Barbados is an island that has it all. With its fine sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and swaying palms it’s considered one of the most beautiful places in the West Indies, but it’s also famous for its lush interiors dotted with botanical gardens and UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital.

The island is divided into eleven parishes, each with its own character and unique attractions, but united by the genuine warmth of the Barbadian people. The best thing about Barbados is its discoverable, compact feel; it measures just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, meaning it can take less than an hour to drive from one side to the other!

When choosing the best area to stay in Barbados, you will likely head for the modern south coast which appeals to fun-loving, adventurous tourists, or you'll reside in the high-end resorts on the west coast that perch on the best beaches. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to stay in one place during your holiday – there is plenty to see elsewhere on the island.

An island safari in an open-top jeep, renting a car or affordable taxis are the best ways to see more of the rugged landscapes of the north and east. With so much diversity in each place, the best area to stay in Barbados depends on you, whether you’re travelling as a family or a couple and what activities you want to enjoy during your Caribbean getaway.

Barbados West Coast: Best For Luxury & Families

Often referred to as the "Platinum Coast", the sought-after West Coast of Barbados is renowned for its sugary-white sandy beaches, calm aquamarine waters sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean's swells, luxury resorts and five-star dining options. For those seeking the epitome of indulgence, the West Coast offers the perfect setting for luxury Barbados holidays. You'll also get a front-row seat to the best sunsets over the sea.

Primarily comprising the three parishes of St. James, St. Peter and St. Michael, the West Coast is the best place to stay in Barbados for families, as the beaches boast soft sand and gently lapping waters for safe swimming and snorkelling.

St James

Many of our luxury hotels in St James boast direct access to a beach, and you'll find plenty of designer shopping and top restaurants nearby.

One of the best arcs of private golden sand belongs to the iconic Sandy Lane, also renowned for its children’s facilities and the region's finest golf courses. Just down from Sandy Lane is Paynes Bay Beach, with some of the clearest water for snorkelling. If you're lucky, you may encounter leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles that live just off the shore.

Another family-friendly option on the west coast is Coral Reef Club, a beautiful beach hotel set in bountiful tropical gardens where families can enjoy complimentary non-motorised watersports and spacious interconnected accommodations. If you’re visiting the west coast of the island as a couple, you may prefer a more sophisticated stay at the adult-only hotel The House by Elegant Hotels, an oasis of calm on the glorious beachfront dedicated to romance.

A Barbados luxury holiday also offers a plethora of unforgettable dining experiences. The iconic Lone Star is an exceptional west coast institution that carries a ‘Little Stars’ menu for children, with sure-fire hits like fish fingers and chips. 

For a romantic meal à deux, the white sand beach is just metres away when you dine at Daphne’s, or you can head over to Holetown to soak up the nightlife on the lively First and Second Street. For a quieter evening soaking up the pink and orange sunsets, there are dozens of spots to choose from. One of the best-loved beach bars in Barbados and one of our favourites is Harold’s Bar at The Sandpiper, the perfect spot for foot-in-the-sand snacks and delicious rum cocktails.

If you’re looking to pick up more than a few standard souvenirs while on holiday, St James is also home to the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown, perfect for duty-free shopping, with designer stores such as Gucci, Cartier and Michael Kors.

St Peter

Much of Barbados’ so-called Platinum Coast runs through St Peter, which is a little further north than St James. If you'd prefer to stick to the northwest of Barbados there is plenty to see and do, from soaking up local life in Speightstown to relaxing on Mullins Beach, arguably one of the finest stretches of golden sands on the Western Coast.

We have Saint Peter’s Bay in this area which is ideal for a family beach break, offering spacious residential-style accommodation, sea turtle education and a children's club. There's also Cobblers Cove in Speightstown, which is better suited to adults with elegant suites and stylish dining.

St Michael

Just a short drive away, Barbados' capital Bridgetown is in the parish of St Michael. There aren't too many beach hotels to stay at, but it's an interesting place to spend a morning or afternoon nonetheless, walking along atmospheric shopping streets and Bridgetown’s South Coast Boardwalk, and stopping at Rihanna Drive where the world-famous Barbadian pop star grew up.

Just outside Bridgetown in the historic Garrison area is the all-inclusive resort Sugar Bay, where a combination of modern facilities, four restaurants and a glorious 150-metre stretch of white sandy beach are sure to impress.

Barbados South Coast: Best For Nightlife

Affectionately nicknamed the 'Fun Coast', the commercial south coast houses many hotels, several of which are complemented by Barbados’ white-sand beaches. The south coast is certainly the liveliest area of this diverse Caribbean island and one of the best places to stay for nightlife.

St. Lawrence Gap, also known as “The Gap”, by locals, is a street that runs along the beachfront where you’ll find bars, restaurants, and cafés at every turn. It’s perfect for people who want to be in the heart of the action and close to Dover Beach, one of the most beautiful on the island. The bars here are also within walking distance of each other, making it one of the easiest and safest areas to visit in Barbados.

If you’re in the south coast area on a Friday or Saturday evening, the fishing town of Oistins is the place to be. Home to a fish market during the daytime, the place comes alive once the sun sets and you can soak up the authentic atmosphere during Oistins Fish Fry. Try mahi-mahi (known as Dolphin in Barbados), flying fish and barbecued red snapper, often served with classic Caribbean accompaniments like plantain and rice.

With prime locations on the south coast, we have several all-inclusive options that are close to Oistins and The Gap. Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels is very family friendly with kids’ clubs and a variety of cuisine. The O2 Beach Club & Spa Barbados has more of a chic feel, where couples can enjoy a host of dining, wellness, and relaxation options.

Barbados East Coast: Best For A Day Trip

While the west coast of Barbados has the cornucopia of the island's luxury hotels, its eastern counterpart is largely unadorned with accommodation. So, while you won't find a luxury hotel to stay at here, it's certainly worth a visit.

Along the ruggedly beautiful east coast, dramatic scenery comprises windswept palms, deserted sands, and rolling Atlantic breakers.

One of the most beautiful parts of Barbados is Bathsheba, a fishing village home to the odd rum shop, café and serene Andromeda Botanic Gardens frequented by green monkeys. Stroll around the serene six-acre grounds, then head to Bathsheba Beach for a laid-back lunch at one of the quaint eateries. You can spend hours here relaxing next to striking rock formations as you watch small fleets of fishing boats and daring surfers riding the large swells. This small, churning bay known as the Soup Bowl is where the Barbados National Surf Championship is held every November.

One of our team members was wowed by the east coast after years of staying on the west coast, stating; “the eastern side of the island is completely different as it is confronted by aggressive waves from the open Atlantic which adds to its rugged beauty – it feels like something out of Jurassic Park!” A twenty-minute drive inland from Bathsheba's east coast is Harrison’s Cave, one of the island’s most popular attractions. This sprawling underground cave system is a natural phenomenon, with stalactites hanging from the roof of the cave, stalagmites that emerge from the ground and flowing streams of crystal-clear water over two kilometres long.

For all its many attractions, you probably wouldn’t want to spend an entire holiday on the east coast, not least because Atlantic currents make swimming hazardous, and the ocean is a whole lot colder than the Caribbean. We recommend hiring a car as a tour of the east coast works as a day trip from the west.

Barbados North Coast: Best For Photogenic Views

The northern coast of Barbados is known for its panoramic and breathtaking views. Similarly to the east coast where huge waves crash onto the cliffs, this part of the island is not generally recommended for swimming, hence there is very little hotel accommodation.

However, we highly recommend a day trip to the parishes of St. Lucy and St. Peter, both of which have several interesting places and tourist attractions. You can explore one of the only authentic Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere on a tour to St Nicholas Abbey, which dates from 1658. Tour the house to see antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries, before enjoying a rum punch at the old mill and rum distillery in the lush gardens.

Many believe Barbados to be the birthplace of rum so if you’re something of a connoisseur, you can also stop by the Mount Gay Rum Distillery founded in 1703. If you’re staying at Cobbler’s Cove, the hotel’s Bajan Rum Punch is renowned as one of the best on the island, created by highly skilled mixologists.

At Barbados' most northerly point, you can descend into photogenic caves at The Animal Flower Cave, carved from many years of the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the cliff. The cave is home to sea anemones found in its pools and the views from the inside to the outside are very Instagrammable. You might even spot passing humpback whales if you visit between February and April.

The main town in the north is Speightstown, which has many good places to eat including The Fish Pot Restaurant and a busy fish market with plenty of atmosphere. Look out for Saint-Peter’s Parish Church, one of the oldest on the island constructed in 1629, tour Arlington House Museum and walk along the ivory-white shoreline dotted with enticing rum bars.

"Whichever part of Barbados you decide to stay in, be sure to hire a car to see the whole island. It’s a small place so it doesn’t take long to get around during a day trip, and there really are some fascinating sights beyond the beaches. For the best hotels, we recommend the west coast which is where most of the upmarket, award-winning restaurants are, too. Our Barbados collection includes luxury hotels, family-friendly retreats and boutique hideaways perfect for couples’ escape." Helen, Caribbean Product Manager

Got your eye on a luxury resort in Barbados?

World-class resorts and charming accommodations await your indulgence in Barbados. There’s something for all kinds of traveller across our portfolio of incredible retreats, including adults-only resorts and family-friendly villas.

To find your perfect hideout in Barbados’ lush landscapes, contact our Travel Specialists. We’ll help you find the best place for you to spend your sunlit days in Barbados.

Why we're the Barbados experts
  • Airport meet-and-greet for immediate post-flight assistance
  • Escort through to your private transfer for a seamless arrival
  • Direct line of contact to Kerin's team for any requests or assistance
  • In-resort support for booking taxis, excursions and restaurants
  • Barbados lounge passes included on return

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