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.
Updated March 11, 2020
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Bathsheba Beach, which sits on Barbados' east coast, is a photographer's and surfer's paradise. For photographers, Bathsheba offers dramatic rock formations. 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 there.
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.
- #2View all PhotosfreeDover Beach#2 in BarbadosBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME 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.
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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 to rent as well. The only downside, according to reviewers, is the lack of shade.
- #4View all Photos#4 in BarbadosHistoric Homes/Mansions, Museums, Tours, Wineries/BreweriesTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDHistoric Homes/Mansions, Museums, Tours, Wineries/BreweriesTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME 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 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. From January through May, sugar cane is ground in-house at the steam-operated syrup factory.
- #5View all Photos#5 in BarbadosParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME 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.
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Though Barbados offers an array of beaches to enjoy, one of 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.
- #7View all Photos#7 in BarbadosParks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This 6-acre property was founded by horticulturist Iris Bannochie in 1954 with flowering plants she collected from around the world. Today, it's operated by the Barbados National Trust. The gardens boast more than 600 plant specimens accompanied by streams, ponds and views overlooking the ocean.
The gardens are a fantastic place to spend a couple of hours, according to recent travelers, who raved about the beauty and the tranquility of the naturalistic setting.
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One of Barbados' most popular attractions is Harrison's Cave. This limestone cavern features several streams (the stream system is estimated to be at least 1 1/2 miles long), as well as stalactites, stalagmites and other kinds of calcite deposits. Though it wasn't opened to the public until 1981, historians believe the cave was first discovered at the end of the 18th century. 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 knowledgeable tour guides were also appreciated by past travelers. Some people, however, said the admission rates make this site a bit pricey to visit.
- #9View all Photos#9 in BarbadosHistoric Homes/Mansions, Museums, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDHistoric Homes/Mansions, Museums, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Now a museum, this 18th-century plantation house (also known as Bush Hill House) was the base for George Washington and his sick half brother Lawrence (who had tuberculosis) for two months in 1751. The Washington brothers traveled to the island hoping the tropical climate of Barbados could cure him. This trip would be the only overseas voyage the future president would ever take.
Recent travelers found the museum and the tour quite informative and recommended a visit. Exhibits feature artifacts from the 18th century, secret tunnels discovered under the house and a 15-minute film about Washington's time on Barbados. Many reviewers also praised the on-site cafe.
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The oldest, continuously run rum distillery on the island, Mount Gay Rum offers tours of its visitor center, where guests can enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at how Mount Gay Rum is produced. After touring the company's bottling facility, travelers have the chance to sample several kinds of rum.
Many travelers say the tour is fun and informative, with plenty of samples given out during the tour. 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.
- #11View all Photos#11 in BarbadosBeaches, Natural Wonders, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME 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, it's worth making the jaunt from your hotel area to spend at least an hour exploring the caves and enjoying the view. You might have the opportunity to swim in the cave's rock pools (depending on the weather), so you'll want to wear a swimsuit under your clothes and bring a towel.
Previous travelers warned that though this cave is impressive, getting here is a challenge and the area offers little to do besides the cave. Others feel the fee is a little steep for what you see. Another word of caution: Watch your step when heading into the cave, since the stairs are steep and the rocks are slippery.
- #12View all Photos#12 in BarbadosMuseums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This wind-powered sugar mill is one of the last of its kind, and the largest and only complete sugar windmill surviving in the Caribbean. The wind-driven machinery once ground sugar cane in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the site is operated by the Barbados National Trust, who welcome visitors to learn about the process of grinding sugar cane through several exhibits. On select days, visitors even have the chance to sample cane juice produced by the mill.
Recent visitors were impressed with the site's history and found the staff helpful and informative.
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