Once upon a time, a coral island was pushed to the surface by a volcano; now it is the must-see island of Barbados. It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with this Caribbean paradise with its coral beaches, white sands stretching into the distance, and sky blue sea – what’s not to love? It may be small, but Barbados has plenty to offer. Don’t underestimate the fun, the food, the culture and the history that this island has to give - get out there and experience it!
Dive right into the heart of Barbados life with a visit to its largest city. Bridgetown is the financial centre of Barbados, as well as having a rich mix of culture and history. This means you’ll be surrounded by historic buildings next door to modern constructions, and all of it humming with activity. There's never a dull moment in Bridgetown, whether you’re looking for a day of shopping, a dining out extravaganza, or want to learn something new about the culture.
Don’t miss: Cheapside Market
The early-bird stop for fresh produce at a good price. Take your pick from yams, bananas and potatoes, as well as jewellery and household items; perfect for holiday presents.
Fun times at Queen’s Park
You can take a time out – or even a day out – of Bridgetown’s busy atmosphere to relax in this gorgeous park. Originally Queen’s Park was known as King’s House, residence of the Commanding Officer of the British Troops for the West Indies. Nowadays, it’s all about taking it easy, with a play park, family facilities, and the annual Agrofest exhibition showing the best of local craft. If you’re in Barbados over Christmas, there is a tradition of walking through Queen’s Park in your finest clothes, so dress to impress!
Don’t miss: The Baobab Tree
This two hundred and fifty year old tree is still relatively young in Baobab years; some trees have lived to a thousand. The massive trunk is roughly fifty five feet in circumference and said to take fifteen adults to stretch around it's trunk – try putting it to the test!
Good taste at Mount Gay Rum Distillery
Taste the drink of pirates, at Mount Gay Rum Distillery. The story of this type of rum began in 1703, originally called ‘Kill-Devil’ by the people who drank it. Take a tour of the distillery where you can learn more about the history of the rum trade, how it’s made, and the new tastes and types of rum that have been developed.
Don’t miss: Storied Barbadian Lunch Tour
Get the full distillery experience with a guided tour, tasting experience, followed by a traditional lunch on the patio.
Revelry at Carnival
“Crop Over” is the annual summer festival that everyone in Barbados gets excited about. Back in the 1700’s, the end of the sugar season meant that a big celebration was held, which over the years grew into the lively Crop Over festival. Bridgetown comes alive with market stalls selling food gifts and crafts. As well as live music and entertainment, take the time to watch Cohobblopot, a spectacular show that features stunning costumes.
Don’t miss: Kiddies Kadooment
An event for children to get involved in, involving dressing up and joining in with a band parade.
History at Sunbury Plantation House
Get to grips with colonial history at this unique old house, one of the few remaining monuments of the past (although it had to be re-built after a fire in 1995). Guests can explore the labyrinth of handsome rooms, re-designed to look as they would in their heyday, filled with antiques and old paintings – as well as a special collection of horse drawn carriages. Tours are conducted by helpful guides who can answer all your questions about what life would have been like for the plantation owners and for the slaves that worked the land.
Don’t miss: The Courtyard Restaurant
Plan for lunch at the plantation. The freshly cooked menu has plenty of local tasty treats to try and is well priced.
Food at Oistins Fish Market
Think this is just another quaint fish town? Think again! There are endless fishing boats going by and local fisherman can be seen mending nets on the shore; you can see their catches at the Fish Market. Head to Miami Beach (also known as Enterprise Beach) for true island paradise. Rarely crowded during the week, you won’t have to fight for the best spot on the sands - stick to the western side for easy swimming. Also keep a look out for Mr Delicious’ food truck, which has a reputation for the best fish cakes on the island.
Don’t miss: Fish Fry at Oistins Bay Gardens
This is where every Friday night begins! Imagine the best of grilled and fried fish dishes – swordfish, lobster, tuna, flying fish, marlin – all cooking right before your hungry eyes. Grab one of the many available seats and watch the locals play dominoes while you tuck in. There’s also live music and arts and crafts available for sale.
Animals at Barbados Wildlife Reserve
Finally, a chance to see the amazing creatures from documentaries in real life! You can see the best of tropical wildlife at Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Follow the trail leading you through shady forest, passing gambling monkeys, turtles, and the infamous caiman pond. Other animals include macaws, iguanas and brocket deer – make sure to see the 2pm feeding displays.
Don’t miss: The Barbados Green Monkeys
These friendly monkeys are quite common and make for great entertainment at the feeding time demonstrations. They are also free to leave the reserve, so you might catch glimpses of them when you’re heading home.
Wonder at Harrison’s Cave
This is one of Barbados’ best experiences. Harrison’s Cave is a massive cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites that took thousands of years to grow. Driven by electric tram the caverns, with a tour guide to tell you the history of the place, you'll pass by cave waterfalls and can even get out and walk alongside the deep pool. Don’t fall in!
Don’t miss: The Visitor’s Centre
Designed to fit in with the natural rock surrounding it, this is the place to go to for more information on the cave and an exhibition of artefacts that have been found inside. There’s also a refreshment area for lunch and handicrafts shops selling souvenirs.
Learning at Washington House
It’s not just Americans who will love a visit to this famous house. George Washington, the first President of America, visited Barbados in 1751 and stayed for two months; Barbados was the only country he visited outside America. Washington House brings alive the eighteenth century: four poster beds, lumpy mattresses, chamber pots; it’s got the lot! Learn how limited medical knowledge was in the 1700’s and what implements they used to ‘make you better’. Washington’s personal doctor gets a mention for saving his life – and arguably saving the future of America in the process!
Don’t miss: Olaudah Equiano
This famous man is referred to in the displays. He is remembered in history as an ex-slave who bought his freedom for the sum of £40 in 1766, and went on to write a famous autobiography.
Barbados has a bright and vibrant culture, from its food to its heritage. Take the opportunity to experience island life to the full. Taste the best fishcakes in the Caribbean, party at Crop Over carnival, learn how far we’ve come from the historical sites, and marvel at the tropical plants and wildlife that populate this amazing island.
Blogger Profile - Mark Johnson
Mark is an avid traveller and loves to explore the world with all of its varied cultures. He is also an adventure sport enthusiast and has tried everything from Skydiving to Scuba Diving!