By law, all beaches in Barbados are open to the public from the high-water mark down to the sea. Not a one is off-limits to anyone. This is great if you like to star gaze; Barbados beaches are a favorite getaway for celebrities the world over. Celebrity or not, everyone who visits marvels at Barbados’ pink-white beaches, which are made of coral reefs that have been ground into a very fine powder by the waves of the ocean.
“Favorite beaches” are not automatically those graced by the placid waters of the Caribbean Sea. It’s true that many of us like the “zen” of the calm. But some of us crave the exciting rough and tumble of the Atlantic Ocean.
In its 70 miles of beaches, Barbados offers both. The water lapping the beaches of the west coast, aka our “Platinum Coast,” is the Caribbean Sea, which is as calm as a lake. The Atlantic Ocean on the east coast serves up world-class surfers’ waves; it’s fun to sit on the beach at the “Soup Bowl” in Bathsheba on the east coast and watch surfers risk life and limb for a ride on the perfect wave.
The south coast offers a mixture of Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean waters – these waters are not calm but not tumultuous, either. The lively water and sugar-white sands make the south coast beaches a favorite for many of our visitors.
Any “best” list is a personal effort, and listing Barbados’s best beaches is necessarily even more personal. There are so many to like, there could be any combination in any list. But here’s a stab anyway.
1. Carlisle Bay. We start near the city, on a mile-long stretch of beach running the length of historic Carlisle Bay, from the Hilton at one end (called Needham’s Point) to Bridgetown at the other. Actually, this beach is further divided into local sections like Yacht Club Beach, Burke’s Beach, Browne’s Beach and so on, but it’s one dazzling expanse, beloved by many Barbadians.
2. Brandon’s Beach. On the north side of the city, along the beginnings of the West Coast. Another long stretch of amazing white sand, nestled by calm, warm waters. Brandon’s beach becomes Brighton Beach and then turns back into Brandon’s again. But whatever you call it, it’s a beauty.
3. Sandy Lane Beach. The centre of West Coast opulence. This a good place to hang out and watch the stars from the world-famous Sandy Lane Hotel come to luxuriate in the warm Caribbean Sea. Madonna, Pavarotti, Jagger, Cowell, Tiger Woods (who honeymooned there) – they’ve all been there, and they all come back. And no wonder – the beach is a pristine white, with water so clear you can see your toes wiggle.
4. Cattlewash Beach. Running for several miles along Barbados’ rough east coast, Cattlewash beach absorbs the power of the Atlantic waves’ first landfall after a journey of 3,000 miles. As a result, the surf is magnificent, pounding in day and night. The places to swim are little pools and secluded areas – other spots can be dangerous. Interestingly, the east coast beach is rough, coarse, brown sand.
5. Crane Beach. A marvelous sight from the towering perspective of the Crane Hotel, and a delight to swim at or stroll along. This is the south-east of the island, but the waves are broken by a long barrier reef, so the sea is safe and shallow. Accessible through the hotel property or via public road.
6. Accra Beach. Right in the action area of the South Coast. You’ll often spy the super-star singer Rhianna here. She’s a Barbados native and comes home often. And why wouldn’t she choose Accra Beach? Accra is a half-mile of blazing white beach, with great body-surfing and swimming areas along it.
By now, for anyone who knows Barbados, my list is bound to have its supporters and its detractors. Truth is, there’s probably not a bad beach anywhere on the island. So go ahead – explore them all, and make your own list of favorites!
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