South Coast, Barbados | Neighbourhood

The sheltered south coast of Barbados is a visitors’ playground — but alongside crowded beaches and lively nightlife, you’ll find lots of history and touches of nature, too

  • Photo by Abovebarbados.com
  • Photo courtesy Barbados Tourism Authority
  • Photo by Guy Harrop/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Photo by Lu Lin/Shutterstock.com
  • Photo courtesy Ins And Outs Of Barbados
  • Photo by Westend61 Gmbh/Alamy Stock Photo

Streetscape

The stretch of coast between Needham’s Point to the west and South Point to the southeast is Barbados at its liveliest, and the island’s tourism hotspot. Close to the airport, blessed with a succession of splendid beaches, and well-connected by public transport to Bridgetown, the south coast boasts dozens of hotels and resorts, interspersed with quiet residential streets (gaps, as Bajans call them), restaurants, and bars galore. Few buildings rise higher than the treetops, and neat gardens and flowering shrubs still outnumber neon signs. There are areas that seem to never sleep — see St Lawrence Gap on the facing page — and dozy corners designed for quiet retreat. The best way to take in the lie of the land — or, rather, the coast? A stroll along the boardwalk, which hugs the shore from Bridgetown, running south and east, with refreshing sea views and equally refreshing sea breezes.

Beach days

There’s no point coming to Barbados and resisting the call of the sea — and the south coast boasts some of the island’s most accessible beaches. Accra may be the most popular, and it’s easy to see why — broad stretch of white sand, warm turquoise water, laid-back beach bar, and ample parking. Further east, Dover Beach is popular on weekends and located on the very doorstep of St Lawrence Gap. Head towards Oistins and you’ll stumble on Enterprise Beach, known to many locals as Miami Beach (above), quiet on weekdays and packed on weekends.

Come for the fish

The small town of Oistins is the main fishing port and fish market in Barbados — the place to buy fresh flying fish to cook yourself at home, or, come Friday night, to enjoy the local delicacy prepared by the experts, delectably seasoned and fried over an open fire. The Friday-night fish-fry is a Barbados must-see — or, rather, must-taste. And a must-dance? Because alongside numerous fish vendors and open-air bars flowing with rum and Banks beer, music fills the air and the party runs late.

Vroom, vroom

Car fanatics — we all know one of those — should make a beeline for Pavilion Court in Hastings, home of the Mallalieu Motor Collection. For decades, businessman Bill Mallalieu has indulged his passion for classic cars, and for the modest admission fee you too can marvel at stylish autos dating back to the 1940s, from some of the most celebrated names in motoring: Bentley, Daimler, Volvo. Each vehicle is kept in perfect running order, and if you’re lucky enough to meet Mr Mallalieu himself, you’ll soon discover that each comes with a story of speed and daring.

Georgian style

On the southern outskirts of Bridgetown, the Garrison is an open-air history museum. Once the headquarters of the British West India Regiment, its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Georgian buildings surround the Garrison Savannah, formerly a military parade ground and now used for horse racing. Here you’ll find the National Cannon Collection, with more than two dozen historical armaments, and the landmark clocktower of the Main Guard building, now housing an information centre. The Barbados Museum occupies a building once used as a prison — some of the dark little cells are preserved as part of the exhibition displays, alongside period furniture, a map gallery to thrill cartophiles, and natural history specimens. Not far away, the George Washington House (below) is named for the United States’ first president, who lived here for a few months in 1751, visiting Barbados with his brother — the founding father’s sole foreign trip.

Mind the gap

The most famous nightlife strip in Barbados, St Lawrence Gap has the proverbial something for everyone, from upscale dining to inexpensive street food, relaxed cafés to nightclubs pulsing through the wee hours, and bars of every description. This is the place to take in live music, have a first date, celebrate a special occasion, or drown your sorrows. The mile-long stretch of beachside road also includes hotels ranging from budget to budget-breaking, and even a church — perhaps for Sunday morning meditations after a wild Saturday night out.

Co-ordinates

13º N 59.6º W
Sea level

 

Caribbean Airlines operates several flights each day to Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados