Leatherback or hawksbill turtles, whistling frogs, green monkeys and the Barbados Blackbelly sheep are all mammals you might spot sauntering across Barbados. Mingle amid the best of them at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve!
If you prefer flora over fauna, feast your eyes on the colourful species that adorn the Andromeda Botanical Gardens. Visit Hunte’s Gardens for the island’s most impressive rare plants and exotic flowers. Don’t forget Welchman Hall Gully for native trees thriving in a protected area (often accompanied by cheeky monkey visits!).
For Barbados at its wildest, nothing compares to hiking around its lush landscapes! The east coast is an amazing spot for hiking, with a rugged and wilder scenery ideal for exploration. Many coastal hikes start at the sublime Bathsheba beach! For spectacular hill views, head for the summits of Farley Hill National Park, Mount Hillaby, Cherry Tree Hill, or Coco Hill Forest.
2. Get smart: historical buildings & sites
Barbados has a rich and fascinating history, first defined by the presence of the Arawak and Carib tribes, then by brief visits by Portuguese and Spanish colonialists, followed by a long British rule until the country’s independence in 1966.
The best place to soak in some of that history is in and around the capital of Bridgetown. The historic centre and its Garrison are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the exceptionally preserved British colonial architecture. Prime examples include the George Washington House, where the first American president spent his vacation, the Barbados Museum & Historical Society building, and the Parliament Buildings.
Other top historical attractions in Barbados you should visit: the Nidhe Israel Synagogue (one of the first in the Americas!), the 17th-century St. Nicholas Abbey and St. James Parish Church.
3. Treat yourself: Caribbean cuisine & rum
Barbados is one of the best destinations for world-class Caribbean food, blending African, West Indian and European flavours.
Sample freshly caught seafood and fish, from cod and red snapper to shrimp, lobster and crabs to the iconic flying fish (it’s the national symbol of the country!). Head to the legendary Oistin’s Friday Night Fish Fry to try all types of local favourites! For a tropical twist, lighten up your plate with servings of exotic fruit: breadfruits, papaya, cassava, mangoes or pawpaws.
Top it off with a nightcap! After all, this is the birthplace of rum! Sip on the oldest rum in the world at Mount Gay Distillery, founded in 1703.
4. Set out to sea: Beaches & water thrills
This list wouldn’t be complete without the reason why you plan a trip to Barbados: the beach! The island nation teems with a variety of shores to sizzle on, from quiet and secluded to resort-lined and lively.
Near Bridgetown, you’ll find beach options perfect for families or friends wanting to stay close to the hustle and bustle. We’re thinking Rockley, Dover, Mullins, or Pebbles beaches—all ideal spots for swimming and all kinds of water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, and more. For more secluded shores, try Bathsheba, Crane Beach, or Gibbes Beach!
For diving enthusiasts, Carlisle Bay Marine Park is a must-see! It hides 6 shipwrecks now home to a diversity of fascinating marine life. Another popular diving destination is the wreckage of the SS Stavronikita, now part of the Folkestone Underwater Park.
5. Meet the people: Culture & nightlife
The most famous Bajan might be Rihanna, but you’re bound to remember more than one friendly face after your visit. The island is renowned for its warmth and hospitality.
On our list of essential Bajan experiences: discovering what liming is all about. What’s liming? For people here, it’s unwinding, letting go and having a great time. Experience what it really means for yourself and lime like a local around the nightlife hotspots of St. Lawrence Gap, Harbour Lights, or Second Street in Holetown.
A good night in Barbados always starts with fantastic food and ends with fantastic music! Make sure to catch live music while staying on the island. Popular musical traditions include the Tuk Band, a musical ensemble that plays rhythmic tuk music during holidays or festivals. You’re also bound to hear catchy calypso beats and modern soca jams at one point during your stay!