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McConks’ bitesize international SUP travel guides: Barbados, Caribbean, West Indies.


Barbados, Caribbean, West Indies.

Spot type:

Tropical, open water Caribbean Island nation with abundant surfing and SUP surfing options. Some sheltered flat water routes but all with tide/current.


Most Barbados is a wave spot. There are a few flatter water locations but almost all of Barbados’ coastline gets swell at points. Macking north pulses can see the whole island turn on with various put ins lighting up with waves. The bubble gum blue water and feather lipped waves can be inviting. But there are things t watch out for…

Surfing at South Point, Barbados.


Barbados is a tropical West Indian island. As such there are marine and wildlife to be aware of and keep clear from. Fire coral is one hazard in the water. It’s not as prevalent as some parts of the Caribbean but it’s still there. If you touch fire coral you’ll get a nasty burning rash that could also cause an allergic reaction. Reef in general is something to watch out for in Barbados as there are corals everywhere (some dead but some very much alive). One thing to keep in mind in the Caribbean is falling coconuts. The Trade Winds can cause ripe nuts to fall and they do take a few individuals out every so often. And speaking of Trade Winds these can be moderately strong and chop up waters making it difficult to paddle.


Access to Barbados is via plane. Once on the island it’s pretty easy to get around with a hire car. It’s perhaps worth stumping for a 4X4 as parts of the Atlantic and northern areas of the island aren’t as easily navigable as south eastern parts. Barbados’ capital can be busy with lots of traffic. If you want an authentic island experience then hopping aboard one of the many ‘reggae buses’ is a must!

SUP surfing Freights Bay, Barbados.

Popularity (1-10):

Barbados is a popular holiday destination that attracts all forms[TP1]  of tourist. It’s also a popular Caribbean island for surfers who revel in its consistent wave conditions. In fact, watersports riders from various disciplines love a trip to Barb – SUPers being no different.


Barbados has everything you’ll need. From super high end accommodation types to more rustic B&Bs. Authentic roadside roti peddlers and Michelin Star restaurants. The list goes on. Depending on your budget and what experience you’re after you’ll find it on Barbados. SUP is well catered for as well with lots of schools and centers. Watersports is big on Barb so you’ll definitely be getting afloat in some way, shape or form.


Barbados for any stand up paddle boarder will be great experience. The Caribbean culture, bath warm waters and fun surf conditions make it a regular winter haunt for all manner of rider. Around the Oistins area you find a few flat water spots, whilst further south are the hallowed breaks of Freights and South Point. Both these locations offer fun, semi mushy waves due to the Trade Winds. Freights is more sheltered and better suited to beginners. Unless there’s a solid northerly pulse of well when Freight morphs into a freight train esque barrel fest. At this point it’s best to sit things out if you don’t have the right experience and skills.

Towards Silver Rock you’ll find more choppy waves and a tad more breeze. This is where the Action Man himself, Brian Talma live and operates a watersports business. Brian is a former pro windsurfer and no slouch on a SUP. The veer smiling blue eyed Bajan will excitedly help you any way he can. He’s a real character and you’d do a lot worse than use his Action Beach Shack as a base for your stand up paddle boarding shenanigans.

Soup Bowls, Bathsheba, SUP surfing action.

Across on the Atlantic side of the island is where Kelly Slater’s fave wave is. Bathsheba is an intimidating reef break that sits at the foot of an extremely laid back village. Soup Bowls, as the wave is referred to, is hollow and fast and always has a frothing pack on it. That said it’s also a great wave for performance surf SUP if you can handle yourself. There are plenty of other waves in this corner as well. But make sure you have a good understanding of surf. It can be a lonely, isolated part of Barbados should things go wrong.

Back on the Caribbean Sea side and towards Bridgetown the water flattens off. Unless there’s a northerly swell pumping. If so you’re likely to see magazine style waves being ridden by rippers who obviously know what they’re doing. Many of these put ins are super shallow and break over fire coral. Not for the faint hearted! During flatter periods there’s plenty of coastline to investigate aboard your SUP. And the warm water makes it idyllic to learn.

No visit to Barbados should end before you’ve visited the island’s party capital of St Laurence Gap. Here there are loads of bars, clubs and party venues to soak up the Caribbean vibe. It’s usually buzzing most night but weekends are particularly energetic. Oistins fish fry, which happens on Fridays, is another must do. Another jump up style affair you can also enjoy some outstanding locally caught fish whilst getting a wiggle on!


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