The Top Things to Do in Barbados

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We’ll readily admit that there’s a major temptation when you reach the paradise island of Barbados to simply lay down your towel, find a rum-rich cocktail and just go about the ancient art of relaxing in the sun. And while we don’t begrudge anyone who does follow that tact (it’s a pretty amazing way to spend a sunny day), Barbados offers a huge selection of other things to see, do and experience.

This is an island nation with a long and colourful history, a truly unique cultural blend and an amazing culinary offering – not to mention immense beauty when you start to look inland. It’s possible to spend days on end in Barbados exploring all the island has to offer without ever placing a toe into the calm, blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.

So, if you’ve got a stop at Barbados planned for an upcoming cruise around the Caribbean islands, we’ve put together a list of the top things to do during a stop on the beautiful island.

The Mount Gay Rum Tour

The oldest existing brand of rum in the world, Mount Gay can trace its history back to 1703, and still remains as popular today in its home of Barbados and all around the world. Rum has been a major part of Barbadian culture for more than 300 years, so the Mount Gay Rum Tour provides much more than just a chance to sample the wares.

You’ll enjoy a tour through the history of Mount Gay rum, from its roots inspired by the sailors who visited Barbados to its modern day position as one of the world’s premier spirits. There’s also the chance to discover just how the Mount Gay distillery produces the world-famous rum which continues to wow generation after generation.

After a day of learning, it’s time to kick back and relax in the Mount Gay Verandah restaurant, where you’ll be treated to exquisite Bajan cuisine whilst looking out over the sea. And there’s always the opportunity to pick up a liquid souvenir in the gift shop.

andromeda botanical gardens barbados

Visit the Andromeda Botanic Gardens

There’s nowhere quite like the Andromeda Botanic Gardens to enjoy the lush plant life and vibrant wildlife of Barbados. A series of winding pathways take you in between unique trees not found anywhere else in the Caribbean, colourful flowers and other horticultural delights. Above, in the trees, birds belt out beautiful songs while small primates swing from branch to branch – creating a truly wild and unique experience.

The Andromeda Botanic Gardens have been going strong for over 60 years, and the six-acre site is now home to one of the Caribbean’s most comprehensive collections of exotic flowers. Orchids, palms, ferns, heliconia, hibiscus, bougainvillea, begonias and cacti are amongst the most eye-catching species on show.

Peace and tranquillity are spread through the entire park by a rolling stream which connects slumbering pools and enchanting waterfalls. A wonderful way to spend a couple of hours in beautiful Barbados.

Explore Harrison’s Cave

Recognised by many as Barbados’ number one attraction, Harrison’s Cave has been wowing crowds since it was opened to the public 35 years ago. A huge, beautiful limestone cave complete with stalactites and stalagmites, Harrison’s Cave can be explored by a small tram for just a few hours a day.

The tram will take you close enough to get up close and personal with stalactite and stalagmite formations. You’ll even get the chance to step off the tram and explore on foot at certain points of the journey. Perhaps the highlight of the Harrison’s Cave tour is The Great Hall, an affectionately-named cavern which is more than 50ft high.

First mentioned in historical documentation in 1795, the cave was completely forgotten for close to 200 years, before being rediscovered in the early 1970s. Today, it continues to provide an insight into the world underneath Barbados’ crust.

st nicholas abbey barbados

Head to St Nicholas Abbey

An old sugarcane plantation house, St Nicholas Abbey is a 17th-century Jacobean mansion in Saint Peter, Barbados. The house offers an insight into the colonial ruling of Barbados, and the extreme wealth which landowners came into when they settled on the island.

Today, the mansion is still the centrepiece of a large operating sugarcane plantation – with the plants processed into sugar in a factory eight miles away. The house remains wonderfully well preserved, giving guests the chance to explore just one of three Jacobean houses in the western hemisphere – drawing on Tudor and Georgian styles.

Listed as one of the seven wonders of Barbados, St Nicholas Abbey is now open to tour guests wishing to explore the house and the extensive gardens and orchards. There’s also a rum distillery to nosey around, where they produce the wonderful St. Nicholas Abbey Rum.

Hang Ten at Surfing School

For the more adventurous of you, Barbados is a great place to learn how to ride the waves. With calm, clean waters disturbed by just small waves, beginners can get their first taste of the surfboard in one of the island’s many surf schools. Almost every beach on the island is home to at least one surf school, so you’ll have plenty of choice of tutor.

Of all the surf schools on the island, we’d have to recommend Boosy’s. Headed up by Christian, who has 25 years’ surf experience and 10 years’ teaching experience, Boosy’s offers a no-pressure approach to surfing, helping everyone take to the seas in their own time – perfect if you’re not the most coordinated!

scuba diving caribbean

Scuba to the Sea’s Depths

Or if you’d rather plunge below sea level instead of trying desperately to balance on top of it, a scuba experience may be for you. The sea floor around Barbados is rich with sealife, coral reefs and even a few ancient shipwrecks. Whether you’re an experienced diver planning on searching for old pirate gold in the sunken wrecks or a relative novice happy to follow slow-moving schools of fish, there’s ample opportunity to explore the riches of Barbados’ underwater world.

Carlisle Marine Bay is, perhaps, the best place for those wanting to explore underwater wrecks. At the bottom of the sea sits Berwyn (a WWI tugboat) alongside a selection of newer boats which were intentionally sunk for the purpose of scuba experiences.

For those looking for fish and marine life, Maycocks Bay should be your first port of call, with a huge selection of different species swimming in and out of coral and barrel sponge formations.

Enjoy the Barbados Concorde Experience

Although visiting an aeronautical museum may not seem the most quintessentially Caribbean experience, the Barbados Concorde Experience is a fun and interesting day out. The fascination surrounding these amazing supersonic aircraft remains to this day, and one of the 20 Concorde aircraft which were completed sits in the Grantley Adams International Airport.

British Airways Concorde G-BOAE or Alpha Echo thrilled passengers and onlookers for years until Concorde’s retirement in 2003, but visitors to the experience can get close and admire the aircraft in all its glory. There’s even a chance to walk the red carpet and take a seat inside.

And after fitting all these great things into a trip to Barbados, the beaches are pretty amazing too!

If you’d like to head out on a fantastic cruise to Barbados, why not check out Cruise1st UK’s incredible selection of Caribbean cruise deals. Alternatively, give our team a call on 0808 231 3669 and we’ll find the perfect trip for you!

Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons, Flickr, Fotolia. Credits: Berit WatkinPostdlfbixentro

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Claire Wilde

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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