Winter on the Beach: Barbados

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

It's our favourite Caribbean destination for good reason – there's more to this island than sun, sea and sand. Kate Simon offers a guide



The accommodation


The hot news from the east coast is the reopening of the Atlantis Hotel (atlantishotelbarbados.com). The venerable seaside lodgings have been turned into a stylish 10-room property by the team behind Little Good Harbour.

Further south on this coast, The Crane (thecrane.com) has added a "village" of boutiques and restaurants to its 202 luxurious suites and rooms. On the south coast at St Lawrence Gap, the all-inclusive Almond Casuarina Beach Resort (almondresorts.com) has had a revamp, adding 95 sea-facing rooms and a shorefront pool.

The activities

Any self-respecting surfer should try their luck in the Soup Bowl off the east coast at Bathsheba. This world-class break, which hosts international championships, can be surfed year round. But Barbados isn't all about the beach or the sea. Go inland to find more thrills at the Barbados Aerial Trek Zipline Adventures (00 246 433 8966) at Walkes Spring Plantation, which whizzes across 100ft-deep Jack-in-the-Box Gully. And, of course, Barbados is well supplied with polo fields, a sport first played here by British cavalry officers. The most famous ground is Holders, but others under construction include a new one at Apes Hill Club (apeshillclub.com), the latest addition to the island's portfolio of private estates.

The urban scene

The lively capital, Bridgetown, with its busy shops and harbour full of leisure craft, reveals the well-heeled nature of this island. This is also home to the third oldest parliament in the world and National Heroes Square, with its statue of Nelson that predates the one in London's Trafalgar Square. Also call by Holetown, where the British first settled, and see the once neglected Speightstown, the first major port, which is now being given a makeover.

The beaches

This island's exclusive image is largely down to its "Platinum Coast" on the Caribbean side of the island. Here, you'll find the rich and famous enjoying barefoot luxury on white sands lined with sunloungers set out by the five-star hotels that sit cheek by jowl along this coast. Further south, on the more blustery seafront of St Lawrence Gap, the resort hotels spill out on to golden beaches. This is charter-holiday territory, where families mingle on the sands with a procession of brides and grooms searching for that ultimate Caribbean wedding photo. Over on the east coast, the Atlantic waves keep the atmosphere bracing. It's a joy for surfers, but dangerous for swimmers who should ask a local to show them the safe spots for bathing.

The restaurants

Still the island's top spot for a special meal, The Cliff (thecliffbarbados.com) serves a starry clientele exquisite food in a sublime clifftop setting. At the new Marketfive by John Hazzard (00 246 436 1485), the eponymous chef is creating exciting, contemporary Caribbean dishes in a stylish dining room in the unlikely location of the new Sanjay Bridgetown Centre in the capital. Meanwhile, the Fish Pot (littlegoodharbour barbados.com) at the northern reach of the west coast and Cafe Luna (littlearches.com) at the southern end, both continue to delight with fine food and romantic settings. But for dinner with a touch of fun, join the locals and tourists at Fish Friday in Oistins.

The sights

Don't miss St Nicholas Abbey (stnicholasabbey.com) in St Peter, one of just three Jacobean houses remaining in the Americas. Take a tour of Harrison's Cave (harrisonscave.com), the extraordinary limestone caverns at Allen View. Look out for the Emancipation Statue – aka Bussa, after the slave leader – which shows a black man breaking his chains. It sits on a roundabout east of Bridgetown.

Compact Facts

How to get there

Kate Simon travelled to Barbados with the Barbados Tourism Authority (visitbarbados.org). Thomas Cook Signature (0844 879 8015; tcsignature.com) offers seven nights' at Tamarind Cove from £1,299 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights with Virgin Atlantic, resort transfers, and B&B.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk