At only 166 square miles, Barbados may be just a speck on the world map, but it has made its mark on the global scale as one of the leading tourist destinations in the Caribbean. The former British colony is highly regarded for its breezy ambiance, gorgeous beaches, and striking natural attractions like Harrison's Cave. Events like the Barbados Food & Rum Festival and Crop Over, the latter being the island’s annual carnival celebration, attract thousands of visitors annually, all wanting to enjoy some good ol’ Bajan entertainment and cuisine.
Barbados is characterized by sunny skies throughout the year, with very few exceptions. It is the perfect escape from cold US winters (if at all you need a reason to go!).
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
The best time to visit Barbados
Seasonality & crowds
Best annual events
Best time to go snorkeling
Dry season essentials
Where to stay
If you’re planning a vacation on this paradise island, it helps to know when it’s a good time to visit. The best time to visit Barbados is between mid-December and mid-April, during dry season. You will experience less rainfall and temperatures average around 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thankfully, Barbados is one of those islands you can visit at any time of the year. Rainfall often makes way for sun, even in the wet season. Booking your trip during August, for example, can help you get more value for money, as you’ll arrive on island right in time for the annual Kadooment Day, which culminates the Crop Over Festival. This is perfect if you’re looking for a place to unwind, where you’ll also find worthwhile entertainment. You may even get a chance to see Rihanna, the richest female musician who just so happens to be from Barbados!
The months of July to October are recognized as the low season in Barbados. Some people choose to travel at this time for more affordable rates and a more laid-back experience. The low season falls within the wet season, but more often than not, your tropical beach vacation during this time will be unaffected.
The shoulder season (May, June and November) is often overlooked when deciding on the best time to travel to Barbados, or any other destination. During shoulder season, you get the best of both worlds. With crowd volume somewhere in the middle, you won’t have to worry much about the best beachside spots being taken, or resorts being completely sold out.
The peak/high season in Barbados runs from the month of mid-December until early the following year, in mid-April. This is a popular time for travel, particularly for travelers looking for an escape from the colder winter temperatures in Europe and the United States. The increased demand during this time means that you need to book accommodation, dining and other popular excursions before arriving to the island to ensure availability. A major plus in the peak season is that temperatures in the Caribbean tend to be milder, and a lot less humid.
Unlike other parts of the world which recognize Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter as the main seasons, the Caribbean has only two – wet and dry. In Barbados, the dry season runs from December to May. This means that you can get to enjoy warm sunshine and cool breeze on the island, lounging on tropical beaches like Browne's Beach and Bottom Bay.
When visiting a tropical island like Barbados, visitors should expect some showers during the wet season, which runs from June to November, just as the dry season has come to an end. This season coincides with the much-anticipated summer holidays, but despite the label, you can still look forward to plenty of sunshine during his time. The rainy periods are usually brief and generally don't interfere with your beach vacation plans.
Tip: The hottest months in Barbados are May, June and August. Drink plenty of water if you are on island during this time.
Maximum day temperatures in Barbados fall within the 82 to 88-degree range and only fluctuates slightly during the year. The lowest temperatures are within the months of December and February which fall within the dry season.
In 2018 alone, Barbados saw more than 820,000 visitors, many of which came from the United States, which accounted for more than 200,000 visitors, a growth of about 8.4% in arrivals from the previous year. Closely following were other Caribbean islands (4.6%) and Canada (1.8%), which accounted for more than 85,000 visitors. This is surely good news too, because tourism is one of the main contributors to the economy of Barbados. Thus far, the island appears to be a favorite for visitors from the United Kingdom and the United States, who generally visit during the peak season period of December to April.
This annual event is a boat sailing race which takes place in Barbados, specifically in January of every year. It is also a special time in Barbados, because January 21st is recognized as Errol Barrow Day, in commemoration of the island’s first prime minister.
The boat sail occurs over a three-day period and attracts local and foreign sailors alike, who are eager to show off their navigation skills on the Caribbean waters. This sail includes a race around Barbados and another one to Antigua.
Holetown was the first part of Barbados that was occupied by the English when they came to Barbados on February 17th, 1627. In recognition of this, a team came together in 1977 to host this unique week-long festival. In celebration of the cultural traditions of Barbados, a range of activities get underway. These include activities like the Opening Gala and Steel Band Concert and the Street Fair and Parade and other activities such as sports, traditional dances, singing of folk songs and beauty contests. The Holetown festival usually takes place around the second week of February.
Every Easter weekend, the fishing village of Oistins comes alive for its annual Fish Festival. The sound of Caribbean music fills the air as visitors feast on delectable fried fish such as mahi-mahi and tuna. Though fish is the main dish for the weekend, other types of meat are also prepared and sold along with side dishes and local drinks. Generally, Oistins is a popular spot that is often frequented by young people on weekends so don’t let the fish festival be the only reason you visit!
Barbados’ Crop Over festival is one of the biggest events taking place in Barbados every year. It all began during the slavery period, when the slaves celebrated the end of the sugar cane harvest by singing and dancing. Since then, it has evolved significantly and has been transformed into six weeks of carnival events, packed with parties, contests and singing competitions.
The most anticipated aspect of Crop Over is the culmination of it all; the last event is Grand Kadooment Day, which takes place on the first Monday in August. During Kadooment, masquerade bands parade through the streets of Bridgetown, as a symbol of the island’s culture and heritage. Visitors and locals actively participate in Kadooment by adorning their bodies with bright feathers and jewels as they dance to the Caribbean music pulsating throughout the town.
Enjoy carnival events? There are other carnival celebrations in the Caribbean you can learn abot too!
This late October festival offers a variety of local and international cuisine and beverages prepared by the experts in the business. Barbados’ Food and Rum Festival takes off in October from the 24th-27th. As the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean” Barbados recognizes that good food surely isn’t complete without some great drinks to go along with it. If you plan on attending the Festival while in Barbados, you can also expect to find wine experts and mixologists from across the region and beyond adding their hand to the festivities!
This surf festival occurs as part of the celebrations for the anniversary of the island’s independence, which is recognized during the month of November. Surfers from all over the world come together for this exciting competition on the waters. The event includes live music and lots of food and drinks to keep you entertained as you cheer on your favorite competitors.
On November 30th, 1966, the island of Barbados gained independence from the United Kingdom. The first celebration of this momentous occasion was marked by two things: the national flag being raised, and the national anthem being played and sung. On this national holiday, the country is filled with island wide activities being held in recognition of the day. You will see the grand parade at Garrison Savannah, religious ceremonies, sporting contests and community-based events. The National Independence Festival of Creative Arts is a much-anticipated showcase, which serves as an artistic display of local talent.
At night, visitors can admire the town as it comes alive with the signature blue and gold colored lights strung along buildings throughout Bridgetown. With their celebratory glow, you’ll easily be able to recognize buildings of national importance like the Parliament Building and Independence Square. Other business owners join in and decorate their businesses with these national colors (blue & gold), all resulting in a beautiful display of color.
When Sir Austin Sealy and Carl Bayley began the Run Barbados Marathon, they had no idea it would grow into the major event that it is today, attracting thousands of visitors and participants. Come for the Run, Stay for the Fun!” is the theme for the three day marathon which occurs at four different levels: a fun race, 5 and 10k and a full marathon on the last day. The route navigates the historic town, and participants will have a chance to explore Bay Street Esplanade, the Parliament building area, and other notable locations.
Haven’t tried snorkeling yet? Then you simply must while in Barbados! The island is well known for its spectacular coral reefs which are responsible, among other things, for protecting the coastline and providing a home for marine life. There is no special time to go snorkeling while in Barbados – the waters are clear and calm and provide great visibility so that you have the perfect view of the many different forms of underwater life. You don’t even need to venture far, most snorkeling locations in Barbados offer opportunities to see tropical fishes in abundance, as well as turtles, rays, and even barracudas. Some of the best snorkeling locations are along the south and west coast of Barbados, where the temperature of the water is hardly ever lower than 79°F.
Expert Tip: Never snorkeled before? Check out these great snorkeling tips for beginners that will get you started.
Traveling for Spring Break or just want to pretend that you are? Barbados offers a range of activities that just about anyone can participate in during Spring Break which spans from early March, to early April. Visitors can enjoy the sunny beaches and tour in a submarine and through historical sites. At night, enjoy some fine cuisine or a night of partying in St Lawrence Gap, known for its active night life.
Wherever you decide to stay during your vacation, it should be a “home away from home” – somewhere that makes you feel at ease and meets all your needs. An all-inclusive resort does just that and there are several options to choose from in Barbados. Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados are top choices, as they are located near the hot spots on the island such as St Lawrence Gap in Christ Church. St Lawrence Gap is on the southern coast of Barbados and the area is most known for its exclusive dining options, luxury accommodation, lively nightlife and great shopping.
Picture: A beach view from a suite at Sandals Royal Barbados.
Sandals Royal Barbados alone hosts 272 suites, including the world famous Skypool Suites, Swim-up Suites, and Millionaire Suites. If you choose to stay at Sandals you won’t have to worry about figuring out where to dine, as these all-inclusive resorts in Barbados combined feature 17 restaurants, all with world-class international cuisine!
On average, during the month of June, the temperature in the capital city of Bridgetown is 81°F. This makes June the hottest month on island, so visitors should pack the appropriate light weight clothing when travelling and drink plenty of water.
In Barbados, the driest months are from February to April. March is the driest month, recording just 1.4 inches of precipitation. February follows closely with 1.6 inches, and April with 2 inches.
You may have already guessed that the best time to visit Barbados really depends on you, who you’re travelling with, how much time you’re planning on spending there, and what you’d like to do while on the island. There is really no bad time to travel to Barbados, so whatever time of year you choose; you’re bound to have an amazing vacation!