Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Amanda Stancati
Everyone wants to visit paradise — and Barbados is it. The island holds many distinctions: It’s known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, the birthplace of rum, and home to Crane Beach, recognized as one of the Top 10 beaches in the world. Barbados was first named “Los Barbadoes” (“bearded one”) after the island’s fig trees by the Portuguese en route to Brazil. With over 60 beaches and 3000 hours of sunshine per year, a visit to Barbados is a beach-lover’s dream. Here’s what to do on your Barbados vacation:
Harrison’s Cave: Dubbed one of the seven wonders of Barbados, Harrison’s Cave is Barbados’ most celebrated attraction. A crystallized limestone cavern with a maze of centuries-old stalactites and stalagmites, emerald pools, shimmering waterfalls, tunnels and streams, Harrison’s Cave is a site of unparalleled beauty. Travel into the cave by tram and explore by foot with a tour guide.
Bridgetown: Known as “Little England” for its British influences, Bridgetown is Barbados’ capital city and commercial centre. Shopping, dining, and cultural experiences are abundant. The city is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bridgetown Cruise Port is five minutes from downtown. It is known for its duty-free shopping and street vendors.
Barbados Parliament Buildings: Located in historic Bridgetown, the Barbados Parliament was established in 1639. Admire the Neo-Gothic architecture from the outside. Inside, you can visit the Museum of Parliament and National Heroes Gallery.
St Nicholas Abbey: This Jacobean mansion set on a 1660 plantation houses 18th and 19th century antiques like porcelain tea sets, a Chinese Chippendale staircase and grandfather clock built in 1759. Take a tour to visit the mansion, museum, and rum distillery on the premises that produces St Nicholas Abbey Rum.
Cherry Tree Hill: On the grounds of St Nicholas Abbey is Cherry Tree Hill, an 850-foot tall lookout of the island’s Scotland District.
Mount Gay Rum Visitor Centre: Barbados is considered the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay Rum Visitor Center, founded in 1703, is where you can hear the tales of its history and taste different varieties.
Sunbury Plantation House: This sugar plantation dating back to the 1660s has all of its rooms open to the public, with antiques, prints, and Barbadian mahogany furniture – and a collection of horse-drawn carriages outside!
St John’s Parish Church: Originally built in 1645, St John’s Parish Church has been rebuilt after fires and hurricanes. The Gothic church offers views of Barbados’ eastern shore plus the opportunity to see the burial site of Ferdinand Paleologus (the descendent of Constantine).
Sandy Lane Beach: This stretch of white sand on the island’s west coast is popular for swimming in its shallow waters, watersports, and spotting Hawksbill turtles.
Bathsheba Beach: Set on the more rugged east coast, this beach is said to be named after King David’s wife, the beautiful Bathsheba, who bathed in milk to keep her skin soft. Besides its healing qualities, the beach has strong waves making it great for surfing – and coral reefs and rock formations make it picture-perfect. The fishing village nearby has rum shops, restaurants, and friendly locals.
Carlisle Bay: A premier snorkeling and scuba diving destination, Carlisle Bay attracts divers to its six sunken vessels that house a variety of tropical fish, stingrays, sea turtles and more. If you’re looking for relaxation, you can simply unwind on the sandy shores. If you like to stay active, enjoy jet skiing, sea trampolines, or even jump into the ocean via a rope swing!
Paynes Bay: Paynes Bay’s calm waters make it ideal for swimming and getting some needed R&R. Watersports, shaded trees, and beach chairs are available.
Water Sports: Enjoy scuba and snorkeling, catamaran cruises, turtle feeds, and more!
Food, Wine & Nightlife Tours: It’s no surprise fish and seafood are the popular dishes, but flying fish in particular, is the national symbol of Barbados. Take a Bajan food walking tour or enjoy a visit to a rum distillery or brewery and enjoy the many nightlife options on the island, especially in the St. Lawrence Gap area. Oistins Bay Gardens is a must on Friday nights to experience delicious Bajan seafood with the locals.
Golf: Barbados Golf Club, Rockley Club, Royal Westmoreland Sandy Lane-The Green Monkey, Apes Hill Club, Almond Beach Village
Shopping: Barbados is very good for shopping with its outdoor strip malls, handmade craft markets, duty-free shops in Bridgetown, and great shopping at the cruise port. Note that there is no bartering in Barbados.
VIDEO: The Crane Resort