Barbados is one of the smaller Caribbean islands that frequently surprises visitors in terms of what can be found there. From horse races to cricket games, from lush botanical gardens to stunning caves, there is just so much to do in Barbados. Not forgetting the sun, rum and surf that people the world over flock to this region for.
When deciding on the best area to stay in Barbados, consider the following four regions: the upscale west coast, the rugged north coast, the modern south coast, and the rustic east coast. The most popular areas to stay in Barbados are situated along the south and west coast of the island. In each area, you’re bound to find a different experience, which means the best area to stay in Barbados really depends on you, and what you want to get out of your vacation.
Picture: Beautiful beach views from the Skypool Suites at Sandals Royal Barbados
If you’ve already determined the best time to visit Barbados, this blog will help you decide the best area to stay in Barbados, so you can make the most of your tropical getaway.
Best for: Lively beach vacation. This is the best region to learn how to surf. Here you’ll also find Barbados' most popular golf club.
South West Barbados
Top point of interests in Christ Church: Enterprise Beach (ranked #4 out of 15), Dover Beach (ranked #7 out of 15), Garrison Savannah (ranked #13 out of 15).
The south coast of Barbados is where you can find areas like Christ Church, which is home to the island’s main airport, the Grantley Adams International Airport. It’s also home to the St. Lawrence Gap (locally known as ‘The Gap’), the always happening entertainment hub of the island.
In St. Lawrence Gap you can find the best restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops, along with hotels and all-inclusive resorts that range from modest, to uber-fabulous.
Picture: Sandals Royal Barbados is located in the St. Lawrence Gap area and features signature accommodations as well as world-class international cuisine.
Looking for a party? Saint Lawrence Gap is a good region to stay, and so is Bridgetown. Both are located in the south-west of the island. Good to know: guests of both Sandals all-inclusive resorts in Barbados can enjoy unlimited free cocktails and other (alcoholic) drinks during their stay. Sandals Royal Barbados even comes with a craft beer hall and bowling alley!
Experience wise, you’ll be kept easily occupied, whether you want your vacation in Barbados to incorporate lots of sightseeing tours, sunny beaches, or spacy experiences, like that of the Harry Bayley Observatory. The Observatory is open on Friday evenings, and here you’ll be able to scope the night’s sky through a powerful telescope on site.
While in Christ Church, consider touring the Banks Beer Brewery and watching some horse racing at Garrison Savannah. For a slice of history, visit the St. Lawrence Church which goes back to the early 1800s. Christchurch is also home to the most popular golf club (Barbados Golf Club) and surf school (Barry’s Surf School) of the island country.
South East Barbados
Top points of interests in St. Philip: Bottom Bay (ranked #3 out of 15), Crane Beach (ranked #12 out of 15).
You may well find yourself enjoying the calmer side of things in St. Philip, exploring plantation houses like Sunbury which dates to the 1600s, or enjoying some of Barbados’ most iconic beaches: Bottom Bay and Crane Beach.
St. Philip truly is quite diverse in terms of what you can do there. In fact, among the major attractions in St. Philip is the Bushy Park Racing Circuit, where you can experience life in the fast lane – literally. Get set for one of the “most memorable experiences of your life” as you push the limits of race cars or carts or watch an international racing event.
Aside from exploring the beaches, plantation houses and racing circuit, while in St. Philip you can visit the four lighthouses in Ragged Point which promise amazing views, or the Four Square Distillery for a tour that includes tastings.
Best for: Active beach vacation. This is the best region for duty-free shopping, exploring historic sights and going on a fishing excursion.
The western coast of Barbados is on the upscale side, and you’ll find both high-end resorts, and sprawling mansions. The sandy beaches are the appeal for many, like the famed Holetown beach.
Previously known as Jamestown, Holetown was where the British first settled on the island. It was named after King James I. Things have changed a lot since then, and now you can find many restaurants, bars and boutiques in this area.
South West Barbados
Top points of interests in St. Michael: Carlisle Bay (ranked #2 out of 15), Mount Gay Distillery (ranked #9 out of 15), George Washington House (ranked #10 out of 15).
A little way up the western coast is St. Michael, home to the capital city of Bridgetown, and expectedly, there are numerous tourist attractions in this area. This is a plus for visitors who want to be in the heart of it all; in a place where they can connect deeply with the pulse of the island.
Bridgetown is a great place to go out on a memorable fishing excursion. Of the many attractions in this area, among the most popular are the George Washington House, St. Ann’s Fort, Barbados Museum and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
There’s also Carlisle Bay with its incredible beaches and own underwater dive park, featuring numerous sunken ships and boats.
Love scuba diving? PADI® certified guests of either of the two Sandals all-inclusive resorts in Barbados can dive for free (max. two tanks a day). This includes professional equipment and staff! At an additional fee, it’s also possible to get PADI® certified at the resort. Once certified, you can dive the rest of your vacation for free!
You’ll also find Brighton Beach in this area, the Cockspur Visitor Centre, Mount Gay Rum Distillery, the Tyrol Cot heritage center, Kensington Oval (a cricket hub), Frank Collymore Hall (regular theatre productions), and lots of duty-free shopping.
As with most capital cities, there’s always something exciting happening in Bridgetown, and this vibrant town will also give you a chance to experience the commercial seafaring life of the Caribbean. While in Bridgetown, don’t forget to visit the Chamberlain Bridge and the Lord Nelson Statue.
Did you know: The General Postal Service in Barbados is one of the world’s oldest!
North West Barbados
Top points of interests in St. James: On the western central part of the island, St. James Parish appeals to travelers of all budgets. Although the area is known to be one of the go-to areas for celebrities on the island, there’s more than just upscale accommodation available, and plenty to do.
For instance, you can expand your knowledge on Barbadian history by visiting the St. James Parish Church, which opened its doors in the 1600s. The church was built in an area called ‘God’s Acre’. While in St. James, you can do a tour of this stonewall church, and learn about its colorful past.
Also visit the Portvale Sugar Factory, one of the last remaining sugar factories in Barbados still in operation, the Folkstone Marina Park and the Sir Frank Hutson Museum. Villages like Prospect, Sugar Hill, Appleby, as well as Porters are also interesting places to visit during your explorations.
Best for: Reconnecting with nature. This is the best region to go on a hike. Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful botanical gardens. The water on the east coast is rough, which makes it a great place for professional surfers.
Top point of interests in St. Joseph: Hunte’s Gardens (ranked #1 out of 15), Bathsheba Beach (ranked #8 out of 15).
Have a restful time in St. Joseph, when you’re done taking in the more upbeat parts of the island. This is a great place to come “home” to, and just relax, if you’re into things like exploring botanical gardens, like the Flower Forest, which was once a sugar plantation. Another botanical garden in the area is the Andromeda Gardens in St. Joseph Village, which is smaller. Still, the latter features over 600 types of plants. The gardens were once part of a private collection, put together and maintained by a former horticultural expert on the island, Iris Bannochie. Hunte’s Gardens is another botanical garden that you can visit while in St. Joseph.
Best for: Low-key getaway.
Top point of interests in St. Lucy: Animal Flower Cave (ranked #6 out of 15).
Pristine and less developed than some of the communities on the west coast, St. Lucy in the north is a breath of fresh air. It is ideal for visitors whose idea of a vacation in paradise means finding delight in the simple things, like rustling trees, and ocean views almost everywhere you look.
Most who choose to stay in St Lucy do so because of its far away appeal; in St. Lucy it literally feels as though you are away from it all, discovering a part of Barbados only the most privileged get to experience.
That, of course, is far from the truth, as everyone is welcome to St. Lucy, where visitors can explore sites like the Animal Flower Cave, a sea cave which can be found under the cliffs at North Point. It is the only accessible sea cave on the island, and guided tours are available. If you plan on going to the Animal Flower Cave, bring along a swimwear and water shoes just in case you get the urge to dip into one of the natural rock pools.
Other popular spots in St. Lucy include Maycock’s Bay for surfing, the Fustic House Plantation, and St. Lucy’s Parish Church.
North West Barbados
Top point of interests in St. Peter: St. Nicholas Abbey (ranked #5 out of 15).
On the north-west of Barbados, St. Philip’s is hilly in some areas, with lots of sandy beaches. The most popular is Gibbs Beach. Other than the spectacular beaches, the pull to this area is in the abundance of historical sites such as the town of Speightstown (the second largest town on island), the St. Nicholas Abbey Rum Plantation, and the Arlington House Museum.
Also known as Little Bristol, Speightstown is a charming beach town many consider a must-visit, particularly on a weekend when vendors come out to sell everything under the sun. The name of this area comes from the close trading relationship that once existed between Barbados and Great Britain’s Bristol.
St. Peter is also known for its sweet hillsides, covered in sugarcane, marinas like Port St Charles and Port Ferdinand which are interesting sites to explore, and The Farley Hill National Park. The park was once the site of a beautiful Georgian mansion, but today just the ruins remain. This area plays host to several events throughout the year, including the Barbados Jazz Festival. The 1957 movie Island in the Sun was also filmed here, featuring Harry Belafonte and Joan Collins.
Picture: Sandals Barbados is located in the spirited St. Lawrence Gap area and offers undeniable luxury with inventive accommodations.
The best area to stay in Barbados will depend on your expectations for your vacation in this part of the world. Even with that said, at just 166.4 square miles, no matter where you stay in Barbados, you can easily explore other parts of the island. In fact, it takes just about three hours to get around the entire island, though if you’re doing a tour, you’ll certainly want to do that at a more leisurely pace!
Looking for a romantic vacation? Sandals all-inclusive resorts are a top choice for couples vacationing in Barbados, featuring a rooftop infinity pool, innovative suites, its own bowling alley, 18 world-class restaurants, swim-up bars, Barbados’ largest and longest lagoon pool and much much more. The best part is that everything is included! That includes unlimited (alcoholic) drinks, gourmet food, water sports, scuba diving (max. two tanks per day per guest), bowling and more.