The stunning island of Barbados is famous for many things, its friendly people, buzzing nightlife and spectacular scenery but if you could only name one quality, it would probably be its beaches.
Long stretches of white, unspoilt sands fringed by palm trees and gentle turquoise waters is something most dreams are made of.
But on Barbados, fantasies become reality with holidaymakers from all over the world flocking to the island to enjoy its fabulous location.
Lying slightly separate from the rest of the Caribbean islands, Barbados occupies a unique location with a myriad of beaches, all offering something slightly different.
Find Your Perfect Holiday
Barbados is a relatively flat island, making it easy to cycle around between attractions, or even just exploring the countryside with its green landscape and rolling hills inland.
However, the coastline which stretches all the way around the four sides of the island is rich and varied, offering a different perspective from each direction.
The west is known for its top quality and exclusive resorts, occupying the much sought-after part of the coastline. The waters around western Barbados are gentle and balmy, providing the perfect surroundings for a spot of sunbathing and swimming, lazing the days away under shady palm trees.
On the opposite coast, the Atlantic has the chance to gather its forces, pounding against the wide open beaches on the east of Barbados. These long windblown stretches create the perfect conditions for surfers, bringing enthusiasts from all over the world to take to the water.
The north is equally as dramatic with sheer cliffs rising out of the ocean, created from either the natural coral or sandstone found in the region. Although this means that the meeting of water and rock can create crashing waves, there are sheltered coves too where it's possible to enjoy much calmer waters and privacy.
In the southern tip of the island, there are lots of coral reefs and rock pools, perfect for those who like to see what they can find in the local waters. But like the west, the beaches are sandy and utopian, offering the perfect backdrop for a paradise holiday.
All over the island you'll spot coral formations, with sculptures created by the elements. There's both large beaches, and smaller, more sheltered bays so whatever your preference you'll find something you like.
In Barbados, all beaches offer a public right of way and water from landowners only own up to high water point. All most provide access across their strip of beach and cannot restrict the area from the high water point down to the ocean.
Arguably one of the best strips of sand on the island, Crane Beach was voted amongst the 10 best in the world by "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous".
Lying in the parish of St Philip, Crane Beach is in the south east part of the island, but its setting is quite simply idyllic. Set against towering cliff faces, there are coconut trees and other tropical vegetation, white sands and deep azure blue waters.
Crane Beach, Barbados
You can either reach the pink-tinged fine sands by stepping stones, or if you're staying at the nearby Crane Hotel, you can use a glass lift to descend to the beach in style.
The waters on the beach can be a little deceiving, looking glass-smooth and calm on the surface, there can be an undertow. Children and those with impaired mobility might therefore need either assistance or supervision in the water.
However, water sports enthusiasts will adore the conditions on Crane Beach, with this stretch of coastline being a Mecca for boogie board and body surfers.
The facilities on the beach itself are luxurious, with umbrellas, chairs and an exquisite grill bar which delivers its delicious dishes right to your spot on the sand.
Lying in the desirable western region, Gibbes Beach is totally free of the commercialism that can somewhat mar some of the other more popular spots.
Fringed by trees, this 300 yard stretch of golden sand is close to some of the most luxurious villas and accommodation on the island. The beach is typically frequented by the exclusive crowd, with yachters, local celebrities and villa owners the main visitors to the beach, leaving it fairly secluded.
Gibbes Beach, Barbados
The calm waters here provide perfect swimming conditions and there's plenty of shade if you need to escape from the hot rays of the sun for a while.
Although there are no bars or facilities here, Gibbes Beach lies directly south of Mullins Beach; if the tide is right and you don't mind wading through the water, you can walk from one to another. Mullins Beach is extremely popular and has lots of places to buy drinks - both soft and alcoholic - as well as ice-creams and food.
For a completely different beach experience, visit Cattlewash Beach on the eastern side of the island.
The waters aren't safe for swimming here due to the many currents and powerful waves, but for a place to enjoy a spectacular walk next to the waters; this is the place to visit.
Without the commercial presence that's often found on the western side of Barbados, Cattlewash Beach offers a truly natural experience, with views of the rugged inland countryside providing a wonderful setting.
Cattlewash Beach, Barbados
With no villas, hotels or other resorts lying in this area, you can enjoy some real privacy and seclusion. Although you can't take a dip in the waters, there are a number of natural rock pools which provide a great alternative, but it's a good idea to check before diving in.
In the late summer months, there are several spots along the many miles which make up Cattlewash which offer prime surfing conditions, such as Sandbank.
Batts Rock Beach
Lying between the south and west coastal areas of Barbados, there's crystal clear calm waters at Batts Rock Beach which make it the perfect spot for both swimming and snorkelling.
With white sands and lots of facilities, including a lifeguard, drinks machine, showers and a children's playground, this is one of the best spots along the coast for families.
The beach is also ideal for those who like to enjoy long strolls along the shoreline, linking up between Paradise and Brighton Beach.