If your idea of ‘getting away from it all’ involves the beach and ocean, then Barbados has more than its fair share of both. Throw in some lush vegetation and geological features, a hefty dose of gastronomic indulgence and the entertainment of its annual Crop Over festival, and you’ve got the makings of a paradisical Caribbean island escape. Here are some things to do in Barbados…


Search for Secret Beaches & Swim with Turtles

Barbados is the place for beaches. With more than 80 powder-soft sandy strips bordering the turquoise ocean, there’s no shortage of places to lay down your beach towel. If silence is your preferred soundtrack for a day of sunbathing, it’s more than possible to find your own slice of paradise away from the tourist crowds. While there are no private beaches in Barbados (every single one is open to the public), you’ll be sure to seek out your own beachy oasis along the Caribbean coast at Mullins, Brandon, Carlisle Bay and Browne’s beaches. Water-sports lovers should head for the rugged Atlantic coast, where the rolling surf of Bathsheba, Cattlewash and Action beaches are ideal for surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding.

If you’re able to peel yourself off the sand for a few hours, Barbados’ underwater world is equally inviting. Plenty of turtles inhabit the azure waves and make adorable snorkelling buddies, while sailing trips are another great way to explore Barbados’ coastline and spot the island’s resident sea life.

Visit Animal Flower Cave

Situated at the northern tip of the island, Animal Flower Cave is a large waterside cave in the cliff face near where the Caribbean and Atlantic meet. It’s accessible via a staircase carved into a blowhole. Inside you’ll find a pool for paddling in. This extraordinary geological feature is worth visiting to experience the more rugged eastern coast of Barbados and there’s also a restaurant here, with tables located along the cliff edge – if you’re feeling brave.

Eat Like a Local

A trip to Barbados wouldn’t be complete without a full immersion into the local cuisine. The flavours here are a fusion of African, Portuguese, Indian, Irish, Creole, Indigenous and British influences, with fresh fish as the centrepiece of many dishes. Oistins Fish Fry is loved by visitors and residents alike, and the perfect place for eating like a local. Unsurprisingly, fish is the main feature here. Enjoy your food while watching regulars playing dominoes and dancing to Caribbean beats. Cuz’s Fish Shack is another favourite, renowned for its cutters (Bajan sandwiches, filled with crispy fish, fried eggs, cheese and salad). Rum is one thing that Bajans take very seriously. Indulge in a rum tasting at Mount Gay distillery – the oldest commercial rum distillery in the world – to sample Barbados’ signature nectar or visit during the island’s annual Food and Rum festival in October to celebrate the best of Bajan dishes and drinks.

Explore the Rainforests & Hike the Coastline

It’s Barbados’ beaches that tend to make the headlines but look further into the island’s interior and you’ll find tangled rainforest and lush vegetation, ripe for exploring[NP1] . Just 40 minutes north of the capital city, Bridgetown, there are numerous guided hiking trails through the greenery and if it’s vista you’re after, you can also hike along the coastal cliffs from Cove Bay to Animal Flower Cave.

Visit St. Nicholas’ Abbey

As previously mentioned, rum is a serious matter in Barbados. Inextricably linked to the island’s past (and present), the spirit’s production dates back as far to 1703. St. Nicholas’ Abbey is one of the oldest former plantation houses in the Caribbean and the grounds still contain a traditional rum distillery, where you can purchase bottles of the well-loved tipple. The house now functions as a museum of colonial life, so you can also learn more about the island’s past during your visit.

Discover Harrison’s Cave

A one-and-a-half-mile-long network of coral caverns, Harrison’s Cave is a geologist’s dream. Hop aboard the electric tram to tour the caves, which lie 160ft beneath the ground, and see soaring stalagmites, curtains of jagged stalactites and several freshwater streams and waterfalls during the excursion.

Celebrate Crop Over

Crop Over began as a colonial-era festival to mark the end of the sugarcane harvest and has since evolved into the highlight of Barbados’ social calendar. The festivities spill over many weeks during late summer, with events ranging from rum-drenched day parties and raucous evening celebrations to a children’s parade and traditional handicraft markets. It culminates on Kadooment Day, with a road march through the streets of Bridgetown that sees revellers dressed in bejewelled and feathered costumes. Bring your dancing shoes and grab a cutter to boost energy levels before joining the electric and tuneful celebrations.

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