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Top Things to See and Do in Barbados

Picture of Lyndsey Kilifin
Updated: 28 March 2017
Barbados is an absolute gem of an island. Not only is it one the prettiest places in the Caribbean, but it has some of the best water sports, world-class cricket, intriguing historic sites and museums, and of course world-renowned beaches. Barbados has a keen sense of its own history, and tells its story well with some great cultural experiences. In fact, it is quite astonishing just how much there is to see and do on this 167-square mile tropical island.

Marvel at the natural beauty

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!

Stalactites and Stalagmites, Harrison's Cave, Barbados | © Loozrboy/Flickr
Stalactites and stalagmites, Harrison’s Cave, Barbados | © Loozrboy/Flickr

Take a stroll through the rainforest

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.

Bask in the Caribbean sunset

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.

Caribbean Sunset | © StammerA/Pixabay
Caribbean Sunset | © StammerA/Pixabay

Visit the Nidhe Israel Synagogue

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.

Enjoy world-class water sports

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.

Surfer | © Unsplash/Pixabay
Surfer | © Unsplash/Pixabay

Go under water

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.

Scuba Diving | © Ggungpa0/Pixabay
Scuba Diving | © Ggungpa0/Pixabay

Take a tour of Mount Gay Rum Estate

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.

Go sailing

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.

Sailing | © UnSplash/Pixabay
Sailing | © UnSplash/Pixabay

Take a historic tour

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.

Bridgetown, Barbados | © Loozrboy/Flickr
Bridgetown, Barbados | © Loozrboy/Flickr

Wander the Barbados Garrison

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.

Hit the beaches

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.

Barbados Beach | © PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay
Barbados Beach | © PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

Watch cricket

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.