For many, Barbados is a dream destination in the Caribbean. After my mum went there last year I knew it would be on my wishlist, but recently I went to a talk with IceLolly Holidays, where one of the guests was a representative from the Barbados tourism board and that talk, is what has inspired this post! The talk was all about the different options of things there are to do on the island of Barbados and we also had the chance to ask questions about what there is to do.
Barbados is one of the smaller islands in the Caribbean and is only 166 square miles meaning you can drive around the whole island in around three hours. Known as a beach paradise, it’s become apparent to me, just how much there is to do on the Island of Barbados and thought it’d be useful to share with you!
Quick information about Barbados!
English is the official language of the Island and it was first occupied by the British in 1627 until the island gained full independence in 1966. A member of the commonwealth, there are four main towns in Barbados. Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and the other three towns are Holetown, Oistins, and Speightstown. I love a little celebrity trivia knowledge and I’ve heard this before but Rihanna is from Barbados and is from a place called Saint Michael. There is a place you can actually visit called Rihanna drive which was re-named after Rihanna in 2017.
Today’s post is all about why Barbados should be your next holiday destination! (All pictures are from my mums visit there last year, so you can think of this post as in collaboration with Travel with Gabriella’s Mum). I like to split my reasons why you should go somewhere into two categories as always I like to be practical, and this helps me decide where to go, but it’s also fun to look at the potential opportunities you have in a new destination for fun experiences.
When I first start looking at a country to travel too, I have to look at all the factors which would make me want to go somewhere. I look at how easy it is to actually get into the country as well as things like flight times and how to get there. The year-round weather is also an important factor, especially if you are looking at visiting outside of the peak summer season. Luckily for you (and me!), Barbados seems to hit the trifecta of ease!
1) It’s an easy country to travel to
For residents of the UK and the US, as well as a lot of other countries, entry to Barbados does not require a visa. This makes it so simple when you arrive as it means you don’t have to fill out any paperwork before you go or even when you arrive. Double-check with the government website before you go though and I have a link for the visa information for you, here. There are also little things that make a difference, for example, you can drink the water which I love because it just saves you buying huge bottles all the time. Also, although their currency is Barbados dollars, you can also use US dollars as they are accepted most places too.
2) You can fly direct
From the UK, you can fly direct to Bridgetown and as I was having a sneaky look online at the flights, I saw them start around £480 but they do go up to around £800 if you’re booking last minute. Don’t let this deter you though as I think you can get some pretty good deals especially if you go off-season! It looks like Virgin Atlantic and British Airways both fly there (both linked) with an average flight time of 9 hours. Perfect amount of time to get some rest in, before a holiday of fun!
3) The weather
As part of the Caribbean, Barbados is generally hot and sunny all year round. Barbados is known to have over 3000 hours of sunshine each year, but because of the wind, it isn’t unbearable. They have a dry season which lasts from January until June and when it does rain it usually comes in quick showers. Sounds like dream destination weather to me and I love that if you go before the June / July / August months, you’d still have perfect hot weather.
You cannot go to Barbados without experiencing at least one of the below! After some research, the talk with IceLolly and the Barbados tourism board and also a chat with my mother, I’ve come up with a list of experiences that should be on your Barbados bucket list.
I love an adventure from the ocean, looking through my mum’s pictures, it’s apparent she does too which isn’t surprising as we’re both keen divers! I always feel like you have to take advantage of the gorgeous blue sea so have included as many water activities that would fit into this post. If you’re not a water baby, I have more suggestions for you below so don’t go anywhere!
4) Crane Beach – One of the islands most beautiful beaches, Crane beach has almost a pink tinge to the sand! Not only does it look stunning, but the waves are also perfect here for a swim. The beach here is known to be “one of the ten best beaches in the world” by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous so if you’re going to Barbados, you don’t want to miss out on this. There are a lot of stunning beaches on the island so don’t think you’ll find a bad one but you may as well start by exploring one of the best.
(Horse on the beach, because, you know, it’s Barbados)
5) Dive to see the turtles – The Hawksbill and the Leatherback turtles are known to be two of the rarest sea turtles in the world and you can find them both in Barbados. Because the island was formed primarily from coral, there is loads to see here (coral reefs, eels, rays, turtles, and barracudas) and it’s a perfect destination for all abilities of divers. The west and south coasts are best for diving as they are more sheltered and there are plenty of dive shops around the island that can help you, no matter your level.
6) Animal Flower Cave – With a name like that, who wouldn’t want to visit? It’s a cave on the most Northern point of the island and its name comes from the shape of the anemones which are inside the pools of the cave. Every picture I’ve seen looks very interesting and I’d love to explore. You can take a guided tour there or just go of your own leisure but according to Barbados.org, there is a clifftop bar and restaurant close to the cave where they serve the best lemonade in Barbados. Of course, be careful with the waves and tides as the waves can be very powerful here!
7) Dread or Dead surf shop – Not only can you get some of the best surfing lessons on the island here, you can also take part in surf tours, learn to stand up paddleboard and rent all different kinds of boards. It is the number 1 thing to do in Hastings, Barbados so even if you’re not sure about the idea of surfing, I’d go and have a chat because their lessons, look epic.
8) Harrison’s Cave – An active cave and open site since the 1970s, Harrison’s cave is a perfect adventure if you want to try something different. There are tram tours, walk-in cave tours, and special scenic tours but you there are special dates and prices and I’ve linked to the website above so if you are interested you can find out more. The pictures look stunning with crystal clear pools of water and huge rock formations if you like an adventure you don’t want to miss out on seeing this.
9) Folkestone Underwater Park and Marine Museum – From some deep diving on the internet (pun intended), it seems to me that Folkestone Underwater Park and Marine Museum is an experience with a museum included. You can snorkel around a reef to experience all manner of marine life. There is also a sunken wreck of a ship perfect for the more advanced divers as well as activities such as glass-bottom kayaks. The museum aspect includes an aquarium and there is also a playground and places to eat.
For those of you who like to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, Barbados has a lot to offer in terms of adventure and exploring!
10) Island Safari – Perfect for the whole family, the island safari can be tailored to what you want. They have the option for a land and sea safari, an adventure safari and even a powerboat snorkel and adventure. You get to travel around in a jeep, and have a tour guide who knows exactly where to take you to show you the best parts of the island. For more information, have a look at their website here.
11) Fustic House – A private estate that is absolutely gorgeous. Some people might question it being included in this list as it isn’t currently open to the public, but as part of the Barbados National Trust Open House season, it was available to tour. If your trip happens to coincide with Open House Season, you would not want to give this one a miss! It is also available for large families and groups, but being that is made up of seven luxury suites and four separate wings, you might need rather a large family. Even so, it is a stunning building designed by Oliver Messel where the focus was on joining the indoor space with the outdoor. There are swimming pools, outdoor showers, trampolines, and even badminton so if you are looking for a stunning place to stay where you have space to yourselves, consider Fustic House.
12) Hunte’s Gardens – A beautiful garden filled with exotic plants, the slogan is “the most enchanting place on earth”. Although I’m sure it would be even more stunning in person, the pictures look incredible. There is a discover list to see if you can spot everything in the garden as well as a relaxation area so you can take your time and really explore the garden. It costs $15 for entrance and is open 9 am-5 pm so perfect if you want to experience some of the most beautiful nature in Barbados.
13) Take a ride on a reggae bus – according to my mumma, these buses are unlike anything else. They seem to run on their own schedule and don’t seem to have a timetable, making them extra fun and unpredictable. They’re used by the locals to get around the island and also stop anywhere so you can use them to get around. The thing that is different about these buses is that they blast music as they make their way around. It’s not quiet, public bus music either, it’s full-on reggae/rap/ music that is played at a hugely loud volume. To experience one of these buses like a local, head up to the nearest main road and just wait. One will be by soon enough and to use my mum’s words “you hear them long before you see them”. Don’t expect an empty bus either, it might look full from the outside but trust me, they’ll get you on that bus. There isn’t any aircon, and you might see school kids on them too, but for $1 it’s not something you want to miss. I think it sounds like a really fun way to get around so would love to experience it.
14) Visit Bridgetown – The capital of Barbados, Bridgetown was one of my mum’s favourite places to visit. Named after the native Amerindian bridge which crossed the mouth of the constitution river. The river is now known as the Careenage and splits the town of Bridgetown into town. When my mum visited she walked along the beach and stopped for food in Bridgetown before continuing walking around. This is where she took this picture of the man with the fish, she said he emerged from the sea like this, which I think is amazing. It’s also meant to be amazing for duty-free shopping and a town of huge historical significance.
15) Create your own driving tour – There are so many adventures and experiences that I’ve mentioned here, but it’s also important to remember that you can take your time and explore on your own. The whole island can be driven in three hours and after doing some research into different routes that show you the most, it seems The Wandering Bajan has the best self-drive tour routes! I’ve linked to one here that sounds like a perfect way to get the best of everything, especially if you prefer to drive yourself rather then take part in a group tour. This way you can take your time and explore as much, or as little, as you want.
Known for its rum, Barbados has plenty of places to try and also some cult food hotspots that you have to try whilst you’re there.
16) Mojo Music Bar – A fun stop if you want to experience somewhere with both locals and tourists, known for its cocktails, shots and friendly service. They have a kitchen that stays open until 11 pm and a room dedicated to Bob Marley. Filled with black and white portraits of famous musicians, it has a real atmosphere that is summed up with “Mojo… Music for the people… Food for the soul…Libations for the Spirit”. Located in Christchurch, you can find Mojo on Worthing Main Road.
(My mumma exploring the Mount Gay Distilleries)
17) Drink the worlds oldest rum at the Mount Gay Distilleries – Another one that my mum loved and had a great time at, she said the guides are really knowledgeable and fun. You get to tour the brewery and then have a tasting of three different rums with a chance to then purchase the one you loved the most. Definitely worth a visit and if you like drinking rum, then even better!
18) Friday night Oistins Fish Fry – Oistins is a village, known for being the location of Friday night Oistins fish fry. Every Friday the town becomes a huge food festival with rum shacks, outdoor seating, long communal benches and beer and rum everywhere. It happens every week and there is so much food to choose from. The community all comes together and it’s a must-visit as part of your time in Barbados. The music also adds to a fun festival vibe, as well as stalls selling local handmade jewellery etc.
19) Harbour Lights – I love a dinner show and this one looks one of a kind with its crystal clear waters from the Carlisle Bay and fantastic entertainment. It runs every Monday and Wednesday evening at the beach extravaganza and dinner show. They tell a story of Bajan culture with the entertainment as well as three local bands and you get to experience a traditional BBQ dinner and free-flowing drinks. There are local DJ’s so you can “party all night long”. Located in Marine Villa in St Michael, if you’re looking for a fun evening out, this can’t be missed.
20) Bombas Beach Bar – One of the best views on the island, perfect for a sunset. The food is traditional Caribbean so expect a lot of seafood as the menu changes depending on the catch of the day. They serve beer, wine, and cocktails and are open from 11 am. It has everything you could possibly want in a beach bar, with some saying it’s the “best food in Barbados”. After looking at a lot of the reviews online, I would say don’t head there if you’re in a hurry but if you’ve got time to kill waiting for a sunset, it’s a good option.
21) The Festivals – For me, the festivals that take place in a new country I’m visiting are where you get to experience a different side of the community. In Barbados, you have Vujaday Music Festival, The Holetown Festival, Barbados Open Water Festival, and Grand Kadooment. I could write about festivals non-stop but they all sound really fun and cater to different cultural aspects of the island of Barbados. If you want to know more about each festival, I’ve linked each one so you can click through and find out more. Any festival focused on water or the sea is one where I’d be heading to, especially when the ocean looks as good as it does in Barbados.
Out of all these experiences is there anything that you really want to do? I think the diving looks incredible so that would be top of my list but I’d love to hear what the top of yours is. I really hope this post has been useful to you, especially if you are trying to decide on your next holiday destination. Barbados seems like the perfect holiday destination for way more then just the romantic honeymoon escape that I always knew it for. It’s also a fun adventure island and a cultural hotspot in the Caribbean. If you are heading to Barbados there are a few links floating about this post that will take you to the excursion page of some of the experiences so I do hope you enjoy. If you have been to Barbados I’d love to hear about your experience and what you got up to, as well as any tips you have!
This has been a really fun post for me to write even though I haven’t been there to experience it myself but I would not have been able to write this post without being able to pick my mums brain about her trip and also without using her pictures. Thanks to my mum for letting me use her pictures from Barbados, one day I’ll get my own pictures of this stunning island!
Thanks to Marc McCollins and Icelolly for inviting me along to your event I had a lot of fun and evidently, learnt a lot! There is a post coming later this week all about the #Blogatthebeach event I went to with icelolly.com so if you are interested in that, please do follow along on social media to know when that post has been published. You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
(All information is correct at the time of going to print, of course check the websites linked as well as doing your own research on opening times and prices as these are subject to change)
I post once a week covering topics such as solo travel, working and living abroad and also creating Gabriella’s Guides to places I have been. I cover topics under the following categories such as Planning and Packing, The Travel Diary, Travel Inspiration, Photo Diaries, Gabriella’s Guides and Working Abroad.