Locals in action at Soup Bowl in Barbados; photo courtesy Visit Barbados

It's often in the last months of winter that surfers start pining for warmth. Dreams of blue water, sunny skies, and bath-like temperatures can tempt even the hardiest of cold-water lovers. Well, those dreams can become a reality with a quick trip to Barbados. Perhaps better known for its fancy hotels, rum, and most famous pop star, Rihanna, the easternmost island in the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles also boasts a great surf culture based around fantastic waves for all levels.

The jewel in its crown, wave-wise, though, is Soup Bowl. You know a wave is good when Kelly Slater uses a photo of it on the cover of his book and calls it "one of my favorite waves in the world." More evidence can be seen in Josh Kerr's movie “Kerrazy Kronicles,” where Kerr, Chris Ward, and Mason Ho score some of the most perfect aqua-blue tubes ever caught on film.

Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater’s “For the Love,” with Soup Bowl on the cover; courtesy photo

Of course, it is not always perfect. Soup Bowl is located on the island's east coast, which unfortunately faces straight into the prevailing northeasterly trade winds. It's often onshore, and local surfers rely on morning glass-offs and freaky, unusual offshores. It also needs large hurricane swells, most common in the winter months from December to March, to turn on. However, when all the planets align, the wave provides exceptional quality, albeit over a very sharp reef.


The sheltered west coast offers different delights. Photo courtesy Visit Barbados

Elsewhere, Barbados offers a huge variety of waves and experiences. The island's west coast is its famous side: powdery beaches, clear water, manicured resorts, and even more manicured golf courses. This part of the island is known as the Platinum Coast, so named for the color of its sparkling coastline and its preferred credit cards. It's worth checking out, especially on a huge swell, where some incredible waves come to life. The north and southeast coasts also offer a variety of craggy coastlines dotted with fun waves. With the island only 15 miles wide, everywhere in Barbados is a short drive away.


A fishing village on the southeast coast; photo courtesy Visit Barbados

Barbados demystified:
Perfect day: A hurricane swell and stiff southwesterly wind see Soup Bowl pushing at 6 feet through aquamarine waters.
Getting there: Fly into Barbados’ airport and you are within 15 miles of the wave.
Boards: For Soup Bowl you may need something a little longer and stronger than your normal shortboard. For the rest of the island a fish will come in handy.
Essentials: It’s easy living: All you need is a few pairs of boardshorts, some sandals, and plenty of sunscreen.
Accommodations: Lodging varies from the west coast glitzy hotels to the laidback surf camps on the east coast.
Other waves: Duppies is closest to Soup Bowl, and Maycocks offers a mellow right. On the south coast, Freights offers true but rare quality, while South Point sucks in all the swell.

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