The greatest adventures are there for those that are willing to go just a little further. Barbados, one of the most distant Caribbean islands from mainland North America, rewards its travelers for going the extra mile. While best known for its white sands and polished resorts of the west coast, it is the rugged south and eastern coasts that provide the most consistent swell and surf.
One of the greatest things about Barbados is the size of the island and ease of getting around. A shift in swell can mean that the best surf is on the opposite side of the island—not a big issue when the island is only 34 kilometres in length and 23 kilometres in width. Barbados is situated outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt and experiences far fewer hurricanes than its more northern neighbours. Don’t let the lack of stormy weather lead you to think that it doesn’t see good swell, though. With 360 degree exposure, it is always breaking somewhere.
The best way to experience the island is to rent a car and be willing to explore. Once you get used to driving on the left side of the road, there really isn’t much to it. In fact, Bajan drivers are far more considerate and forgiving than most in the US or Canada. The island’s crosshatched roads are a remnant of country’s history of sugar cane production from the past century. You could as easily navigate with a GPS as a compass, as one wrong turn is easily corrected at the next fork in the road.
Barbados has breaks to suit all levels. Beginners can enjoy the gentle beach breaks of Pebble Beach, Brandon’s or even Freights on a smaller day. More advanced surfers will be rewarded for braving the challenging access of South Point or the shallow reef break of Parlours or Soup Bowl. On good days, the breaks can see increased numbers of surfers—but would never be considered crowded by typical standards. Based on its geographic location, the line up draws a friendly and international crowd with surfers from around the world enjoying what the island has to offer. The welcoming personality of Bajan locals translates from the shore to the line up and makes any respectful newcomer feel at home.
Accommodations on the island runs the spectrum from 5-star all-inclusive resorts to more affordable guest houses. Our favorite spot is Zed’s Surfing Adventures. An island mainstay, Zed’s is conveniently situated just 5 minutes south of the airport. Far removed from the more developed areas of the island, Zed’s provides an oasis within an oasis.
The photographs for this article are courtesy of Lucas Murnaghan. If you are in Toronto over the next week, check out his exhibition of surf photography around the Great Lakes and beyond. For more information, click here.