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P&O Cruises Arvia in Barbados ahead of her naming ceremony (Photo: Christopher Ison)
P&O Cruises Arvia in Barbados ahead of her naming ceremony (Photo: Christopher Ison)

12 Barbados Beaches Cruisers Won't Want to Miss

P&O Cruises Arvia in Barbados ahead of her naming ceremony (Photo: Christopher Ison)
P&O Cruises Arvia in Barbados ahead of her naming ceremony (Photo: Christopher Ison)
Carolina Pirola

Last updated
Feb 22, 2024

The small, beautiful island of Barbados is a must-see on any Eastern Caribbean cruise. Beyond its rich cultural heritage and charming architecture, this speck of land directly to the east of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is renowned as the ultimate beach destination due to its relatively small size and, therefore, short distances from powdery sand and turquoise water.

As a rule of thumb, the west and south coasts of the island have soft sand and calm, shallow waters, while the Atlantic-facing east and north coasts are better suited for surfing.

With such an abundance of beautiful Barbados beaches to choose from, most cruisers find themselves struggling to choose just one. Continue reading for an overview of our 12 favorite Barbados beaches.

1. Turtle Beach Barbados: Pretty Barbados Beach with Services for Families

Located on the southern coast and about a 25-minute drive from the Barbados Cruise Port, Turtle Beach is an idyllic spot for those looking to relax on a picturesque Caribbean beach. It’s nestled within the grounds of the Turtle Beach Barbados Resort so access isn’t the easiest, but its soft sand and close proximity to restaurants and bars makes it a favorite for sunbathing.

Note that swimming, however, is often discouraged here due to the presence of currents in certain areas of Turtle Beach.

Despite its name, you are unlikely to spot big numbers of sea turtles here, particularly during peak season. For the best chances to see them, arrive as early as you can in the morning to beat the crowds.

2. Bottom Bay: A Gorgeous Barbados Beach with a Secluded Feel

Bottom Bay, Barbados (Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock)
Bottom Bay, Barbados (Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock)

Bottom Bay Beach, which is on the southeast coast of Barbados, epitomizes a hidden gem of the Caribbean. Accessed via a tall staircase leading down from rocky cliffs, its secluded ambiance offers a tranquil escape from the bustling tourist crowds found farther west. There are no facilities here, but towering palm trees set against rugged cliffs create a beautiful backdrop.

While the waves may deter some from swimming, this Barbados beach is an ideal retreat for those looking to take in the scenery and escape the crowds. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are popular activities in the area. If you’re lucky, you may even get a glimpse of turtles and even whales in the distance.

Bring some of the essentials that you will have packed for your Caribbean cruise -- such as a hat, sunscreen and a towel -- along with some food and water. Don’t forget some cash for the coconut vendors that you will see walking down the beach.

3. Crane Beach: One of the Best Beaches in Barbados and the Caribbean

Clear blue waters, powdery, slightly pink sands, and dramatic rock cliffs make this one of the best beaches in Barbados -- and one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. During low tide, this crescent-shaped beach is wide and open, with plenty of space to put your towel down and take in the breathtaking views.

Although it’s located in the rougher Atlantic side of the island, it’s generally safe enough to swim and snorkel thanks to the offshore reef.

A narrow path built on the rocks runs all along the coast, offering expansive views and allowing for easy access to other quieter stretches of sand. A long stone staircase also leads to the island’s first resort, home to a beautiful terrace where you can enjoy a drink overlooking this stunning Barbados beach.

4. Paynes Bay Beach: Bajan Atmosphere and Family Fun

Barbados (Photo:Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock)
Barbados (Photo:Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock)

If calm waters and lots of space is what you’re after, you can’t miss Paynes Beach. It is located about a 15-minute drive from the cruise port, making it the ideal place for a swim after a short shore excursion.

There are also opportunities for kayaking and snorkeling. If you don’t have your own water sports gear, you can rent it at one of the handful of diving shops found along the beach.

When you finally need a break from the sun, take cover under one of the many trees lining the bay, or stroll over to one of the nearby hotels or restaurants. For a taste of local cuisine, walk about five minutes south to the Paynes Bay Fish Market, where local fishermen offload their catch. If you're there on a Friday or Saturday, you’ll witness fish and other local delicacies being fried.

5. Pebbles Beach: The Best Barbados Beach for Families with Young Kids

Married couple Jessie Stoelwinder and Em Williams run through the water with their young daughter (Photo: Jarrad Seng/AIPP library)
Married couple Jessie Stoelwinder and Em Williams run through the water with their young daughter (Photo: Jarrad Seng/AIPP library)

Those traveling with kids in tow will appreciate this section of Carlisle Bay, an expansive beach found directly south of Bridgetown. There is a lifeguard on duty, a playground, shade and picnic tables, making it an ideal beach for some family fun.

Whether you’re looking to relax in the sun and splash around with the kids, or seeking to explore the rich marine life, Pebbles Beach doesn’t disappoint. Like many other beaches in Barbados, it is known for being home to sea turtles, both during hatching season and outside of it.

Catamaran and diving tours are also available on-site, including shipwreck trips for beginners.

6. Bathsheba Beach: Great Surfing and Easy Access to Services

Bathsheba Beach is the go-to place for surfers in Barbados. The summer months are best for beginner water sports enthusiasts, as waves are smaller and more manageable; the winter brings swells reaching up to 15 ft tall, beckoning only the most seasoned surfers. Kitesurfing, bodyboarding and windsurfing are all available at Bathsheba Beach, too.

The beach offers plenty of space for sunbathers to relax as well, and there are volleyball courts and a kids’ playground set against the verdant cliffs.

Bathsheba offers easy access to restaurants and shops off the beach in St. Joseph. Take a taxi to one of the various botanical gardens in the area for a glimpse of the local flora.

7. Dover Beach: Safe, Lively Barbados Beach Close to Dover Playing Field

Dover Beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It is located in St. Lawrence Gap, about 25 minutes by car from the cruise port, and adjacent to Turtle Beach. There are plenty of things around it, including eateries, bars, and water sports shops, allowing for an easy day in the sun.

Swimming on Dover Beach is generally safe, and the small offshore reef offers good marine life-spotting opportunities. Its central location, relatively calm waters and easy access to services make it a popular beach, meaning you will not have the serene feel you might find elsewhere in Barbados. However, if you are looking for a beach with a lively, fun atmosphere, Dover Beach is for you.

8. Rockley Beach: Water Sports, Lots of Shade and Family-Friendly Services

Woman Snorkeling in the Open Clear Blue Waters (Photo: Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock)
Woman Snorkeling in the Open Clear Blue Waters (Photo: Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock)

Although the beaches farther north are known among families for their calm waters and soft sand, Rockley Beach -- also known as Accra Beach -- caters to families seeking a blend of excitement and relaxation. Rockley Beach offers an array of water-based activities including windsurfing and snorkeling, alongside protected areas with gentle waters for younger ones to safely enjoy.

Several food shacks, bars and an area with picnic tables are available for those who wish to eat on-site. A nearby playground and shaded areas are present for children wishing to step off the beach. Loungers and umbrellas are also available for rent.

Pristine and tranquil, Sandy Lane Beach is a favorite among celebrities. Beyonce, Jay-Z and Vera Wang have all been spotted here, among many others. Although access is not the easiest if you’re not a guest of the luxury resort that is right on the beach, all beaches in Barbados are public and you should be allowed in.

Sandy Lane Beach offers the perfect setting for a leisurely day in the sun with its powdery sand, serene waters and ample shade. You can stroll down the long beach to a couple of diving shops, but the true allure of this stretch of sand lies in its ideal conditions for snorkeling and swimming, rather than in high-energy water sports.

If your cruise ship leaves later in the evening, don’t miss the sunset from Sandy Lane Beach. Whether you choose to savor the moment from one of the hotel’s inviting bars and terraces, or opt to enjoy the vistas directly on the sand, the view promises to be nothing short of spectacular.

10. Alleynes Bay: The Best Beach for Couples and Groups of Friends

Alleynes Bay is a favorite among couples and groups of friends alike and it's easy to see why. An array of renowned eateries, a lively and fun atmosphere, and shallow, tranquil waters with great visibility all make for desirable beach attributes.

Like many other beaches dotting this stretch of the island’s west coast, Alleynes Bay offers prime opportunities for snorkeling and swimming along with spotting turtles a little bit farther out.

Alleynes is one of the many Barbados beaches linked by a picturesque boardwalk meandering along the shoreline. This narrow path is perfect for a leisurely stroll and grants easy access to the array of hotels and restaurants that can be found along the beach. There are no public facilities here, but a lifeguard is on duty during the day.

11. Mullins Beach and Gibbs Beach: A Winning Duo of Pristine Waters

Mullins Beach and the adjacent Gibbs Beach are two of the best beaches in Barbados for swimming and snorkeling. These palm-fringed spots on the northwestern coast offer a convenient mix of easy access to services and plenty of space for quiet relaxation. There are beach bars, water sports booths, and loungers and umbrellas for rent.

Mullins and Gibbs have some of the softest sand and most beautiful, calm waters in Barbados, but they are about a 45-minute drive from the cruise port. Make sure you have a reliable taxi booked in advance, especially for your way back. The large parking lot across the street makes pick-ups and drop-offs easy.

12. Folkestone Marine Beach & Park: Coral Reefs, a Shipwreck and a Museum

There’s no better beach in Barbados for those looking for an active day trip combined with some relaxing beach time than Folkestone Marine Beach. This idyllic spot within the Folkestone Marine Park offers a myriad of water-based activities, from glass-bottom boat excursions to snorkeling around shallow coral reefs teeming with tropical fish and sponges.

A shipwreck offers great opportunities to get up close and personal with the rich marine life of this protected underwater park.

Catering to marine life enthusiasts and families with children of all ages, the on-site fishing history museum hosts interesting exhibitions. Its small aquarium is a favorite among kids, while the outdoor play areas and boardwalk allow for more active family fun. There are restrooms, picnic areas and even tennis courts with rental equipment just a short walk from the beach.

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