If you’d thought I’d said my piece about my new country crush; Barbados, you’d be sadly mistaken. Having spent five weeks on the island, there was plenty of activities to do and experience. Little did we know, there were certainly more than five weeks worth. So, pour yourself a glass of wine and read on for all the amazing activities you can do in Barbados. If you missed my first and second posts about our time Barbados, I highly recommend you go back and read them for some extra cost friendly activities.
15 Activities to do in Barbados
News flash! Rum (or rumbullion) was born in Barbados! It was only natural that we visit a few distilleries on the island to taste the sweet stuff straight from the source. This one is the islands most famous.
Sugarcane fields line both highway and suburban strips (three-fourths of the land is arable, and most of it is planted with sugarcane). Once ready, the stalks are lopped off, squeezed thrice and the distilling process begins. Only by happenstance did sailors discover that by transporting rum back to Europe in barrels, (instead of glass) the taste was enhanced. These days, barrels are purchased from the US whiskey distilleries, charcoal burnt and aged for that delicious, smokey flavour. The motto for our tour:
“We’re here to get spirited, not drunk”
I’d noticed a lot of tours offering transport included in their prices, we soon realised why after our first sample (the pour was the size not dissimilar to that of a double espresso). Sure, we learnt a lot about the origins and making of rum, but were more amused by our guides catchy mottos to remember them… or was that the effects of the rum already?
“Over your teeth, through the gum’s, watch out stomach, here it comes.”
Given we had our own wheels, we opted for the ‘tour only’, where the price of the tour dropped considerably ($28 AUD, a saving of $44 AUD).
Animal Flower Cave
The Animal Flower cave is located on the most northern point of Barbados, overlooking the wild Atlantic Ocean. The cave itself was a fun half day activity, but, probably more fun for kids. The animal/flower reference comes from a unique sea anemones that grows in the rock pools within the cave, which you can also swim in. Visiting the cave offers a great opportunity to see the rugged north coast being bashed by crushing and ferocious waves, as apposed to the sleepy lapping shores of the south and west coasts. The restaurant next door is reasonably priced (entrees $21 AUD, mains $28-40 AUD) considering the location.
Surf at Freights Bay
Perfect for all surfing abilities, Freights Bay was definitely one of my favourite beaches on the island. Surfing at Freights, you can expect a gentle rolling left hand wave, with turtles A PLENTY! Sharing a wave with turtles was a novelty that never got old.
Look carefully in the picture above, you’ll find a turtle in the bottom middle coming up for air.
Listen to steel pan music
After Brazil, I assumed we wouldn’t see (enjoyable) live music again until New Orleans, how wrong I was. Having never seen or heard genuine steel pan music before, I was blown away by the sound, the range and the depth of the jovial melodic beat.
St. Nicholas Abbey
Not an actual Abbey for the record. The 17th Century Jacobean ‘Great House’ is located smack bang in the middle of a rum plantation and distillery. The guided tour was insightful and the grounds, in general, were immaculate. In terms of price, it was a little steep. $32 AUD gets you a thirty minute guided tour and a minuscule sip of their prized rum.
The terrace cafe, formal gardens, steam mill, baobab tree and steam train will keep you occupied for most of the day. I particularly enjoyed wandering the grounds, admiring the enormous mahogany trees and frangipani lined footpaths. Not to mention the winsome hummingbirds that flitter from flower to flower in a race to find the juiciest of insects.
If you missed my first blog in Barbados, I highly recommend you go back and read it… and that you try a Hash House Harrier run.
See a drag show at Ragamuffins
Set in the fancy, well to do area of Holetown, Ragamuffins is simply put: fun! We had dinner before the show (the dinner was just okay), and at 8:30pm the three ladies came out to shake, sing and strut their stuff throughout the venue.
See a movie at the Globe Drive In
Now, obviously, you will need your own car, and from what I’m told is hideously expensive to rent here in Barbados, so consider wisely. Moo and I had never been to a drive in before (hello, we’re millennials!) and it was everything I expected, sans roller skating waitresses.
Tune your radio into the drive-in station, wind back your seats, either bring your own snacks or order from the venue and watch with ease on the big screen.
Barbados’ worst kept secret has to be the many catamaran cruises on offer. Nevertheless, here you can enjoy the island’s crystal clear waters away from shore… or so we’d hoped. Our lunch cruise ($100USD) had three stops, all of which we could have easily swam to from accessible beaches – that we’d already visited #doh
However – lunch was simple but delicious and the drinks were flowing. The crew were without a doubt memorable, a real asset to our overall experience. You can’t come to the island and not explore the open seas! We thought this activity was a must – we went with Cool Runnings.
See a cricket match
I don’t like cricket.
(and I don’t love it either)
BUT! Watching the West Indies play on home turf with adoring fans was definitely an experience worth having. The relaxed nature of the stadium made for a seriously pleasant experience. There’s even a fruit and veg stand should you need healthy snacks to go with your Banks beer mid-game #cute. Besides, it is the national sport after all.
Bajan’s are very into their fitness, so if you’re that way inclined – you might want to consider a class or two during your stay – if for no other reason but to help burn off all that rum punch. I joined Sunshine Kula yoga studio and Moo the Limitless Performance cross fit gang, both on the west coast.
Get creative! Check out The Lush Brush
Fancy yourself as a bit of a painter? Already tried the ‘paint and sip’ phenomena and started your own collection? Well, you can experience the same thing in Barbados right next to the idyllic waters of Acra Beach.
[Full disclosure] I didn’t actually do this activity – but I would have liked to. I didn’t do it because: What would I have done with the painting afterwards? My creation, an original Connors would be thrown into the trash at the International check-in counter at Grantley Adams Airport.
But, I love the concept, and if you’re not a minimalist traveller, this might be a fun souvenir! $100BD ($72 AUD) gets you the canvas, all paints and two cocktails.
Step into yesteryear and stroll around the capital: Bridgetown
Strolling around the historic centre of Bridgetown can provoke wonder even for the imagination impaired. Sure, it’s a little grimy, noisy and humid – but that can be said about a lot of capital cities I suppose. Colonial style buildings nestle among run down shacks and brightly coloured houses. With a history as lucrative and often times brutal as Barbados’, you’re instantly taken back to the 1650’s. Wandering through the streets you can’t help but think at what would have been going on those many years ago.
Sip away the day at a rum bar
Want to live like a local? Then you’ll want to visit a rum bar to get in touch with how Bajan’s pass their time. A small bottle of rum will cost you approx $15 AUD, and while the locals wouldn’t dare mix it with soft drink, you can buy those too. Sit out the front of the bar and watch the world go by…a little more blurred I’m sure, as you slowly get through the bottle.
Visit the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere
Admittedly, this was the first synagogue I’d ever been to and I have to say, Nidḥe Israel Synagogue was a real eye opener. Originally built in 1654, it has stood the test of time, after being destroyed and rebuilt many times since. What was most surreptitious were the historical references to Recife, Brazil (essentially where we’d just been a few months prior.) How exiled jews, who were already skilled in the sugarcane industry (remember all the cachaça?) were able to pass on their knowledge to budding Bajan land owners.
I particularly enjoyed learning about the spice trade. Did you know the word salary comes from the latin word for salt (sal) because it was a form of currency? Fascinating stuff!
Lastly, if you’re dying to see how the other half live (the 0.1% of them)…
Take a walk from Sandy Lane Bay to Heron Bay
Want to see what $28 million USD will get you in real estate here in Barbados? Take a walk along the west coast and soon you will see.
So there you have it – a lot more activities in Barbados than simply lying on a day bed!
My lasting memories of Barbados include; sipping a beer with a sorrel flavoured iced-block sat inside, giving our new friends a great big round of hugs and slicing into a BBQ’ed breadfruit with freshly caught mahi mahi. Barbados, I love you, you are a’reeeight.
Next stop: Panama!
Until then xo