Like every Caribbean island, Barbados empties out during the summer, then crowds return for the season starting in late October or November. Rent a car so you can easily explore the island
The Food Game Plan
If it’s scene cuisine you’re after, look to the west coast: Beachfront Lone Star is great for Sunday lunch and rubbernecking Brit regulars like Simon Cowell; newish Cin Cin by the Sea has staying power, if the cult-like veneration of their pork buns is any indication; and the chic crowd all seem to wind up at Italian hot spot Daphne’s. To my mind, though, no meal compares with those at The Cliff, where chef Paul Owens has turned out elevated Caribbean since 1988 (try the fillet of dolphin – mahimahi – and open ravioli of shrimp). It’s undeniably pricey, but the view of the lighted cove below is worth it.
For casual options, Kit Kemp likes Good Choice Chinese, in Holetown. If you have a few hours to kill, she adds, go farther south to Lobster Alive, a nondescript shack on the beach, for evening jazz.
If you’re up in the northwest near the parish of St. Lucy, stop in at the Fish Pot, set on the water in a seventeenth-century fort. In season, it’s the place to try the Bajan specialty of grilled barracuda with drawn butter.
At night, if you’re in the south and not feeling Oistins again (which is in the town by the same name), head to Cafe Luna, on the roof of the Little Arches Hotel, for a solid Bajan three-course menu, including flying fish with coconut shrimp.
The beaches to hit
Barbados is where the Caribbean and Atlantic collide, and the west coast gets most of the love, with stunning turquoise beaches behind practically every hotel. Take your pick (strictly speaking, there are no private beaches in Barbados), but I have a soft spot for Paynes Bay (near Sandy Lane); its quiet surf feels made for swimming and snorkeling.
Most locals will tell you to venture farther. Though hardly secrets. Accra Beach. Dover Beach, and Brandons offer relative seclusion from the crowds and street vendors. There are several surf schools in the area, but deAction Shop & Beach Apartments in Silver Sands is ground zero for the island’s beach sports scene.
And you absolutely have to stop at Bathsheba on the east coast, one of the top surfing spots in the world.
The water is too dangerous to swim in, but the tide pools are perfect for cooling off. Park at the nineteenth- century Round House Inn and Restaurant up the hill, a good spot for an afternoon drink.