When most people think of Barbados, they think of classic Caribbean weather, a glass of rum punch, and days spent lounging on the beach. But there’s plenty more to do around the island than just enjoying the coast and resorts, with attractions offering everything from a window into Barbados’ history to fun opportunities to explore its scenery and meet the wildlife that also live here.
No matter how long you’re staying on the island, having an itinerary with a variety of things to see and do is a key part of making the most out of your holiday. In this article, we draw on our experience and insight to share nine of the top things to do in Barbados to make your trip one to remember.
Things to Do in Barbados for Wildlife and Scenery
Visit Huntes Gardens
Huntes Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in Barbados, located in St. Joseph on the east side of the island. The area was once a sinkhole, but famous horticulturist Anthony Hunte has transformed it over the years into one of the most impressive gardens on the island, home to an incredible array of plants and flowers.
If you want to get a closer look at some of the native greenery in Barbados, Huntes Garden is the best place to visit. It’s a little out of the way of the busier parts of the island, which means the atmosphere is wonderfully peaceful. If you’re looking for somewhere to spend a mindful hour or so, this is the place.
Wander along the winding paths, stop to admire the colourful tropical flowers, and visit Anthony Hunte’s house for a drink and a bite to eat. You might get the chance to meet the inspirational horticulturalist himself, or can just find a shady bench amongst the palm trees and relax surrounded by beautiful scenery.
Go on an Island Safari
There’s plenty of lovely scenery around the largest towns and holiday resorts in Barbados, but if you want to truly appreciate the island’s scenery and get the best chance of spotting its wildlife, you need to go off the beaten path. Instead of trying to navigate the dirt roads of Barbados yourself, the answer is to take part in an island safari.
An island safari isn’t much different to what might come to mind when you think of a classic safari holiday; you travel in a 4×4, you’re accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, and you get the chance to see some of the hidden beauty of Barbados and its native wildlife. Enjoy the opportunity to visit some of the iconic spots on the island for photo opportunities, but also experience the excitement and adventure of travelling offroad and discovering lesser-known parts of Barbados.
Whether you’re travelling with friends or with your family, an island safari is one of the best fun things to do in Barbados. It’s also a good way to see more of the island if you’re visiting without a car but still want to venture further than the town or resort you’re staying in.
Give Snorkelling a Go
The scenery and greenery on Barbados are certainly beautiful, but there’s a whole other world of natural beauty to discover if you look below the surface of the water surrounding the island. One of the top things to do in Barbados is to go snorkelling or even scuba diving and enjoy spotting the creatures and aquatic vegetation that live around the coast.
Most of the best places to go snorkelling in Barbados are found on the south and west coasts of the island, and most spots are relatively shallow which means they’re great for families whose children also want to give the activity a go. Some of the most popular spots are Folkestone Marine Park near Holetown, Paynes Bay near St James, and Carlisle Bay which has a fantastic artificial reef caused by shipwrecks.
If you’ve snorkelled before then you can just head out to a spot on the coast yourself, but there are plenty of dive schools and watersports companies who will be able to loan you snorkelling equipment and share recommendations of where to swim. Many companies offer snorkelling boat trips as well which give guests the chance to explore multiple underwater areas, giving you a proper experience of Barbados’ underwater world.
Things to Do in Barbados for Unforgettable Experiences
Dine at Animal Flower Cave
Right at the northern tip of the island is a natural wonder that is one of the most beautiful places you can visit. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Barbados, Animal Flower Cave is definitely one of them. It’s the only accessible sea cave on the whole of the island and features several openings that look out to sea and a couple of small pools that are deep enough for visitors to swim in.
Animal Flower Cave gets its name from the yellow sea anemones that live in the pools and is also known for the rock formations and colours of the walls which have been tinged green and orange due to metal oxidation in the stone. If you’re visiting St Lucy where the cave is located, it’s definitely worth making the trip to the cave and venturing down the stairs to admire the views both inside and outside.
The restaurant at Animal Flower Cave is a great place to stop for lunch or a snack when you visit, offering lovely views of the coast and the impressive cliffs. On sunny days you can sit out on the terrace and watch the waves, and between February and April, you might even be lucky enough to spot whales out in the sea.
Spend a Day at the Races
This thing to do in Barbados isn’t an option all year round, but still deserves a place on this list. Horse racing is a great event on the island that attracts a big crowd and provides an occasion to get dressed up, so if an event coincides with your visit, it’s a great activity to add to your itinerary.
The Sandy Lane Gold Cup is the biggest race of the year and one of the major sporting events that takes place on the whole island. Held at the Garrison Savannah near Bridgetown, international jockeys attend the event, which is usually held on the first Saturday in March, providing exceptional racing and entertainment.
Take a Catamaran Trip
The coast around Barbados offers some of the most beautiful scenery on the whole island, and one of the best ways to admire this is on a boat trip. Thanks to its two hulls, a catamaran offers an incredibly smooth sailing experience, so we recommend a cruise on one of these vessels if you’re looking to take to the water around Barbados.
Whether you opt for a private catamaran trip or hop on board a group cruise, you’ll enjoy a calm journey around the coast. Some cruises are designed for swimming or diving excursions which is great if you want to spend an active day out on the water, whilst others might offer a luxurious dining experience or take you out in the evening so that you can watch the sun set.
There are plenty of catamaran cruising companies offering tours and private hire around Barbados, so no matter where you’re staying, it won’t be hard to find a sailing trip that is perfect for you and your holiday companions.
Things to Do in Barbados for History and Culture
Explore Harrisons Cave
One of the best-loved tourist attractions in Barbados is Harrisons Cave, which is located in the centre of the island and has been open since 1981. The huge, crystalised limestone cave can be explored via the natural passages that were formed hundreds of years ago, with a system of routes that is at least 2.3km long!
Exploring Harrison’s Cave is one of the best things to do in Barbados with kids, as there’s also an eco-adventure park near the cave with ziplining and a nature walk alongside some of the island’s prettiest birds and plants. The cave can be explored on a tram tour as a guide explains the history and geological features of the various caves, passages and pools, with opportunities to stop and walk around some of the most impressive natural features.
You should still visit Harrison’s Cave if you’re travelling without children, as it’s a spectacular natural attraction and one of the more unique things to do in Barbados. On a grown-ups-only trip, you can also enjoy a local rum tasting at the cave, which comes from the world’s oldest commercial rum distillery at Mount Gay.
Discover St Nicholas Abbey
If you want to dive into the history and culture of the island, but also wouldn’t mind a chance to taste the island’s famous rum, a trip to St Nicholas Abbey is one of the top things to do in Barbados. This old plantation and manor house are found in St Peter and showcase plenty of stories from the island’s past, as well as some impressive architecture.
Plantations were a massive part of trade in Barbados and also the home of plenty of slaves who were forced to work, so the history of this attraction is sad. However, it has now been transformed into a museum that acknowledges the problems of the past and explores the growth of the plantation from 1658, and also has a small heritage railway and rum distillery on site.
St Nicholas Abbey is a lovely place to visit on the many hot and sunny days in Barbados, as there’s a beautiful garden and lush woodland on site that you can explore after taking part in a tour around the house. You can then enjoy a rum tasting from the St. Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery and learn about the process that goes into making this popular drink.
Eat Caribbean Street Food
One of the best ways to properly appreciate the culture in Barbados is to sample the local cuisine. Caribbean street food is bursting with colour and flavour and draws on the history of the people who have lived on the island for centuries, so is a great way to immerse yourself more in local culture.
Some of the best dishes to try whilst you’re in Barbados include flying fish, which is a staple and the national dish of the island, plantains, Bajan fish cakes and roti. For something sweet, try a slice of black cake, and wash it all down with a classic rum punch.
Sampling street food, or dining at an authentic restaurant, is one of the best things to do in Barbados at night. Some of the best places on the island to find the most exciting dishes and flavours include Bridgetown, Oistins, Holetown and St James.
We’ve only really scratched the surface when it comes to things to do in Barbados with this list; the island is teeming with gorgeous scenery, lively little towns and historic sites and buildings. Whether you’re looking to uncover an authentic side to the island, want to sample as many Caribbean flavours as possible, or are looking for ways to keep the kids entertained, Barbados has a lot to offer every kind of traveller.
Planning a trip to Barbados? The Villa Collection offers an exclusive range of luxury villas and holiday accommodation around the island that offers you the perfect base to go out and explore the different things to do. Browse our collection of Barbados villas or get in touch to speak to our team about what you’re looking for.
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