Barbados isn’t only the king of postcard-perfect beaches. As well as powdery white sands and brilliant blue waters, it’s got a bustling UNESCO-listed capital, pretty botanical gardens and a wild surf coast under its belt. Unsure which bits to tick off? No dramas. We’ve done the sifting and sorting to bring you seven top things to do in Barbados. Read on for the lowdown…
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1. Sink your toes into soft sands
If ‘living your best life’ means kicking back on sun-bleached sands with a rum in hand – whose isn’t? – then Barbados is the one for you. Thanks to its unspoilt beaches, which are as diverse as its landscapes, it puts a luxury spin on the classic beach break. Make for the south coast and its top-notch snorkelling scene or check out the wind-blown east coast – it’s a surfer’s dream. Top spots across the island include Crane Beach – it isn’t named ‘one of the top 10 beaches in the world’ for nothing – Holetown Beach, with its snack-ready beach bars and Paradise Beach, a hidden gem on the west coast.
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2. Discover the island’s plantation history
Dip into Barbados’s rich history on a visit to St Nicholas Abbey in Saint Peter – one of the oldest plantation houses in the Caribbean. Here, you can take a tour through the grounds and rooms of this impressive Jacobean mansion and explore the steam mill and rum distillery. Sunbury Plantation House is also well worth a visit. It looks just as it did in the 17th century – we’re talking antique-filled rooms and a collection of old horse-drawn carriages.
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3. Find tropical flora and fauna
Got a green thumb? You’ll love the Andromeda Botanical Gardens and Hunte’s Gardens in St Joseph. Stroll along the grass paths here, framed by vibrantly-coloured flowers. And if you want to make a day of it, you can visit the Welchman Hall Gully afterwards, too. This forest cave flaunts more than two thousand exotic plant species. Then, finish off your day at Harrison’s Cave with its thousand-year-old stalagmites.
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4. Go on an underwater adventure
Barbados is packed to the rafters with coral reefs and shipwrecks, making it perfect for underwater adventures. Where are the best places to go, though? For scuba diving, pick Carlisle Bay – it’s got the most shipwrecks – or, for snorkelling, Little Bay in St Lawrence Gap is teeming with tropical fish, sea horses and manta rays. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles, too. For more family-friendly days out, you can hop on a glass-bottom boat tour and explore untouched corners of the island.
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5. Get cultured in the capital
Bridgetown, Barbados’s bustling capital doesn’t disappoint when it comes to Insta-worthy sights. Stroll through the UNESCO-listed downtown and you’ll find the city’s original 17th-century buildings. Watch sailboats bobbing in the port and stop for a bite to eat in one of the
waterfront cafes, overlooking the city’s Parliament Square. Coucou – a kind of savoury porridge – and flying fish are top of the menu, here. Wash them both down with a Bajan lemonade or a freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice. For shopping, Broad Street is dotted with duty-free shops, while Busby Alley is your go-to for souvenirs.
Oistins is also a great place to try fresh fish.
6. Sip rum at the Mount Gay Rum distillery
Barbados and rum go together like its palm trees and its beaches. Get clued up about the oldest in the world at the Mount Gay Rum distillery in St Lawrence. Made from sugar cane and coral-filtered water, it’s a Caribbean gem. Take part in cocktail mixing sessions here and eat like a local at the traditional Bajan restaurant. We’re talking fresh flying fish and conkies – a sweet mixture of coconut, sweet potato and pumpkin, wrapped in banana leaves.
7. Tee off at a world-class golf course
With eight championship golf courses to choose from, golfers are spoilt for choice in Barbados. Tee off at the 36-par course at Sandy Lane – it’s where Tiger Woods tied the knot. Or, if you like a challenge, pick Apes Hill Club – the first 11 holes are set on slightly hilly terrain. You’ll get panoramic views of banana plantations and polo paddocks here, too.
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