Choose from 9 Fun Things to Do in Barbados
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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.
Carlisle Bay is located in the southwest region of Barbados near Bridgetown. Early risers can head to nearby Pebble Beach to see local race horses being exercised along the shores.
From $ 20
Rum is more than a social lubricant here on the island of Barbados. It’s the history, culture, and essence of the island 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 Visitor Centre, travelers can literally taste the history that has shaped Barbados’ past.
Learn how sugar cane is fermented into rum, and sample varieties with hints of vanilla and almond. Hear the tales of how rum is tied with seafaring and sailing, 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 in the tasting room or at the main bar. Though rum was once known as “kill devil” by early Caribbean sailors, centuries of practice and the world’s best ingredients have made the staff of Mount Gay Distilleries experts at their very own craft.
The Mount Gay Rum Visitor Centre is located in Bridgetown just a short distance from the cruise port. Signature tours are offered Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 2:30pm. The center is open on Saturday from 9:30am to 4pm during the months of November to April. Tours depart every hour on the half hour.
Admission is $15 for adults and free for children 12 and younger.
Rum pairing tours are available on Monday; cocktail tours are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and buffet lunch tours are available Tuesday and Thursday.
Address: Exmouth Gap, Brandons, Spring Garden Highway, St. Michael, Barbados
Hours: Mon–Fri: 9:30am–2:30pm; Sat: 9:30am–4pm (Nov–Apr)
Admission: Adults $15, Children 12 & Under Free
From $ 20
See how the elites of Barbados lived in luxury on their sugar plantations at the Sunbury Plantation House, the only great house on Barbados with all of its rooms open to the public and often visited by coach buses of travelers looking to explore the area.
The beautifully restored great house dates from the 1660s, and it changed hands many times over the centuries. Today it serves as a period museum, furnished with elegant antiques, prints and furniture made from Barbadian mahogany, including a 200-year-old banquet table where the museum hosts dinners. There's also a unique collection of horse-drawn carriages behind the house.
Sunbury Plantation House is located in St. Philip parish near the Six Cross Roads. The get there from Bridgetown takes about 30 minutes by car, and the museum is popular stop on many island tours. In addition to guided tours of the great house, visitors can also join events like the candlelight dinners featuring a five-course meal with silver service at the home’s mahogany dining table.
Address: Sunbury, Barbados
Hours: Daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $10; children $5
From $ 90
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.
How to Get to Bridgetown
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.
One Day on Barbados
Barbados boasts lush tropical foliage and spectacular vistas. Take the Natural Wonders and Harrison’s Caves tour to enjoy the pristine beauty and serenity that Barbados has to offer. The tour shows breathtaking vistas, perfect for photo opportunities. Or take the Coastal Sightseeing tour, which will take you past sprawling white-sand beaches and through picturesque coastal towns.
Be on the more adventurous side and take an underwater sea adventure with the Atlantis Submarine Expedition! Step aboard a real submarine, during which you’ll get to explore shipwrecks and colorful ocean life from a completely unique perspective.
And if you’re the type who has to have it all, the Barbados in a Day tour squeezes in visits to all of the top sites on the island, including a trek through the Wildlife Reserve and a snorkeling shipwreck adventure.
Many major cruise lines dock at Bridgeport, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, and Norwegian. The locals all speak English (though perhaps with a British-influenced twang and vernacular), and the American dollar is widely accepted.
Address: Princess Alice Highway, Bridgetown, Barbados
From $ 25
Historic Bridgetown has a Colonial feel reminiscent of a miniature England, and on a visit to the Barbados Parliament Buildings, travelers can learn what it means to be a part of the former British Commonwealth. The Barbados Parliament was established back in 1639—which makes it the Commonwealth’s third oldest, behind only Britain and Bermuda. The gorgeous, Neo-Gothic buildings were completed in 1874 and give the historic district the feel of Victorian England. Unlike some other Caribbean architecture that is decaying and in disrepair, the Barbados Parliament Buildings are exquisitely maintained to the point where you just might find yourself staring and gawking in the middle of the street.
Aside from the spectacular, external appearance, it’s inside the Museum of Parliament and National Heroes Gallery where visitors can learn the fascinating history of Barbados. Located inside the West Wing, the Museum of Parliament tells the island’s history through stunning photographs and videos, and shows visitors what life was like through various historical eras. You’ll also find info on influential figures who have helped to shape the nation. Visitors will leave with a deep, well-rounded knowledge of this historic Caribbean nation.
There is no photography, video, food or drink allowed inside the museum. Visitors must also be properly clothed, and no beachwear is allowed. The Parliament Buildings are closed to the public whenever Parliament is in session.
Did You Know? The famous clock tower, which can be seen from much of historic Bridgetown, was damaged in a 2010 tropical storm and was stuck on the time of 2:12 for years until it was fixed.
Address: Broad Street, Bridgetown, Barbados
Hours: The Museum of Parliament is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10am-4pm, and on Saturday from 10am-3pm.
Admission: $10 for adults
From $ 25
As you take an island tour of Barbados, make sure to stop at Cherry Tree Hill, an 850-foot tall overlook on the grounds of St. Nicholas Abbey. Here you can enjoy an expansive view of the island’s Scotland District and the wild, windswept eastern shore of the island. The road up the hill is said to have been literally lined with cherry trees, however today it’s long been replanted with towering groves of mahogany. The hill is a popular stop among guided tours, so if you’ve planned to take one on your trip, you’ll likely end up here. However, you can also make the drive yourself—it’s only about 30 minutes from Bridgetown.
Cherry Tree Hill is officially part of the St. Nicholas Abbey estate, but it sits just outside the main gate, so you can drive there on your own, and stop there for free, while visiting the abbey itself does cost a fee.
Address: St Peter 26007, Barbados
From $ 90
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.
Bathsheba Beach is located on the central eastern coast of Barbados in the parish of Saint Joseph. Strong undertows make swimming at this beach rather risky, so it’s best to stick to soaking in the protected pools.
From $ 145
Harrison’s Cave, an underground cavern located in the central uplands of Barbados, is a 1.4-mile (2.3-kilometer) natural wonder chock-full of stalactites, stalagmites, cascading waterfalls, and natural passages. It’s one of the island’s top attractions, and rightly so—it’s an unparalleled underground experience.
A cave tour takes visitors on a tram ride underground to explore the cavern’s pools and waterfalls, with a tour guide providing geological insights. The tram tour allows travelers to easily explore the massive underground cave, winding past clear streams and breathtaking cave formations for a closer look at the stalactites, stalagmites, and the 49-foot (15-meter) Great Hall.
Aside from the basic cave tram tour, eco-adventure tours and walk-in cave tours take adventurous travelers deeper into the cave—sometimes on hands and knees!—to explore further. Harrison’s Cave tours typically depart from nearby Bridgetown, and frequently combine a stop there with other nearby attractions such as Bathsheba, Hunte’s Gardens, or Welchman Hall.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Harrison’s Cave is a must-see for nature enthusiasts and kids.
- Bring a hat to catch the overhead drips, and wear comfortable shoes for walking.
- Eco-adventure tours provide headlamps, helmets, and knee pads.
- The basic cave tram tour is accessible to wheelchair users and and suitable for those with mobility challenges.
- The visitor center offers refreshments and a gift shop.
How to Get There
Located adjacent to the community of Allen View in St. Thomas Parish, Harrison’s Cave is easily accessible via car, taxi, or bus. Catch the Route 4 Shorey Village Bus from Bridgetown, or grab a taxi from Bridgetown (30 minutes), Holetown (20 minutes), or Warrens (20 minutes). Parking is available on site.
When to Get There
Harrison’s Cave is open for tram tours from 8:45am to 3:45pm daily except for Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Kadooment Day (first Monday in August), and Christmas.
History of Harrison’s Cave
Thomas Harrison owned the land where the cave resides in the early 1700s, but it is unclear whether he ever entered the cave that bears his name. Early explorers had a tough time finding a breach in the well-hidden entrances, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that the cave was excavated and opened as a tourist attraction. Considered an “active” cave, the stalactites and stalagmites are still growing every year.
Address: Highway 2, Welchman Hall BB11, Barbados
Hours: Open daily, closed Easter and Christmas Day
From $ 31
One of Barbados’s oldest church sites, the St. John’s Parish Church has experienced a tumultuous history, having been damaged by fires and hurricanes and rebuilt multiple times since it was originally established in 1645. The current incarnation was completed in 1836, while the chancel was added some years later. It was constructed in the Gothic style, and its dramatic location offers spectacular views of the rugged, windswept eastern shore of Barbados. Notable attractions include the grave of Ferdinand Paleologus, a descendant of the Emperor Constantine, and a sculpture by British sculptor Richard Westmacott near the front doors, and one of only two sundials on the island.
St John's Parish Church sits among the plantation lands on the rugged eastern side of Barbados. It’s a 25 minute drive from Bridegtown, and visitors can stop by anytime to explore the church and enjoy the view.
Address: Parris Hill, St. John Parish, Barbados
From $ 85