Barbados: 12 Things to do that Aren't Sitting on a Beautiful Beach

May 28, 2018

Yes, Barbados has spectacular beaches but there’s more to this island than the white sands and crystal aquamarine water. If you can tear yourself away from your beach chair, there’s a wealth of things to do.

These are 12 of our favourites:

  1. Tour Bridgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Parliament Buildings, Bridgetown

Bridgetown is the island’s largest city, steeped in charm, history and culture. The city was mainly built between the 17th to 19th centuries and many of the original buildings are still well-preserved. Visit the oldest parliament in the British Commonwealth, established in 1639, and walk across to National Heroes Square (known previously as Trafalgar Square) where you can find a two-hundred-year-old statue of Lord Nelson. The entire city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.

  1. Dive Among Amazing Reefs and World Famous Wrecks

Coming face to face with marine life during a dive

Barbados has approximately 200 wrecks, so if you’re looking for a diving holiday, this is the place to go. The most famous wreck is the S.S. Stavronikita, the purposely sunk Greek freighter in the Folkestone Marine Park. If you prefer reef diving, check out Barracuda Junction or Maycocks Bay, where you can see beautiful reef fish, bright colourful coral and sponge formations.

  1. Chow Down at Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday Night

Crowds at Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday night

When in Barbados, eat like the locals — and all the locals go to Oistins Fish Fry on Friday nights. Oistins is a fishing town on the island’s east coast and has a market of fish vendors who cook your fresh fish while you wait. This is a must-see destination, guaranteed to be one of the best culinary and cultural experiences you’ll have on the island.

  1. Hire a Private Catamaran for the Day

A private tour on a catamaran

Does anything say pure luxury more than a private catamaran? There are dozens of sailing companies on the island that will whisk you off on your own private vessel for a cruise along the idyllic coast. Those who want something a little livelier or less exclusive can join one of the larger catamaran cruises that take groups for day or night cruises. These often involve swimming with turtles, snorkelling and diving.

  1. Watch the Changing of the Guard at the Historic Garrison Clock Tower

Re-enactment of the changing of the Guard

Barbados has a rich military history and the changing of the sentry ceremony is a tradition dating back to the late 1700s. A reenactment takes place every Thursday at noon at the Garrison Clock Tower, featuring members of the Barbados Legion and drum corps dressed in colourful ceremonial dress marching past the sentry post.

  1. Bathe in a Natural Hot Tub at the Hot Pot in Brandons

The warm 'Hot Pots' are said to have healing powers

If you’ve ever walked into a cool ocean and wished that the water was warm, head to Brandons Beach. At the end of the beach you’ll find the so-called “Hot Pot,” an inlet of hot water that draws locals and tourists alike. Be aware, however, the currents and undertow can be stronger here than elsewhere on the island, so stay close to the shore.

  1. Explore Harrison’s Cave; Thousands of Years in the Making

The natural wonders in Harrison's Cave

Harrison’s Cave is the island’s most famous natural wonder. Located in the central uplands, the caves are filled stalactites, stalagmites and underwater rivers with deep blue, crystal-clear water. Just so you know the lingo when you get there, stalactites are icicle-shaped formations that hang from the ceiling of the cave and have been produced from thousands of years of dripping mineral water, while stalagmites are upward mounds of deposits made from the mineral water dripping onto the cave floor.

  1. Swim with Turtles

Coming face to face with a turtle

Speaking of swimming with turtles, numerous tour companies offer tours that allow you to swim with hawksbill or leatherback turtles in their natural habitats. Of course, you’ll also see lots of other colourful marine life, so don’t forget to bring your underwater camera.

  1. Raise a Toast to the Birthplace of Rum

Sampling Barbados' most famous rum

If you love rum, you have Barbados to thank for it. More precisely, thank the Mount Gay Distillery that began making rum in 1703. No trip to the island is complete without the Mount Gay Rum Visitor Experience, where you can take a tasting tour and raise a glass of your favourite rum.

  1. Go Horseback Riding on Morgan Lewis Beach

Sunset horse back ride

The waters off Morgan Lewis Beach are not great for swimming (there are lots of waves and strong currents), which means the beaches are fairly deserted and make for perfect quiet walks, picnics and breathtaking horseback rides. Several companies in the area offer rides. Never ridden a horse before? Most tours are suitable for beginners and if you’re going to learn how to ride a horse, can you think of a more perfect place?

  1. Discover a New Fruit at an Early Saturday Morning Market

We’re strong believers in getting to know local culture no matter where we are and there’s nothing better in Barbados than walking with the locals in one of the Saturday morning markets. Unlike many tourist markets where inauthentic souvenirs are brought in from abroad, these Saturday morning markets offer homemade and home-grown products. Skip the hotel breakfast and try the fresh fruit — the markets offer an abundance, including some you may have never seen before.

  1. Take Advantage of Duty-Free Shopping

Luxury shopping at the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre

The Canadian dollar may have taken a beating in the last year but many are still itching to shop on vacation. The duty-free shopping on Broadstreet in Bridgetown and Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown are definitely worth a visit. Don’t forget to bring your passport and your plane ticket to prove you’re leaving the island.

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