The name Barbados automatically conjures up tantalizing images of white sand beaches, crystal clear water, palm trees and rum punches, and while the island has all of those amazing things, it also has much more to offer!
On your trip to Barbados, try to peel yourself away from the idyllic beaches to explore some of the island’s lesser-known areas and also enjoy the country as the local Bajans do.
After living on the island for 2 months, and returning to travel there for a week, I know the place well. We actually found many unique things to do in Barbados during our stay and I’m here to share the best Barbados excursions with you.
**This post has been updated December 2019
Here are 10 things you won’t want to miss on your trip to Barbados.
1. Hit Up A Barbecue
Bajans love their grills and the smokey aroma of grilled meats and spicy sauces can be smelled wafting all over the island, especially on weekends. Just follow your nose to one of the many roadside or beachside barbecues and taste some of the nation’s best food.
This is one of the things to do in Barbados that you won’t likely find on other lists, but it’s the best way to meet locals and enjoy some traditional barbecued meats. When we were in Barbados, we always hit up the roadside places, and the food was always delicious.
A couple of barbecues to try include the Sunday Lunch at Crystal Waters, where you can join the older crowd and enjoy live music and a healthy portion of barbecued lamb, chicken or fish with lots of sides.
Also, if you don’t mind travelling a little way for your meal, head to St. George and just up the hill from the Cheffette Restaurant, you’ll find Belly Full Barbecue, arguably the most friendly and flavourful food stand on the island. We ate here numerous times and loved it.
Side of the road BBQs are one of the top places to visit in Barbados — don’t miss out!
2. Eat a Flying Fish Cutter
You really haven’t been to Barbados until you’ve eaten the famous Flying Fish Cutter. While this tasty sandwich can be found with swordfish, marlin and mahi-mahi, the original (and possibly the best) is with flying fish.
The sandwich is made with a freshly baked salt roll. This delicious bread is not salty at all and it is typically crunchy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. The roll is cut in half and filled with delicious grilled fish, lettuce, tomatoes and your choice of sauce (don’t pass on the spicy Bajan Pepper Sauce).
My favourite Flying Fish Cutter can be found at Cuz’s Fish Shack right off of the parking lot at the stunning Carlisle Bay Beach near Bridgetown. If you’re a fish fan, eating a cutter is something you don’t want to miss on your trip to Barbados.
3. Go On A Rum Tour
I think I’ve listed enough eating in Barbados so far! Now it’s time to talk about drinks. The island once earned much of its fortune from delicious rums, and you can join a rum tour to see how this cane sugar liquor is made.
Mount Gay Rum is the country’s pride and joy and the Mount Gay Distillery puts on excellent rum tours where you can learn about the history of rum production in Barbados while trying a few samples along the way.
The Signature Tour offers a tasting of 3 rums and a history lesson for $20, while the Full Signature Rum Tasting tour includes transportation, and tasting of 7 rums for a total of $50.
4. Visit Harrison’s Cave (one of the top places to visit in Barbados)
Harrison’s Cave is truly one of the natural wonders of Barbados. Located in the central uplands, the interior of this cave boasts breathtaking, crystallized limestone that drips water into impossibly clear pools.
The cave is far away from most of the tourist hotels, but there are many tours that can take you to the cave, or you can rent a car and head there on your own. A trip to Harrison’s Cave is one of the top Barbados excursions, and for good reason. Click here to learn about the tours on offer, or check out the image below.
If you’re on a budget, consider taking the local bus for just B$1.50. The bus system in Barbados is really efficient, with buses leaving Bridgetown every 30 minutes. You can take the Route 4, Shorey Village bus or the Route 4, Chalky Mount bus which runs at 8:15 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. The journey is about 1 hour.
5. Explore St. Nicholas Abbey
Here you can learn a bit about Barbados’ 350+ years of history at this wonderfully preserved plantation home. This type of architectural heritage is a brilliant way for visitors to understand what Barbados looked like a few centuries ago.
The old plantation home is set on a beautiful property of tranquil gardens, gullies and orchards with the adjacent Cherry Tree Hill. The home itself has some stunning antique furniture and decorations.
You can also visit the boiling house and rum distillery which is still working every day to produce the famous St.Nicholas Abbey Rum.
6. Relax on Carlisle Bay Beach
Ok, I had to put one beach on the list of things to do in Barbados!
There are plenty of blissfully perfect beaches on the island of Barbados, but my personal favourite is the powder stretch of white sand at Carlisle Bay — this is one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
The water here is always calm, and there are a few places on the beach (and nearby) where you can pick up snacks and cheap beer. Cuz’s is a great place to try cutters and The Boatyard Beach Club serves up tasty food as well.
*Insider tip: if you’re staying on the island, rather than just visiting for the day, you can buy a day pass ($30) to the Beach Club which includes $22.50 in restaurant credit, and use of their amenities — SUP, kayaks, beach chairs and umbrellas, volleyball, snorkelling and WiFi.
If you stick around Carlisle Beach long enough, you can enjoy sunset from here as well. Check out our full review of Carlisle Bay Beach on Virgin Holidays’ Trending Travel Guide.
7. Walk the Boardwalk
Stretching for 1.6 km between Camelot and Accra beach, this beautiful wooden walkway wanders along the sea and past many bars and restaurants. It’s well lit in some parts, but there are stretches of dark areas at night and it’s not recommended to walk late in the evening.
However, during the day this makes for the perfect place for a stroll along the water.
I recommend starting in Camelot in the late afternoon and arriving at Accra Beach for sunset. This is also a fantastic place to go swimming and you can either bring your own drinks and sit on the sand, or head into Tikki Bar (for $15 you get use of their umbrellas and chairs, and that $15 goes towards bar credit). Click here for directions to the boardwalk.
8. Check Out Fish Fry Fridays
Oistins Fish Fry Friday is an absolute must when visiting Barbados. This weekly party and fish festival is held on a serene beach on Barbados’ southwest coast and it’s the perfect place to meet new friends, both foreign and local.
You won’t find a better plate of fish anywhere on the island. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is great, and there is a lot of dancing and music. Everybody seems to be in a good mood — it is Friday after all! Going to the Oistins Fish Fry is one of the best things to do in Barbados at night.
To get to Oistins, you need to take an Oistins, Airport, Silver Sands, Sam Lords Castle, Fairy Valley or St. Christopher bus, depending on where you are staying. Either way, the cost is $2 BBD per person per ride.
9. Caribbean Crop Over
At the end of each sugarcane season, Barbados puts on its biggest festival of the year and they call it Crop Over Summer Festival. It’s the island’s most popular and colourful get together and its origins can be traced all the way back to the 1700s when Barbados was the world’s largest sugar producer.
When the sugar industry on the island declined in the 1940s, this famous festival followed suit, but luckily it was revived along with other elements of Barbadian culture in 1974 and today it’s a culture infused extravaganza that attracts hundreds of party lovers from around the world.
The festival happens every year from May to August, with the largest celebrations happening at the end with carnival celebrations. If you plan your trip to Barbados at that time, you may not only get to party like crazy, but you may share the streets with world-famous Bajan pop & hip hop star, Rihanna!
10. BH3 Barbados
If you have read our articles about Hashing in Grenada, you’ll know that we love these international social hiking groups. BH3 Barbados is owned and run by Hash House Harriers and it’s another great way to meet local people, get some exercise and enjoy some local rum shack culture on either end of the walk!
Click Here to find out about upcoming hikes and runs in different areas around the island. Going hashing is definitely one of the more adventurous things you can do in Barbados.
More than just beaches…
This 430 km² island has dozens of beaches and mile after mile of pristine coastline, but there’s more to Barbados than sun loungers and beach bars. Once you get away from the sand, you’ll start to understand the island a little better and you’ll have an opportunity to meet more of the nation’s lovely people and explore its diverse landscapes.
With numerous excursions in Barbados, fantastic cuisine, and easy transportation options, a trip to Barbados should definitely be on your list!
Have you ever been to Barbados? What were your favourite things to see and do? Please share with us in the comments below so we can help other travellers to better enjoy this beautiful Caribbean island. For more about Barbados, check out VisitBarbados.org.
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