Barbados has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and although in recent years erosion has taken its toll, there are still many unspoilt gems. The key is to choose a beach based on what you want to do, or not do.
The west coast of Barbados is fringed by the calm Caribbean, so is ideal for relaxing. I have a few favourites here, but Paradise Beach is my top pick. The beach gets its name from a hotel that was here until the 1980s. With its closure, and efforts to open another hotel stalled for years, it’s an oasis of peace, interrupted only by the occasional boat or jet ski. Most visitors have no idea the beach exists – you get there by walking south from neighbouring Batts Rock Beach – but it’s a wonderful place for relaxing, swimming and enjoying the peace.
This is a great place to try jet skiing, sailing and waterskiing, and for finding a boat to go swimming with turtles. There are organised tours from Dh380, but the many local operators will do deals for around half that for a 30-minute excursion, including snorkelling equipment. Paynes Bay is a short walk from the Sandy Lane Hotel beach, for some discreet spotting of celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts.
For a more meditative beach experience head just south of Bridgetown. The water is quite still, making it an excellent place for standup paddleboarding (SUP). Paddle Barbados offers classes at Dh240 for a 90-minute group class, and SUP Yoga at Dh140 for a 75-minute class.
Water sport lovers have a lot of options on Paradise beach (above) and Paynes Bay