This detailed Barbados travel guide has all the information you need to plan a great holiday on the island, including top things to do, restaurants, hotels and plenty more.
Just a few weeks ago I returned from Barbados in the Caribbean. It was my first time on the island, and while I’ve been to a few of the Caribbean islands, I just love how varied they are. They have their own characters, landscapes and traditions.
Is Barbados Worth Visiting?
Barbados is relatively flat compared to others, as its one of the few without a volcanic origin. It’s also famed for its bright turquoise water, paradise beaches and killer rum punch! I mean, just take a look at this gorgeous view over Crane Beach – isn’t it stunning?
A few weeks before visiting, I learned that more Brits travel to the island, than any other nationality. Most visit for the (almost) guaranteed warm weather and fantastic beaches.
If you’re reading through Barbados reviews online, you might find a slightly divided opinion. Some love it so much they go back year after year, while others prefer the less developed / touristy Caribbean islands
Being an adventurer and foodie at heart, I wanted to get beyond the beaches and find out what else this island offers. I wanted to taste the food, see the landscapes and feel the heart beat of this independent nation. From the south coast to the north, Saint Lawrence Gap to Crane Beach, the fun of Crop Over Festival to the rich history of the island, I couldn’t wait to explore in detail.
Fittingly, our trip was designed to appeal to the five senses. So from tasting the local rum, to seeing the incredible underground caves and even hearing Rihanna herself (yes really!) – it’s time for sensory overload in Barbados! So whether you’re looking for adventure, food, culture or relaxation, I’ve got you covered with lots great ideas packed into my Barbados travel blog.
As a quick aside, if you’re still deciding which island to visit, don’t miss my comparison of Barbados vs Antigua!
Best Time To Visit Barbados
If you’re wondering when to visit Barbados, there are a few things to think about. It’s warm all year round in Barbados with temperatures between 23 – 30 Celsius. There’s a wet and dry season across the Caribbean, with December to March being a good time to visit for rain-free sunshine-filled days.
It tends to get busy around Christmas though, so if you can time your visit for out of the key holiday periods, you’ll have a more relaxing experience.
May to October is when rainy season hits the Caribbean, which brings with it heightened humidity too. It’s also important to be aware of hurricane season, from June to November, although tropical storms are more likely to be an issue.
Lots of people rate March to May as a great time to visit. It’s a shoulder season, so crowds are lower, but it’s still lovely and warm.
Things To Do In Barbados For Adventure Lovers
Prepare yourself for some serious fun on this island! You’re about to engage all five senses with these adventures in Barbados…
Snorkelling in Barbados
When we were planning a trip to Barbados, I’d heard the snorkelling was incredible, with numerous opportunities to spot turtles around the south and west of the island. I love that you don’t need to book onto a tour to spot them.
You can just wander out from beaches such as Paynes Bay, Sandy Lane or Folkstone Marine Park and you’re likely to spot a few. For an extra special experience, book onto a catamaran trip and be shown some of the best spots on the island!
Diving in Barbados
My partner plunged deep into the ocean to dive amongst some impressive wrecks. His favourite was the sunken submarine, not far from St Peter’s Bay. Along with plenty of colourful exotic fish (including lion fish), there were a few turtles down there too. Adventure holidays in Barbados are popular, and this is the perfect activity to include in your itinerary!
I had no clue what animal flowers were (what comes to your mind?!) but they’re a type of small sea anemone which live in the waters of these caves. Right on the northernmost tip of Barbados, this is the rugged Barbados.
As I stood on the cliff edge listening to the crashing waves, took photos of the epic jagged rocks and explored the rough caves carved over hundreds of years – I couldn’t believe this was the same island known for paradise beaches. It’s such a wonderful contrast!
Paddle Boarding in Barbados
One of my favourite adventures of all was hopping on a paddleboard and cruising the shoreline. It was a way to see the coastline and reflect on the beauty of the island. Most hotels on the west coast have a stack of paddle boards and kayaks, and there’s a lovely feeling of liberation as you glide across the turquoise waters.
Woohoo, well wasn’t this a lot of fun…? Until it rained anyway, but let’s forget that part for now!
How long does it take to drive around Barbados? Approximately three hours. Although this island tour doesn’t take you to every spot, it gives you a great overview of what the island is like.
I’d recommend you book this for one of your first days in Barbados, as it gives you an intro to the island’s geography, history and culture, all while showing you some top places to return to later in the week.
The Barbados tour guides are super enthusiastic, love sharing their home with visitors and are happy to answer all the questions you’ve been dying to ask. They’re also keen to get you away from the east coast with its cruise ships and resorts, and to show you the rugged east and less-developed centre of the island. Trips to Barbados often only give you the glossy view of luxury resorts and high end restaurants, but seeing more of the island left us with a better idea of what life is like here.
Oh and they also ply you with rum punch, which makes the off-road parts even more fun! Check availability and latest prices here.
Delve deep into the core of Barbados with this interactive tour of Harrison’s Cave. After swotting up on the history and geology of the island, it’s time to board a cute little train to drive around the cathedral-like chambers.
With underground waterfalls, crystal clear pools, and stalagmites and stalactites formed over thousands of years, it’s somewhere you’re guaranteed to engage all five senses.
Things To Do In Barbados For Foodies
Next up, it’s time to smell and taste your way around the island. These Barbados trip ideas are guaranteed to make you hungry!
It’s a given that any visit to Barbados is going to involve a fair amount of rum. It’s the drink of the island. At most places, you’ll be welcomed with a rum punch, and you’ll soon that there are good ones, and there are REALLY good ones. People have their own recipes.
THE way to truly get into the spirit (!!) is with a trip to Mount Gay. They run tours every hour, which strike just the right balance between informative and fun. And great news, they start with rum punch and end with tastings of three of the distillery’s top sellers.
Your nose will guide you to Agapey – a cute chocolate shop in Bridgetown! This isn’t Willy Wonka style, but they do have a small chocolate factory on site, and it’s certainly worth booking onto a chocolate tour to find out more about the processes and see the machines up and running.
The chocolates filled with Mount Gay were my favourites, and a box of those would make a great present.
You guys recommended we add this to our itinerary, and we listened! Every Friday, hundreds of tourists and locals gather in the small fishing village of Oistins for a big old knees up.
The rum punch flows, the seafood stalls serve up mountains of grilled tuna, flying fish, swordfish and more, and as the night wears on, performers take to the stage to throw some shapes to the DJ’s tunes. It was a highlight of our week in Barbados and certainly a way to FEEL the island’s beat!
Restaurants In Barbados
There was a huge menu, the service was friendly and the location was lovely, overlooking the capital’s marina.
Juma’s in Speightstown is another top choice with a tasty menu (the blackened mahi mahi was delicious!) and a great location overlooking the beach. Décor was eclectic with a beach shack roof and lava lamps dotted around the restaurant – it felt fun with that real holiday vibe!
Our meal at The Fishpot was one of our favourites, again right on the beach just a little way north of St Peter’s Bay. The seafood was excellent, and we enjoyed big grilled shrimps, and tasty Asian tuna for mains. Any of these would be great at lunch too, especially with those dreamy beach views.
If you’re visiting Barbados as a big group or would like the option to self-cater some of your trip, I’d recommend taking a look at Airbnb. Usually the properties are owned by locals so you can enjoy an authentic experience and ask for lots of expert tips for the area. You can claim £35 / $45 off your first trip by clicking here.
Things To Do In Barbados For Culture Vultures
Gospel Breakfast At The Crane
Hearing the voices of a group of gospel singers at breakfast time is a special experience. This is how our Sunday morning began at The Crane Resort – the Caribbean’s oldest continually operating hotel and one of the best places to stay in Barbados.
It’s a standard hotel buffet where you pile your plate high with sausages, bacon, eggs and pancakes, but the ambience is anything but standard. During our visit in December, we enjoyed a few festive numbers along with some gospel classics.
Built in 1658, St Nicholas Abbey is a beautifully preserved plantation house. It’s fascinating to see the island’s history through the ages, and walking through the house really is like turning back the clock.
One of my favourite parts of my visit was exploring the forest outside, and even if you don’t fancy adventuring into it, you can enjoy lunch on the terrace overlooking the jungle floor.
When you ay Barbados to many people, they think of Rihanna. She’s an international superstar who well and truly flies the Barbados flag around the world. Our trip to Barbados coincided with the island’s Independence Day which was extra special, as Rihanna’s home street was renamed Rihanna Drive.
It’s already somewhere tourists love to visit, but now there’s even more reason! It was absolutely amazing to see the community turn up to the event, and to hear Rihanna’s pride for where she grew up.
Things To Do In Barbados For Relaxation Seekers
Many people visit the island for a week of R&R. You want to kick back and relax, with a drink in one hand and a book in the other. That’s fine – we all need down time!
For a treat, book in for a treatment at The Crane, easily one of the most stunning resorts on the island. Located on the south, the cliff top location has incredible views down to Crane Beach with its ferocious waves and soft white sand. The spa is excellent too, and a massage will certainly leave you feeling relaxed.
This luxury catamaran experience was another highlight. Sailing along the west coast at sunset is stunning enough, but with a cocktail in hand it’s even better! The crew pride themselves in delivering incredible high-end service, from the food and drink to the general ambience – it was all top notch and a wonderful way to see more of the island.
Genuinely one of the most relaxing spots in Barbados, Anthony Hunte has created a gorgeous garden up in the lush hills in the middle of the island. Tall palms sit next to colourful orchids while exotic birds fly through the air.
As you explore, you stumble across secret seating areas – places perfect to enjoy the views, the sounds and the scents of nature. When you need a refreshment, head to Mr Hunte’s lodge for a rum tasting or a cold drink, and a chance to chat to the nature-lover responsible for the garden.
I’ve mentioned them already, but the beaches are as good as you’ve heard! Top marks for Crane Beach for its epic landscape, Mullins Beach for being lively and St Peter’s Bay for being nice and quiet. On a bright sunny day, the water is an insanely bright shade of turquoise that looks photoshopped!
Where To Stay In Barbados
If you are looking for your own home away from home, Top Villas offer vacation rentals in various locations across the island.
We stayed at Pendry in the north west of Barbados. They have a range of 1, 2 and 3-bed apartments, each with stunning terraces, lounges and full kitchens. The enclosed marina has moorings and also offers a water taxi to sister property St Peter’s Bay (perfect as Port Ferdinand isn’t right on the beach).
There’s a restaurant/bar area on the ground floor overlooking the boats, and a great floating pool area with a bar which you reach along a jetty. It’s one of the best places to stay in Barbados if you’re considering self-catering options, and plan to hire a car to get around. It’s also about to be even more desirable with the upcoming opening of Nikki Beach, moments away from the property.
Looking for more information about destinations in the Caribbean? Don’t miss these travel guides…
- The Ultimate Antigua Travel Guide
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- Hammock Cove Review – Is this the best 5* all-inclusive resort in Antigua?
- Barbados vs Antigua: Which Is Better For Your Holiday?
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