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Beautiful Barbados: Top 5 reasons to visit!



Barbados is a top travel destination for the Brits because of its British heritage and its location as the most eastern Caribbean island, but this picture-perfect island is less known to Americans. That’s why I chose this destination for our 17th anniversary getaway – so I could share my experience and my top 5 reasons to visit beautiful Barbados!

 

Top 5 reasons to visit Barbados:

1.    Breathtaking landscapes and beautiful beaches

2.    Sophisticated and safe island

3.    Diversity of activities, accommodations and prices

4.    World-class golf

5.    Top-notch dining and nightlife

 


You'll be surprised at the diversity of scenery and activities on this sophisticated island



#1 Breathtaking landscapes and beautiful beaches

In the Caribbean, you often have to choose between dramatic scenery and beautiful beaches. Volcanic islands deliver the drama, but their beaches aren’t the sugary white sand perfect for walking hand-in-hand. In Barbados - a coral and limestone island - you can have both.  The island's white sand beaches are lushly framed by mahogany and palm trees while the whole eastern seaboard is a mixture of craggy cliffs and pounding surf that's reminiscent of Scotland.


To me, Turks & Caicos is unparalleled when it comes to beautiful beaches and neon turquoise water – so I compare every island I visit to Turks. While the water and beaches in Barbados are beautiful, the beaches aren’t as broad as Turks nor is the water as stunning everywhere you turn like Turks. However, in Barbados, the island itself is more beautiful and the topography is more interesting.


Beautiful beaches, beautiful water, and dramatic "Scotland District" coastline



#2 Sophisticated and safe

Barbados has a rich history and strong British influences, which brings a higher level of sophistication than most Caribbean islands. With a stable government and business community that is not entirely dependent on tourism, most islanders we encountered seemed educated, refined and financially comfortable. We felt very safe, even exploring outside our resorts. In fact, we were encouraged to walk off property while staying on the south side, a very walkable area. That would be unheard of in destinations like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. The Bajans (Bay-juns) are friendly, happy you’re visiting, and are very proud of their home.




#3 Diversity of activities, accommodations and prices

Exploring the island is a must because of its diversity. We stayed at two different resorts, toured three more, and saw almost the whole island. I've summarized the three main tourist areas: the West Coast ("Platinum Coast"), the lively South Coast, and the East Coast ("Scotland District").


I've reviewed and priced all five resorts we toured to help you understand the diversity. All prices are for 2 adults for 7 nights in early December 2024. While Barbados is a family destination, two of the resorts we visited were adult-only, so I priced 2 adults so that we could compare across the resorts. These prices are NOT offers but are provided to give you a reference point for Barbados accommodations.




West Coast - the “Platinum coast”

The Platinum Coast extends from north of Bridgetown through Holetown and St. James Parish up to Speightstown. This side of the island is lined with posh luxury resorts and beautiful (but narrow) beaches with calm water. Groves of mahogany trees intermingle with palm trees to provide lovely shade by the beach. You'll find a sophisticated culinary scene here, a yachting community, stunning sunsets, and top notch diving and snorkeling.


I toured two resorts on the Platinum Coast and loved both of them - Fairmont Royal Pavillion and Sandy Lane Barbados. Here's my impressions of each along with photos and pricing.


If you want to be steps from the ocean, you'll love the Fairmont! This intimate boutique resort has both stellar views and stellar service. All 72 suites are oceanfront with a furnished terrace or patio. And everyone we encountered during our stay was charming and delightful. The Fairmont was perfect for my husband and me for a few days to just chill on the beach. The water was stunning, the beach was beautiful, and the craft cocktails were served right to our comfortable beach chairs. However, if our kids had been with us, they would have gotten bored quickly as there's not much to do onsite beyond the beach.


Left: Views from our oceanfront suite. Right: Kayaking and chilling on the beach


FAIRMONT ROYAL PAVILION: Oceanfront king suite $7.6k, including my Virtuoso exclusive amenities of complimentary breakfast, room upgrade, and resort credit.


 


Sandy Lane Barbados

Nestled within an ancient mahogany grove reminiscent of Savannah, Georgia, this iconic resort is jaw-droppingly beautiful and oh so luxurious. The Sandy Lane signature pink against the turquoise water, white sand beach, and lush surroundings presents picture-perfect views no matter where you turn. As my husband and I walked through the marble halls for my site tour, he whispered, "It feels like we're in a castle." And we giggled as if we weren't quite 'royal' enough to belong there. But one can dream!


Sandy Lane is renowned for exclusive privacy, decadent relaxation and golf with sweeping views and incredible terrain. Spend your morning on the gorgeous beach and your afternoon in the multi-level grotto pool. Choose from three world-famous golf courses and a heavenly 47,000 square foot spa with cold plunge, panoramic sauna, hydrotherapy, and so much more. While Sandy Lane seems perfect for an adult luxury getaway, the resort welcomes families and offers a complimentary kids club, sports camps, and even swim lessons.



Sandy Lane Barbados, the most iconic address in the Caribbean


SANDY LANE BARBADOS: Gardenview suite $11k, including my Virtuoso exclusive amenities of complimentary breakfast, room upgrade, massage, and round of golf.


 

South Coast

The South Coast includes Barbados' capital, Bridgetown, the airport and surrounding towns. This area is fast-paced and lively as it's jam-packed with restaurants, resorts, shopping and nightlife. Versus the Platinum Coast, the South Coast is more budget-friendly. Beaches are lovely (albeit crowded) and usually swimmable, although there were yellow and red flags while we were there.


Bridgetown, Barbados





For part of our visit, we stayed at Sandals Royal Barbados, which is adjacent to Sandals Barbados, so we experienced both resorts. They call them two separate resorts, but it's really just one big property (600+ rooms) - you use the amenities from both not knowing which side you're on.


Sandals is a chain of adult-only all-inclusive properties with resorts on Barbados, Jamaica, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Antigua, Curacao, Grenada, and St. Vincent. We've also stayed at Sandals Negril in Jamaica, Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, and Beaches Turks & Caicos (Beaches is part of the same company and is the all-family brand while Sandals is adult-only). If you love all-inclusive resorts and want an adult-only property in a beautiful setting, Sandals is a great choice. You'll never be bored as they offer a wealth of activities that are all included - watersports including scuba diving, tennis, fitness classes, day and night entertainment - plus more restaurants and bars than you can keep track of. However, Sandals caters to the masses, and their service can be hit or miss (if you don't splurge for a butler suite), and their food and drinks are just average.


Of the Sandals properties I've visited, Barbados was not my favorite. While the resort has a lot to offer, the property is huge and set back from the water. Our room was so far back that I couldn't tell which direction the water was. I like an uncrowded beach with room to walk, but the beachfront here is way too small for the size of the resort. In addition, the resort was clearly understaffed, although I'm not sure why, so wait times for dining were long. If you like big resorts with lots to do, plan to spend most of your time poolside, and can afford a butler suite, then the Sandals Barbados resorts may be a good fit for you!



 SANDALS BARBADOS, ALL-INCLUSIVE:

  • $5K lead-in room category

  • $6k concierge level

  • $10k butler level


SANDALS ROYAL BARBADOS, ALL-INCLUSIVE: All rooms are concierge or butler

  • $6k concierge level

  • $8k butler level

  • $14k Rondoval suites


 

East Coast - the “Scotland District”

The Atlantic ocean (not the Caribbean Sea) crashes against the East Coast of Barbados, which has eroded the shoreline, forming craggy cliffs and sweeping vistas, reminiscent of Scotland. Barbados' adventures and unique views are on this side of the island, but you'll find few places to stay given the water is rough and the beaches suffer from sargassum. However, we did a site tour and dined at The Crane Resort here on the East Coast. Our lunch there was one of our favorite meals!



As the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Caribbean, The Crane Resort offers historical charm, breathtaking clifftop views, and a unique European vibe on Barbados' southeast coast. Spread over 40 acres above famous Crane Beach, the property's 1-3BR suites are perfect for larger families and include full kitchens, washer/dryer, and even your own private pool! Room decor reflects the history of the resort with dark mahogany traditional furniture.


With five pools, a kids club, four restaurants, tennis courts and a day spa, you may forget you're just 98 steps away from beautiful Crane Beach. (You can walk or take the glass elevator.) They call it a pink sand beach, although that side of the island is suffering from sargassum, so the beach wasn't picture perfect when we were there. The grounds are as gorgeous as the views, but you'll need a rental car if you're staying here given the secluded location.




THE CRANE RESORT including my Virtuoso exclusive amenities of complimentary breakfast, room upgrade:

  • $4K gardenview junior suite gardenview

  • $6k oceanview 1BR

  • $7k oceanview 2BR

  • $11k oceanview 3BR



 

Barbados Activities



Most of the adventures on Barbados are situated on the north and east areas of the island. You can hire a taxi guide for the day to show you around like we did or book a bus, bike, or 4x4 tour. Top activities in Barbados include:

  • Catamaran cruise - We did the Cool Runnings Luxury Catamaran and it was my favorite experience of our trip! Comfortable boat, small group, chef onboard serving amazing food, and some of the best snorkeling I've experienced in a long time - including a very friendly sea turtle! Highly recommend!

  • Animal Flower Cave on the northernmost tip of the island – breathtaking views, swim in a sea cave

  • St. Nicholas Abbey plantation – rum tours, steam train ride

  • Harrison’s Cave eco adventure park - a limestone cavern discovered in the 18th century. You can travel through the mile-long cave system by electric tram and experience stalagmites, stalactites, and a 40-foot underground waterfall. You can also zipline, traverse an obstacle course, and quench your thirst with a rum tasting tour.

  • Hike & bike tour– St. John’s Parish Church, Hackelton’s Cliff, East coast views, country trails, St. Nicholas Abbey


 

#4 World class golf



Barbados is blessed with good weather year-round and six world-class golf courses to choose from.

  • Sandy Lane

  • Barbados Golf Club

  • Royal Westmoreland

  • Rockley Club

  • Apes Hill

  • Almond Beach Resort


My golf-loving husband was dying to play, but with only five days on the island there, he was nice enough to stick with me instead. I guess I'll keep him. :)


#5 Top notch dining and nightlife

Barbados serves up sophisticated cuisine focused on seafood (mahi mahi, kingfish, snapper and flying fish) as well as local delicacies like conkies and fish cakes. The drinks, of course, feature island-made rum - Barbados is truly "where de rum come from". Ask your server to make you their favorite drink versus what's on the menu. You won't be disappointed.


When the sun goes down, people come out to "lime" - which can mean a casual get-together or a full-blown "jump up" street party. Choose from family-friendly beach clubs to rum shops on Baxter's Road in Bridgetown, which is called "The street that never sleeps." Tourists come around 11pm to party while locals show up hours later. On Fridays, the Oistins Fish Fry is the place to be for food, music and dancing.


If you're a Rihanna fan, you can check out the Rihanna monument outside the little yellow and green house she grew up in not far from the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal.




When you're ready to visit beautiful Barbados or any tropical destination, book a call with Show Them the World. We can help you find the best accommodations and activities for your family and secure exclusive perks to help make your vacation spectacular!




 


 Heather Vergara is a former PepsiCo marketing executive who left the corporate world to be a Mom and never found her way back. Instead, she focused on her passion for travel and adventure and created Show Them the World, a travel concierge service for busy families longing to reconnect and see the world together. In less than four years, she's helped more than 300 families experience Hawaii, Alaska, Costa Rica, France, England, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, the Caribbean, National Parks, and more to come!


Heather has an MBA in marketing from Indiana University, a Digital Marketing Executive Education certificate from Columbia University, and a BA in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives with her husband, two kids, and two furry dogs in Zionsville, Indiana.

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