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Best Things To Do in Barbados

With plenty of golf courses, historic homes and sporting events, Barbados is an ideal vacation spot for active travelers. Avid surfers flock to Bathsheba Beach on the east coast while swimmers looking for calmer waters head to the south coast's Dover Beach. Carlisle Bay near Bridgetown (Barbados' capital) is another popular shoreline, thanks in part to the various shipwrecks and abundant wildlife that await scuba divers and snorkelers. Inland explorers must not pass up an opportunity to visit the lush Hunte's Gardens or Harrison's Cave, a famous Barbadian cave system that is more than a mile long. And a trip to Barbados wouldn't be complete without sampling some of the country's world-famous rum. 

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    Things to do in Barbados
    View all Photos
    #1 in Barbados
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Bathsheba Beach, which sits on Barbados' west coast, is a photographer's and surfer's paradise. For photographers, Bathsheba offers dramatic rock formations and abandoned homes. And for surfers, there's the beach's famous Soup Bowl, where top-notch waves can be found. Named after the area's foamy water, the Soup Bowl is so well-known that international surfing competitions are regularly held here. Do not, however, plan on swimming at Bathsheba. Because of the region's rough waters and rock formations, it is not safe to swim at Bathsheba Beach.

    Recent travelers praised Bathsheba Beach's picturesque setting and phenomenal surf. Though many said the beach's rock formations more than justify a visit, Bathsheba Beach is a great spot to fly kites and enjoy a beach picnic as well. Keep in mind, though, that public transportation is limited in this area, so a rental car is recommended.

  • #2
    Dover Beach
    View all Photos
    #2 in Barbados
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The south coast's Dover Beach can be found in Oistins, which sits in Christ Church parish. Although the beach's waves make it less than ideal for activities like paddleboarding and kayaking, its waters are great for surfing and body surfing. Other popular water sports include Hobie Cat sailing, jet skiing and windsurfing. A swimming area away from the ocean's rip tides is also available.

    Travelers in search of a less crowded shoreline will appreciate Dover Beach's relaxed vibe. In fact, some former visitors noted that Dover Beach's laid-back atmosphere was so inviting that they didn't explore any other beaches during their stay. Another bonus: Many of the beach bars offer happy hour deals.

  • #3
    Carlisle Bay
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    #3 in Barbados
    Beaches, Swimming/Pools, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Swimming/Pools, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located on the southwestern coast of Barbados, Carlisle Bay's beaches offer calm waters, making this an ideal place to swim. The bay's six shipwrecks also make this area a great spot for snorkeling. Marine animals you may see while exploring these gentle waters include rock lobsters, turtles and fish.

    While travelers with children praise this bay's calm waters and clean surroundings, adventure junkies rave about the variety of activities offered. Visitors can rent water sports equipment like kayaks and jet skis from local vendors, or arrange for beachside horseback riding. Umbrellas, lounge chairs and towels are available for a fee as well.

  • #4
    St. Nicholas Abbey
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    #4 in Barbados
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though larger rum distilleries like Mount Gay Rum and West Indies Rum can be found on the island, few offer the historic charm of St. Nicholas Abbey. Unlike other Bajan distilleries, St. Nicholas Abbey distills its rum in traditional small batches. In addition to its rum, the attraction also features a 350-year-old plantation home, which houses a museum with various antiques. Multiple gardens and orchards are also located throughout the property.

    Travelers rave about St. Nicholas Abbey's two-hour tours. Rum samples, which are included with entrance fees, are provided throughout the tour. The plantation's architecture and historic significance also received high praise from prior visitors. To make the most of your visit, tour the property on a Wednesday or Thursday when sugar cane is ground in-house.

  • #5
    Hunte's Gardens
    View all Photos
    #5 in Barbados
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Situated about 4 miles southwest of Bathsheba Beach in St. Joseph parish, Hunte's Gardens offers an array of plants within a gully. The garden is owned by Bajan horticulturist Anthony Hunte, who is known locally for his colorful personality.

    While past travelers appreciated the garden's variety of plants and Hunte's wealth of knowledge, visitors said watching animals like hummingbirds, monkeys and the owner's dog made this garden even more enchanting. To make the most of the garden's picturesque setting, some visitors recommend packing a picnic lunch to eat on the property's grounds.

  • #6
    Barbados Boardwalk
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    #6 in Barbados
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though Barbados offers an array of beaches to enjoy, one the island's most popular attractions is the Barbados Boardwalk. Situated less than 4 miles south of Bridgetown, this coastal boardwalk connects Accra and Camelot beaches. In addition to providing outdoor enthusiasts with scenic ocean vistas, turtles and crabs are known to visit the adjacent waters. For the best views, plan your visit at sunrise or sunset.

    Most former visitors raved about the Barbados Boardwalk's views and cleanliness. However, some travelers caution that the boardwalk's wood can get hot during the day, so be sure to wear shoes when visiting. And to avoid sunburns and dehydration, pack plenty of sunscreen and water.

  • #7
    Harrison's Cave
    View all Photos
    #7 in Barbados
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    One of Barbados' most popular attractions is Harrison's Cave. This limestone cavern features several streams, as well as stalactites, stalagmites and other kinds of calcite deposits. The cave sits in the middle of the country about 5 miles from Holetown and Bathsheba Beach.

    According to recent visitors, Harrison's Cave is a must-see Barbados attraction. While the well-preserved cave receives the most praise, the cave's knowledgable tour guides were also appreciated by past travelers. Some people, however, said the admission rates make this site a bit pricey to visit.

  • #8
    Animal Flower Cave
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    #8 in Barbados
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Named for its sea anemones, Animal Flower Cave is the island's only accessible sea cave, located under the North Point cliffs in St. Lucy parish. Although it's not as popular as Harrison's Cave, you might want to make the jaunt from your hotel area to spend at least an hour exploring the caves.

    Previous travelers warned that though this cave is impressive, getting here is a challenge and the area offers little to do besides see the cave. Another word of caution: Watch your step when heading into the cave, since the stairs are steep and the rocks are slippery.

  • #9
    Mount Gay Visitor Centre
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    #9 in Barbados
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    One of two commercial rum producers on the island, Mount Gay Rum offers tours of its visitor center, where guests can get a behind-the-scenes look at how Mount Gay Rum is produced. After touring the company's bottling facility, travelers sample several kinds of rum.

    Some travelers say the tour is informative but boring, so you should have a keen interest in rum-making (not just rum-drinking). To make the most of the experience, consider splurging for the lunch tour (which also includes transportation to and from your hotel). However, don't expect to see the company's distillery during any of the visitor center's tours since Mount Gay Rum is produced at a separate facility in the St. Lucy parish.

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