With hurricane season put to bed, the winter months are prime for heading to the Caribbean for sand and surf. And amongst the many exotic islands, few have quite the options as Barbados. With everything from local flavor (fish fry, Mount Gay rum) to posh celebrity resorts (Sandy Lane), the Caribbean isle covers a lot of ground and then some. Here are a few stylish packing picks for soaking up the sun.
Known for white sand beaches actually made of fine coral, Barbados boasts world class seaside lounging on its west coast (the "Platinum Coast"). Like the other developed Caribbean hot spots, the former British colony veers on the chic side of island dressing. As such, bring along this zebra print bikini in a sassy green ($56.38 for the top; $50.87 for the bottom, both half off now) by jet-setter Diane von Furstenberg. To cover up: an indigo denim skirt ($68) and white chambray button-down ($29.99, was $39.95) make for a clean, no-fuss look. Instead, let your accessories do the talking, with these neon and zebra print flat sandals ($315) and pink shell bracelet ($85). This tan credit card holder ($27) keeps things sleek and won't take up much room whether you go for a small day bag or larger beach tote. And while being close to the equator certainly has its advantages, keep peepers protected with these cat-eye tortoiseshell sunnies by Elizabeth and James ($155)
With highly touted restaurants like The Cliff dishing up international fare, dining in Barbados can be a dressed up affair. Better to bring along a fancy frock, just in case. This pinkish nude number by Acne ($320) comes in a beautiful flowing silk and will show off a fresh tan. Stick with the neutral palette when selecting footwear—these nude peep-toes do the trick ($99.90 by Zara). And with fantastic vistas to match the fine dining, go with romantic or natural-type finishes like this long feather necklace ($128) and wood box clutch. For a dash of color, bring along a bright lipstick. Dolce & Gabbana makes a super moisturizing lip color, and we like the aptly named "Tropical," which soothes and plumps sun-chapped pouts ($34).
With the local love for cricket and polo, Barbados has a preppy spirit when it comes to daytime dressing. You can't go wrong with a pink polo by prep-master Ralph Lauren ($75). But below, be ready for a surfing lesson on the craggy East coast in these shadow plaid board shorts ($75) by Saturdays surf shop in NYC. For protection from the sea spray, go with waterproof footwear like these slip-on Natives ($45), and a water-resistant watch, like this silicone-wrapped style by Marc Jacobs ($300). Tote everything in this tough 18-ounce canvas bag with double-layer bottom by Duluth ($80).
Celebrate the end of the day with a classic rum cocktail. If your trip includes a stop at one of the fancier watering holes, like the open-air L'Acajou Bar and Lounge at Sandy Lane, pack a summerweight blazer like this fine striped cotton one by J. Crew ($278). Prefer island casual? Leave the jacket in the hotel room when hitting up one of the local fish fry spots (the flying fish is a must-try local specialty). Instead, go for this short-sleeve green chambray shirt ($56 at Topman) with these Levi's 511s in light gray ($48). Add these breathable light gray suede kicks ($285) and fabric and leather weave belt ($49.90 from Zara) and you're all set for a night on the town.
The west coast of Barbados is home to manicured golf courses and posh spas. And while there's plenty to be said of shacking up in a five star resort, for something slightly off the beaten path, head East or South. The east coast in particular has a cool surfing scene and more of a local vibe.
Beginners should head first to Barry's Surf school, which can accommodate a range of ages and skill levels. Experts may want to go directly to the fishing village Bathsheba, home to the famous Soup Bowl break. (Non-surfers can check out the nearby Andromeda Botanical Gardens usually blooming with hibiscus and other regional flora.) The Sea-U Guest House, overlooking the ocean, is often booked full with traveling surfers so plan for reservations in advance.
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