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Is it safe to swim in Barbados? All you need to know (+ Map)

Is it safe to swim in Barbados?

I recently traveled to Barbados and loved my time swimming in the sea.

Barbados is a dream destination for many. It offers an abundance of stunning beaches, each with its unique charm and character.

But what if you want to take a dip in the Caribbean Sea?

As a self-proclaimed beach enthusiast, I can say it is safe to swim in Barbados. Read on to learn more about safety in enjoying the waters of this tropical island.

Meridian Inn (I stayed here)
Southern Palms Beach Club (top location on Dover Beach)
South Gap Hotel (on the beach and close to Gap)
Sugar Bay Barbados (great location and close to Carlisle Bay)
OceanBlue Resort (I stayed here)

Turtle and shipwreck snorkeling (my favorite)
Catamaran cruise with lunch and snorkeling (top-selling tour)
Harrison Cave tour (I did this)
Barbados food tour (incredible food tour)
St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway (I did this)

Barbados is a tropical destination. So diving head-first into the waters may not be the initial idea for everybody.

This is true for me. I’m overly cautious when it comes to getting into water.

But I loved my time swimming in Barbados. The water was calm and I haven’t seen any dangerous marine animals.

However, continue reading if you still need time to dip your toes and test the waters.

Inside this blog post, I’ll share the safest beaches for swimming, snorkeling beaches, inform you about potentially dangerous marine animals, and other Beach safety tips!

Is it safe to swim in Barbados

Anja on a beach is Carlisle Bay in Barbados, after swimming with turtles


  • Barbados has more than 80 pristine white-sand beaches. Lifeguard services are available at many popular ones for safe and enjoyable swimming.
  • The beaches on the West Coast of Barbados are the calmest. They face the Caribbean Sea and you’ll find the water is generally super calm and perfect for all levels of swimmers, snorkeling, and sunbathing.
  • Beaches on the East side of Barbados, on the Atlantic coast, have stronger currents and bigger waves. They are less suitable for swimming but are a popular surf spot.
  • Swimmers should be aware of potential risks such as rip currents, changing weather conditions, and marine life encounters.
  • Follow beach safety guidelines, always swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards, and pay attention to the flag system on Barbados beaches.

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Where to swim in Barbados

Beaches in Barbados are not only beautiful but also safe.

As long as you follow beach safety rules, choose beaches with lifeguards, and pay attention to the flag system.

To indicate the safety of the beaches for swimming Barbados uses a flag system.

There are lifeguards on duty on the public swimming beaches in Barbados.

In general, the beaches on the West side of Barbados are considered the best beaches to swim in Barbados. They face the Caribbean Sea. The water here is usually calm and perfect for all levels of swimmers.

On the other hand, East Coast beaches are unsafe for swimming. They face the Atlantic Ocean. Beaches here have stronger currents and big waves. Bathsheba Beach is one of them and a popular surfing spot in Barbados.

I visited many Barbados beaches but was mostly swimming on the South Beaches of Barbados.

Map showing best swimming beaches in Barbados
Map showing where is safe to swim in Barbados and differences between beaches | Anja On Adventure

Beaches on the South side of Barbados have the best of both worlds.

Here you will find white sandy beaches where the ocean is calm enough for swimming and snorkeling. But at the same time lively enough for boogie boarding. Silver Sands and Silver Rock Beach stand out as premier windsurfing destinations.

I loved Dover Beach, which is close to the Meridian Inn where I was staying. There is where I saw sea turtle hatchling.

I also liked Miami Beach, with the natural shade, and closeness to Oistins.

When I stayed at OceanBlue Resort I wasn’t swimming in the ocean. I visited the famous Kite Spot on Long Beach and watched windsurfers on Silver Sands Beach. If you come here, have a bite at Surfer’s Bay.

dover beach
Pink sand and gentle waves on Dover Beach in Barbados. | Anja On Adventure

is it safe to swim in Barbados

Best beaches in Barbados for swimming

Barbados is famous for its pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

The best ones for swimming are on the East Coast and South Coast of Barbados

Personally, I’ve found the South Coast to offer the most enjoyable swimming experiences. However, during my Barbados itinerary, I had the opportunity to explore beaches all around this Caribbean island.

It’s worth mentioning that all beaches in Barbados are open to the public and free of charge.

Unlike destinations such as Fiji, Vanuatu, or Samoa, there are no private beaches in Barbados.

With over 80 beaches to choose from, I’ll highlight some of the top public swimming beaches in Barbados in the list below.

Best beaches in Barbados for swimming
Best swimming beaches in Barbados on a map. | Anja On Adventure

is it safe to swim in Barbados

West Coast Beaches

Mullins Bay Beach

Mullins Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the west coast of Barbados.

It is located just south of Speightstown and next to smaller Gibbs Bay.

This is the place to relax in a lounge chair under umbrellas or take a dip in a generally calm sea.

Safety ropes mark designated swimming areas since there are jetski rentals.

I’ve found it being less crowded compared to the beaches in the South and closer to Bridgetown.

Mullins Bay beach in Barbados
One of the best swimming beaches in Barbados | Anja On Adventure

is it safe to swim in Barbados

Sandy Lane Beach

Sandy Lane Beach is a sheltered public beach.

It is located on the Platinum Coast of Barbados, south of Holetown in front of Sandy Lane, the most iconic luxury resort in the world.

Sandy Lane is a postcard-perfect beach with pink-white sand, azure water, large trees, and a view of Rihanna’s residence. One of the ones you should pair with Barbados captions for Instagram.

Calm waters are perfect for swimming but snorkeling is better on Paynes Bay Beach.

Rihanna residence on Sandy Lane beach or Platinum coast in Barbados
Rihanna’s Residence on Sandy Lane Beach or Platinum Coast in Barbados | Anja On Adventure

is it safe to swim in Barbados

Brandons Beach

Brandons Beach is close to Barbados cruise port.

It has very calm waters and is great for swimming and sunbathing. Despite being close to the port, it is not crowded.

You can rent a beach lounger and an umbrella. It is safe to swim and you can snorkel from the shore. Just bring your gear.

There is a lifeguard on duty and a great toilet and shower facilities nearby. 

Loungechairs and umbrela on a beach
Lounge chairs and umbrella on a white-sand beach in Barbados | Anja On Adventure

is it safe to swim in Barbados


Best places to stay on West Coast Barbados:
Fairmont Resort – on a Glitter Bay Beach, perfect for honeymooners.
The Club Barbados – All-Inclusive adults-only resort with a prime location, perfect for couples.
Cobblers Cove – for a peaceful tropical retreat, for couples and solo travelers.
Tropical Sunset Beach – on the beach in the middle of Holetown, perfect for couples.
The Palms Resort – between Sandy Lane and Paynes Bay, for couples and solo travelers.

BOOK A HOTEL on West Coast

South Coast Beaches

Carlisle Bay

Carlisle Bay is a popular tourist beach in the heart of Barbados’ capital, Bridgetown.

The sheltered, crescent-shaped bay consists of several beaches, Brownes Beach, Pebbles Beach, and Bayshore Beach.

It is home to the Boatyard and Savvy on the Bay. I like them both!

I also loved seeing the horses early in the morning at Pebbles Beach and my time snorkeling with turtles.

turtle in Barbados
Swimming with turtles in Carlisle Bay | Anja On Adventure

No matter if you are old or young, there is something for everyone at Carlisle Bay – exercising, jogging, swimming, snorkeling, sipping on rum punch, sailing, swimming with turtles, eating, jetskiing …

With a lifeguard, toilets, showers, running chickens, changing rooms, and stunning views you will never want to leave.

But before you do, have the best fish sandwich in Barbados at Cuzz’s Fish Stand. I’ve had it on three different days, and it was absolutely delicious each time.

cuzz fish stand
Have the best fish sandwich at Cuzz’s on the south end of Carilise Bay | Anja On Adventure

Rockley Beach or Accra Beach

Rockley Beach or Accra Beach is a popular beach just south of Bridgetown.

It is easily accessible by The Richard Haynes Boardwalk and is relatively close to St. Lawrence Gap.

Here you can find information about the endangered Hawksbill turtle.

Lifeguard and shallow waters are a perfect combination for safe swimming. Watch your step as I spotted some eagle rays when I took my first dip in Barbados on this beach.

rockley beach in barbados vewed from The Richard Haynes Boardwalk
Rockley Beach or Accra Beach as seen from The Richard Haynes Boardwalk | Anja On Adventure

Worthing Beach

Worthing Beach is a less-known beach, a hidden gem on the South Coast.

It is one of the best Swimming beaches in Barbados for families.

Before the reef, the water is calm and suitable for kids and beginner swimmers. A bit further out there is a coral reef, great for snorkeling.

There are lounge chairs and umbrellas, or you can rent kayak for a bit more adventure. Beach has a lifeguard on duty as well.

best beaches in barbados for swimming
One of the best swimming beaches in Barbados | Anja On Adventure

Dover Beach

Dover Beach is my favorite on the island.

Probably because I saw a sea turtle hatchling just in front of Pure Ocean restaurant when having dinner. 

It is located in the center of St.Lawrence Gap, and is close to the Meridian Inn where I was staying. There are palm trees on the West side of the beach.

Dover is popular for swimming and offers a variety of watersports. You can try Hobie Cat sailing, boogie boarding, surfing, and windsurfing. I rented a chair with an umbrella and enjoyed the view with rum punch.

sea turtle hatchling in Barbados
Sea turtle hatchling on Dover Beach | Anja On Adventure

Miami Beach or Enterprise Beach

Miami Beach is close to Oistins so plan to swim here on Friday, before going on a Fish Fry. That is what I did.

Enterprise Beach is popular among locals as it is easily accessible by bus.

Here you will find tree shade, small shops selling fish cakes, rent a lounge chair, have a bite at a picnic table, or do some workout.

There are two sides to Miami Beach. One bay is calmer, and great for floating in the water and swimming. The other bay is bigger and where you can have some fun in the waves.

Miami Beach
Is it safe to swim in Barbados? It is on Miami Beach. | Anja On Adventure

Crane Beach

Crane Beach, originally a harbor, is on the southeast side of the island.

It is known for its pink sand and was rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

The water here is not as calm as in the West but still great for swimming and boogie boarding.

There is a lifeguard on duty. A must-do experience in the area is a Sunday Gospel Breakfast at L’Azure Restaurant at the Crane Resort.

The secluded location and gorgeous views, make Crane Resort & Residences a popular choice among honeymooners.

Pink sand od Crane Beach
One of the most beautiful beaches in the world! | Anja On Adventure


Best places to stay on South Coast Barbados:
Meridian Inn – close to Dover Beach and St. Lawrence Gap, great for budget travelers.
Hilton Barbados Resort – on the south end of Carlisle Bay, for families and couples.
Southern Palms Beach Club – top location on Dover Beach, great for families.
South Gap Hotel – on the beach and close to Gap, perfect for solo travelers and families.
Sugar Bay Barbados – close to Carlisle Bay, perfect for couples and families.
OceanBlue Resort – close to Surfer’s Point, for couples and solo travelers.
Crane Resort – close to Crane Beach, a bit secluded, perfect for honeymooners.

BOOK A HOTEL on south coast

Best snorkeling beaches in Barbados

Beaches in Barbados have warm and clean water with exceptional visibility. Ideal for snorkeling and exploring vibrant marine life.

I bought a snorkel and goggles in a local supermarket and snorkeled at three different beaches.

You can snorkel on your own or book a snorkeling tour. You will be safer going on a tour, there you won’t have to swim as much and the guide will show you marine life.

turtle swimming in the ocean
One of the top things to do in Barbados is swimming with turtles | Anja On Adventure

You can also see turtles in Barbados!

I saw them in Carlisle Bay, Dover Beach, and Miami Beach. If swimming with turtles is at the top of your bucket list as well, Barbados is worth visiting!

All beaches have easily accessible snorkeling spots.

Here are some of the best beaches in Barbados for snorkeling:
Holetown Beach in front of Zaccios: artificial reef on the right with a lot of fish on the far side.
Paynes Bay: great snorkel in the morning, before the water gets busy with jetskis.
Folkestone Marine Park: great snorkel but tides can be strong.
Carlisle Bay: swim with turtles and snorkel with shipwrecks.
Worthing Beach: coral reef only a couple of steps from the beach.


Best snorkeling tours in Barbados:
Turtle and shipwreck snorkeling – my absolute favorite and the one I recommend to everyone.
Catamaran cruise with lunch and snorkeling – first one + catamaran cruise.
Carlisle Bay wreck Kayak Tour – snorkel without wetting your hair.
Submarine day tour – see the marine animals and shipwrecks from a submarine.
Snorkel, cruise, lunch & open bar – taste Barbados in all-in-one snorkel tour.

BOOK A SAFE tour or activity

swim in Barbadosto visit

Barbados beaches MAP

Use your mouse or fingers to ZOOM in and ZOOM out. For more info about the place, click the icons on the map.

If you wish to SAVE this map for later use, click the small grey star ‘⭐’ next to the map title. Map will be automatically added to your Google Maps account. To view it, go to ‘Saved’, then select ‘Maps’, find a map or click ‘Open My Maps’. You can also find it in your Google My Maps Account under ‘All’ or ‘Not Owned’ or ‘Recent’.

Average water temperature in Barbados

For those of us who enjoy warm water, there’s great news!

The water temperature in Barbados is pleasantly warm and suitable for swimming all year round.

According to Sea temperature, the average sea temperature around Bridgetown is the warmest in September with around 84.9°F (29.4°C). The coldest is in February with 80.8°F (27.1°C).

The temperatures were measured at the sea surface temperature (SST) which is most relevant to recreational users.

I visited Barbados in February, and the water temperature was (almost) perfect for my taste. I didn’t get chills getting in and wasn’t cold when snorkeling and swimming with turtles.

Have a look at the image below to see the average water temperatures by month in Barbados.

chart showing average water temperature in BArbados
Table and graph showing average water temperature in Barbados | Anja On Adventure

is it safe to swim in Barbados

Barbados dangerous marine animals

There are no sharks in Barbados close to the shores and no reports of any shark attacks. Occasional tiger sharks are spotted on the North beaches in the Atlantic Ocean.

When snorkeling near reefs you might come across stonefish or sea urchins.
They are harmless if you swim by them. But don’t touch them or step on them. Their venomous spines can cause intense pain, swelling, and numbness.

During certain times of the year you might encounter, Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish. They are present in the waters around Barbados. While not deadly, their sting is extremely painful. During jellyfish season, beaches are usually closed.

While Barbados has beautiful sea life, encounters with dangerous marine animals are few and far between. In case of any danger, you will see a purple flag on the beach, meaning to avoid entering the water.

I haven’t seen any dangerous marine animals during my holiday in Barbados.

portuguese man-o-war jellyfish on the beach
Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish on a beach. | Anja On Adventure

is it safe to swim in Barbados

10 Barbados beach safety tips for a stress-free swim

During my time on the island, the water was calm for the first part of my Barbados holiday. Later, there were several red flag warnings due to strong waves and underwater currents.

Once arriving at the beach, even if the weather is sunny and the water is calm, follow beach safety precautions. On the beach and when in the water.

Be beach smart in Barbados with these tips to ensure safe swimming and minimize the risk of injury.

Barbados Marine Information to take caution when swimming | Barbados Meteorological Services
Travel Barbados warnings and dangers to take caution when swimming. | Barbados Meteorological Services

to visit

1. Always swim on lifeguard-supervised beaches

Not all beaches in Barbados have lifeguards, so if you are not the strongest swimmer, use a beach with a lifeguard.

Beaches with Lifeguards in Barbados are: Accra (Rockley Beach), Alleynes Bay, Bath, Bathsheba, Batts Rock, Brownes Beach, Brandon’s Beach, Carlisle Bay, Crane, Dover, Drill Hill, Enterprise (Miami),  Folkestone, Heywoods, Holetown, Maxwell, Needham’s Point, Pebbles, Royal Pavilion and Worthing.

Lifeguard stations in Barbados are bright yellow.

Yellow lifeguard station in Barbados
Yellow lifeguard station in Barbados | Anja On Adventure

is ti safe to swim in Barbados

2. Pay attention to the flags on the beach

To indicate the safety of the beaches for swimming Barbados uses a flag system.

Colors follow the same principle as we all know from traffic lights. Red means stop, yellow exercise caution and green is good to go.

I saw all three colors on my Barbados vacation. Green on Carlisle Bay, Yellow on Dover, and Red on Silver Sands.

You can check water conditions on Barbados beaches with LIVE webcams.

What do beach flag colors mean:
Red over Red – Beach closed, extremely dangerous conditions, avoid swimming.
Red – High hazard, dangerous conditions like strong currents or rough surf, don’t swim.
Red/Yellow (half-half) – Recommended swimming area with lifeguard supervision.
Yellow – Medium hazard, swim with caution.
Green – Low Hazard, calm waters, safe to swim.
Purple – Marine pests present, like jellyfish, stingrays, or sharks, alert for swimmers and surfers to get out of the water and avoid swimming.

beach flag
What does Red / Yellow (half-half) beach flag mean? Recommended swimming area with lifeguard supervision.

is it safe to swim in Barbadosto visit

3. Be cautious of strong currents and rip tides

Strong currents are less common on swimmers-friendly west and south coasts.

They are more common on the East and North Coasts of Barbados which is why it is not advised to swim there. When there, enjoy breathtaking scenery, impressive waves, and scenic beach walks.

• Stay calm and do not panic.
Do not fight the current.
Swim PARALLEL to the shore to escape the rip tide/rip current.
Signal for help if needed by waving your arms and shouting.
• If you can’t escape, float or tread water and save energy until help arrives.
• Once out of the rip tide, swim back to shore at an angle, not directly against the current.

is ti safe to swim in Barbados

4. Enter the water feet first and do not dive into shallow water

Before diving in, check for any possible rocks or corals.

Don’t jump into the water you are unfamiliar with. A reckless mistake can cause serious injuries to your head, neck, or back.

sign on manchineel tree
Sign on manchineel tree. Do not touch any part of the tree or be under it when it rains.

5. Do not touch Manchineel trees on a beach

Every part of the Manchineel tree or Beach apple tree is poisonous and contact will cause blistering or burning of the skin, even from the drops when it rains.

Manchineel trees are natural windbreakers and help to protect the beach from erosion. They can be found on Caribbean islands, South America, and even Florida in North America.

I saw a couple on the west coast. Manchineel trees have a warning sign on them and a red ring around their trunk.

If you come in contact with any parts of the tree, get medical attention right away.

• Primary emergency number: 911 (it will connect with police, fire and medical services)
• Police: 211
• Fire: 311
• Ambulance: 511
• Police hotline: (+1 246) 429 8787
• Queen Elizabeth Hospital: (+1 246) 436 6450

6. Never swim alone and don’t swim at night

If traveling solo, always have someone on the beach watching you.

It can be a new friend you met on a cruise or a person renting lounge chairs and umbrellas.

Avoid swimming at dusk, dawn, and at night. Besides the lack of visibility, this is also the time when sharks in Barbados (and in general) are most active. 

7. Don’t touch animals or break corals when snorkeling

When snorkeling, maintain a respectful distance from marine animals, like turtles.

Avoid touching corals or other marine life. It can be painful for you. Besides, touching can damage, cause stress, and disrupt natural behavior or sea organisms.

Note, that it is illegal to break coral in Barbados.

Do not touch things when snorkeling in Barbados. | Anja On Adventure

is it safe to swim in Barbados

8. Avoid drinking alcohol before or while swimming

One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak.

A saying for a Barbadian rum punch. Now, I know that rum punch in Barbados is delicious.

But don’t drink and swim. Alcohol affects your ability to swim safely and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm, which can quickly lead to hypothermia, even in the tropics.

beach and waves
One of best beaches in Barbados | Anja On Adventure

is Barbados safe to swim

9. Apply mosquito repellent and sunscreen BEFORE coming to the beach

Use mosquito repellent during the day as mosquitoes in Barbados can potentially transmit dengue fever and zika virus.

UV index in Barbados is high, so protect your skin and eyes. Re-apply sunscreen after every swim, wear sunglasses, and a hat.

Stay in the shade during peak hours.

10. Drink a lot of water and stay hydrated

Tap water in Barbados is drinkable, so no excuses.

Always carry a water bottle with you, and make 2-3 sips of water every couple of minutes to prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks.

Don’t forget to pin the one you like more!

it is safe to swim in Barbados

Is swimming in Barbados safe FAQs

Yes, it’s generally safe to swim in Barbados.

Stick to popular beaches on the West Coast and East Coast with lifeguards, avoid swimming alone, and watch out for strong currents or rough waves. 

Yes, it’s safe to swim in the sea in Barbados.

Choose lifeguard-supervised beaches, pay attention to beach flags, and avoid swimming alone in secluded spots.

Yes, you can swim in the ocean in Barbados.

Stick to the beaches on the west or south coast of the island. Before getting in to observe beach flags and be cautious of strong currents.

The west coast of Barbados is best for swimming.

There are also great swimming beaches on the south coast of Barbados, perfect for swimming and water activities. Popular ones are Mullins Beach, Carlisle Bay and Dover Beach.

The west coast beaches of Barbados, like Carlisle Bay or Accra Beach, are generally considered some of the safest due to their calm waters and lifeguard presence. These spots offer great swimming conditions and are popular among locals and tourists alike.

Yes, Barbados is generally safe but avoid bad neighboorhoods.

To minimize the risk of anything happening, follow common safety precautions. Avoid walking alone at night, dress in loose clothes, use trusted transportation, and go on tours with well-known tour operators.

Yes, Barbados is safe for solo female travelers.

To minimize the risk of anything happening, follow common safety precautions. Avoid walking alone at night, dress in loose clothes, use trusted transportation and go on tours with well-known tour operators. Stay in trusted hotels and let the staff know about your plans if anything should happen.

swim in Barbados

Is it safe to swim in Barbados? Final thoughts

I can confirm swimming in Barbados is safe and that the high reputation of Barbados beaches is well-deserved.

When it comes to swimming in Barbados, you have very little to worry about if you follow general Barbados travel beach safety rules.

Be beach smart, follow the flag rules, and know your limits.

Barbados has plenty of safe swimming beaches.

Like Sandy Lane and Paynes Bay, they are found on the tranquil West Coast. Those generally have calm waters perfect for leisurely swim. Swimming beaches on the South Coast, Rockley and Dover, are more lively and vibrant.

Pristine and rough beaches on the East are not safe for swimming.

Some of the best beaches for swimming in Barbados are also great snorkeling spots.

Most famous snorkeling spot is Carlisle Bay where you can swim with turtles and snorkel among shipwrecks. If you don’t want to wet your hair while snorkeling, book a Clear Kayak Tour.

➤ Read more Barbados travel guides

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Barbados vs Zanzibar: Which is better?
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About the author: Anja

Photo of author
Anja is a travel blogger and the founder of Anja on Adventure travel blog. Originally from Slovenia, she was also living in Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, and Fiji. She loves traveling to tropical destinations, as well as beach destinations with endless summer. But you can also find her eating her way through Italy or Mexico, learning about ancient cultures in Easter Island, visiting bucket list places in Peru, or taking road trips through the USA. She is passionate about world cultures, travel, maps, and puzzles. For the past 15+ years she has been traveling the globe, as a solo traveler, and as a tour guide. Her goal is to visit every tropical destination in the World. Anja On Adventure is here to provide helpful travel guides and personalized itinerary ideas to travelers that she has gathered from first-hand experience.