ACCRA BEACH – The south coast of Barbados is a virtually uninterrupted stretch of development clinging to a number of popular, attractive beaches. The largest of these is Accra, a soft-blonde crescent of sand backed by shade trees, offering moderate suit But its premier feature is a boardwalk that allows you to walk two miles west to Hastings, breathing in the salty sea air as you stroll.
PAYNES BAY – Fringed by a fine stretch of white sand, gently curving Paynes Bay in St James is endlessly popular. It’s the west coast’s favourite spot for swimming and snorkelling, as you will almost certainly see sea turtles here. Chair rental, picnic tables and chilled-out bars are available. Have your paparazzi moment at the celebrity-studded beach in front of the ultra-exclusive Sandy Lane resort, nearby (there’s public access).
MULLINS BEACH – In colonial times, the west coast of Barbados was a popular holiday retreat for upper British society and today the area still goes by the moniker Platinum Coast. Along Hwy 1 between Holetown and Speightstown, Mullins Beach is a family-friendly enclave where the waters are usually calm and good for swimming and snorkelling. Drinks from the boisterous cafe can be delivered directly to your beach chair.
OISTINS FISH FRY – The south-coast fishing village of Oistins is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. Vendors sell barbecued fish to a soundtrack of soca, reggae, pop and country music, and there’s plenty of rum-drinking. It’s roughly 60 per cent locals, 40 per cent tourists, and there’s a joyous electricity in the air. It all happens in a complex right on the sand next to the fish market.
GARRISON SAVANNAH AREA – About a mile south of central Bridgetown, spreading inland from Carlisle Bay, the Garrison was the home of the British command in the 1800s. A focal point is the oval-shaped Savannah: parade grounds now used for cricket, jogging and horse races. Along its west side are some of the Garrison’s more ornate colonial-era buildings (free).
MOUNT GAY RUM VISITORS CENTRE – Mount Gay has been producing some of the Caribbean’s best aged rums for 300 years. Tours run at the distillery’s visitor centre just outside Bridgetown. Options include a signature tour, cocktail tour and Bajan buffet lunch tour; rum tastings and overflowing punch accompany a saunter through the brand’s history and craft secrets.
FISHERMAN’S PUB – Speightstown is easily the most evocative small town on Barbados, combining colonial-style charm with a Bajan vibe. This waterfront cafe is a local institution that serves up fish from the boats floating off the side deck. As the evening wears on, the scene gets more Bajan. Line up for the excellent, ever-changing food offerings, or drop by on Wednesdays for steel-pan music sessions.