The Caribbean Sea brings thoughts of white sandy and golden beaches, pirates and shipwrecks, rum drinks and, for anglers, some excellent trophy fishing year-round. Barbados has all of these things and more, and it is a true tropical paradise and a dream place for serious fishermen.
Barbados is a small island, only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. It is the easternmost island in the Caribbean. It has the turbulent Atlantic Coast with jagged rocks and cliffs to the east and a much calmer Caribbean side to the west. For fishing, both sides bring great possibilities. Over 500 species of fish call these waters home, so there are many different fish to catch depending on what type of fish you want to target. Fishing captains with knowledge of the water and the fish that inhabit it can customize your charter to meet all of your personal needs. Charters are waiting for you, whether you want a day in the deep blue fighting monsters, a relaxing day on the reefs, or bonefishing off the shores. Most offer, 4-hour half days, 6-hour, usually with a stop to swim with the sea turtles and 8-hour full day trips. Many charters offer cold beverages and snacks. Once back at the dock, they filet your catch and some captains will even cook it for you. Some even arrange pickup and drop-off from your place. There are two main marinas on the island, The Careenage Marina in Bridgetown and The Port Charles Marina in Speightstown. The majority of the charters on the island start at the marina in Bridgetown, but if you want to fish in the northern part of the island, then The Port Charles is the place to go. Noth marinas are full service and great starting points for a great day on the water.
There is a fishing season in Barbados. From the middle of December to the end of April is the best time of year to come to the island. However, most, if not all, of the fish you want to reel in are in the waters year-round. It just may be a little more challenging to hook them. The Blue Marlin, White Marlin and Sailfish, the fish everyone wants to catch, are found in significant numbers in the waters of Barbados. Wahoo is found in these waters year-round, but the biggest ones are found in the months of September – April when your odds are excellent for catching this quick as lightening and so delicious fish. The other four months are still great chances for hooking them. Mahi season is shorter, only January – April and Tuna season is January – May. Barracuda like Wahoo are found all over the island in the depths and the reefs all year long.
Deep-sea fishing is where the action is at. Blue and White Marlin, Swordfish, Sailfish, Wahoo (known as Kingfish to the locals), Mahi Mahi (known as Dolphin Fish to the locals), Barracuda and a couple of species of Tuna can all be caught. The beauty of Barbados is the fun of the hunt starts only minutes from the dock. You have to go a little farther out for the Marlin and other billfish, but the drop-off to over 1000 ft. is less than 3 miles from the marinas. You can head a few more miles to the deep blue, where you can hook up giants trophy fish. Professional charter captains know the area and the fish and will get you on the fish in no time. All you have to do is wait for the strike and then be in for the fight of your life. While out deep, you can also deep drop with electric reels for Giant Grouper, Snapper, Tilefish, and if you are lucky, a Swordfish. You are almost guaranteed to bring home a cooler full of fish during the peak season, although it would be proper to share with your captain and crew. These waters also offer an angler the chance for an IFGA Billfish Super Grand Slam of four different billfish hookups in one day. It is also for this reason that Barbados hosts many tournaments throughout the season. The Barbados Game Fishing Tournament out of Port St. Charles and the BFGA AGM, and The Brian Manning Memorial Billfish Tournament out of Careenage Marina in Bridgeport are the main tournaments for the season. Many smaller tournaments specialize in Wahoo and Barracuda, the two most prevalent fish in the waters throughout the year.
It is still pretty deep in the calmer water of the reefs and wrecks. It drops from 30-70 feet right off the shoreline and 140-200 feet just a little farther. This means you can bottom feed for Snapper and Grouper or fish the reefs targetting smaller fish like Jacks, Bonito, Cero Mackerel and Google Eyes or larger fish like Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, King Mackerel, and Barracuda. Inshore charters are more relaxing, and with fewer waves, it is perfect for families and the seasick prone. The captains and crew of the many charters on the island know these reefs and wrecks and the best places to drop lines in the water. They also love to help novices and kids start a love for fishing that will last a lifetime.
There is also fishing in the shallows and near freshwater springs. You might hook up with Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit, Garfish, Barracuda, Flying Fish and even a Shark. There is an inland lake where there is said to be Tarpon as well.
Barbados is a paradise with more to offer than some of the best fishing in the Caribbean. Being surrounded by coral reefs and over 200 wrecks, Barbados is a scuba diving destination too. Carlisle Bay has many wrecks that are perfect for beginners as well as advanced divers. The reefs all over the island are colorful and alive with life.
There are many white and golden beaches with azure water. For Instagram-worthy pictures, Bathsheba Beach is perfect. It is not your typical sandy beach, and swimming is not recommended, but there are beautiful rock formations and cliffs. It all makes for a pretty picture. Bathsheba is also the place to surf in Barbados. The waves at “The Soup Bowl” are the best in Barbados and have been rated by some of the most prominent pro surfers as one of the best in the world. If you are a little scared of the waves at Bathsheba, you might want to try Dover Beach instead. This beach has breaks perfect for surfers and bodyboarders, but they are not as big as “The Soup Bowl,” but they are just as fun. The beach is less crowded with a very chill atmosphere. Other beaches of note are the beaches of Carlisle Bay: Pebbles Beach, Browne Beach and Bayshore Beach. These are uncrowded powder white sandy beaches with calm turquoise waters. The bay has several wrecks making snorkeling fun. Watching the sunrise while the racehorses are bathing at Pebbles Beach is one sight not to be missed.
There is plenty for nature lovers and hikers too, and with being such a small island, you can do more and explore more in one day. There are two caves: The Animal Flowers Cave and Harrison’s Cave. The Animal Flowers Cave is located on the northern side of the island. There are rock ponds and breathtaking views of the Atlantic. The lookout on top of the cliffs is the perfect vantage point for watching the Humpback Whales coming into the waters from February to April. Harrison’s Cave is your more normal cave with stalactites, stalagmites and calcium deposits, and a river going through it. It is beautiful and haunting and is one of the island’s most popular destinations.
The island has over 1000 species of plants, and you can see many of them at Hunte’s Garden and Andromeda Botanic Garden. At Hunte’s Garden, along with the plants and flowers, there are monkeys, hummingbirds and the owner’s dog, which many feel steals the show. At the Andromeda Botanic Garden, there are over 600 plants and flowers and ponds, streams and a magnificent viewing point of the Atlantic. The Barbados Wildlife Reserve has many inhabitants, including Green Monkeys, Tortoises, Caimans, Agouti, and more.
The entire Caribbean is famous for its rum production, and Barbados, considered the birthplace of rum, has four distilleries on the island. The more well-known is Mount Gay Rum, and this distillery is over 300 years old.You can visit the distillery, learn about the history, and taste the different rums they produce. The second oldest, The West Indies Rum Distillery, is over 100 years old. The majority of rum production on the island comes from this distillery. There are also many different tours you can choose when visiting. The other two distilleries are relative newcomers. Fourscore Rum has only been in production for 25 years. St. Nicholas Abbey Rum, housed in a 350-year-old sugarcane plantation house, is different as they do only single cask rums that lead to smooth, superior award-winning rum.
This rum and other libations and loads of tasty food can all be found on St. awrence Gap.”The Gap,” as the locals call it, is an exciting little street outside Bridgeport on the island’s south side. This is the place where all generations mingle. The crowds come in the daytime to lounge at Dover Beach and walk the street looking for souvenirs and hand-crafted items. At night the street comes alive. There are restaurants offering foods of Italy, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, American, Brazilian, and local Bajan food where the emphasis is on local ingredients and fresh fish. There are dive bars, jazz bars, beachside bars and nightclubs. You can find it on this 1.5-kilometer long street no matter what you are looking for.
The saying is “little island Big Barbados,” While Barbados may be a little island, it is big in fun and excitement. On land, there are caves to explore, hiking trails, gardens and nature reserves, shopping, food, RUM and even maybe a horseback ride on the beach. On the water, there are some of the best surfing, diving, snorkeling and fishing in the Caribbean. Locals will say, “a time on the water is cheese on bread,” meaning WOW!! Come to the little island with the big heart and bigger fish.