Visit Harrison’s Caves in Barbados and prepare to be amazed. This is an astounding geological feature – and even more so that it lies in a Caribbean island. The cave system features an underground river, stalactites and stalagmites, all presented during a well-run tour. There’s even an option to be driven through the caves!
Head inland to Hunte’s Gardens in the Barbados rainforest to view a fantastic array of tropical flora. Planted by a famed horticulturalist into a series of lush gardens, Hunte’s is a refreshing break from the coast. Find one of the benches in the gardens and take some time to enjoy nature.
The sunsets are to die for on the west coast of Barbados. The best beaches and most exclusive hotels on the island command uninterrupted views across the deep blue Caribbean sea. Walk barefoot on the white sand as the sun dips beneath the horizon – it’s a view that never fails to inspire.
For something unexpected, visit the Nidhe Israel Synagogue – one of the oldest in the western hemisphere and protected by UNESCO. Originally built in 1654, not long after British colonisation, the Jewish community played an important role in the success of this prominent trading post.
Barbados is one of the top water sports destinations in the Caribbean. Thanks to its spectacular location on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Barbados picks up some consistent trade winds, especially in the south of the island, and some superb surf on the east coast. Try Bathsheba Bay on the east coast for reliable surf – just watch out for the reef – or head down to Silver Sands at Christchurch if you’re chasing the wind, as this is one of the top windsurfing and kite surfing spots in the world.
Snorkelling is an accessible activity off most of the beaches thanks to the reef, but safest on the calmer west coast. However, scuba divers will also enjoy the organised dives, which explore one the dozens of shipwrecks that lie in silent testament to Barbados’ historic trading importance.
A tour of the Mount Gay Rum Estate is a must for all visitors. Founded in 1703, Mount Gay’s history is Barbados’ history. Rum has always played a central role in this trading post, founded on the sugar trade that gave birth to it.
Sailors should check out the Barbados Yacht Club, founded in 1924. They have a full programme, training courses and a well-attended regatta series. The trade winds ensure Barbados remains a global favourite for modern seafarers.
Barbados has a fascinating history that is remarkably well-preserved in the old buildings of Bridgetown and at selected sites across the island. For instance, it is possible to visit the house where George Washington stayed during his only ever visit outside of what would become the US. Mount Vernon gives a unique insight into a young Washington’s life.
The historic area of the Barbados Garrison is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the high concentration of historically significant buildings. Established in 1780, this is simply one of the best places in the entire Caribbean to cultivate an understanding of British Colonial history – and the Barbados Museum is the obvious place to start.
You can’t come to Barbados without visiting a beach – they’re just too inviting to pass up – and fortunately the island is spectacularly well-endowed with them. Visit the west coast for relaxing white sand, cocktails, safe swimming waters and snorkelling. The south coast is great for kite surfing and windsurfing; while the east coast has the surf vibe and rugged beauty of the Atlantic coast. Look hard enough on the north coast and you might just find one of the hidden sandy coves, such as Archer’s Bay.
Even if you’re not a cricket fan, you can’t escape the sport here – and neither should you. The national sport is played everywhere across Barbados and this little Caribbean island has produced a disproportionate number of the world’s top players. Watch a match at Kensington Oval just outside Bridgetown, or visit the adjacent cricket legends museum.