Blessed by year-round sunshine and a well-established culture of sporting excellence, Barbados has amassed several on-field accolades of which we can be proud. Immaculately manicured grounds of international cricket games, the endless greens of the island’s exclusive golf courses and powerful stallions in stiff competition galloping around the savannah all draw thousands of eager spectators each year. Additionally, adrenaline-fueled events like the Sol Rally Barbados, as well as world-class surf meets also attract loyal enthusiasts in support of their favourite pastimes.
Golf in Barbados
Despite being a small island, Barbados stands tall in the international golf scene. It was back in 2006, that one of the island’s premier golf clubs, located at the prestigious Sandy Lane Resort, became the second club in a Caribbean country ever to have the privilege of hosting the World Golf Championships World Cup.
Played on the Country Club Course, the December tournaments saw over 20 teams travelling to Barbados for the chance to be officially recognised as the world’s greatest golfers. Also at Sandy Lane, is the famed and picturesque 72 par Green Monkey course. Once a limestone quarry, the course now spans over 7000 yards and is considered one of the most challenging courses in the world - It’s an excellent choice for your Caribbean golf holiday.
The supremacy of the island’s golf courses and subsequent successes are no overnight feat. Specially designed by renowned golf architect, Robert Trent Jones Jr, the greens of Royal Westmoreland provide just enough difficulty for expert golfers to display their skills. The impressive fairways here have also been host to several Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) events. Visited by golfing greats including the late veteran golfer, Tommy Horton - the design of this award-winning course has driven the popularity of golf vacations which sees players travelling for an island retreat with special emphasis on several leisurely rounds of their favourite sport.
The honour of hosting international competitions extends to the south of the island at the Barbados Golf Club. The 18 hole, par 72 course has also hosted several international tournaments including the PGA European Tour. Barbados has much to show in the golfing arena for competitive players or those looking to simply enjoy the game.
Horse Racing Barbados
For well over a century, thoroughbreds have galloped at top speed around the track of the Garrison Savannah. The Savannah, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is held in high esteem not only for its history but also for its design. Its layout allows for spectators to get up close to the track, providing unparalleled views for a truly unforgettable experience. Under the guidance of the Barbados Turf Club, races are staged throughout the year and are fun for the entire family.
Pomp, pageantry and Barbadian culture colourfully intertwine each year in March at the illustrious Sandy Lane Gold Cup. Costumed dancers, musical bands and sharply dressed spectators all assemble to be a part of the big day. Owners and trainers all watch eagerly from the shade of the pavilion as the jockey works his magic on the track. Other highly-anticipated racing events are the Barbados Derby, as well as the Boxing Day Stakes & Trophy which brings hundreds of spectators out, some of who are quite eager to place lofty bets on their chosen horse and jockey.
Enjoy Polo at Spectacular Grounds
Dating back to the late 1880s, the evolution and popularity of polo in Barbados has made it a permanent fixture on the island’s sporting calendar. December to May is a busy time for the sport here in Barbados as it coincides with the winter tourist season. Visiting players are often encouraged to don their protective gear and play a game or two on the spectacular grounds used to host the sport.
Though polo has been played in Barbados for almost two centuries, in recent years more polo grounds have been created in the most lavish of settings. The Apes Hill Polo Club is considered the premier location for the sport on the island. Comprising both a full-sized field as well as a practice field, it has hosted several international tournaments as well as helpful training sessions. There is also the Holders Polo Club on the West Coast and the Clifton Polo Club, based in St. Thomas.
The polo community in Barbados not only encourages great sportsmanship through championship games, but they are also well known for supporting several charitable causes. These invitationals are quite well supported and proved to be clean fun for all ages.
Sailing the Barbadian Seas
With the abundance of water surrounding Barbados, it's no wonder that the island is chosen as the prime destination for international sailing series such as the Round Barbados Sailing Week. Typically held in January, the week of competition is seen as the unofficial kickstart to similar sailing events in the Caribbean. Usually sponsored by the world-renowned Mount Gay Distillery, this regatta sees experienced and novice crew members manoeuvring their vessels through the challenging waters of the Atlantic, all in efforts to break a few records, take home plenty of rum and of course, bragging rights. Apart from the thrill of sprinting around the island’s coasts, the Barbados Sailing Week has become well known for the post-race parties where sailors enjoy local vibes and of course, Bajan rum punch.
While the sailing week is one of the most esteemed events, there are also smaller regattas hosted throughout the year by the Barbados Sailing Association. The Old Brigand Rum Regatta gets started at the Barbados Yacht Club in Carlisle Bay. Intense competition aside, yachtsmen have many opportunities to sharpen their skills as there are sailboat races held at the Yacht Club on weekends throughout the year.
Surfing & Watersports
Towering waves, endless swells and eager professional surfers: these are just a handful of elements that make for the surfing tournaments held in Barbados each year. Hundreds of surfers and eager onlookers congregate at the much-celebrated Soup Bowl in Bathsheba as the courageous thrill seekers masterfully ride the waves. In the past, international surfing competitions such as the APP World Tour have been held in the swells and surges of the island’s East Coast.
Surfing in Barbados is not only for the pros. Due to the numerous beaches islandwide, there are locations where beginner or intermediate surfers can also enjoy the tumbling tides. Freights Bay on the South Coast has great waves which allow for pro surfers in the making to get more comfortable in the water.
The screech of tires, the roar of revving engines and small clouds of airborne dust might sound like chaos to some but for car racing aficionados, this is the perfect setting for a rally experience in Barbados. Well positioned on an elevated vantage point, local spectators and even more from abroad gather to be a part of the thrill of watching expert drivers navigate the rugged terrain of the popular racecourses.
In contrast to the wilds of the racetrack, there are VIP packages for those who desire a slightly different view of the action. The VIP treatment generally includes transfers to the events and assistance from tour guides with finding the absolute best location to watch the masterful dexterity of the drivers. Would it be VIP if guests weren’t served sumptuous local dishes and refreshing cocktails? This too is part of the experience. The perks don’t end there. While visitors' main motivation may have been the car racing events, chances are they’ll want to see even more of the island. It may be a catamaran trip to peek at the sea turtles, a tour underground to the wonders of Harrison's Cave or a drive to the southern town, Oistins, to sample the tastiest fresh seafood at the weekly fish fry; there’s definitely much to do when the races are over.
Cricket at the Mecca
Producing cricketing legends and home of the legendary Kensington Oval, Barbados continues to bat way above its small stature in the game of gentlemen. For several decades, local and visiting cricket clubs have battled on the field in special tournaments, championships and international series. From the excitement of the Caribbean Premier League to the beloved tradition of international test series, thousands of spectators find themselves eagerly cheering on their home teams.
For many years, it has become a common sight to see the red and white flags of the ‘Barmy Army’, throngs of dedicated UK fans proudly (and loudly) supporting their English cricketers. The natural thrill of watching a game is taken to the next level when watching from box seats at the oval. With an aerial view of the field and the luxury of air-conditioned comfort, VIP guests are treated to catered meals, premium drinks and wait staff.
Barbados: sun, sea and sports. While the island is definitely leading the way for island holidays, Barbados is also a haven for any sports lover, especially those who prefer a bit of luxury while playing or watching their favourite game. Visitors or sure to be in great company while playing a game of golf on the exclusive greens on the courses of the Sandy Lane Resort or Royal Westmoreland. Or, a dive into Barbadian heritage and culture at the Garrison Savannah may be the order of the day. Instead, guests may prefer to be part of the exhilaration of motorsports or experience the adrenaline rush of watersports. Supported by beautiful accommodations and the natural joys of the tropics, Barbados is the ultimate destination to kickstart a memorable sporting holiday.