13 Top-Rated Beaches in Barbados
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Just the name "Barbados" triggers thoughts of swaying palm trees, friendly locals, historic sites, azure waters, and powdery white-sand beaches. The island is home to tranquil stretches of sand, perfect for swimming, as well as remote beaches and rugged shores frequented by surfers and kiteboarders, which offer a different kind of beauty. Considering the different dynamics, it's best to figure out what you're looking for before heading out in search of the perfect beach.
Taking a look at the different coasts, you can see there are some obvious differences. The beaches on the Caribbean Sea (west side of the island) are typically calm and tranquil, with small waves and easy entry, but they tend to be busy. The beaches on the Atlantic side are wilder and have larger waves and spectacular scenery, especially as you head north. The beaches on the south side of the island can also be a bit wild, but some are ideal for water sports like surfing or kiteboarding.
No matter what style of beach you like, you can find it here. For a more detailed look at what's available, see our list of the best beaches in Barbados.
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1. The Beaches of Carlisle Bay
Barbados is one of the lucky places in the world that can claim they have a spectacular beach five minutes from the downtown area of their capital city. In Barbados, these are the beaches of Carlisle Bay.
Here, you'll find three popular public beaches; Brownes Beach, Bayshore Beach, and Pebble Beach. All are backed by green space complete with picnic tables, and at Pebble Beach, you'll find washrooms and showers.
The sand here is powder soft, and waves are small to non-existent on most days. The water is shallow and stays that way for a long way out into the ocean. It's a family-friendly beach, where children will not want to get out of the bathwater-warm ocean.
A variety of restaurants are set along this stretch of beach, but the best place to go for a fish cutter sandwich is the legendary Cuzz's Fish Stand. It's not much to look at, just a shack in a parking lot by the yacht club, but what comes out of the shack will have you coming back for seconds.
If you find yourself here first thing in the morning, you might see the racehorses being bathed in the water.
2. Crane Beach
The setting at Crane Beach is spectacular. Towering cliffs with an elegant hotel perched on top look down on a wide crescent of beach with beach chairs laid out just waiting for occupants.
Depending on the time of year, the waves can be quite large here, however the offshore reef does protect the beach from the worst of it. When the waves are a manageable size, it is a good spot for boogie boarding or surfing.
Access to the beach is limited to two options: either through the exclusive Crane Resort and down 98 steps, which is for guests and those visiting and planning to spend some money on site, or the far end of the beach down a small road and across a rock path. If you have mobility issues, the best bet is to go through the resort, as the path from the road can be precarious, especially if the surf is up.
This beach is ideal for a romantic getaway, which can include a fine lunch at the hotel, followed by a lazy day on the beach below.
Sunbeds can be rented, and there is a small vendor selling food and cold drinks at the back of the beach.
3. Bottom Bay Beach
Not far from Crane Beach is Bottom Bay Beach. This beach is reached by walking down a set of stairs through a cut in the cliffs. The setting here is stunning, with towering palm trees near the back of the beach and imposing cliffs on three sides.
Chances are you'll have this piece of paradise to yourself, and even if there are a few other folks around, the beach area is large, and you'll still be able to find your favorite piece of sand. After you've had your fill of sun and sand, be sure to check out the large cave that extends into the rock face at the north end of the beach.
This beach faces the Atlantic, and although the offshore reef stops the largest waves, keep an eye out for the odd rogue wave and rip current should you choose to swim.
Either before or after your visit, be sure to walk out on the cliffs, reached by a path to the right of the carpark. Here, you'll get great views up and down the coastline. To the north is another small beach.
4. Rockley/Accra Beach
Rockley Beach, also known as Accra Beach, is almost postcard perfect. A small crescent of sugary white sand backed by casuarina and sea grape trees, it has warm shallow waters in the bluest of blue that is suitable for swimmers of all abilities.
Just back from the beach is a lively retail area full of kiosks selling food and cold beverages. Boogie boards and surfboards are available to rent, and for those with sailing skills, Hobie Cats and Sunfish monohulled sailboats are also available.
The famous Barbados Boardwalk begins at one end of the beach (the flat end near the kiosks) and will take you along the waterfront passing a variety of upscale waterfront restaurants and, farther along, fast food joints predominate.
5. Silver Sands Beach
Not all beaches are about lazing around in the sun and occasionally frolicking in the waves. Some, like Silver Sands Beach, are more suited for adrenaline junkies.
Silver Sands Beach is one of the best places to go kiteboarding owing to the steady and strong winds that come side on shore. If the wind is up, you'll see them racing along or launching themselves into the air. If you are into photography, this is a fun place to visit.
In addition to kiteboarding, the large waves attract surfers from around the world. People come here for kiteboarding, windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding, and surfing.
6. Needham's Point Beaches
At the south end of Carlisle Bay, Needham's Point is home to three incredible beaches looking out in two different directions. The point is dominated by the Hilton Barbados Resort, but beaches in Barbados are public access, and visiting here is no problem at all.
The three beaches include one near the lighthouse, one beyond the lighthouse to the south, and one near the ruins at Needham's Point. The two closest to the hotel are protected by a large stone breakwater.
The beach by the lighthouse frequently has large waves that are fun to play in, and the water here is a bit deeper. The beach by the ruins is shallower and ideal for lounging in the warm, generally calmer waters.
For a more isolated beach that you will have all to yourself, just stroll down beyond the lighthouse and check out Drill Hall Beach. Here, you'll find a long stretch of sand backed by a grove of palm trees. Waves can get large, and it is also known as a decent surf spot.
Non guests are welcome at the small beach restaurant; the food is good, if a bit pricey, but it's a worthwhile investment to sit at the tables and gaze out at the ocean and swaying palms.
7. Dover Beach
A short drive from Bridgetown, near Accra Beach, you'll find Dover Beach. This is one of the livelier beaches on Barbados, with crowds of tourists and locals swimming in the calm, clear waters. The sand is sugar-soft, and the beach is quite wide, so you won't have any issues finding the spot to spread your towel and start soaking up the sun. Lifeguards are usually on duty here.
The beach is backed by the popular St. Lawrence Gap area and as a result, you'll find a wide variety of restaurants, shops, and hotels within easy walking distance. Many of the hotels have wonderful beachfront patio restaurants, and dining here is a wonderful pastime.
8. Mullins Bay
Ease of access and plentiful parking make Mullins Bay a good spot on the west coast for hitting the beach. This is not a beach for the active set. The main pursuits here are lounging on your sun bed, grabbing a cold drink or lunch at the small restaurant, and watching the world go by. This is the perfect couples retreat.
If you find you really need to do something, snorkeling here is fun with some colorful fish swimming around. The water here is usually calm, and a roped-off swimming area keeps all bathers safe from personal watercraft and sailboats.
9. Bath Beach
Bath beach is a rarity on the east coast. Instead of big waves and dangerous sea conditions, here you'll find calm waters, lifeguard towers, and changerooms with washrooms. Just back from the beach are picnic tables ideally situated in the shade under large casuarina trees.
This is a very popular local beach for locals, and you'll find large Barbadian family groups having a cookout and catching up on the news while the kids frolic in the water. A small concession stand serves cold drinks and light snacks.
For a bit of fun, check out the remains of the old railway that used to run from Bridgetown to Bellepaine. Also nearby, at the north end of the beach, is a small waterfall and stream.
10. Brandons Beach
Brandons Beach is a real gem and only a 20-minute stroll or quick cab ride from the port where cruise ships dock. Clear waters, small waves, and soft sands welcome visitors, and chairs, loungers, and umbrellas are available for rent at reasonable rates. Rascal's restaurant at the back of the beach serves a good selection of food.
The beach is backed by small trees and is rarely crowded. The water is shallow for quite a distance out and is ideal for swimmers of all abilities. The beach is also known as a good snorkeling spot, with an extensive section of coral and an array of colorful fish just offshore.
11. Bathsheba Bay
Located on the wild Atlantic side of the island, Bathsheba Bay beach is not for the faint of heart. Massive waves are a frequent occurrence here and as a result, it's the island's top surf destination.
Surfers flock to the "Soup Bowl" to catch the best rides, and watching them do their tricks is a great way to spend part of an afternoon. Even if you aren't a surfer, this beach is well worth a visit. The stunning rock formations just offshore are a beautiful sight and make for great photographs.
A trip here can be easily combined with a visit to the Andromeda Botanical Gardens just a short drive away. Also not far away is Bath Beach.
12. Folkstone Marine Park & Beach
This small beach with usually calm water is perfect for a family outing. This public park has tennis courts, a children's play area, a waterfront boardwalk, and most importantly, picnic tables for the family feast.
Folkstone Marine Park & Beach is one of the top places in Barbados to go diving. Only 800 meters offshore is a purposely sunken ship called the Stavronikita in 36.5 meters of water; it is teeming with marine life.
Closer in to shore, you'll find reefs in shallow water with colorful fish darting about. You can either snorkel or take a stand up paddleboard and look down through the clear waters.
Also located here is a museum that showcases the local marine life through various displays and a large aquarium.
13. Paynes Bay Beach
Another West Coast gem, Paynes Bay Beach is a pleasant crescent of sand that is almost always calm. Ideal for families and those who are not strong swimmers but still love the water, the shallow warm water will have you lingering for hours. Parents with small children will be able to relax on one of the lounges on the beach knowing that their kids are safe and will be good and tired out later on, so mom and dad can enjoy some quiet time. Just back from the beach are shade trees, picnic tables, and washrooms.
Jet Ski and catamaran rentals are easily arranged from beach vendors should you wish to get out and active on top of the water. If your preference is below the waterline, slip on your snorkeling gear and make your way out to the reefs located close to shore. Here, you'll find an abundance of colorful fish and, if you are lucky, a sea turtle or two may swim by.
Paynes Bay Beach is located in between Fitts Village and Holetown near the exclusive Sandy Lane Hotel. You'll be able to enjoy the same beach as the folks paying big bucks inside the complex. If you've had so much fun at the beach you are still here near sunset, you'll be in luck: it's one of the best places on the island to see the sun dip below the horizon.
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Planning Your Trip to Barbados: If you are wondering when to go to Barbados, see our article on the Best Time to Visit Barbados. While the beautiful beaches are what draw many tourists to the country, it's worth taking some time to explore the attractions around Barbados. When you are ready for some time off the beach, you may also want to head into Bridgetown to see the sights of the capital. Regardless of what you decide to do, be sure to check out our list of the best beach resorts in Barbados.