Five Things to do in Barbados

 the coast at bathsheba

the coast at bathsheba

Introduction

Barbados, in the Windward Islands of the SE Caribbean, is a popular holiday destination with people from the US and Europe, particularly the UK. Many people come for a couple of weeks and see little outside of their resort and the strip of beach in front of it.

And while it does have great beaches there is a lot more to Barbados including a fascinating history, great botanical gardens, cricket and music loving locals, and good food and drink.

Here are a couple of useful websites: Visit Barbados and Barbados Travel Guide.

We had a few days there as part of our island hopping through the Caribbean on a budget. Here are a few suggestions of things to do.

1. Visit Lots of Beaches and do Some Snorkelling

 OISTINS BEACH, SOUTH BARBADOS

OISTINS BEACH, SOUTH BARBADOS

Don't restrict yourself to the beach where you're staying, Barbados has many beautiful white sand beaches. The west and south coasts are more protected than the east so these beaches are better if you want calm water for snorkelling.

Holetown Beach, Sandy Beach and Paynes Bay Beach are all good for snorkelling. The beaches adjacent to the capital, Bridgetown, are also good.

 beach at speightstown

beach at speightstown

2. Go to Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday or Saturday Night

 fish restaurants in oistins

fish restaurants in oistins

The township of Oistins, a short drive south of Bridgetown, is renowned for it's Friday and Saturday night fish fries. A strip of small wooden restaurants line the main street and the beach. There are more restaurants along an internal courtyard between the street and beach, so there are lots to choose from. And with so much competition the standard is high.

We went on a Friday night and had grilled and fried flying fish, fish cakes, salad and Banks beers – yum.

It goes from 6.00 pm to 10.30 pm with live and DJ music providing a great, Caribbean backdrop.

3. Spend Some Time Wandering Around Bridgetown

 river walkway, bridgetown

river walkway, bridgetown

Bridgetown is easily explored in a day. A good starting point is the walkway along the river.

 swan street

swan street

The pedestrian street of Swan Street is also a lively stroll.

 inside st michael's cathedral

inside st michael's cathedral

Other sights worth seeing include St Michael's Cathedral which dates back to 1665, the Nidhe Israel Museum and Synagogue, which gives a well presented history of the Barbados Jewish community, and the Garrison Savannah historic district to the south of the city.

 jewish cemetery, Barbados synagogue and museum

jewish cemetery, Barbados synagogue and museum

The beach area close to town is also clean and worth a dip.

 THE BEACH AT BRIDGETOWN

THE BEACH AT BRIDGETOWN

4. Hire a Car for the Day and Explore the North of the Island

A great way to get to know a place is to have your own wheels and chart your own course. We're travelling on a budget so hiring a car is a luxury, but a day here and there is a wonderful indulgence.

 it doesn't have to be a big hire car

it doesn't have to be a big hire car

In Barbados we hired a car for a day to explore the north and east of the island as we'd been staying in the south and the west.

 speightstown

speightstown

We drove from Holetown on the west coast north to Speightstown, a less touristically developed coastal settlement.

 st Nicholas abbey

st Nicholas abbey

We then headed inland to St Nicholas Abbey. This was a fascinating place. It is a grand old plantation house, one of Barbados's oldest. The house is in excellent condition, with rooms decorated in the style of the time.

 inside St Nicholas abbey

inside St Nicholas abbey

It also houses a rum distillery and a free rum punch and rum tasting is included in the entry price ($US20/$BD40). There is also a fascinating short film which describes how the sugar cane plantation operated back in the 1930s using original footage taken at the time.

 the distillery, st Nicholas abbey

the distillery, st Nicholas abbey

From St Nicholas Abbey it was a short drive to Cherry Tree Hill for expansive views of the East Coast.

 east coast of barbados from cherry tree hill

east coast of barbados from cherry tree hill

We then headed down to Bathsheba for a close up of the wild Atlantic east coast. Bathsheba's coast is made all the more dramatic by large boulders that are strewn along the shoreline.

 mushroom rock, bathsheba

mushroom rock, bathsheba

We then made our way to Welchman Hall Gully. This is a really impressive botanical garden that occupies a long gully.

 welchman hall gully

welchman hall gully

It includes remnants of Barbados's original rainforest.

There's also a resident population of Barbadan green monkeys.

 monkey feeding platform

monkey feeding platform

5. Have a Rum Tasting

This IS the Caribbean and RUM is the drink.

 tasting room at st Nicholas abbey

tasting room at st Nicholas abbey

As well as the very mellow 12 year old St Nicholas Rum we tried Barbados has a number of other rums, with Mount Gay being the most well known. If you're really keen you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Factory which is just to the north of Bridgetown.

 mojito time

mojito time

Whether it is the locally popular rum punch, or a mojito, or just a rum and coke on the rocks, it's not a bad thing to sip while you watch the sun go down over whatever beach you're sitting on.

 harbour, bridgetown

harbour, bridgetown

Conclusion – Some Notes on Costs

Throughout our travels around the Caribbean we aim to live within a set budget. We've given ourselves a target of $AUS100/$US70 per night for accommodation. If we go over budget we reduce our other costs (ie food and activities) to compensate.

Barbados is considered fairly expensive for accommodation, but we found self catering apartments in the south (near Silver Sands) and on the uber pricey west coast (at Holetown) for around $AUS110 – 120 per night. By doing most of our own meals we also saved a fair bit.

 self catering apartment - south coast

self catering apartment - south coast

We visited in May, which is low season and a good time to get accommodation bargains.

 self catering apartment - West Coast

self catering apartment - West Coast

Another tip is that we hired the car the day before we were due to fly out. The hire car was delivered to our hotel one morning and we dropped it at the airport 24 hours later, saving ourselves an expensive taxi fare to the airport. The car cost $US100 for the day. This included full comprehensive insurance, unlimited mileage, a Barbadan driving permit, one way fee ($US5) and half a tank of petrol (to be returned empty, and it turned out to be enough for our northern trip and the drive to the airport). The airport taxi would have cost us $US40.

 
 welchman hall gully botanical gardens

welchman hall gully botanical gardens

Ken