“Little England” as most tourists call her, Barbados is a world-class holiday destination situated in Southeastern Caribbean. Throughout the year, she serves as a host to many tourists, including the rich and famous. Barbados is also a rich historic destination as her capital, Bridgetown, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whether you’re in Barbados to tour the beautiful scenery of the beaches, experience the 3000 hours of sunshine (per year), enjoy the gorgeous landscapes, taste the wonderful cuisines or chat with the friendly locals, here are top 10 things you need to do in Barbados. In no specific order:
1. Harrison’s Cave
Harrison’s Cave is in the middle of Barbados and is located about 5 miles from Hometown and Bathsheba Beach. It is a beautiful subterranean crystallized limestone cavern. In the cave, there are stalagmites, stalactites, and other calcite deposits hanging from the ceiling and rising from the ground. Surprisingly, such a cave still has streams and pools running through. This is definetly one of the top 10 things to do in Barbados.
In Harrison’s Cave, there is a tram to take you on a 2kms ride through the cave system. During this ride, you will get to learn about the place. At times, the tour guide would off the lights to show how dark it is in the cave. Harrison’s Cave opens at 9 am and closes at 4:30 pm. The last ride for the day is usually at 3:45 pm. The tour could last for 3hrs. The cost of the tram tour ranges from US$30 to $100 based on your package.
2. Oistins Fish Fry
On the South Coast of Barbados is the “Oistin’s Friday Night Fish Fry” which is specifically hosted at the Oistins Bay Garden. It is a long-standing Barbadian tradition in a cool fishing village. If you’re looking for an opportunity to interact with the locals, the all-night street party is the best destination. Families (including children) and individuals can attend the event.
As the name implies, delicious seafood and other dishes are served at the Oistins Fish Fry. The dishes range from fried or grilled fresh fish and barbecue chicken to spicy scotch, fish cakes, and spicy pork stew. Side dishes include fries, rice ‘n’ pea, Mac & cheese, salad, yams, amongst others. Drinks and music are not an exception. There are also vendor stores to purchase handicrafts and souvenirs. Be sure to check out Pat’s Place, which was my favorite.
3. Crop Over
Crop Over is the largest festival in Barbados and is one of the top 10 things to do in Barbados. Its origin can be traced to the period of the slave trade as it was celebrated on sugar plantations. It’s celebration marked the bountiful harvest of sugar cane. The festival consists of dancing, music and a series of Bacchanalian activities. One notable event is the Calypso Monarch Award Competition. As part of the contest, several bands dress up in colorful costumes and seek public attention to winning and be crowned “King and Queen of Calypso.”
The Crop Over usually lasts from June to August, leading to a national holiday called “Grand Kadooment.” This is the climax of events, and it is celebrated with a road-march, Bajan rhythms and fireworks. The Crop Over is a two months festival and in case you don’t have money to participate, you can always watch from the side.
4. Fish Pot Restaurant
The 17 years old restaurant occupies a 17th-century fort called Fort Rupert. The oceanfront restaurant serves freshly prepared delicacies while you enjoy the sea and sunset views. You can also have a gourmet dining experience in a vegetarian-friendly restaurant with vegan and gluten-free options. 17 years after opening, the Fish Pot is considered by many to be one of the leading restaurants in Barbados. and one of the top 10 things to do in Barbados. You can check out my full review of the Fish Pot here.
5. Cuz’s Fish Shack
The Cuz’s Fish Shack has served tourists and locals for more than six decades and the services are provided by a father and son. Their signature dish is the “classic fish cutter.” It is important to note that in Barbados, a sandwich is called a cutter. The delicacy is a fried marlin filet on soft salt bread bun topped with a slice of cheese and this can be obtained for just $9. It is a cheap meal on such an expensive island when compared to the 60 years of experience. That is why you should visit the place. It is located on Pebbles beach with a morning scenery of racehorses.
6. One of the Rum Distilleries.
I chose to visit the Foursquare Rum Distillery while visiting Barbados. A former sugar plantation, the Foursquare Rum Distillery, and Heritage Park occupy 8 acres across the Southern countryside of Barbados. It is a historic but modern and computerized rum factory which has been managed by the Seale family for two centuries now. Its collection of rum includes Doorly’s, E.S.A.Field, Real McCoy, Old Brigand, and others. Foursquare won the Rum Distillery of the year award in November 2016 at IWSC in London, UK.
A self-guided tour in the distillery will make your day as it is free, and the staff is always welcoming. All you need to do is to follow the yellow footprints in the building. You will also get to learn the various stages of rum-making. At the end of your tour, you can sample runs at the bar for a minute fee of approximately $10.
7. Pelican Village Craft Center
The craft center is on the outskirts of Bridgetown. Local and regional artisans do artworks and display them for tourists and other locals. The artworks can be viewed for free but at affordable prices, you can purchase intricately designed souvenirs like woven baskets, paintings, wood carvings, pottery, amongst others.
8. The Bathsheba Beach (Or any of Barbados’ 80+ beaches)
The Bathsheba Beach is a half-heaven for surfers and photographers. This beach is located on the east coast of Barbados, and it faces the choppy waters of the Atlantic. The foamy surf can be likened to a giant soup bowl and this is what interests surfers the most.
The beach also has a beautiful picturesque which can be suitable for photography as well as picnics. In case you are not in for surfing, there is an adjacent park where you can relax.
9. George Washington’s House
George Washington is said to be one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. But only a few know that he once lived for two months in Barbados. His house overlooks Carlisle Bay in St. Michael Parish, which is 1½ miles away from town. George’s brother, Lawrence, rented the large apartment in 1751 when he came to seek treatment for tuberculosis. Make sure you visit this 18th Century Presidential abode to have a feel of the apartment.
10. Barbados Catamaran Snorkeling Cruise
On the West coast of Barbados, you can take a cruise on the large schooner, which is operated by El Tigre Catamaran Cruises. On this cruise, you can visit 2-3 snorkeling spots and swim with turtles as well as colorful fishes. You can also see shipwrecks.
Light breakfast and several beverages, including rum punch, beer, juice or coffee, are all served on the cruise. It can last for 3hrs for families or 5hrs for journeys that include lunch. Apart from the Catamaran, you can take a cruise on the Pirate-themed “Jolly Roger” as an alternative.
Finally, make sure you have an ecstatic stay on the island of Barbados.
11. The Food & Rum Festival
Going into its 11th year, The Barbados Food & Rum Festival (formally called the Barbados Food & Wine festival) is a weekend full of culinary and beverage events, offering a variety of flavourful experiences to explore the Bajan Culture. The festival is usually held in late October.
12. St. Lawrence Gap
St. Lawrence Gap, also known as “The Gap” is a vibrant street on the South Coast of Barbados in the parish of Christ Church. Here, you can find various Restaurants, Night Clubs, Hotels and a host of small businesses.