Top 10 Best Beaches in Barbados

There are more than 50 beaches to choose from in Barbados, from those on the tranquil west coast, with its celebrities and paparazzi, to the busy beaches of the south coast. Over on the rugged east coast, where the Atlantic Ocean comes ashore, the sand is browner but the scenery is magnificent.

How do you decide? Do you want to swim, or just soak up the sun? Do you need restaurants, or will you pack a basket and explore? Do you have a car, or are you relying on public transport?

I’ve been to every beach on the island. Over 25 years I saw them change, through the steady march of economic development and the impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms. These are are my top beaches. I can’t escape having a local’s point of view, but you decide for yourself.

10. Bathsheba

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Perhaps the first thing you will notice is the mushroom-shaped rock standing in the surf, as if keeping a watchful eye over the bathers. When the tide is out the rock pools provide an excellent place to explore… or to relax with a drink. Bathsheba is home to the world-famous Soup Bowl, a surf spot for the brave and probably the best break on the island. This also means that swimming at Bathsheba can be treacherous, so best to stay in those rock pools.

Bathsheba benefits from having several restaurants and bars in close proximity, so you could easily spend most of the day there. Round House hotel, at the north end of the beach, is open seven days a week during the high season (October – April). To the south in Tent Bay, Atlantis Hotel offers a buffet on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Strong swimmers only, relatively difficult to reach due to infrequent buses, good facilities nearby. 

Google Maps Link

9. Paynes Bay Beach

Another bloody day in paradise! This sheltered bay offers perfect conditions for swimming and suntanning. It’s one of the best beaches on the west coast, with parking nearby and a lifeguard to keep you safe. Just around the corner in Mahogany Bay is the Paynes Bay fishing market and a monument to the 73 victims of the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.

However, watch out for the Manchineel trees, which bear a poisonous fruit that should not be eaten. Neither are the trees suitable for sheltering under if it rains, as contact with the sap will cause blistering on the skin. The trees are clearly marked, so don’t let this put you off visiting.

Safe for swimming, easy to get to, some facilities nearby. 

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8. Mullins

This is a very popular beach and you will find it gets quite busy at the weekends. Part of the beach is shaded with Casuarina trees, but the rest is exposed to the fierce tropical sun. Luckily, you can rent umbrellas and chairs, while the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea provide the perfect antidote to the temperature. The only downside to this beach is that it’s right next to the main road. Yet perhaps the sounds of traffic, the buzz of watersports and the music from the beach bar simply combine to provide an ambience of excitement and revelry. Mullins has an excellent beach bar and there is a car park nearby.

Safe for swimming, easy to get to, good facilities nearby. 

Google Maps Link

7. Gibbes Bay

By law, there are no private beach in Barbados, but when you are on this beach, you feel privileged. Located about half way up the west coast, set away from the main road and buffered by trees and a line of expensive houses, Gibbes Bay is a place of quiet serenity (jet skies notwithstanding). Your main problem will be getting there: find the sign with the name ‘Southwinds’ in white lettering on a black background, then look for a narrow path down to the beach. There are plenty of trees to provide shade, although when the sun starts its afternoon march toward a watery bed, there will be no escaping those blazing rays!

Safe for swimming, easy to get to, few facilities. 

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6. Crane Beach

Crane Beach(RGB)

Ahh, the world-famous Crane Beach: once rated as one of the ten best beaches in the world. I’ll admit that it is a beautiful location, with the coconut trees and turquoise waters. And you’ll be able to rent chairs and umbrellas. This is the area I grew up in and I can tell you the Crane has suffered massively from the movement of sand over the decades – you can see evidence of a bygone era in the steps that end some height above the sand. Yet sand comes and goes over time from all beaches in Barbados, and it is still an excellent beach. Take care if you swim and be aware that the current will tend to sweep you up or down the beach.

Take care when swimming, relatively difficult to reach due to infrequent buses, few facilities nearby.

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5. Bath

Bath is a wonderful beach, with calmer waters than other beaches on the east coast and washrooms, parking and a picnic area. There’s plenty of shade to protect you from the fierce tropical sun, but beware of the Casuarina berries on the ground! It’s a popular spot with locals, but during the week it will be quiet. The only problem with Bath, as with other east coast beaches, is that seaweed tends to wash up on the shore because it is exposed to the Atlantic. In the middle of the day, when it’s too hot to be on the beach, see if you can find the waterfall and the remains of the old railway.

Safe for swimming at low tide, relatively difficult to reach due to infrequent buses, some facilities nearby.

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4. Miami Beach

Also known as Enterprise, this is hugely popular beach with locals and was one that my family visited regularly when I was young. It will probably be less busy if you go during the week, but there is plenty of space for everyone. There’s also ample parking, food and drinks onsite and a lifeguard hut. The great feature of Miami beach is that it has two parts: the short west-facing beach is a bit calmer and perfect for children, while the long south-facing side is a little more active.

To get to Miami beach by car (coming from Bridgetown) drive past Oistins Fish Market and take a right at the “y” junction in front of Harvest Plaza. Then take the fourth right onto Enterprise Drive and at the end of the road take a right into Enterprise Beach Road. Drive all the way down and park under the trees!

Safe for swimming on the western side, take care on the southern side, good facilities nearby, easy to get to.

Google Maps Link

3. Bottom bay

Bottom bay

That iconic photo, featured on the cover of our book, is now probably more widely used even than the Crane beach pictures. Bottom Bay is the beautiful beach, probably a better beach than Harrismith because it’s bigger, but they are very similar in character and have that unspoilt feel about them, even as development and progress continue unabated on the other side of the island.

Swimming is not recommended,relatively difficult to reach due to infrequent buses, few facilities nearby.

Google Maps Link

2. Sandy Beach

One of my favourite beaches! Sandy Beach is surrounded by a shallow reef that forms a lagoon at low tide, making it perfect for the novice swimmer. The reef also makes for good snorkelling, with an abundance of small fish (watch out for the urchins). At least one green turtle lives in the bay and we were lucky enough to see her when we were snorkelling there last month. She was swimming lazily along and munching on the sea plants, not at all concerned by our presence.

There is a beach bar that offers food and beverages from lunchtime and into the evening, while beach chairs are available to rent. The only downside to this beach is that it can be windy, which means you tend to get covered in sand by the end of the day!

Safe for swimming, good facilities nearby, easy to get to.

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1. Carlisle Bay

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Technically this is two beaches: Brownes Beach stretches from the Boatyard, on the edge of Bridgetown, to Barbados Yacht Club while Pebbles Beach covers the remainder of Carlisle Bay, bound at one end by the Radisson and the other by the Old Engineer’s Pier. One of the largest beaches in Barbados, it is also one of the best due to the combination of tranquil, protected waters, its proximity to bars and restaurants and the fact that it’s so easy to get to.

Carlisle Bay is the perfect balance between the south and west coasts: calm turquoise waters and wide expanse of sand, but without the oppressive heat that you often get on the west coast. In the centre of the bay are four ship wrecks in relatively shallow water, making them ideal for snorkelling. You will see many of the catamarans and other charter boats mooring there in the morning. Pebbles is a favourite bathing point for horses, which are brought from the nearby Garrison Savannah.

For refreshment, on the northern side of the bay you will find the Boatyard, Lobster Alive and Copacabana Beach Bar & Grill. Or go to Cuz’s Fish Shack on Pebbles beach for a fish cutter made fresh while you wait.

Safe for swimming, good facilities nearby, easy to get to.

Google Maps Link

That’s it – I hope you enjoy your holiday in Barbados!

Have you been to Barbados? Perhaps you have your own favourite beach! Please leave comments below!

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