Barbados is one of the best developed, most popular tourist destinations in the southern Caribbean. Actually, the island sits about 100 miles east of the string of the Lesser Antilles, which stretch from the Virgin Isles to Grenada. It really sits in the Atlantic Ocean more than the Caribbean, and if you visit the eastern shore, you can feel the savagery of the waves. The western shore is tranquil and full of posh homes and luxury resorts. Barbados is full of the stuff tourists love--endless beaches, natural beauty, attractions, and fine dining.
The island is also decidedly British, and the populace (called Bajans) are fond of both cricket and afternoon tea. Cruise ships offer many shore excursions, but the last two times we have been to Barbados we have either rented a car or hired a car and driver. Both of these options give you maximum flexibility and you can see most of the island and still have time to go snorkeling or explore Harrison's Cave.
If you would rather take an organized shore excursion tour, the options are numerous and varied. Here are a few.
- Island Safari (4x4) Tour. I love 4x4 tours and can only hope this one might be as much fun. The 4-hour tour is in the back of a land rover and explores the interior of the island.
- Barbados Highlights. Harrison's Cave is a "must-see" on Barbados, and this 4-hour tour goes to this attraction. The cave is the only limestone cave in the Caribbean, and it is quite interesting. Trams carry passengers through the caverns. The island tour also includes stops at Gun Hill Signal Station, St. John's Church, and the Francia Plantation.
- Catamaran Snorkeling Cruise. This 3-hour snorkeling tour includes an opportunity to see some of the luxury villas and sparkling white beaches from the deck of a catamaran.
- Nature Walk & Beach Stop.This 4-hour tour involves about an hour of hiking in the lush vegetation of the interior of Barbados. Participants will also be treated to Hackleton's Cliff and a look at some of the Bajan buildings dating back a couple of hundred years.
- Atlantis Submarine. I did a trip on one of these submarines while on Aruba a few years ago. If you haven't experienced this adventure, it certainly is something everyone should try once. The 2-hour trip includes about 45 minutes underwater at depths ranging from 35 to 150 feet. You will see coral, marine life, and a sunken shipwreck.
- SNUBA Diving. SNUBA diving is much easier than SCUBA and allows you to dive to depths of 20 feet while using an airline attached to a tank on the surface. SNUBA is a very popular resort activity, and this might be a good idea to try for those who aren't ready for SCUBA diving.
- Bajan Helicopter. What a great way to see this beautiful island! You will ride for an hour over Barbados in a helicopter with 4 other passengers.
- Horseback Riding at Highland. This 3.5-hour ride caters to all levels of riders. The Highland Adventure Center, located in the heart of Barbados, is the start of the trail ride through the hills and sugar cane fields of the island.
- Discover SCUBA. Five-hour resort course for those wanting to learn to dive. You watch a video and learn to dive in a pool. After everyone is comfortable with the tanks, the group will explore a 25-foot reef in Carlisle Bay.
- English Tea at Sunbury Plantation. This 3-hour bus ride includes a driving tour around the island, followed by tea at an old plantation house. The plantation is very interesting, and the house looks much like it did during colonial days.
- Certified SCUBA (Two Tank) This is really two dives in one. The first is along the reefs of Barbados, filled with fish and coral at depths of about 60 feet. The second dive is in Carlisle Bay, where shipwrecks are seen at about 50 feet.
We loved Barbados and found it to be both beautiful and clean. I hope you enjoy this cruise ship port of call as much as we did.