All roads in Barbados lead to the coast, but even beach bums will have their heads turned by the offerings found away from the island’s lapping waves and shining shores.
Yes, you can swim with turtles, drink rum all day long by the ocean, and eat all manner of seaside street food, but the Barbadian inland also offers up its own glorious sights.
Go hiking among tropical forests and abandoned plantation houses, or witness incredible views that stretch across the entirety of this phenomenal coral island.
In Barbados the decision is yours: treat yourself to the best in luxury accommodation, restaurants and shopping, or go for the laid-back more modest options for your paradise break. Better put, splurge like Rihanna would have done after signing her first big record deal, or chill as she would have done before.
No matter your budget, head to any of these top locations to experience an unforgettable holiday.
A lively capital with a population of 110,000, Bridgetown is by far and away the island’s most vibrant city. Mixing a rich history with 21st-century island living, street vendors with colourful trays of fresh produce can still be spotted in the shadows of modern shopping malls and office towers, hawking their wares to locals and visitors alike.
Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bridgetown is one of the oldest cities in all the Caribbean, and is awash with traditional bars in which to take a load off – after all, the sound of a rum bottle being uncorked is always within earshot in this part of the world.
Yachts, catamarans and fishing boats are conveniently able to dock right in the heart of town and, as a central hub for the island’s transport system, it is a great place to set up shop for two weeks in paradise.
Our pro tip is to beat the heat with a snow cone from one of the entrepreneurial vendors you’ll pass on the sidewalk.
St Lawrence Gap
Known to locals as ‘The Gap’, this is one of the island’s best-known neighbourhoods.
It’s located on the southern coast of Barbados and is made up of a bizarre mix of local teens and senior citizens who inter mingle with tourists coming from all over the world.
Here, your holiday is whatever you make of it. Read a book on one of the quiet beaches towards the east where all the best boutique resorts are located and enjoy a slower pace of life. Grab a freshly cracked coconut, tuck into some street food and stop by one of the old rum shops for a few cheeky drinks.
Alternatively, sneak off to the bustling west-side boardwalks and markets for vendors selling their handcrafted jewellery and artwork right by all the big bars and restaurants.
Here, cheap local food haunts are nestled next to fine dining eateries and clubs.
If you’re looking for long white sandy beaches, then look no further than the province of St James.
Towards the north western part of Barbados, lies a handful of coastal towns known for their laid-back glamour.
Check out Holetown, Fitts Village and Porters for access to all the best natural wonders of Barbados, as well as their boutique retail stores and restaurants.
Paynes Bay is one of the best hidden spots in the area where tourists can swim with leatherback and hawksbill turtles and do a spot of jet skiing and sailing.
Tourists could spend a lifetime walking up and down these beaches.
The east side of Barbados is too often overlooked simply because this part of the Atlantic Ocean isn’t the safest place to go swimming.
But don’t let that keep you from visiting. If anything, it is the main reason why you should go – it makes St Joseph far less touristy.
Base yourselves in Bathsheba, a beautiful little fishing town, and explore the rest of the area from there. The best safe beach to venture to would be Bath Beach where visitors can also do some proper surfing on a good day.
Thanks to the rugged and often dramatic landscape, people often refer to the area as the Scotland District.
This will drive you away from the coast and into the famous Andromeda Botanical Gardens, Flower Forest and Hackleton’s Cliff.
Head here to experience a more remote Barbados.