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The Ultimate Travel Guide to Barbados

Sun, sea and...rum? Here's our look at holidays in Barbados

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A single palm tree at the edge of a green cliff overlooking the blue sea in Barbados

With its affiliation to all things British, this island has a unique charm, and stands out in the Caribbean as something a little different. Colonial attractions and a 17th-century synagogue are among the many intriguing sights on an island famed for its celebrity visitors and spectacular beaches. Rum distilleries and vibrant markets add to the mix, in what makes for an excellent and dynamic holiday destination. And as it happens, the island is graced with some of our most deluxe homes. After a day at the beach, and exploring the sights, you can head back for a swim or to soak in the hot tub in one of our luxury lodges. Here at Plum Guide, we not only strive to provide the very best accommodation, but also the highest quality advice, so you can follow our expert tips and be guaranteed a holiday to remember for all the right reasons. So, without further ado, here are the basics all packaged up in our ultimate travel guide to Barbados.

When to visit

You’ll want to visit Barbados from mid-December to mid-April. Not only is this the coldest and most miserable period back home (well, depending on where home is, but we’re talking Northern Hemisphere here), but it’s also the best time to be in Barbados. That’s because the time we talk of as winter in the UK or the US is actually the dry season in Barbados (although all that gin may have something to say about that). Temperatures at this time hover around the 30-centigrade mark, while there’s relatively little rain. In reality, unlike other Caribbean islets, you can visit this island nation year-round. Even on the wettest of days, you’re likely to see the sun. You’ll find it more affordable in August, for example, which provides a great chance to experience Kadooment Day, part of the Crop Over Festival.

The Cowrie Shell, Plum Guide home in Barbados

The Cowrie Shell, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Where to stay

A large tree by the sea on Paynes Bay Beach, Barbados

A large tree by the sea on Paynes Bay Beach, Barbados

Many of our Plum Guide homes can be found in St. James, on the western side of Barbados. You’ll be rubbing shoulders here with celebrities (did you know that singer Rihanna hails from Barbados?), while snorkelling and scuba diving with turtles by Paynes Bay Beach or the Colony Club Beach. Admire the St. James Parish Church. You could also stay in Christ Church by the airport in the southern part of the island, which has Silver Sands Beach and Silver Rock Beach, as well as many top amenities. Browse the stores and restaurants in the St. Lawrence Gap. Stay in St. Joseph for its remote and rural charm, and visit the St. Nicholas Abbey in St. Peter.

Green Flash, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Green Flash, Plum Guide home in Barbados

What to eat

With Barbados being an island in the Caribbean, you can expect a wealth of seafood. The Oistins Fish Market is one of the highlights in our travel guide to Barbados. Attend its Friday Night Fish Fry to take in the sights, sounds and scents of the local culinary traditions. It’s a grounded, local custom that shouldn’t be missed, and we’d recommend the blackened flying fish or the roti flat bread. As for more upmarket tastes, restaurants serving up sushi and steak are easy to find, such as the Champers Restaurant, The Tides and the Fusion Rooftop. The latter provides unforgettable views of the coast.

Step Into Blue, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Step Into Blue, Plum Guide home in Barbados

What to drink

Two brown beer bottles in the sand on a beach in Barbados

Two brown beer bottles in the sand on a beach in Barbados

Now we’re talking…or slurring…or…just get us some more rum, will you? Despite the island’s close geographical proximity to the United States, where the drinking age is 21, it is just 16 in Barbados. You might choose to keep that information from any teenagers on your family holiday. Rum is the go-to drink on the island, and you’ll find rum shops just about anywhere you look. The Mount Gay Visitor Centre is the perfect place to try the rum, while learning about its history through fascinating exhibits.

Ocean Tide, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Ocean Tide, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Spend time at the beach

Deck chairs and a parasol on a sandy beach in Barbados in summer

Deck chairs and a parasol on a sandy beach in Barbados in summer

One of the main draws to the island is unmistakably its beaches. Picturesque sandy havens drape the coast on all sides of Barbados. Go kitesurfing or simply surfing on Silver Rock Beach. Try scuba diving in and around some of the off-coast shipwrecks, and go snorkelling with turtles. Among the top beach destinations are the Shark Hole, Carlisle Bay and Bathsheba.

See the attractions

In addition to beaches, the island is known for its historic sites, so we couldn't possibly leave these out of our ultimate travel guide to Barbados. Head into the capital city of Bridgetown, and see the 17th-century synagogue. Visit some of the plantations to learn about the tumultuous history, with the 17th-century Sunbury Plantation Great Estate among the most intriguing. On a fine, sunny day (so: most days), delve into the scenic Andromeda Botanic Gardens and explore the Clifton Hall Great House.

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