Blessed with sparkling, warm waters and excellent visibility off its serene coastline, Barbados is a haven for water babies and beach bums alike! Unlike diving, snorkeling involves little training or expertise, so the whole family can join in exploring the island’s healthy and vibrantly coloured reef system, especially those found in the calmer waters of the south and west.
What can I expect to see?
You don’t need to swim too far from shore to spot an abundance of kaleidoscopic marine life within the waters of this Caribbean gem. Hard and soft coral reef formations are woven with schools of tropical fish and fascinating sea creatures, including parrot fish, black durgon, and butterfly fish. Stingrays glide past insouciantly, while close to the shoreline you may even catch a glimpse of graceful sea horses nestled within the weeds and plant life.
A spot which gets most visitors grabbing their waterproof camera in excitement is the beautiful hawksbill turtles, present year-round and nesting predominantly between May and October. Leatherback turtles also pay a visit to the pristine shores from February to July when they come to nest, providing visitors with a rare opportunity to interact with these elegant creatures in their natural habitat.
Want to make a day of it?
As the main harbour of the buzzing capital city Bridgetown, Carlisle Bay was once teaming with merchant vessels, humming with the sound of busy traders; now, expect the same energetic atmosphere with high spirited beach activity and thrilling water sports. On the south west coast and in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find the waters are mostly calm and clear - perfect for a spot of snorkelling. Unusually, there are six shipwrecks within the bay, four of which are in waters shallow enough to be explored by snorkelers – a rare treat! As an added bonus, the wrecks also attract marine life, including eels, rays, and octopus. Bordering is the Bay Street Esplanade, an eclectic mix of historic and modern Barbados with an impressive bandstand which regularly hosts live entertainment; envisage ending your day admiring the sunset to the sound of a jazzy steel band.
Where should I stay?
If you simply want to be able to roll out of bed, grab a mask, and delve into the glistening waters, stay at any of the six Elegant Hotels in Barbados where water sports are complimentary with your luxury escape. Turtle Beach lies on the south coast, while along the Platinum West Coast find Waves Hotel and Spa, The House, Tamarind, Colony Club and the shimmering waters of Crystal Cove. Gently lapping the shores, clear waters give families opportunity to snorkel right off the beach, with the help of the professional Aqua School team should you need it. Charming jetties that jolt from the coastline see schools of tropical fish fluttering around them, while down by the rocks you’ll find vivid coral and may even spot turtles swimming in the shallow parts.
And for the land lubbers?
Those that haven’t yet found their fins can still marvel at Barbados’ amazing aquatic creatures at Folkestone Marine Park! Little nippers don their masks and explore the artificial reef found in the recreational zone or discover multi-hued marine life around the sunken ship Stavronikita whilst back on dry land there’s an interesting museum and aquarium where you can learn and lookout for sea anemones, sea lilies, corals and sponges. Here, you’ll also find tennis and basketball courts for active pursuits, as well as a great children’s playground and shaded picnic area to enjoy a spot of lunch before jumping straight back in to explore.