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Things to Do in Barbados

This small island (just 21 by 14 miles / 34 by 23 km) in the Lesser Antilles has beach-worthy weather all year around and sits outside the so-called “Hurricane Alley.” The bustling capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bridgetown boasts many multicolored historical buildings as well as some pedestrian shopping streets. The fine sand beaches and azure waters in the south draw travelers from all over the globe while the wild and rugged coast of the island’s north offers natural wonders. In between lies the famous Harrison’s Cave, a limestone formation that contains stalagmites, stalactites, and underground water features. To cover all of that—and the mix of colonial, native, and immigrant cultures in between—tours by car, catamaran, and 4x4 help speed transport and shed light on Barbados’ food and customs. Visitors join local and international surfers at a beach called the “Soup Bowl,” in the quaint fishing village of Bathsheba, peek at the local green monkeys at Welchman Hall Gully, and stop at Saint Nicholas Abbey, which opens a window into what life on the island may have looked like in the 17th century. For more relaxed—but no less impressive—sights, Hunte’s Garden showcases the lush, tropical flora and fauna found in Barbados, and nobody can resist a stop at the famous Mount Gay Rum Distillery, where travelers visit the Heritage Museum and even take a course in mixing the perfect rum cocktail.
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Bridgetown Cruise Port (Deep Water Harbour)
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Located in the Southern Caribbean, Bridgetown is the great little gem of Barbados, sometimes referred to as “Little England.” Unlike many other Caribbean islands that went from the possession of colonial hand to colonial hand, Barbados has always fallen under the Union Jack. British influence can be seen in the Anglican churches and in the driving on the wrong side of the road; however, the island’s forty years of independence has seen it develop a distinctly Caribbean culture.

The Bridgetown Port is located a five minute taxi ride from downtown Bridgetown, which is Barbados’s capital city. However, this is an island that is seen at its best in independent exploration, and its recommended that, if you have the time, you rent a car to see the unspoiled and less developed parts of the island.

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Carlisle Bay
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The ancient shipwrecks in this protected natural harbor make Carlisle Bay one of Barbados’ most popular snorkeling and scuba diving destinations. Six sunken vessels dot the ocean floor here and attract hundreds of varieties of tropical fish, stingrays, sea stars and turtles, not to mention curious travelers.

In addition to underwater adventures, the nearby Boatyard offers jet skiing, sea trampolines and the opportunity to jump into the ocean via rope swing. Even those who prefer to stay out of the water will love the calm shores and sandy beaches of Carlisle Bay, where countless chair and umbrella rentals make it easy to while away the day here.

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Harrison's Cave
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Speleologists and visitors alike dub Harrison’s Cave one of the ‘seven wonders of Barbados’. Known for its stunning array of stalactites and stalagmites, the cave is a mysteriously lit wonderland of subterranean tunnels, streams, waterfalls and emerald-green pools.

Trams take you down into the cave to explore the cavern’s pools and waterfalls, with geological insights provided along the way as part of the tour.

Bring a hat to catch the overhead drips and wear comfortable shoes so you can take a walk around the cave and its pools.

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Paynes Bay
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Unlike some of Barbados’ other well-traveled beaches, the calm aqua waters of protected Paynes Bay are ideal for swimming. This idyllic destination attracts plenty of visitors looking to soak up the sun, wander the shoreline or go for a dip.

Shaded trees line the quiet beach, located in Saint James Parish, and cast cooling shadows where families retreat to relax and unwind. Plenty of wild water sports, like jet skiing and catamaran sailing, draw more adventurous guests out of their beach chairs and into the bay, where they can ride the waves or snorkel with sea turtles.

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Bathsheba Beach
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According to an old legend, beautiful Bathsheba—the wife of King David—bathed in milk to keep her skin looking smooth and soft. Barbados locals say the white, frothy waters of Bathsheba Beach, named in her honor, have similar healing powers.

Surfers love riding the wild Atlantic waves and navigating the strong currents this beach is famous for, while the more leisurely set enjoy taking in its picturesque landscapes and soaking in the relaxing mineral pools lined by coral reefs. Huge boulders resting along the shore give this destination a distinctly wild vibe, and the nearby fishing village is filled with friendly locals, strong rum shops and quaint restaurants serving up classic Barbados fare.

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St. Nicholas Abbey
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The distinctive Dutch gables and red roof of the St. Nicholas Abbey plantation are no historical pastiche. Built in 1660, the beautifully restored mansion is one of only three authentic Jacobean buildings in the western hemisphere.

Inside, the plantation’s great house boasts a Chinese Chippendale staircase, antiques, porcelain and much more, viewed on a free guided tour. The sugar plantation surrounding the mansion includes a historic processing plant and the rum distillery that produces St. Nicholas Abbey Rum. Watch a documentary from the 1930s to learn about sugar plantation life, visit Cherry Tree Hill for lovely views over the island’s east coast, try a glass of rum punch, and stay on for lunch at the Terrace Cafe.

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Mount Gay Rum Visitor Center
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Rum is more than a social lubricant here on the island of Barbados. It’s the history, culture, and essence of the island slowly poured over ice. Barbados is considered the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay distillery—founded in 1703—is believed to be the oldest rum found anywhere in the world. For three centuries sailors and seamen have sipped its amber silk, and during a visit to the Mount Gay Distillery, travelers can literally taste the history that’s shaped Barbados’ past. Learn how sugar cane is fermented into rum, and sample varieties of fine rum with hints of vanilla and almond. Hear the tales of how rum is tied with seafaring, sailing, and pirates, and watch as the liquid is carefully bottled for shipment across the globe. Finally, after watching a film on rum production and hearing the history of Mount Gay, sample the smooth, award-winning rums at the tasting room bar and gift shop.

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Barbados Wildlife Reserve
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If you’ve ever wondered what an agouti looks like, you’ll find out at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.

Along with these cute forest-dwelling rodents you’ll see deer, armadillos, iguanas, monkeys, flamingos and peacocks. The open reserve presents animals in their natural environment, and the reserve’s hordes of Barbados green monkeys are free to come and go as they please.

It’s a good idea to time your visit for around 2pm, when the animals emerge from the surrounding forest to be fed. After you’ve visited the reserve, drop into the adjacent Grenade Hall forest for views from the signal station, as entry is included in your ticket.

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More Things to Do in Barbados

Barbados Parliament Buildings

Barbados Parliament Buildings

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Bottom Bay

Bottom Bay

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Towering coral cliffs and incredible panoramic views make Bottom Bay a favorite among travelers. The rustic shorelines, dotted with towering coconut trees, prove perfect for spotting sea turtles, whales and wealthy locals, many of whom have built impressive homes overlooking the ocean.

The turquoise sea and soft white sands offer a picture-perfect setting for late-day picnics, sunrise breakfasts and leisurely afternoon strolls along the shore. Though less than ideal for swimmers and surfers, the rough waters of Bottom Bay keep this beach relatively empty, making it the perfect relaxing escape from an otherwise crowded south coast.

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Crane Beach

Crane Beach

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The long stretch of secluded wave-lapped white sand at Crane Beach has been voted one of the 10 best beaches in the world. Ideal for romantic strolls, the beach is overlooked by the statues and gardens of the ritzy Crane Resort, the first resort hotel to be built in Barbados. Protected by rocky outcrops, the waters here are relatively calm and also ideal for bodysurfing. The beach wasn’t named for birdlife; instead, the name is a historical reference to the cliff-top crane that once raised cargo from trading ships moored in the harbor.

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Sunbury Plantation House

Sunbury Plantation House

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Orchid World & Tropical Flower Garden

Orchid World & Tropical Flower Garden

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The Caribbean is known for its orchids, and at Orchid World there are more than 20,000 of these tropical floral delights. Vantage points provide an overview of the 6-acre (1.5-hectare) hillside garden filled with stunning flowers. You can also follow a winding path lined with colorful orchids on a self-guided tour past a waterfall and coral grotto to a series of orchid houses.

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Bridgetown

Bridgetown

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Barbados is a hot destination among tourists for more reasons than just beautiful beaches, great people and duty-free shopping! Here’s a quick guide on how to make the most of your Caribbean holiday.

Journey through Harrison’s Cave to the island’s rolling green hills and get treated to the beautiful landscapes and sights that make Barbados a perfect holiday destination. After a quick local lunch, continue on to the wildlife reserve where you’ll have a chance to see and feed the island’s famous green tail monkeys.

Immerse yourself in Barbadian culture on the Just BIM Tour. Your tour begins at a local pottery shop where you learn about the many arts and crafts unique to Barbados. Next, walk though the tropical splendor of Flower Forest before embarking on a scenic drive ending at Bathsheba.

On your third day in Barbados it’s time to venture into the water! Experience the mystery of the deep seas from the comfort of the Atlantis Submarine Expedition.

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Sandy Lane Beach

Sandy Lane Beach

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