Barbados Travel Guide

Barbados is an island located in the West Indies in Lesser Antilles.  A protectorate of the British Commonwealth, it has gradually risen from its colonial past where widespread slave trade once viciously thrived.  With tourism on the upswing, it has now become one of the most progressive islands in the Caribbean islands.  Along the shoreline, you can relax and sprawl over pristine white sand beaches, go snorkeling into the turquoise-blue water off the Caribbean Sea, or windsurf and ride the breeze. From there, the mystique of Barbados would begin. Deeper into the sea are amazing sea life and coral reefs. Farther into Central Barbados are magnificent landscapes of a sprawling limestone terrain, tropical botanic gardens, forested gullies, traditional villages, and numerous plantation homes reflecting the island’s opulent and interesting past.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Barbados is from December to May when precipitation and humidity are less bothersome.  Barbados enjoys sunny days most of the year and rarely does a hurricane affect the place.


Climate

As in most vacation destinations in the Caribbean, Barbados enjoys relatively warm sunny days with breezy air streams at nights.  The months from June to October herald the hurricane season in the Caribbean, where tropical cloudbursts occasionally befall and immediately followed by sunny blue skies.  Fortunately though, hurricanes normally steer clear off Barbados, instead they ascend the African coast and head out to the Caribbean without so much ballyhoo.

Things to Do

Much more than just the sun, sea, and, sand usually associated with a Caribbean island, Barbados has an incredible range of holiday activities for almost every interest and taste. Every square inch of it is packed with things to do that will keep you occupied all throughout your stay there!

1) Surf, surf, and surf!

Ride the wild azure waves and race where they bubble like bursting foam.

2) Swim and dive

After skimming the waves, swim and dive. Hunt for pirates’ treasures and ruins.

3) Study culture

Visit plantation homes and museums.

4) Turn green with the botanic gardens

Barbados has acres of wooded land which have remained untouched even by the earliest settlers. These areas are home to tropical and endemic plant species.

5) Try the local rum and food

Visit the villages, ask about the local delicacies, taste their food and sip their wine. What better way to remember a culture than by allowing it to leave its indelible mark on your taste buds?  

Top Attractions

You never get to fully internalize the beauty of Barbados if you don't take a peek at its attractions, especially its historic sites and properties that most reflect its rich cultural heritage. The following places are Barbados' top attractions, which well deserve a little more of your time and effort.

1) Sunbury Plantation House

The elegantly restored Sunbury Plantation House, which was constructed in the mid-17th century, has 2 feet-thick walls made of intricate coralloid blocks and ballast stones.  Much of its interior furnishings of antiques, made mostly from Barbadian mahogany, enhance its magical plantation-era setting. Wander around the corner just behind the house where centuries-old horse-drawn carriages are displayed.  Then grab a lunch or tea at the Courtyard restaurant or better yet, if time is on your side, have a feast at Sunbury’s over a five-course dinner dished up on a finely well-preserved 200-year-old mahogany. Admission fee is USD7.50 while children are admitted at USD3.75.

Address: St. Philip

2) Flower Forest, Andromeda Botanical Gardens

What about walking through magical promenades of 53 acres of trees and flowers? The flower forest is an Eden of exotic blooms, trees, shrubs and foliage. It is a serene place with only the sound of the forest wind and resident birds. A pair of mongoose and animals may scamper away as you walk through the weaving pathway. Entrance fee is USD12.50.

Address: St. Thomas

3) Barbados Wildlife Reserve 

Barbados Wildlife Reserve is one of nature’s zoological gardens where exotic creatures - fierce iguanas, tiny agoutis, mischievous monkeys and graceful brocket deer – can be spotted wandering about freely.  Aside from these, an aviary of parrots, macaws, peacocks and pelicans are a wonder to behold.  For the green thumb, a wondrous orchid display is a must-see. Admission fee is USD11.50 and are admitted children at USD5.75.

Address: St. Peter

4) Barbados Museum 

For good reason, Barbados Museum is a popular destination.  What used to be a military prison in the 19th century, the museum now exhibits its military history and all facets of Barbados’ recorded past – from the colonial period, the onset of slavery, and to the resounding liberation.  Also included are the children’s and African culture galleries. Admission fee is USD5.75. Children are admitted at half the price.

Address: St. Anne’s Garrison, St. Michael

5) Coastal Sightseeing

Barbados flaunts its crystalline coastline, and that’s no surprise for the gem of the Caribbean. The people of Barbados claim that it will take years to see all the beautiful things in Barbados. Join a coastal sightseeing tour to explore all the crannies along the coastline. The tour takes off at the South Coast, in Bridgetown and will travel past several towns and beaches through amazing sceneries. The tour costs USD68 and includes lunch, hotel pickup and drop-off.

Address: Bridgetown

6) Barbados Beach Day with Boat Trip and Shipwreck Snorkel Adventure

Spend a day swimming, observing turtles and snorkeling on Caribbean’s most azure-blue waters. If you join a tour, you will be guided to the top spots for snorkeling and a boat trip near a shipwreck. You will be picked up from your hotel and enjoy the crystal waters and white sand beach of Carlisle Bay. There are restaurants for a sumptuous lunch before the tour brings you to a sailing and snorkeling adventure to the wreck. Swim with turtles and tropical fish. Have a complimentary drink before the operator brings you back to your hotel. The tour costs USD60 and includes snorkeling equipment.

Address: Carlisle Bay

7) Harrison’s Cave

Go spelunking in Barbados. Explore its unspoiled caves and underground streams and waterfalls. Marvel at nature’s sculptured stalactites and stalagmites. A guided tour will cost you around USD115 including lunch, hotel pickup and drop-off, and entrance fees. Quite expensive, but it is the best and safest option for tourists who are not familiar with routes and trails beneath Barbados’ landscapes. Aside from the cave exploration, the tour will include a scenic drive through wooded paths, tropical blooms and orchid gardens, a stop on east coast beaches, and the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.

Address: Harrison’s Cave

8) Atlantis Submarine Tour

Take a submarine tour and experience Barbados’ spectacular marine life and coral reefs. You will be picked up from your hotel and brought to the Shallow Draught for a short browse and snacks. You will then cruise aboard Ocean Quest through Barbados’ scenic coastline to the Atlantis Submarine. There will be a short information-giving until you arrive at the site where you will see the submarine emerging from the water. You will be transferred to the submarine and the dive 55 feet underwater will allow you to enjoy the abundance of colorful dancing fish, corals and sponges and vivid marine display through wide glass windows. The history and explanation of the remarkable sea life will be narrated by the copilot. While the information and the overwhelming views literally sink into you, the submarine sinks farther down 150 feet to allow you to see the remains of a shipwreck. In the past, these were for-scuba-divers-only delights. Now, you have a chance to take the spectacular tour to the deep at only USD99 with a complimentary drink.

Address: Shallow Draught, Bridgetown (Departure point)

9) Tyrol Cot Heritage Village

Listed as a National Trust Site, this traditional Bajan village showcases the portable Barbadian chattel houses that date as far back as to the slavery era. The location of the heritage village used to be the home of the first Barbadian premier, Sir Grantley Adams. Today, it is also the site where local artists and blacksmiths work on their craft and sell their finished products. There is a quaint restaurant if you need refreshment. The place used to be stables. Entry to the village costs USD5.75 for adult visitors. Children pay half the fee.

Address: Highway 2, Michael

10) Welchman Hall Gully

Go to the Cheapside Station in Bridgetown and take the Sturdges minibus to the Welchman Hall Gully for walk to a thickly forested ravine. The gully represents Barbados’ last untouched forest and supports around 200 tropical botanic species. Admission to the gully costs USD5.75 for adult visitors while children get 50% discount.

Address: Highway 2, St. Thomas

Where to Eat

If you are staying in one of the villas in the west coast, the mainstay cook can prepare a feast of the island specialties. You can also cook up your own food as most lodgings provide for kitchens and grilling facilities. There’s no way you shouldn’t enjoy the local food and explore the restaurants, too. The island has abundant options for eating places which offer a variety of local, seafood and continental cuisines. Meals during the day take the more casual or informal setting. Restaurants apply a formal dress code at night though, so dress accordingly.  Reservations are highly recommended especially for dinner.

1) The Cliff

Above is a picture of the restaurant and also a picture of a sample menu item you can find This is an upscale restaurant serving Asian, French and Caribbean cuisines. It is a favorite among tourists for the excellent food, attentive service and relaxing ambiance. A three-course meal without drinks costs around USD152. Desserts cost USD22.50.

Address: Derricks, St. James

2) The Tides

You’d feel hunger pangs just reading their menu. The restaurant serves must-try local cuisine, and topping the list are the jumbo shrimp coconut curry, special dishes of lobster, tuna and scallops. The place is delightfully decorated, with luxurious seats and a pleasing art gallery. Price ranges from USD1 to USD100.

Address: Holetown

3) Island Plates

Brighten up your mornings with warm pancakes and fresh fruit juices. The hostesses radiate with island hospitality and the café will welcome you with smells of brownies, nutmegs, and cinnamons. Price ranges from USD1 to USD30.

Address: Bldg. 1 Town Square, Speightstown

4) Café Luna

You’d never tire of dining from this café. It serves delectably cooked international specialties and impeccably prepared seafood. Price ranges from USD25 to USD50.

Address: Enterprise Beach Road

5) Primo Bar and Bistro formerly Pisces

The restaurant stands directly on the water, which makes dinners great and romantic.  While dinners offer breathtaking sea views, diners crowd at night, too. Breakfasts and lunches are more relaxed and restaurant personnel are able to attend to customers’ needs more unhurriedly. The food in the menu encompasses international cuisines. Price ranges from USD25 to USD100.

Address: St. Lawrence Gap

Where to Stay

Barbados offers many options for living accommodations while on the island. Hotels, resorts, inns, hostels, and apartments are spread all over the island.  Each one features functionality and comfort that you will find very appropriate in an island adventure. You can choose swanky resorts that offer top-of-the-line comforts or you can choose the charming practicality of apartments and backpacker’s hostels that even provide for fully-furnished kitchens and laundry facilities. Barbados can be flashy and expensive, but it can also be authentic and practical. Feel free to choose the option which is best for you.

1) Treasure Beach Hotel

This is a beach resort hotel offering well-appointed air-conditioned rooms with separate sitting areas, mini-bars and safes. It is located on a beach and close to Sandy Lane Beach, Chattel Village and the Barbados Polo Club. A golf course is also nearby. Complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi access and newspapers are provided. The hotel has elegant facilities that include a bar/lounge, outdoor pool and fitness facility. Room rate starts from USD351 per night.

Address: Highway 1, Paynes Bay

2) Blue Orchids Beach Hotel

Every room in this 2.5-star hotel is air-conditioned with comfortable sleeping areas. For added convenience, you will be provided with coffee or tea maker, hair dryer, microwave oven, phones, and cable TV. Complimentary Wi-Fi access is also provided.  The hotel has a gym and recreational facilities, a full restaurant, a bar, and transport services. It is close to prime tourist destinations. Rooms cost around USD120 per night.

Address: 18 Worthing Beach, Worthing

3) Meridian Inn

Located near the Dover, Worthing, Rockley and Miami Beaches, this inn is a practical place for the beach-combers. Rooms are air-conditioned, with full bath and kitchen features, and maximum-comfort beds and beddings. Complimentary Wi-Fi access is provided. Room rate starts at USD99 per night.

Address: St. Lawrence Gap Maxwell

4) Worthing Court Apartment Hotel

This 3-star hotel features air-conditioned rooms with balconies for relaxing views of the sunset and the neighborhood. Every room is furnished with a fully-functional kitchen, luxurious bed, and full-featured bathroom. There are common facilities and recreational areas, too. It is located close to three beaches: the Worthing Beach, Brownes Beach and Rockley Beach. Room rates start from USD87 per night.

Address: Worthing Court, Main Road, Worthing

5) Pirate’s Inn

This inn has several guestrooms accessible by corridors. This home away from home provides every room with a large comfortable bed, a kitchen furnished with cookware, utensils and a refrigerator, a complete bathroom, and a cable TV.  It is centrally located with the Hastings Rocks, Parliament Building, the airport, Brownes Beach and the Christ Church neighborhood within the vicinity. To make your stay more comfortable and worry-free, the inn features a restaurant, an outdoor pool with a poolside bar, barbecue grills, currency exchange and laundry facilities.  Room rate starts at USD90 per night.

Address: Browne’s Gap Hastings Rockley (Near the airport)

Nightlife Guide

As soon as the sun sets in Barbados, the party will soon commence! Head out to anywhere in the island, and you're certain to find a place where you can let yourself loose all night long. Whether it's reggae music, sports bars, nightclubs that you're up for, you have something to keep you up and enjoying under the Barbadian moon.

1) McBride's Pub and Cookhouse

McBride's Pub & Cookhouse offers casual dining in a warm, friendly ambience. Enjoy al fresco dining on our torch-lit deck or dine in air-conditioned comfort indoors. Their air-conditioned pool room is open all night. Full kids menu is available and families are very welcome until 11.00 p.m.; however, no children under age 16 after that time will be allowed. McBride's is also widely known for great nightly entertainment, and was recently rated "number 3 for best nightlife in Barbados" by the 2007 Zagat survey guide! Every night features mega happy hours: 11.00p.m. - 1.00 a.m. with 2 for 1 drinks every night. At McBride's, every night's a party!!!

Address: St. Lawrence, Christ Church

2) Baxter's Road

Experience life's finest pleasures at Baxter's Road: sumptuous food, great food, and lively music. The party doesn't start until 11 p.m., but usually goes on until the following morning.

Address: Bridgetown

3) Harbour Lights Beach Extravaganza Dinner Show and Nightclub

The Beach Extravaganza Dinner Show is set in a fantastic open air beachfront where you can enjoy a relaxed ambience, unmatched performances and free flowing drinks.  Be blown away by the fire-eater and watch in awe as the skilful stiltmen, green monkey, and shaggy bear display their acrobatic moves. The hypnotic rhythm of the tuk band and dazzling limbo queen all add to the excitement of this authentic Bajan evening. All ages welcome 7:00 to 10:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.

Address: Marine Villa Bay Street St. Michael

Barbados gets its fair share of tourists who challenge the wild east coast waves. It also features endless stretches of landscapes and seascapes – great for spectators and sun-worshippers. For the true-blue adventurer, Barbados can be explored deep into the seas or deep into the caves. For the culture and history buffs, this island can’t go wrong either. The villages are the seat of the island’s cultural heritage where museums hide secrets and plantation houses tell of legends. Such go to show that Barbados is filled with infinite possibilities. So when you are there, take all that you can. It’s sure to never disappoint!

 

Marv Perez