, summer is also the hurricane season. The risk of hurricanes is especially high in August and September. Even if none occur, this time of year is the most likely for tourist destinations to be closed. Unless you’re more interested in local culture, there’s not much reason to visit during the summer.
When to Go
The best time to go to the Caribbean mostly comes down to avoiding the worst times. To skip the tourist season and the worst of the hot and rainy weather, plan a trip for spring or fall. November may be the best choice for most travelers, since you can avoid spring break crowds and get away from late fall weather at home, while still beating the winter rush.
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Island hopping in the Caribbean
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