Welcome to Barbados – a Caribbean gem where the turquoise sea laps against golden shores and the vibrant local culture will sweep you off your feet. Go for laid-back luxe, history and hospitality. Explore with this Barbados travel guide.
Small but mighty. That’s one way to describe Barbados, a Caribbean island that packs one heck of a rum-soaked punch to the senses.
Year after year, visitors keep flocking to this gorgeous slice of paradise, sampling the compelling mix of old-school beauty and endless miles of incredible beaches.
Barbados is one of my favourite Caribbean islands and with good reason. Here’s my guide to your next incredible trip to a piece of tropical heaven.
12Go and Omio are other excellent travel Barbados resources for buses and transfers.
Find convenient and cheap airport transfers with Booking.com.
Where to Stay
A vibrant area on the southwest coast of Barbados, Christ Church is home to some of the island’s finest beaches. The neighbourhood of St. Lawrence Gap is home to a plethora of cool restaurants, clubs, and bars to keep you going into the small hours.
This stunning secluded holiday spot is located on the rugged northwest coast of Barbados and is home to some of the best walks around wilder beaches and untamed countryside. This is the perfect place for anyone seeking a bit of history and quiet time.
I recommend staying at Cobblers Cove, a beautiful, relaxed colonial-style Babadian 5-star getaway.
Located in the mid-western part of the island, Saint James is a popular spot for those seeking the ultimate luxury escape. Home to many exclusive resorts and hotels, with the odd hidden budget gem, Saint James also offers some proper retail heaven with some stunning boutique stores.
If getting out and seeing things is your holiday vibe, head to Saint Michael on Barbados’ west coast. Visit George Washington House, Saint Ann’s Fort and have the full-on calypso cricket experience at the Kensington Oval.
With plenty to see and do across the island, bring a Daypack to carry all your essentials.
My mantra when heading away on holiday is to expect the unexpected. No matter how meticulously you plan your break, something unforeseen can always crop up. Buying travel insurance is a non-negotiable to help you navigate these tricky and sometimes upsetting occurrences.
Barbados Visitor Guide: What to Do During Your Barbados Trip
Top Things to Do
This stunning beach is one of the many best beaches in Barbados. A paradise for surfers, massive foamy white waves endlessly lap on beautiful golden sands.
Sit and watch experienced surfers ride the “Soup Bowl,” if you fancy your chances, have a go yourself. Either way, this is an ideal spot for anyone who just loves to stare at the sea and let time pass by.
You must visit Bridgetown, the island’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can feel the rhythm of the Caribbean flowing through the streets as you explore colonial architecture and plantation houses, stark reminders of empire and the slave trade.
Check out the Barbados Museum and St Michael’s Cathedral, or just head downtown and indulge in some retail therapy.
If it’s beachside relaxation you’re after, head to pink sanded Crane Beach, lay down your towel, and just relax. Enjoy some authentic Bajan cuisine among the tiny villages dotting the area and head to nearby Saint Michael for a spot of sightseeing.
One for the adventurous visitor, Harrison’s Cave is one of the island’s best areas for diving. This incredible living cave has crystal pools, mesmeric limestone formations naturally moulded by the water and readily flowing streams. I recommend getting on a guided tour and ensuring you have comfy footwear!
Mount Gay Distillery
Rum connoisseurs will be well aware of the delightful taste of Mount Gay rum (believe me, it’s the best!). Don’t take my word for it; check it out for yourself with a tour of the distillery and rum-tasting session. You won’t regret it.
Swim with Turtles at Carlisle Bay
Carlisle Bay is the best spot in Barbados to indulge any interest in marine life. Head on a Turtle and Shipwreck Snorkel Adventure to go beneath the sea to meet some of Barbados’ native turtles, find some coral reef, and discover an eerie shipwreck.
Andromeda Botanic Gardens
Created almost 60 years ago by Barbados’ best horticultural experts, the Andromeda Botanic Gardens spans six acres and is home to more than 600 species of flora and fauna from the Caribbean and further afield.
Its lofty location invites cooling breezes and can provide welcome relief from the otherwise stifling heat.
Cricket and the Caribbean are inextricably linked. Some of the West Indies’ finest players, including Malcolm Marshall, Gordon Greenidge, Gary Sobers, Joel Garner and Des Haynes, cut their teeth at the Kensington Oval.
While West Indian cricket is in the doldrums right now, the atmosphere for a Caribbean Premier League match still sizzles beautifully to the sound of leather on willow.
Suggested Barbados Itineraries
Best of Barbados Itinerary
Bridgetown >> Carlisle Bay >> Speightstown >> Bridgetown
This five-day tour takes in every corner of the island. Take in the Fish Fry and Oistins, a vast range of beaches, and explore the charms of Bridgetown.
North Barbados >> East Barbados >> Bridgetown >> South Barbados
The perfect way to take in all Barbados has to offer without rushing around. This is an excellent short itinerary from Morgan Lewis Windmill and Flower Cove on day one to beach hopping on the island’s south.
Bridgetown >> East Coast >> South Coast >> St Lawrence Gap
Hunt out Barbados’ cultural charms with a five-day jaunt around the island, beginning with Bridgetown, taking in the rugged Atlantic East coast, enjoying the beaches of the South and ending up in the party capital of St Lawrence’s Gap.
This leisurely beach-hopping itinerary takes in all of Barbados’ major tourist attractions at a snail’s pace. Experience the island’s rich and diverse marine life and beaches while meeting friendly faces at every stop.
Explore the most extensive collection of historical motoring treasures at the Mallalieu Motor Collection. This collection of autos belongs to Bill Mallalieu and includes Bentleys, rare Daimler Roadsters, and a 1963 Volvo 1225 with which he broke rallying records. Great for a rainy day.
Continuing the motoring theme, indulge your need for speed with a visit to Bushy Park’s Ultimate Driving Experience, which caters to all the family. From karting experiences for those aged 5+ to high-powered Swift Cup racers and Radical SR3s, this is a superb high-octane must-visit for anyone with a driving passion.
Coco Hill Forest
For those wanting something more eco-friendly and sedate, this 53-acre forest overlooking the East Coast consists of hundreds of palms, ferns and acres of Bamboo groves. This forest’s incredible haul includes coconuts, bananas, cocoa, pineapples, herbs, spices, coffee beans, and tropical fruit trees.
Another excellent thing to do with the kids during inclement weather, this pottery is full of noise and colour as a team of talented local potters shows off the pottery process and their stunning finished creations. There are also incredible photo opportunities from its hillside overlooking Bridgetown.
How to See the Best of Barbados for Free
Barbados is a small island, yet packed with incredible trails for hiking free of charge if you’re curious-minded and don’t mind a walk.
Other things to explore without needing to pay include the stunning Barbados Wildlife Reserve, one of the beautiful living caves at Harrison’s Cave or Animal Flower Cave, or St. Nicholas’ Abbey and steam railway.
Dishes to Try in Barbados
Flying Fish – Flying fish is the most popular fish catch on the island and a tasty must-try
Cou Cou – A perfect side for Flying Fish. Cou Cou is cornmeal and okra or breadfruit and green bananas.
Paw Paw – A wild fruit with echoes of bananas, mangos and citrus. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, this is one of the best fruit experiences ever.
Top Drinks in Barbados
Sorrel – A popular Christmas drink on the island, Sorrel is made from dried hibiscus petals. It is believed to help lower blood pressure while high in vitamins and minerals.
Rum punch – You haven’t been to Barbados unless you’ve tried an authentic and stunning rum punch.