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Things to do in Barbados

Things to do in Barbados

Whilst this tiny Caribbean jewel is renowned for its pink coral sands, luxury resorts, romantic sunsets and world-class snorkeling, there’s also a rich raft of things to do in Barbados for the more adventurous holidaymaker.

Coastal Treasures

Barbados North Coast

Away from the more popular south and west coasts, the north coast and inland areas offer breathtakingly dramatic scenery; well catered for hiking and cave exploration along the unspoilt coastline between Stroud Point and North Point. Whilst you’re at North Point, stop for a breather and a picnic at The Animal Flower Cave, an accessible ocean cave with steps leading to a coral floor, sea anemones and natural rock pools.

As you’re on the north coast, be sure to check out St Nicholas Abbey, one of the oldest plantation houses in the Caribbean.  It’s an extraordinary Jacobean-style mansion set in vast grounds featuring a variety of cultivated gardens and a traditional rum distillery (the ideal place to pick up that souvenir bottle of single-cask rum, made on the premises!)

Working your way down along the mainly uninhabited eastern coastline, there’s some of the best surfing, walking and even horse-riding on the island. The mists of colonial times are best explored here, where you can wander through grand old plantation estates; rich soiled fields which still produce Barbados’ famous sugar cane. Here you’ll find lesser known historic sites and quirky reminders of times past like abandoned signal stations and evidence of old communities.

Whilst you’re on the east coast, we’d recommend a visit to the pint-sized, exotic cove called Shark Hole. Down a short flight of steps, a small stretch of luminescent white sand is totally enclosed by rocks which form a perfect secluded cove. A reef just offshore calms the water, creating a perfect natural swimming pool – bring a picnic (if not already eaten!)

Extracurricular activities

Horse Racing

Other stimulating things to do in Barbados, away from the cruise-ship haunts, include watching magical local cricket matches (over a glass of rum at The Kensington Oval!), a day at the races – Barbados boasts a rich history in horse racing and a round or two of golf at one of the island’s several world-class golf clubs and resorts.

Of course, you can’t leave the island without paying a visit to the capital, Bridgetown. The hustle, bustle and history of this unique Commonwealth country are here in abundance and headline the more obvious list of ‘things to do in Barbados’.  Check out The Careenage, where the big trading ships used to dock. It’s a focal point of the city, where many of the older buildings are clustered around the waterway. Get a real feel of the Barbadian lifestyle by taking a stroll down Swan Street where you can watch and buy eclectic local art & craft and enjoy more 21st Century consumerism!

If shopping is your tonic, you’ll enjoy the experience of the much hailed Limegrove Shopping Centre, conveniently located in Holetown, and easily accessible from Sandy Lane, Royal Westmoreland, Apes Hill and Sugar Hill. It’s also a relaxing place to dine at one of the many eateries that surround the water feature on the ground level, or eat alfresco at the popular Lime Bar.

All the cruise ship action happens at Deep Water Harbour, where massive luxury vessels dock and disgorge their human cargo – a scene to either embrace or avoid!

South of the city is Carlisle Bay, a natural harbour famous for The Carlisle Bay Marine Park. Home to six shipwrecks clustered in close proximity, this is an excellent site for divers of all levels of experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, take this opportunity to explore one of the world’s most unspoilt coral reefs with an abundance of brilliantly coloured marine life such as like frogfish, seahorses, rays, barracudas, octopus, reef squid and moray eels; a unique marine community living among the haunting remains of human folly.

Fishing for Life

Fishing in Barbados

Talking of fish, one of the highlights of things to do in Barbados is a visit to one of the many fish markets.  OK, you may not be able to take a catch home, but if no time for a quick ‘n tasty BBQ, it’s just worth a visit.  As an island nation, Barbados still has a thriving fishing industry, thousands of Barbadians work as boat builders, fishermen and vendors.

Some of the best markets to squeeze in are: Oistins Fish Market (Berinda Cox Fish Market), on the south coast of the island, which is right by the popular Oistins Bay Garden where you can gobble grilled and fried freshly caught fish at any time of the day.  The Bridgetown Fish Market is hugely popular with locals. Located on the outskirts of the city, it’s the largest market packed with the sights, sounds (and smells!) of this bustling seafood hub.

If you're staying on the west coast of the island, there’s several lesser-known fish markets to choose from at Speightstown, Six Mens Bay and Paynes Bay. Six Mens and Paynes Bay boast stunning beach fronts, sizzling with succulent aromas.


Capital Attractions

Last but not least of our things to do in Barbados, here’s our recommendations of a couple of the more well-trodden, classic visitor attractions in Bridgetown:

The Barbados Garrison :  Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was the largest in the British colonies during the 18th and 19th centuries. Established in 1780 as the military headquarters for the Imperial Forces, the garrison is now home to the Barbados Defence Force and the area encompasses a raft of historic attractions. Take a tour of St. Ann's Fort, built in 1705; George Washington House, a Georgian-style mansion where the former American President stayed in 1751; and the Barbados National Armoury with a large collection of 17th-century iron cannons.

The Nidhe Israel Museum Originally built in the early 1700s, this is a startlingly unexpected building, located next to the synagogue in Bridgetown, it traces Jewish history in Barbados dating back to the arrival of the earliest Jews in 1628 and highlights their contribution to Barbadian society.

However you decide to take in all the things to do in Barbados, you’ll be spoilt for choice and find the accommodation, restaurants and attractions surprisingly affordable. Enjoy!

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