Barbados is one of the most popular Caribbean islands for a vacation. One look at the pristine sandy shores and turquoise waters, and you’ll quickly understand why. The island may be small, but it also packs a punch in terms of history, cultural attractions, and gastronomy.
Barbados is a great choice for a Caribbean vacation, and it has plenty to offer visitors. To make sure that your vacation is the best that it can be, you probably need to do some planning, such as figuring out where to stay in Barbados. Let us be your guide!
The 5 Best Parts of Barbados
- Bridgetown: Best area for budget travelers, shopping, and culture
- Oistins: Best area for first-time visitors, resorts, and the beach
- St. Lawrence Gap: Best area for nightlife and young visitors
- St. James: Best area for luxury travel
- St. Peter: Best area for families and quieter travel
The Best Areas & Hotels in Barbados
Barbados has so many beautiful places to see that it is hard to narrow down where to stay.
This guide highlights the best of the best and can help you choose where to base yourself while on your island vacation.
Bridgetown may be the capital of Barbados, but it is a long way from the bustling cities that lead other countries. It feels more like a laid-back beach town, although it is the biggest town in Barbados and has more shopping, dining, and cultural opportunities than in other places.
Plus, staying in Bridgetown is more affordable than staying in luxury resorts in other parts of the country. Bridgetown is the center of administration, culture, and history of Barbados.
Check out the British colonial architecture that graces landmarks such as the Barbados Garrison, where the British army was stationed, and which is a complex that contains several different historic buildings. The Barbados Garrison also contains the Barbados Museum, a great place to learn about the history of the island.
Bridgetown is also the center of culture for the island. You can visit the Exchange Interactive Centre, a museum that encourages visitors to be hands-on, and other galleries. Bridgetown is also great for shopping.
The historic center includes Broad Street, a cute pastel street lined with shops. Like anywhere else in Barbados, Bridgetown is close to the beach. Famous Carlisle Bay, where you can swim, tan, and enjoy water sports and excursions such as glass-bottom boat tours, is just a short distance away.
Although Bridgetown has its fair share of beaches, the beaches elsewhere tend to be nicer and less crowded. If all you care about on your vacation is lounging by the beach, you should stay somewhere else.
Things to Do
- Visit Carlisle Bay for great swimming, tanning, and scuba diving.
- Go shopping along Broad Street, including many duty-free shops.
- Admire the many historic buildings, such as the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.
- Stroll through Queen’s Park and try to find the giant baobab tree.
Where to Eat
- Pick up some tropical fruit and street food at Cheapside Market.
- Buy fish sandwiches from Cuz’s Fish Shack in Carlisle Bay.
- Try traditional Bajan food at Zaccio’s.
Bridgetown Budget Hotels
- The best budget options in Bridgetown tend to be home rentals, such as the Spacious Colonial apartment rental. Guests can enjoy an entire home with a fully equipped kitchen and patio.
- There are also affordable beach hotels near Bridgetown, such as the Beach Vue Barbados, which offers guests a great location and basic amenities such as WiFi, parking, and equipped kitchens.
Bridgetown Mid-Range Hotels
- The condo rental 8 Banyan Court offers guests a spacious two-bedroom condo, balcony, and a great location.
- Guests at the condo hotel Browne’s Condominium 2 can enjoy an air-conditioned apartment and access to shared amenities such as a garden and swimming pool.
Bridgetown Luxury Hotels
- For a luxury stay, visit Bellevue Plantation and enjoy luxurious air-conditioned rooms, a pool, spacious grounds, and activities such as horseback riding. Some guests have arranged weddings in the historic building.
- The all-inclusive Sugar Bay Barbados resort takes care of guests with a pool, spa, on-site restaurant, and even extra services such as hairdressing and gift shops located on site.
Oistins, on the southern tip of Barbados, is one of the most popular destinations in the country for vacationers. It has one of the highest concentrations of resorts on the island and is a popular destination for people who are visiting for the first time and want to make the most of their stay.
The resort town has plenty of resorts and other activities that cater to tourists, such as tour companies and water sport equipment rentals, but there are still plenty of locals who live here.
That way, you can experience the best a resort town has to offer while still getting a local experience and seeing what life in Barbados really is. Everyone still gathers for Friday fish fry, a must-visit activity when you are in town.
Oistins culture is very laid-back, and who could worry when surrounded by the pastel houses and pristine waters of the area? There is enough to do to keep you occupied, whether you’d like to play golf, shop, or try out sports such as bodysurfing, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed.
Plus, the shores of Miami Beach are perfect for people of all ages. Oistins is many things, but it is definitely not a hidden gem. Be prepared to share the beach with a lot of fellow visitors and pounce on accommodations early. If you want a less crowded destination, you will need to look elsewhere.
Things to Do
- Swim at Miami Beach.
- Practice your swing at Barbados Golf Club.
- Try jet skiing at Dover Beach.
- Go shopping at the Sheraton Mall.
Where to Eat
- Try the famous Fish Fry at Oistins Bay Gardens.
- Grab a quick bite by the shore at Surfer’s Café.
- Have a nightcap at Café Luna Barbados.
Oistins Budget Hotels
- The simple Maxwell Del Mar Hotel provides guests with comfortable rooms and no-frills amenities such as parking and an outdoor pool.
- The comfy Butterfly Beach Hotel has extensive amenities such as multiple terraces, pools, hot tubs, and nearby beaches, all for a surprisingly affordable price.
Oistins Mid-Range Hotels
- The Bougainvillea Barbados has plenty to keep guests occupied, including rooms with balconies, several pools including one with a swim-up bar, and live entertainment.
- The adults-only Little Arches Boutique Hotel has stand-out amenities, including a pool and some rooms with personal whirlpools, and stand-out staff.
Oistins Luxury Hotels
- Sea Breeze Beach House has everything guests could possibly want — several pools, a hot tub, a kid’s club, and nearby beaches. The resort often doubles as a wedding venue.
- No list of luxury hotels is complete without Sandals Barbados and their world-famous service and extensive amenities. Besides the standard pool, enjoy bowling, karaoke, and so much more.
3. St. Lawrence Gap
St. Lawrence Gap is the wild child of Barbados. This beach town is famous for the best nightlife on the normally laid-back island, which makes it very popular among young travelers. The west coast of the town has a cluster of popular bars and clubs, but you can also grab your own drinks and hang out on the Boardwalk.
This is not to say that partying is all that you can do at St. Lawrence Gap. There are several nearby beaches with beautiful sand and water, such as the unique pink sand of Crane Beach.
If you want to add an educational component to your trip to balance out the partying, there are nature areas and museums in town. St. Lawrence Gap is popular for its nightlife, which means that it can get a little rowdy late into the night. We wouldn’t recommend this destination for travelers with families or anyone who likes to go to bed early.
Things to Do
- Check out the many bars and hotel clubs, such as the Cocktail Kitchen bar.
- Nurse your hangover at the many local beaches, such as Crane Beach, Dover Beach, and Worthing Beach.
- Arrange a day trip to the underwater caves of Harrison’s Cave.
Where to Eat
- Treat yourself to dinner at Ackee Tree Restaurant.
- Enjoy local specialties at Sharkey’s Tropical Café.
- Try some fresh Mexican dishes at Café Sol.
St. Lawrence Gap Budget Hotels
- The simple Time Out Hotel has affordable, comfy rooms, and basic amenities such as a pool and hotel bar.
- Rent a studio or suite at the Rostrevor Hotel and enjoy airy guest apartments, a shared pool, and a terrace for relaxing.
St. Lawrence Gap Mid-Range Hotels
- Elegant South Gap Hotel has clean, air-conditioned rooms with balconies, a pool, and a great location close to the bars and clubs.
- Surrounded by tropical gardens and located right on the beach, the Divi Southwinds Beach Resort also offers guests a pool and several on-site restaurants.
St. Lawrence Gap Luxury Hotels
- Have your own space at the White Sands Beach Condos, where you rent an entire pristine apartment for your group and receive great service attending to your every need.
- The all-inclusive O2 Beach Club & Spa has several restaurants, an amazing pool, and even better beachfront access.
4. St. James
The western region of St. James in Barbados is home to many of the country’s most high-end resorts. If you want to be pampered during your entire stay, this is definitely the place for you! The area is also nicknamed the “platinum coast” due to the high amounts of wealth that are usually concentrated in the resorts and in the pockets of their guests.
Like most of Barbados, St. James is home to truly beautiful beaches. You can lounge on Sandy Lane and Paynes Beach or stay in a resort that has its own private beach area for added exclusivity.
St. James also has plenty of amenities that cater to high-end travelers. You can book a private sailing tour, practice your golf swing, or go play polo. Most of the restaurants are high-end restaurants offering fine dining twists on local cuisine.
As you can imagine from this description, St. James is not the best place for budget travelers. Not only are most accommodation options pricey, but other activities tend to cost much more than elsewhere on (already fairly expensive) Barbados.
Things to Do
- Explore the many beautiful beaches, such as Paynes Bay Beach or Colony Club Beach.
- Go snorkeling in Folkestone Marine Park.
- Pretend you’re part of the 1% and visit the Barbados Polo Club for a match.
- Explore the historic St. James Parish Church.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy an elegant dinner at The Tides Barbados.
- Have delicious Asian food at Shiso.
- Have more casual fare at Surfside Restaurant.
St. James Budget Hotels
- Home rentals are usually the only budget-friendly option in St. James, such as the colorful Best E Villas Prospect St. James. Guests can also enjoy a pool, patio, and gorgeous gardens.
- The elegant condo hotel Garden Grove provides guests with plenty of space as well as access to a shared garden and terrace.
St. James Mid-Range Hotels
- At the elegant Beach View Hotel, you have your choice of swimming in the nearby beach or in four separate pools. Other amenities include a café with poolside service and in-unit laundry.
- Get pampered at the Waves Hotel and Spa at the beautiful resort beach, by the pool, or while receiving a massage in the spa.
St. James Luxury Hotels
- A stay at The Sandpiper will be one to remember, thanks to the outstanding service including organized activities, lush grounds, and pools with lounge beds.
- Receive royal treatment at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion Barbados Resort, including aristocratic rooms, an elegant spa, and extensive gardens for living out your noble fantasies.
5. St. Peter
To the north of St. James parish is the much quieter area of St. Peter parish. This area receives fewer visitors than other parts of Barbados and isn’t quite as overwhelmed by all-inclusive resorts and beach bars.
It is a perfect destination if you want some peace and quiet on your vacation. Plus, the quiet makes it an ideal place for families. St. Peter has several kid-friendly activities that are off the beaten path of Barbados. You can visit the unique St. Nicholas Abbey, with a heritage steam railway with a panoramic view.
Explore the natural wonders of the island at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve and cross your fingers that you’ll spot some monkeys. The main town in the area is Speightstown, an upmarket little beach town. The town has plenty of restaurants, high-end shopping, and accommodation.
Of course, the main appeal of visiting Barbados is the beach. Saint Peter technically is part of the Platinum Coast and has the pristine sandy beaches to prove it. Go swimming, tanning, or whatever you would like in the pristine waters.
The beaches are mostly calm, making them perfect for children. Although Saint Peter is not as expensive or crowded as Saint James, it is still a fairly upmarket destination. Budget accommodations and other amenities are harder to come by than in other parts of the island. Budget travelers should stay in Bridgetown or the less developed east coast.
Things to Do
- Check out the many historic buildings, such as the Grenade Hill Plantation.
- Ride the scenic Steam Railway at St. Nicholas Abbey.
- Shop for souvenirs in Speightstown.
- Enjoy the beautiful beaches, such as Mullins Beach.
Where to Eat
- Have a family-friendly meal at The Fisherman’s Pub.
- Have delicious local specialties at Island Plates.
- Enjoy local fare in a colorful, laid-back atmosphere at Grandene’s Bar and Bistro.
St. Peter Budget Hotels
- At The Legend Garden Condos, rent your own condo in a historic plantation setting and enjoy modern amenities such as a pool and nightly air conditioning.
- The Sugar Cane Club Hotel & Spa is a relatively affordable resort with comfortable rooms, an on-site spa, and a great restaurant.
St. Peter Mid-Range Hotels
- At Mullins Grove, rent an entire apartment on the beach in a condo hotel. Shared amenities include a pool, parking, and a beautiful terrace.
- The elegant Little Good Harbour is located right on the beach. Guests can enjoy nail treatments and massages at the spa, swimming at the beach or pool, and relaxing in spacious, retro-decorated rooms.
St. Peter Luxury Hotels
- The Port St. Charles resort prides itself on its exclusivity, only reachable by water taxi on an exclusive beach, with a pool, tennis court, and even horseback riding facilities.
- Elegant Cobblers Cove has the best location in a beachside tropical garden. Many amenities are included with your stay, ranging from windsurfing lessons to a freshwater swimming pool.
So, Where Should You Stay in Barbados?
|💲 Most Budget-Friendly||Bridgetown|
|🏆 Best for First-Timers||Oistins|
|🎉 Best for Nightlife||St. Lawrence Gap|
|🥂 Most Luxurious||St. James|
|👪 Best for Families||St. Peter|
Barbados is small but mighty. The island has something for everyone, from historic sights to shopping to beautiful beaches.
Bridgetown, the capital, has most of the island’s historic buildings, museums, and cultural centers, making it a perfect stop for travelers interested in history and culture. It is also one of the more affordable areas.
Towards the south, Oistins is the most popular resort area and the best place for first-time travelers to experience all of Barbados. Nearby St. Lawrence Gap is the island’s center for nightlife.
The Platinum Coast to the west also boasts great areas. St. James is great for luxury travel, and you might even see a celebrity or two. Further north, St. Peter is more laid-back and perfect for families.
Any one of these areas is perfect for your next Barbados vacation. Pick a place that matches your interests, and the good news is, Barbados is small enough that you can explore other regions as well!