“Woh, I’m going to visit Barbados, woh backa to the palm trees …”
Just the word Barbados sends us back to 1975 and the hit song “Barbados” by the British Band Typically Tropical.
A trip to Barbados conjures up images of swaying palm trees, turquoise clear seas, long silvery sandy beaches and cocktails at sunset, a tropical paradise in the Caribbean.
In 2016 CN Traveler voted Barbados as the number 2 most beautiful island in the Caribbean.
For three months we lived like a local enjoying all that Barbados had to offer.
A budget holiday it is not, most islands around the world are expensive, and a Barbados vacation is one of them. Most goods are imported and even their fruit and vegetables are imported from the small island of St. Vincent nearby.
For a small island, 34km in length and 23km in breadth, Barbados has a lot to offer visitors of all ages.
What to do in Barbados
Below are our tips on what to do in Barbados for kids, teens, couples, families and grandparents.
Barbados For Kids Under 12
Time your visit at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve for the 2pm feeding time, and children and adults will be thrilled to see the antics of some of the Green Monkeys.
They have been known to stand on the back of the tortoises at feeding time. These famous cheeky green monkeys and tortoises roam free through the reserve whilst caimans, iguanas and birds are housed in cages.
A 50-minute day or night-time dive with Atlantis Submarines takes you 160 feet to the bottom of the ocean just off the waters of Bridgetown the capital.
In our night time dive we saw colourful schools of fish, coral reefs and a shipwreck all under the powerful spotlights that Atlantis use. Kids will love receiving their Atlantis Submarine Certificates at the end of the tour.
Harrison’s Cave Tram Tour is a fascinating adventure for all ages and is one of the top Barbados attrcations. The electric tram tours the mile long cave for an hour where waterfalls, streams, stalactites and stalagmites can be viewed.
The tram stops at certain spots along the way where you can get off to view the waterfalls and pools. The fun part is the unexpected ‘cave showers’! There will be plenty of ooo’s and aaa’s along the way.
The South Coast of Barbados has tranquil beaches suitable for kids, especially our favourite, Worthing Beach.
Whilst the beaches along the rugged East Coast are more suited for surfers especially Bathsheba where International Surf Carnivals are held.
The East Coast has spectacular scenery, there are some great spots for picnics, or walks along the beach, but no swimming as the currents are too strong.
Barbados for Teens
Looking for the best things to do in Barbados for Teenagers?
Teens will enjoy an Island Safari in a 4 x 4 Land Cruiser, a guided tour around Barbados on and off-road with lunch included. It’s a great day out for visiting hidden out of the way spots on Barbados.
One of the highlights of our visit was a 5-hour catamaran lunchtime cruise with Action Charters.
We had the opportunity to snorkel with the turtles in Carlisle Bay and enjoyed a snorkel around a wreck and a reef along the West Coast.
A buffet lunch was enjoyed as we moored off the beach of the luxurious Sandy Lane Hotel.
Beaches in Barbados are not private and everyone can enjoy them. At the Sandy Lane Hotel Beach you might even find yourself sharing the beach with the likes of Rhianna or Simon Cowell.
At the Animal Flower Cave, when the waters are calm, you can swim in the natural rock pools. The Animal Flower Cave is located at Barbados’s most northerly point.
Not only are there rock pools for swimming, but dramatic coastal views and a great spot for lunch.
It is not easy to visit the Animal Flower Cave by public transport, we would recommend visiting as part of a tour or hiring a rental car.
For teens that are keen to surf, the South Coast beaches are preferable to the rugged beaches of the East Coast.
Solo Travellers to Barbados
Traveling solo and seeking advice on what to do in Barbados?
Barbados is popular for solo traveler’s. It’s a safe destination, where English is spoken everywhere, and the local Bajan people are helpful and friendly, although their local dialect may have you wondering at times what on earth was just said.
A catamaran cruise is a great way to meet other traveler’s or take one of the many round island tours such as Glory Tours or Williams Tours.
If you enjoy experiencing local food, walking and history, then a 3-hour tour around Bridgetown should be high on your list with Lickrish Tours.
Our top tip is to have a light breakfast before joining the tour. Lickrish is a Bajan word for ‘to be greedy for food’.
What better way to enjoy Barbados’s national dish – Flying fish and Cou-cou made from corn meal and okra than at a local Bajan restaurant at the last stop of the tour.
Our tip – do not ask for 2nd helpings along the way before arriving at the last stop.
Barbados for Couples
Couples will enjoy a Rum and Food Pairing Tour at one of the world’s oldest Rum Distilleries – Mount Gay Rum.
Mount Gay Rum is reputed to be the oldest in the world and it is said that it ‘is the rum that invented rum’.
The tour starts with a rum punch before learning about the history of rum in Barbados. After a short video and 3 rum tastings the 2nd part of the tour commences – the food and rum pairing.
Our small group became firm friends after more rum was consumed as cocktails were created to compliment the 3 courses that were of course made with rum.
Our top tip – take the return transfers that are included as part of the tour from your hotel!
If beer is more to your liking, the local Banks (Barbados) Brewery runs a tour 3 times a day from their facilities in Newton Road Bridgetown.
Not only do you learn about the history of Banks Beer in Barbados and how it is produced you can taste the popular lager whilst relaxing in the Visitors Centre Bar at the end of the tour.
After you enjoy your ice cold Banks Beer don’t forget to leave a comment on their wall.
Barbados is well known for its international cuisine with restaurants offering exotic dishes from all over the world in some of the most stunning locations on the island.
Our 3 favourite restaurants are:
The Tides – located in a stunning ocean front setting in Holetown in the Parish of St. James, for modern cuisine
Tapas in Hastings, along the Boardwalk in the Parish of Christ Church, for great Tapas dishes and local cuisine
Sitar Indian Restaurant in Holetown, St James.
There are many restaurants to choose from to suit all tastes and budgets.
For the best Bajan Fish Cakes on the island a visit to Mr Delicious Snack Bar on Enterprise Beach Road near Oistins is a must. If you see a colourful truck on the beach you have found it, but be prepared to wait a bit.
Barbados for Families
As well as the other Barbados activities we have mentioned above in the Barbados for kids and teens sections, a fun family activity is a lunchtime cruise on the Black Pearl Jolly Roger Pirate Ship.
As well as the sumptuous lunch buffet you can snorkel with the turtles, learn how to swing from a rope and walk the plank in pirate style – one of the most fun things to do in Barbados!
Friday night is Fish Fry Night at Oistins and popular with families, visitors and locals. You will find it as a ‘must do’ on most guides written about Barbados.
We were disappointed though; we thought it was expensive for a piece of fish, salad and macaroni pie thrown on a plastic plate with plastic utensils.
Friday night has entertainment and can be very busy, plan to arrive around 6.30.
Barbados for Grandparents
A Saturday afternoon at the Garrison Savannah Horse Races could be an enriching experience and a chance to have some down time from the family.
The Garrison Savannah is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was once the home to the British Forces.
The Savannah was originally used as a meeting place for wealthy plantation owners and the regiment where they would race their horses against each other.
Sunbury Plantation House is one of the last remaining colonial Plantation houses on the island.
You can enjoy a tour of their collection of horse drawn carriages and the antique filled rooms of the house. We enjoyed a buffet lunch at Sunbury as part of an Island Tour with Williams Tours.
You could also hire a car for the day to drive there.
Accommodation in Barbados
Barbados is not short on accommodation. There are a range of hotels to choose from to suit all budgets, here are some examples:
Tips for travel to Barbados
High season is from mid December to mid April, it is the busiest time and also the most expensive time to travel.
Hurricane season is from June through to November, prices are lower but it is the wettest time of the year to visit.
Driving is on the left in Barbados.
You can use public transport, the buses are easy to use and a great way to visit the beaches.
Currency is Barbados dollar – BBD$1 = USD$0.50
Barbados is one of those destinations that you keep returning too.
We spoke to many traveller’s and most of them where return visitors, they could not explain why, maybe it’s the people or the lure of the tropical island dream.
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Can you share any tips on places to visit in Barbados or what to do in Barbados for first timers? Please share in the comments.