Why Barbados is a Water Sports Paradise
Barbados’ location makes it the ideal destination for water sports enthusiasts. Situated where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea, its eastern coast is the home to rolling breakers that attract the world’s best surfers while the west coast offers tranquil and transparent waters which are suitable for a much wider variety of activities. Add to this its shipwrecks and coral reefs and you can easily see why it has a fantastic reputation for water sports.
Jet ski thrills
For those with a thirst for speed and a desire for thrills, Jet Skiing offers one of the best ways to have fun on the water and a way to explore some of the island’s beautiful beaches, offshore reefs and quaint coves.
You’ll find both Yamaha WaveRunners and Kawasaki Jet Skis available for hire and there are operators on many of the west and south coast beaches. Both of these models are able to carry up to three people. Depending on your skill and experience of using a jet ski, it could be better to stick to the west coast where the waters are calmer and easier to ride.
Scuba diving heaven
If scuba diving is your thing, then Barbados has everything you could want when it comes to undersea exploration. There have been over 200 shipwrecks around its shores since the 17th century, many due to tropical storms and pirates. Today, the main activity centres around the nine wrecks situated in Carlisle Bay which are quick and easy to get to and lie in reasonably shallow waters with exceptional visibility. With water temperature between 25°C and 28°C, they also make for a comfortable dive. Some of the ships around the island are quite large and in excellent condition. It is even possible to swim inside some of them.
Wrecks are not the only attraction for scuba divers in Barbados, its fascinating coral reefs are home to a rich variety of sea life with everything from sea horses, barracuda, octopi, tropical fish, sea urchins and turtles to be found.
The island has quite a few professional dive operators that will take you on diving expeditions and kit you out with everything you need. They also run diving classes for those who are new to the sport or need a refresher. You’ll find most of these in and around the Bridgetown coast.
Barbados is considered by many to be one of the world’s best places to windsurf. With perfect sea temperatures, a steady breeze and great waves, it offers the ideal conditions for windsurfing enthusiasts to get out there and do their thing.
For the ultimate enjoyment, head to Silver Sands Beach along the south coast for great waves and go between November and June when the Tradewinds offer the most reliable breeze. For beginners, you’ll find that the reef areas of the coast offer a gentler introduction to the sport.
The conditions that make Barbados ideal for windsurfing also make it a great place to kitesurf, a sport which has taken off in a big way over recent years. The south coast remains the best place for wind-powered board sports and you’ll find kitesurfing is popular along Long Beach and Silver Rock Beach where there’s plenty of room to take part safely. There are a number of operators along the south coast that will provide you with kit and lessons.
There are two key surfing spots on Barbados. For most people, it’s the south coast where there are some great waves to ride but where the seas are still calm enough for people to swim safely. The beaches here are popular and there are many operators where you can rent boards. This part of the island is where you’ll find many hotels and resorts, so it’s a great place to stay if you are looking for lots of amenities.
The ultimate surfing experience, however, is to be found on the relatively tourist-free east coast which faces the Atlantic head-on. Here, you’ll find the town of Bathsheba and, just off the coast, the world-famous Soup Bowl. Not a place for your average surfer, the waves here are high and powerful and the sea can be treacherous. Swimming here is never recommended. That said, the fantastic barrel waves at this location attract the world’s best surfers who flock here on annual pilgrimages to conquer the big rollers.
Before surfing anywhere on the island, speak to a local operator to make sure you choose a location which is safe – aside from big waves on the east coast, there are some extremely shallow waters on the south which can be just as hazardous.
Snorkelling the sights
Snorkelling is, by far, the most popular water sport on Barbados, the principal reason being it’s one of the best ways to see the abundance of wildlife living along the coast. The calm, crystal clear waters of the west coast provide the ideal visibility to view the highly colourful reefs and the equally kaleidoscopic array of tropical fish and other creatures.
The best way to see these is to go on one of the many catamaran trips that operate along the west coast. Most include a stop at a reef where you can get into the water and snorkel away. One of the most popular attractions for snorkellers are the turtles that inhabit the waters and on many catamaran tours, you’ll get the opportunity to swim with them.
As an island, Barbados is a proud sailing nation and there are plenty of opportunities for boating enthusiasts to get out onto the water and explore the coastline. Experienced sailors can hire a boat for themselves to take out, while less experienced people can have lessons. It is also possible to take a more luxurious approach and charter a yacht or catamaran, fully crewed, to take you to wherever you wish to go – food, drink and personal service included.
If you love water sports, Barbados has everything you need – from sailing and jet skis to snorkelling and kitesurfing. With great facilities, experienced operators and the perfect conditions, you’re sure to have a brilliant time whether you're challenging the waves or exploring the wonders of the seabed.
If you are looking for luxury accommodation during your stay in Barbados, take a look at the exceptional villas and apartments at The Royal Westmoreland.