A Barbados sunset (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 18 December

5 great reasons to visit Barbados (not that you need convincing!)

Endless sunshine and sugar-white beaches might catch the eye, but it is the food, parties and wildlife that make Barbados one of the most alluring destinations in the Caribbean

1: The Holetown Festival

Revellers at the Holetown Festival (visitbarbados.org)

Revellers at the Holetown Festival (visitbarbados.org)

Experience the sounds, sights and tastes of Barbados at the legendary Holetown Festival. The week-long celebration is held every year during mid-February and celebrates the arrival of the first settlers in Holetown on February 17, 1627. 

The festival is the island’s biggest party and showcases the culture and traditions of Barbados. Expect folk singing and dancing, sports and games, street parades, markets, and food stalls that offer traditional Barbadian cuisine.

2: The rum

Sampling rum at St Nicholas Abbey (visitbarbados.org)

Sampling rum at St Nicholas Abbey (visitbarbados.org)

Rum is an essential part of Barbadian culture. It is drunk socially in bars, and binds deals in the world of business. It is enjoyed across all strata of society, from farmers to property tycoons, and is a mainstay of the tourist industry. As the local saying goes, time flies when you’re having rum.

The island is considered the birthplace of rum. The Mount Gay distillery was founded in 1703, making it the oldest commercial rum distillery in the world. Locals called it ‘Kill Devil’ and there are plenty of tours available that will help you discover the secrets and mysteries behind the island’s most celebrated spirit, as well as the chance to sample it.

The Mount Gay distillery also offers cocktail workshops, tours coupled with a Bajan buffet, and rum and food pairing suppers. 

3: The wildlife

A green monkey (visitbarbados.org)

A green monkey (visitbarbados.org)

Swim with leatherback and hawksbill turtles. Listen for the crick-crick of tiny, translucent whistling frogs. Or watch green monkeys munching on sticks of sugar cane. Wildlife in Barbados is part and parcel of everyday life.

One of the best places to spot wildlife is the internationally-acclaimed Barbados Wildlife Reserve. You can also explore the limestone stalactites and stalagmites of Harrison's Cave, join a half-day hiking adventure with the Barbados National Trust, and experience a riot of colour and scent in the many world-class botanical gardens.

4: Oistins Fish Fry

Frying fish in Oistins (visitbarbados.org)

Frying fish in Oistins (visitbarbados.org)

Oistins is a colourful fishing town on the south coat, famous for its fish fry on Friday nights. Held in Oistins Bay Gardens, people come from all over the island to sample the fish, chicken and lobster grilled on huge outdoor barbecues.

Pile your plate with tuna, swordfish, marlin, mahi-mahi and flying fish – it's all delicious and fresh. There are stalls selling local jewellery, ceramics and prints, plus two rival sound systems competing to get you dancing. One specialises in reggae and Jamaican ska. The other, calypso and Crop Over hits. Simply decide what takes your fancy.

5: The beaches

Soaking up the sun on the Platinum Coast (visitbarbados.org)

Soaking up the sun on the Platinum Coast (visitbarbados.org)

Barbados has 60 beaches, and every one of them is open to the public. Some are perfect for lazing on. Others are better for snorkelling or kayaking. Just pick one that takes your fancy and enjoy!

The island’s west coast is known as the Platinum Coast, and it is here you’ll find picture-postcard beaches with sugar-white sands and crystal-clear water. The calm waters make it a prime spot for water sports like paddleboarding, snorkelling, windsurfing and kayaking. 

The east coast is quieter and a bit more rugged. The beaches near Bathsheba are great for surfing, thanks to the legendary waves which are locally referred to as 'Soup Bowl'.

Virgin Atlantic will commence direct flights to Barbados from London Heathrow, every Tuesday and Sunday, from 12 December. For more details visit virginatlantic.com