a group of chairs and umbrellas on a beach
Virgin's Departure Beach in Barbados

Turn your holiday blues turquoise…

When Virgin announced the departure beach concept in June of 2017, there was no pitch required. It’s a beach, with a bar, food, showers and air conditioned game rooms where you can relax before your flight, so that the last day of your trip is a highlight, not a tragedy. I’ve now not only seen photos – I’ve experienced it first hand, and it’s even better than imagined…

a body of water with trees and a beachBarbados

When people think long weekend destinations, Barbados doesn’t often top the list. Departure Beach goes a long way in changing that perception. I woke up this morning to the grey morning skies of London as we began our final approach around 6:30AM. By 7:30 I was in Central London ready for a work day, yet I was able to enjoy my entire Sunday in complete comfort, with my toes in the sand.

Any destination where you can fly overnight, maximizing your last day is an instant plus, but few destinations with this perk can rival the fun, sun and friendly warmth felt only in Barbados. Virgin Atlantic flights back to London depart Barbados just after 6PM, and while most travelers will find themselves booted from the hotel at 10AM and loitering around the airport aimlessly, Departure Beach changes the game.

a building with palm trees and people walkingDeparture Beach

Virgin Holidays travelers can book into Departure Beach for £25 per adult, which includes pick up from hotel to the beautiful stretch on Copacabana Beach. Not the one in Rio, the Barbados one and yes, you must book your travel through Virgin for access to the Departure Beach facility. Upon arrival guests can drop off their bags, check in for their flight and immediately gain access to the sprawling complex. It’s like an airport lounge but oh so much better.

First off, there’s a beach. You can swim, snorkel, dip your toes in and catch some final rays. After finishing off the perfect tan – or sunburn, there’s high end shower and changing facilities, an air conditioned lounge, bar and buffet to snack away. When it’s time for your flight, you are dropped off at the terminal in perfect time to simply hop on board and prepare for the office.

a crowd of people at a party

More Than Beaches

Unlike many Caribbean destinations, Barbados is far more than just beaches. There’s a definitive style, beat and and inspiration to the island and people really couldn’t be friendlier. An impressive art revolution is happening all over the tropical paradise, and unlike many of the most popular sun soaked destinations there are still untouched gems, which you’ll find all along the magnificent East Coast. There’s high end fine dining with world famous places like The Rocks,but then there’s deliciously fresh, cheap food everywhere. You can’t leave without trying fish cakes or cou cou, or a late night rum tipple on 2nd Street.

Barbados works as a weekend destination because the sun is all but guaranteed and with well timed flights, you can maximize a long weekend. If you depart Europe or the US on a Friday, you’ll be on the beach in time to catch afternoon sun. You’ll have all day Saturday, and thanks to new innovations like Departure Beach, the last day isn’t wasted. Your holiday blues are replaced by turquoise hues as you soak up an entire full day before flying home. The world needs more Departure Beaches, but if there can only be one, they picked the perfect place.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. This article will be very misleading for non frequent travellers to Barbados and you may wish to change the wording in the first paragraph. There are by law no private beaches in Barbados and departure beach is definitely NOT private.

    This is a beachside departure lounge which is located on the beach near Bridgetown. Whilst some of the facilities on the beach (sun loungers) may only be available to virgin customers absolutely anyone can go on the beach. People need to understand that it will not just be the select few that have paid to use it that will be there.

    1. Donna, please take in the spirit of Barbados and “chill”. There is nothing misleading here, as there is no actual “beach” called Departure Beach. Departure Beach is the name of a privately owned facility, which backs up on to a (public) stretch of Copacabana beach. I don’t think anyone on earth, perhaps except for you is worried about whether or not they will see another human being on a stretch of beach this large, but rest assured everyone in the air conditioned lounge will be a paying customer. Time for a rum punch.

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