The unique coral-based composition of Barbados is responsible for the powdery white sand beaches and healthy reef life that make the island perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. From the surfers’ paradise of the rugged Atlantic coast swells to the calmer west coast lined with luxury vacation homes, there is something for everyone along Barbados beaches. No two beaches are created equal, so we rounded up the top beaches on the island, from the iconic Bathsheba Beach on the wild east coast through to the calm turquoise waters of Browne’s Beach. While dipping your toes in check out the unbelievable beachside luxury vacation homes in Barbados offered by Luxury Retreats. Thank you to Luxury Retreats for sponsoring this post.
1. Bathsheba: This is the notorious beach on the rugged east coast. It is the best known of Barbados Beaches and often featured on postcards. The large rock formations are remnants of an ancient coral reef making for a dramatic backdrop. The beach’s namesake comes from the legend of Bathsheba, King David’s wife, who bathed in milk baths to look beautiful, likened to the white surf pools along the beach that are full of healthy minerals. Today Bathsheba is the main fishing village in the parish of St. Joseph in Barbados. It is one of the best spots for surfing in the Caribbean and home of the Barbados “Soup Bowl” surfing championship every year. The dangerous rip tides and undertows make it unsafe for swimmers so head instead to the many coral pools in the area, also known as Barbados hot tubs.
2. Crane Beach: Crane Beach is located just outside the Grantley Adams International Airport, along the east coast of Barbados. It is known for its pink sands, azure waters and sweeping cliffs. Crane Beach is named after a large crane that was once permanently stationed on the cliffs to help unload cargo from ships in the harbor. Once only accessible by 100 stairs, “The Horse” area, which in the late 1700s was a place for ladies to enjoy the waters without exposing their dignity, is now accessible with the click of a button, down a glass elevator from the Crane Resort to the beach. There is also a public beach entrance near the rocks on the south end of the beach. Enjoy a Bajan rum punch while lounging at the beach or watch sea turtles swim along the shore at this top beach destination.
3. Bottom Bay: Positioned along the south-east coast of Barbados, in St. Philip Parish, this remote cove surrounded by cliffs is also recommended along with Bathsheba and Crane Beach as one of the best beaches on the island and in the entire Caribbean. Walk along the cliffs for stunning views, or picnic on the sand. Visit during the week as the weekends can become crowded with locals and tourists alike. Though the Atlantic waves can be too much for swimmers, surfers can enjoy the sizeable swells. Nearby, visitors can also explore the Harrismith House ruins and Sam Lord’s Castle.
4. Bath Beach: In the parish of St. John on the east coast, Bath Beach’s waters are among the calmest and safest for visitors due to the off-shore coral reefs. Swimming here is like taking a “bath.” Enjoy local snacks from the many beach vendors who set up shop along the beach. The many Casuarina trees provide shade protection for bathers. Walk north to see a waterfall and the remains of an old train line that once connected Bridgetown to Bathsheba beach.
5. Animal Flower Cave: Though technically not a beach, Animal Flower Cave is Barbados’ only accessible sea-cave and it is not to be missed! On the northern tip of the island, the cave is full of pools and anemones or “flowers.” The oldest layer of the coral cave is estimated at about 500,000 years old! Hire a guide for a small fee to climb down the steps to enter the cave. The inside of the cave is green and brown from oxidized copper and iron. After exploring, don’t forget to enjoy lemonade or rum punch at the clifftop bar and restaurant.
6. Cattlewash: The east coast’s Cattlewash Beach is over one mile long making it Barbados’ longest sandy beach. Named for the days when cows used to enjoy bathing in these waters, the cows now stay in the surrounding hills – no longer visiting the beach. This peaceful coastline is known for its sunshine, and the healing resorts in the area. Order Bajan local dishes at the casual Bonito Beach Bar and Restaurant along the beach.
7. Dover Beach: Within the parish of Christ Church along the south coast, Dover Beach is at the southern point of the busy St. Lawrence Gap area, which is known for its nightlife. It is ideal for an action-packed beach day with easy access to vendors selling things and water sport rentals like kayaks and jet skis.
8. Browne’s Beach: Browne’s Beach is set in Carlisle Bay on the south west Coast. It is one of Barbados’ largest beaches with sweeping views over the boats and yachts that visit the unique ship wrecks in the Bay’s waters. Just below the surface, snorkelers can enjoy the views of colorful sea life, and scuba divers can witness a handful of ship wrecks up close during a dive. Needham’s Point Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse in Barbados and its octagonal shape make it a beautiful nearby side trip.
9. Silver Sands: This wide, white-sand beach along the south-east coast in Christ Church parish is internationally popular for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Wander to the nearby South Point Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Barbados, on the southern tip of the island. This beach has dunes of silvery white sand due to the plants that grow here, like the sea grape and manchineel trees. Be careful if you spot a manchineel tree, which are usually marked with a painted red ring, as eating the fruit, touching the tree or even being near it for too long – especially during a rain storm – can be poisonous. After a visit to Silver Sands Beach, stop by the local Oistins fish market for dinner and a show with musicians and dancers, especially popular on Friday nights.
10. Accra: Accra is also known as Rockley Beach. This wide beach along the South Coast in Christ Church parish is popular with both tourists and locals looking to swim, people watch or enjoy water-sports from windsurfing to snorkeling. There are several roadside food vendors and a Chefette for snacking. There’s even a newly built Boardwalk perfect for joggers or for taking in the sunset views.
11. Gibbs Beach: Along the “Platinum” North West Coast near Mullins Beach is Gibbs Beach. Gibbs Beach is home to some of the most beautiful and elegant beachside villas, perfect for an exclusive vacation experience. The calm water in this crescent-shaped bay is perfect for swimmers and snorkelers. As one of the lesser known beaches, it is also perfect for couples, groups or families looking for a tranquil escape.
12. Brandons Beach: Tourists flock to Brandon’s Beach, which is just a short walk from the capital of Bridgetown – Barbados’ cruise port. Adjacent to the quieter Brighton Beach, they both mark the beginning of the West Coast beaches. This developed beach has everything available for renting from chairs to umbrellas, and the shades of blue of the water here are transfixing. The water at Brandons Beach are calm and safe for swimming. Try Caribbean beach eats at Weisers restaurant. Bell Buoy’s reef is one of the best reefs for snorkeling and is less than a mile away.
For more top attractions read The Ultimate Guide to Barbados.