Christ Church Parish, which is far busier and more developed than the west coast, is chockablock with condos, high- and low-rise hotels, and beach parks. It is also the location of St. Lawrence Gap, with its many places to eat, drink, shop, and party. As you move southeast, the broad, flat terrain comprises acre upon acre of cane fields, interrupted only by a few tiny villages. Along the byways are colorful chattel houses, which were the traditional homes of tenant farmers. Historically, these typically Barbadian, ever-expandable small buildings were built so they could be dismantled and moved, as required.
POINTS OF INTEREST
BOTTOM BAY BEACH
Popular for fashion and travel-industry photoshoots, Bottom Bay is the quintessential Caribbean beach. Secluded, surrounded by a coral cliff, studded with a stand of palms, and blessed with an endless ocean view, this dreamy enclave is near the southeasternmost point of the island. The Atlantic Ocean waves can be too strong for swimming, but it’s the picture-perfect place for a day at the beach and a picnic lunch. Park at the top of the cliff and follow the steps down to the beach. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; swimming; walking.
BARBADOS CONCORDE EXPERIENCE
The Concorde Experience focuses on the British Airways Concorde G-BOAE (Alpha Echo, for short) that for many years flew between London and Barbados. The retired supersonic jet has made its permanent home here. Besides boarding the sleek aircraft itself, you learn about how the technology was developed and how this plane differed from other jets. It’s just a two-minute walk from the terminal and a perfect place to spend about an hour if you have a long layover between flights.
This beach has calm waters and a picturesque lagoon, making it an ideal location for families with small kids. It also has several artificial bays separated by rocks, with a shallow reef close to shore. Park right on the main road. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, and plenty of places nearby sell food and drinks. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming; walking.
SILVER SANDS–SILVER ROCK BEACH
Nestled between South Point, the southernmost tip of the island, and Inch Marlow Point, Silver Point Hotel overlooks this long, broad strand of beautiful white sand that always has a strong breeze. That makes this beach the best in Barbados for intermediate and advanced windsurfers and, more recently, kiteboarders. There’s a small playground and shaded picnic tables. Amenities: parking (no fee); water sports. Best for: solitude; swimming; walking; windsurfing.
GEORGE WASHINGTON HOUSE
George Washington slept here! This carefully restored and refurbished 18th-century plantation house in Bush Hill was the only place where the future first president of the United States actually slept outside North America. Teenage George and his older half-brother Lawrence, who was suffering from tuberculosis and seeking treatment on the island, rented this house overlooking Carlisle Bay for two months in 1751. Opened to the public in 2007, the lower floor of the house and the kitchen have period furnishings; the upper floor is a museum with both permanent and temporary exhibits that display artifacts of 18th-century Barbadian life. The site includes an original 1719 windmill and bathhouse, along with a stable added to the property in the 1800s. Kids enjoy the network of secret tunnels. Guided tours begin with an informative 15-minute film, appropriately called George Washington in Barbados.
This popular beach, adjacent to the Accra Beach Hotel, has a broad swath of white sand with gentle surf and a lifeguard, plenty of nearby restaurants for refreshments, a playground, and beach stalls for renting chairs and equipment for snorkeling and other water sports. The Barbados Boardwalk, great for walking or running, begins here and follows the waterfront west—past private homes, restaurants, and bars—for about a mile (1.6 km) to Needham’s Point. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (no fee); water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; walking.
This exquisite crescent of pink sand on the southeast coast was named not for the elegant, long-legged wading bird but for the crane used to haul and load cargo when this area served as a busy port. Crane Beach usually has a steady breeze and lightly rolling surf that varies in color from aqua to turquoise to lapis and is great for bodysurfing. Access to the beach is either down 98 steps or via a cliff-side, glass-walled elevator on The Crane resort property. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: swimming; walking.
This lovely spot on the coast road, just east of Oistins, is a slice of pure white sand with shallow and calm water on one side, deeper water with small waves on the other, and cliffs on either side. In a mainly upscale residential area, the beach is mostly deserted except for weekends, when folks who live nearby come for a swim. You’ll find a palm-shaded parking area, snack carts, and chair rentals. It’s also a hop, skip, and jump from Little Arches Hotel. Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee). Best for: solitude; swimming.
All along the St. Lawrence Gap waterfront, Dover Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the south coast. The sea is fairly calm, with small to medium waves, and the white-sand beach is broad and brilliant. Divi Southwinds and Ocean Two resorts, as well as several restaurants, are nearby. There’s a small boardwalk, a promenade with a food court, water sports and beach chair rentals, and a playground. Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee); toilets; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.
Stretched from Turtle Beach Resort and Sandals Barbados at the eastern end of St. Lawrence Gap to Bougainvillea Beach Resort on Maxwell Coast Road, this broad strand of powdery white sand is great for sunbathing, strolling, and—with low to medium surf—swimming and boogie boarding. This beach is a favorite nesting place for turtles, hence its name; if you’re lucky, you may see hundreds of tiny hatchlings emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea. Find public access and parking on Maxwell Coast Road, near the Bougainvillea Beach Resort. Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee). Best for: swimming; walking.
HARRY BAYLEY OBSERVATORY
Reopened in January 2014 with a fresh interior, high-tech fittings, and a new dome—and reequipped with a 16-inch Meade telescope with the latest robotic controls and digital cameras and a new Lunt 80mm solar telescope—the observatory lets you view the moon, stars, planets, and other astronomical objects that may not be visible from mainland North America or Europe. The evening program, which starts with an informative presentation, is run by volunteers; call ahead to make sure it’s open. The observatory has been the headquarters of the Barbados Astronomical Society since 1963.