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The 15 Best Things to Do in Barbados: 2023 Top Travel Tips

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Welcome to Barbados! This little island in the Caribbean is a true gem, and there’s so much to see and do here. From exploring the stunning beaches to learning about the island’s rich history, there’s something for everyone in Barbados.

To help you make the most of your trip, we’ve put together a list of the top things to do in Barbados.

Trust us, you won’t want to miss these! So, without further ado, here are the 15 Best Things to Do in Barbados.

The 15 Best Things to Do in Barbados

1. Visit Carlisle Bay

Carlisle Bay in Barbados is a must-visit destination for those seeking a relaxing yet adventurous vacation experience. The calm waters of this bay make it ideal for swimming and scuba diving, and it is a family-friendly spot perfect for snorkeling to view tropical fish.

The abundance of water sports available here, including kayaking, jet skiing, and paddle boarding, is sure to satisfy thrill-seekers of all ages.

In addition to these activities, Carlisle Bay offers a chance to simply relax and soak up the sun on the powder stretch of white sand at Browne’s Beach or Pebbles Beach.

Visitors can rent umbrellas and lounge chairs or enjoy a cool dip in the crystal-clear water. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take part in beachside horseback riding.

There are several bars and restaurants along the beach for those looking for a bite to eat or a refreshing drink. Cuz’s is a great place to try cutters, while The Boatyard Beach Club serves up tasty food and drinks.

Visitors staying on the island can purchase a day pass to the Beach Club, which includes restaurant credit and access to amenities such as SUP, kayaks, beach chairs and umbrellas, volleyball, snorkeling, and WiFi.

Overall, Carlisle Bay has it all and is a perfect destination for anyone looking for a mix of relaxation and adventure.

With its calm waters, an abundance of water sports, and a family-friendly atmosphere, it is suitable for visitors of all ages. The beautiful white sand beach, delicious food and drinks, and stunning sunsets make it one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.

So, whether you’re looking to swim, scuba dive, or simply relax and soak up the sun, Carlisle Bay should definitely be on your list of things to do in Barbados.

Things to Do in Barbados

2. Take some Surfing Lessons

Barbados is a great place to learn how to surf, and there are plenty of surfing schools to choose from.

  • Surfers Point and Freights Bay are excellent spots for beginners to catch some waves.
  • If you are experienced and looking for more of a challenge, head to Bathsheba, which offers some of the Caribbean’s most impressive waves.

Barry’s Surf Barbados is a popular surfing school offering lessons for all levels. A typical two-hour lesson costs around $80 and includes a free daily surfboard rental. During a lesson, you can expect to learn about safety, paddling techniques, how to stand up on the board, and how to catch and ride waves.

So, grab a board and get ready to hang ten in the beautiful waters of Barbados!

3. Visit the Barbados Museum

The Barbados Museum is a must-visit destination for those interested in learning about the island’s rich history and culture. Housed in a restored 19th-century military prison, the museum features over 500,000 artifacts, maps, and photographs that showcase the social and natural history of the vibrant country.

Notable exhibits include the African and Jubilee collections, artifacts from early settlers, and a collection of historical maps. The museum’s architecture and layout are exceptional, with galleries housed in rooms throughout the building and good descriptions accompanying each display.

The museum is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Mondays-Saturdays, and every Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission fees vary, and guided tours are available.

A personal recommendation is to explore the Jairus Brewster Children’s Gallery featuring the exhibit ‘Explore’, which offers contemporary displays and interactive games that engage all of the senses, making it an excellent learning and play opportunity for parents and children alike.

4. Take a Safari Tour

If you want to explore Barbados in a unique and exciting way, taking a safari tour is a great option. Unlike typical sightseeing tours, safari tours take you off-road to explore the island’s rocky and muddy terrain.

A popular safari tour operator in Barbados, Adventure Safari Tour takes you to popular spots like Bathsheba and Little Bay. You can choose between jeep safaris, walking tours, and horseback safaris.

Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring sunscreen and insect repellent. Visitors can expect to see natural wonders like blowholes and cliff tops and wildlife like turtles and exotic birds.

5. Visit the Rockley Beach

Rockley Beach, also known as Accra Beach, is a must-visit destination in Barbados. Located on the island’s south coast, this family-friendly beach offers a mixture of relaxation and recreation for all ages.

The beach’s southern end is perfect for young children, with calm, shallow water and rock pools to explore. For older kids and adults, other sections of the beach feature more energetic waves, ideal for boogie boarding.

You can rent sun loungers and umbrellas or set up your beach towel under a shady tree. The beach also has a variety of shacks, stalls, and casual cafes, as well as a few excellent restaurants.

Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen, towels, and swimsuits, and enjoy a perfect beach day at Rockley Beach!

6. Explore the Plantations and Sugar Mills

Barbados has a rich history when it comes to sugar production, and the remnants of this industry can still be seen today through the plantations and sugar mills that have been preserved.

  • The Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill, built in 1727, is one of the only surviving structures of its kind in the Caribbean, with its large sails still operating on select Sundays. St. Nicholas Abbey, built in 1658, is a Jacobean-style plantation house that now serves as a museum and rum distillery.
  • The Sunbury Plantation House features mahogany antiques and a unique collection of horse-drawn carriages and is the only great house with all rooms available for viewing.

These attractions offer visitors a glimpse into Barbados’ past, showcasing the island’s role in the sugar industry and the lives of those who worked on the plantations.

7. Visit during the Grand Kadooment

The Grand Kadooment, the climax of Barbados’ Crop Over Festival, is a massive parade featuring 15,000 musicians and dancers in brightly colored costumes following trucks loaded with speakers through the streets of Bridgetown.

The festival has its origins in celebrations to mark the end of the sugarcane harvest over two centuries ago. Today, the festival has grown into a three-month-long marathon of concerts, performances, and parties, backed by a booming calypso and soca soundtrack.

Visitors are welcome to join in the celebrations by registering with one of the participating bands to purchase a matching costume and book a spot in the parade.

These celebrations are amazing, so bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to dance and party until the early hours.

8. Explore Harrison's Cave

Feeling adventurous? You should consider exploring Harrison’s Cave in Barbados, as it is one of the island’s most popular and unparalleled underground experiences.

The cave is a natural wonder that is chock-full of stalactites, stalagmites, cascading waterfalls, and natural passages. The whole cave system extends to nearly 2.5 kilometers, with streams flowing through it and deep pools.

One of its most amazing features is the huge cavern known as the “Great Hall” which reaches 50 feet in height. Visitors can explore the cave by way of a tram and get off at several stops to take a closer look at the unique geological formations that can be seen within.

Moreover, Harrison’s Cave is currently in the process of being transformed into an outdoor enthusiast hub, which will include a dry slide, a free-swinging bridge across the gully, a zipline, a freefall tower, a challenge course, and an adventure zone.

Therefore, Harrison’s Cave is a must-see attraction in Barbados that offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.

9. Relax on the Beaches

Barbados is a paradise island that boasts over 70 miles of stunning beaches, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers.

The beaches are divided into two main coasts – the calm Caribbean coastline with white sands and turquoise waters and the wild Atlantic coastline with rugged shores and world-class waves.

The beaches are free to visit, and visitors can choose from over 80 beaches to plant their bum on. Mullins, Brandon, Carlisle Bay, and Browne’s beaches on the Caribbean side are highlights, while Bathsheba, Cattlewash, and Action beaches on the Atlantic side are ideal for surfing, windsurfing, and kiteboarding.

The peaceful northeast coast offers unparalleled views of the beaches and sea below, while Cove Beach in the scenic parish of St Lucy has soft golden sands and is backed by swaying palms and casuarina trees.

Miami Beach, located near Oistins, is one of the island’s most beautiful beaches and offers plenty of shady spots to relax in out of the midday sun.

Overall, the crystal clear water, soft sand, and unique features of each beach make Barbados an ideal destination for relaxing on the beach.

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10. Take a Tour of a Rum Distillery

Barbados is renowned as the birthplace of rum, and taking a tour of a rum distillery is a must-do experience for visitors to the island. With a history dating back to the 17th century, rum production has been an integral part of the country’s past and present.

Notable distilleries on the island include the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, which has been producing rum for over 300 years and is the world’s oldest continuously running rum distillery. During a tour, visitors can learn about the history of rum in Barbados, observe the rum-making process up close, and taste a selection of the finest rums.

The process of rum production involves mixing molasses and water, fermenting the mixture with yeast, distilling it in copper pot stills, and aging it in oak barrels.

Overall, a tour of a rum distillery in Barbados offers a fascinating glimpse into the heritage and craftsmanship of this beloved Caribbean spirit.

11. Hike the Barbados National Trust Lands

Barbados National Trust Lands offer some of the best hiking trails on the island. The guided hikes, which are free, range from the 6-mile Stop ‘n’ Stare to the 12-mile Grin ‘n’ Bear and cater to all levels of difficulty.

Expect to encounter picturesque fishing villages, secluded beaches, and unspoiled natural spaces.

The Northern Cliffs hike passes by sugar cane fields and the rugged Atlantic coastline.

Hikers can also explore the most scenic coastal routes and get up close with the island’s diverse plant species and native animals, such as the Antillean Crested Hummingbird.

Wear light clothing and comfortable shoes, and bring water, a hat, and sunscreen. No permits or fees are required. Enjoy the beauty of Barbados while staying safe and hydrated.

You will also enjoy reading My Complete Barbados Travel Tips.

12. Enjoy a Food Tour

Barbados is known for its unique and delicious cuisine, and a food tour is the perfect way to experience it all.

From traditional dishes like pudding and souse to the ever-popular fishcakes, a Bajan Walking Food Tour will take you on a culinary journey through the bustling streets of Bridgetown.

DIY or led by an informative guide, you’ll be able to try out the best local restaurants and sample some of the country’s most famous dishes. Along the way, you’ll also get to pick up some history and travel to interesting locations around the city.

Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind experience during your time in Barbados!

13. Visit the Botanical Garden

The Andromeda Botanic Gardens in Barbados are an idyllic paradise for nature enthusiasts.

Established in the 1950s by horticulturist Iris Banochie, the gardens boast over 1,200 species of tropical plants worldwide, including towering palms, fragrant orchids, and the massive bearded fig trees that inspired the island’s name.

The gardens are divided into different zones, creating intimate spaces that allow visitors to appreciate the flora and fauna up close.

Along with the natural beauty, the gardens also have a rich history, with Banochie’s legacy still evident in today’s organic practices.

A visit to Andromeda Botanic Gardens promises a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, with its winding paths, little streams, and ponds creating a serene ambiance that is sure to delight visitors.

14. Visit Horseshoe Bay

Horseshoe Bay in Barbados is a breathtakingly beautiful beach that is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the island.

The white sand beach is framed by towering cliffs and crystal-clear turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The beach is also known for its stunning sunsets that are not to be missed.

Visitors can enjoy a range of activities at the beach, including horseback riding, beach volleyball, and water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding.

There are also plenty of amenities available, such as beach chairs and umbrellas, as well as a variety of food and drink options.

Horseshoe Bay is truly a unique and unforgettable experience that should be at the top of any traveler’s list.

15. Take a Scenic Drive

Who doesn’t love to drive around a beautiful island? If you’re looking for a scenic drive in Barbados, head 40 minutes north of Bridgetown to some of the island’s most stunning forests.

The lush landscape is perfect for a hike, and the best part is that there are no poisonous snakes or spiders to worry about.

For a more adventurous route, embark on an off-road safari tour that will take you to hot spots like Bathsheba and Edgecliff, with breathtaking views of the coastline.

If you just want to take in the sights in a more relaxed adventure, take to the water on a catamaran cruise and enjoy the scenery from the Caribbean Sea.

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FAQ

Are there any attractions in Barbados that are unique?

Yes, Barbados has many unique attractions beyond its beautiful beaches. Here are some examples:

  • Visit Hunte’s Gardens, a tranquil oasis of rare plants and flowers.
  • Explore Harrison’s Cave, a stunning underground world of stalactites and stalagmites.
  • See the green monkeys and exotic birds at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.
  • Taste the world’s oldest rum at the Mount Gay Distillery.
  • Experience the local culture at the Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry.

Also read my Ultimate Barbados Packing List so you don’t forget anything on your next trip.

Are there any rum distilleries in Barbados?

Barbados is the birthplace of rum and home to some of the world’s most famous distilleries.

  • The Mount Gay Distillery, founded in 1703, is the oldest commercial rum distillery and offers tours of its fully operational rum-making headquarters.
  • The Foursquare Distillery also makes some of the most sought-after traditional rums. Visitors can tour the factory and learn about how sugar and the Caribbean climate have molded the flavor of the drink for over 250 years.

Are there any wildlife experiences in Barbados?

One of the best wildlife experiences in Barbados is visiting the Barbados Wildlife Reserve in St. Peter’s Parish. The reserve is a natural mahogany woodland where animals roam freely, including green monkeys, deer, parrots, iguanas, and turtles.

Visitors can take a relaxing stroll through the park’s meandering brick paths to get up close and personal with the animals. There is also a reptile area where visitors can see snakes, iguanas, and turtles.

Another great wildlife experience is taking a tour of the nesting grounds of sea turtles. Visitors can swim around the shore and boat and are almost guaranteed to see a few turtles, but you should be respectful of their environment and not try to touch them.

Are there any festivals in Barbados?

Barbados is known for its vibrant festivals and cultural celebrations that attract visitors from all over the world.

Here are some of the festivals celebrated in Barbados and their significance:

  • Crop Over Festival: This festival is the most important cultural event in Barbados, tracing its origins to celebrations to mark the end of the sugarcane harvest. It has grown into a three-month marathon of concerts, performances, and parties, backed by a booming calypso and soca soundtrack. The main event is the Grand Kadooment, a massive parade with 15,000 brightly costumed musicians and dancers following trucks laden with speakers through the streets of Bridgetown.
  • Barbados Reggae Festival: This festival is a 4-day music extravaganza featuring a range of top local, regional, and international artists. The festival is usually held in April and includes beach parties, boat parties, and the favorite Reggae On The Hill, which takes place at the historic Farley Hill National Park.
  • Barbados Food & Rum Festival: Held in late October, this festival celebrates the best of the Caribbean’s culinary offerings. Local chefs and mixologists are joined by international food and drink experts for a week of fun and insightful culinary and beverage experiences. Expect cook-offs, seminars, food and drink pairings, demonstrations, and 5-star dinners served in top restaurants.
  • Oistins Fish Fry: This is Barbados’ biggest weekly bash that takes place every Friday night in Oistins. It is a legendary fish fry where half the island descends on this small village on the southwest coast. The winning formula is simple: fresh fish, cold beer, and top tunes.

These festivals showcase Barbados’s rich cultural heritage and diversity and offer a unique opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture and traditions.

Visitors are welcome to join in the celebrations and experience these festivals’ vibrant and lively atmosphere.

What are the best outdoor places to take photos in Barbados?

Barbados is a beautiful island with numerous picturesque spots for taking photos.

  • The Richard Haynes Boardwalk is a popular location for a relaxing stroll while capturing stunning views of the sea and beaches, which are nesting sites for Hawksbill turtles.
  • Bathsheba Beach is another excellent location to capture the cliffs and waves.
  • Historic Bridgetown offers an opportunity to photograph colonial-style buildings and monuments.
  • Hunte’s Gardens is perfect for capturing the beauty of tropical flora.
  • St. Nicholas Abbey is a heritage wonder, and the Garrison Savannah Historic Area is an excellent location to photograph horses and history.
  • Queen’s Park has a towering baobab tree, while the Barbados Wildlife Reserve offers a chance to photograph macaws and green monkeys.
  • Farley Hill National Park is picturesque, with the ruins of Farley Hill House, and Harrison’s Cave offers an underground adventure.

To get the best shots, it’s advisable to visit these locations in the early morning or late afternoon when the light is soft and warm.

How can I experience Barbados's culture?

Barbados is a cultural gem of the Caribbean Sea, and visitors can experience its vibrant culture in many ways.

  • Start by visiting historic Bridgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and exploring its rich history and architecture.
  • For a taste of local cuisine, head to the Oistins Fish Fry and sample delicious seafood while enjoying live music.
  • Take a rum-tasting tour at the Mount Gay Distillery, the world’s oldest rum distillery, and learn about the island’s history of rum production.
  • For a unique cultural experience, visit the Barbados Wildlife Reserve and see macaws and green monkeys up close.
  • Attend one of the many festivals that happen year-round, such as the Crop Over Festival, celebrating the end of the sugar cane harvest, or the Barbados Food and Rum Festival.
  • Finally, immerse yourself in the local community by visiting one of the 1500+ rum shops on the island, playing dominoes, and trying local dishes like roast breadfruit.

What beaches should I visit in Barbados?

If you’re planning a beach vacation in Barbados, you’re in for a treat! With over 80 beaches to choose from, there’s something for everyone.

On the western Caribbean side, you’ll find calm waters and fine white sand at popular strips such as Mullins, Brandon, Carlisle Bay, and Browne’s beaches.

You’ll find Bathsheba, Cattlewash, and Action beaches on the rugged eastern Atlantic coast, which are ideal for surfing, windsurfing, and kiteboarding.

Other must-visit beaches include Pebble Beach on Carlisle Bay, Brownes Beach, and Bayshore Beach.

What’s great is that all beaches in Barbados are public and free to enjoy, so you can unfurl your towel anywhere you like.

So, pack your sunscreen and hit the beach!

Also read The 11 Best Beaches in Barbados.

Are there any turtle wildlife sanctuaries in Barbados?

Barbados is home to a variety of unique and fascinating animal species, and as such, wildlife sanctuaries have been established to protect and showcase these creatures.

These sanctuaries provide a natural environment for the animals to roam freely, with very few cages involved.

Leatherback turtles, which can grow up to 2000 pounds, nest on the east coasts from March 1st to July 31st, which is the best time to see them!

Hawksbill turtles nest in Barbados between May and October, so you can plan your trip around that.

Besides sea turtles, visitors have the opportunity to get up close and personal with other animals, including green monkeys, deer, parrots, iguanas, tortoises, and more.

What is the best way to explore Barbados?

The best way to explore Barbados is by participating in various activities that showcase the island’s natural beauty and rich history. Some of the top activities include guided bike tours, free guided hikes, and catamaran cruises.

There are plenty of historical sites and natural wonders to visit, such as Bathsheba Beach and Harrison’s Cave. To get around, consider renting a car or taking a taxi.

No matter how you choose to explore, be sure to take in the island’s stunning coastline and friendly culture.

Are there any water sports available in Barbados?

Barbados offers a wide range of exciting water sports activities for all ages. Here are some of the most popular ones to try:

  • Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in calm waters like Heywoods Beach or Pebbles Beach.
  • Snorkeling and scuba diving in Carlisle Bay Marine Park to see shipwrecks, tropical fish, and turtles.
  • Catamaran tours to visit pristine beaches, swim with turtles and snorkel through coral reefs.
  • Surfing in various spots around the island.
  • Jet skiing and paddleboarding in Carlisle Bay.

Whether you want to relax or seek adventure, Barbados has something for everyone to enjoy!

What is the best way to experience Barbados's nightlife?

Barbados is a vibrant island with a diverse nightlife scene, offering something for everyone. Start your evening by visiting St. Lawrence Gap, where you’ll find a variety of bars and clubs, all within close proximity to hotels and restaurants.

For a truly unforgettable night out, be sure to check out Harbour Lights Beach Bar & Dinner Show on Wednesday evenings. This beachfront venue offers great food, unlimited drinks, live music, and entertainment, including fire breathers and stilt walkers.

If you’re looking for a more laid-back evening, head to Oistins village on Friday night for the famous fish fry. You’ll find plenty of food, drinks, karaoke, and dancing to keep you entertained.

For a unique experience, hop on a catamaran cruise and sail along Barbados’ stunning coastline, stopping at secluded spots for swimming, snorkeling, and beach lounging. Some cruises even offer champagne and chic appetizers for a more romantic evening.

As you explore the island’s nightlife, don’t miss out on some of the charming watering holes like Boatyard Beach Club, Copacabana Beach Bar and Grill, and Little Bristol Beach Bar. Each spot has its own unique flair and offers a chance to mix and mingle with locals and tourists alike.

So, whether you want to dance the night away, enjoy some live music, or simply relax with a cocktail, Barbados has got you covered.

What kind of Caribbean food should I try in Barbados?

Barbadian cuisine is a delicious blend of African, Indian, and British influences.

  • A must-try local dish is the Flying-Fish sandwich. Made with the freshest fish, the popular Barbadian flying fish is small and thin, and its name has something to do with its ability to “fly” long distances in the water. You can find this delicacy at the Waterfront Café on the Careenage in Bridgetown or at Cuz’s Fish Shack.
  • Another must-try dish is pudding and souse, a popular Saturday lunch dish made with pickled pork and sweet potato pudding. You can try it on a food tour of Bridgetown’s most interesting neighborhoods.
  • Oistins is also a great place to sample local cuisine, especially on Fridays when the fish fry takes place. Here you can try mahi-mahi, tuna, flying fish, chicken, and lobster, all cooked by local vendors in front of you.

Don’t miss out on the chance to taste the unique flavors of Barbadian cuisine during your trip to the island!

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The 15 Best Things to Do in Barbados

Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore the island, Barbados has something for everyone. Be sure to add these 15 activities to your list for an unforgettable trip.

And if you have any suggestions of your own, be sure to leave a comment below.

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