As the temperatures rise come summer, tropical destinations typically fall off the radar for many travelers. But that’s the thing: these slower months are a great time to experience the best the tropics have to offer — including a little luxury — for a whole lot less.
Case in point: Barbados. This Caribbean gem — a favorite among celebrities, romantics, and thrill seekers alike — offers perfect temperatures year-round and some of the world’s best beaches. Luxury abounds in Barbados, but if you head there this season, you’ll find some great deals. As an added bonus, you’ll enjoy its attractions minus the crowds, having more of the island to explore for yourself. Here’s how to fill a getaway here with bang-for-your-buck activities and create priceless memories that won’t break the bank.
1. Indulge at a luxe resort endlessly.
All-inclusives are a Caribbean favorite for a reason; you’re free to enjoy everything the resort has to offer without ever opening your wallet (at least theoretically). For just one example: The latest to come on the island’s all-inclusive resort scene is Sandals Barbados, which officially opened its doors in January 2015. Located in the happening St. Lawrence Gap area, Sandals Barbados features the luxury of some of the most exclusive resorts anywhere in the Caribbean — the brand’s motto is “luxury included.” Think: Swim-up suites, private outdoor soaking tubs, sophisticated design details, access to English Guild-trained butlers, and the largest river pool in the Caribbean.
Unlike other luxury hotels, however, it’s a true all-inclusive. While many offer different plans for amenities like top-shelf liquor and motorized watersports, Sandals guests have unlimited access to premium drinks, all watersports, and 11 restaurants — including a steakhouse, a sushi bar, and Sandals’ first-ever Indian restaurant. The only add-ons are adventure tours and spa treatments.
Speaking of which, though, you can get a whole lot more for less with the resort’s deals and promotions, not to mention its grand opening sale. Currently, for its grand opening sale, Sandals Barbados is offering: a spa or tour credit up to $235; air credits up to $1,000; a free night when you book seven. Rates start from $370 per person per night. Compare that to the rates during popular spring rates, when you can easily pay more than $700 per person per night.
2. Explore freely.
Of course, the more-for-less mentality doesn’t have to end there — there’s an entire island to explore, after all. Barbados’ 60 beaches are all open to the public and all free. But you can take further advantage of the waters by learning how to surf with Brian Talma, the very man who professionally rode the waves around the world and introduced the sport to Barbados. Lessons are $60 per hour for beginners, but if you don’t learn how to stand on the board after the first session, it’s free ($30 for intermediate and advanced levels).
For a guided afternoon affair, how about a Tiami Catamaran Cruise, on which you’ll enjoy snorkeling with the turtles, not to mention an open-bar and locally inspired lunch? We’d say that the $68 is a fair price for a four-hour adventure cruise, hotel transfers, meal and drinks, as well as some underwater action. If you’d rather stay on land, Island Safari Tour is a great way to get a feel for the entire island, see multiple Instagram-worthy views, and learn more about the local landscape. At $50 for a four-hour tour, it’s more affordable than a private tour — and a lot more fun, too, since you’ll get to make new friends.
3. Eat and drink locally.
No trip to Barbados is complete without a visit to Oistin’s Fish Fry, one of the Caribbean’s best street parties and food-and-drink extravaganzas. It’s especially spirited on Friday nights, when locals and tourists happily dance and mingle. Here, wander the various stalls before you choose a vendor for local Banks beers, potent rum punches, and Bajan specialties such as fried flying fish and macaroni pie. The best part? Prices are very affordable. You can pay under $2 for a beer and under $15 for a full dinner — making it even easier to justify signing up for one or two of those excursions during the day.