The easternmost island in the Caribbean, Barbados is world-renowned as one of the most idyllic and sophisticated tropical destinations on the planet. This is not only a result of the nation's elegant hotels and beautiful beaches but the superior hospitality and welcoming kindness of its people. As a result, there's no shortage of happenings and events on the island to keep travelers blissfully satisfied during their Caribbean getaway. From surfing to rum tasting to touring historic Bajan estates, we've compiled the best activities for travelers to pursue while visiting the island. Read on for the 10 best things to do in Barbados, and start planning your next trip now.
Dance to Live Music at Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry
Any trip to Barbados is incomplete without a visit to the weekly Fish Fry held every Friday evening at Oistins Bay Gardens in Christ Church Parish. Grab a cold Banks Beer, (the beer of the Bahamas is brewed nearby, its headquarters also located in Christ Church), and prepare for an evening of incredible seafood (truly straight off the boat), and even more phenomenal dancing. Expect to find everyone out there moving their feet to the music: Whether you're eight-years-old or 82, the environment compels you to dance. So, our advice? Don't be shy, and join right in. You are on vacation, after all.
Bathe in the Rejuvenating Waters of the Bathsheba Pools
Travelers feeling a little worse for the wear the morning after the Fish Fry will find themselves in luck, as the Bathsheba Pools in Saint Joseph Parish are legendarily restorative. Swimming in these waters supposedly a favorite cleansing ritual of King David's wife. In case the relaxing pools happen to be good enough for royalty but not good enough for you, head to the nearby Bath Beach. The beach gets its name from the mellow, warm waters waiting beyond its shores. The relaxing current is soothing enough to make you feel like you're in your own private (oceanic) tub.
Go Kitesurfing at Silver Sands Beach
If you're looking for a more active seaside adventure, head over to Silver Sands Beach, in Christ Church Parish (the part of the island that is also the scene of the weekly Fish Fry.) Return to the site of prior intoxication and prepare to get your body moving as you learn a new activity, one that is world-renowned in this particular location, in fact: Kitesurfing. (Windsurfing, as well, is also popular.)
Sample Local Flavors with a Friday Night Storied Rum Dinner
After exercising and relaxing, there's really just one option left for curing a rum hangover: More rum, of course. Head to the Rum Vault at the Colony Club for a rum pairing dinner in the elegant, effortlessly intoxicating surroundings. But it's not just the specialty cocktails that will have you feeling stimulated, its also the conversation. Sign up for a four-course Storied Rum Dinner on Friday evenings with a Rum Ambassador, who will lead you through the history of the Caribbean liquor, while mixing you some of the most exquisite cocktails in the world. The next day, sign up for a Mount Gay Rum tour to witness the birthplace of the nation's most famous export (aside from Rihanna, of course.)
Learn Island History at St. Nicholas Abbey
Just because an outing is educational doesn't mean that it has to be a buzz-kill. Literally: this historic estate doubles as a rum distillery, and guests are served a sample of the house's concoctions while visiting for a tour. The St. Nicholas Abbey tour is nothing short of fascinating, as guests are led through the 1658 Jacobean mansion, regaled by colorful stories about its eccentric owners, and the evolution of the former plantation into its current iteration today, as both a distillery as well as a museum. Not to be missed.
Practice Hanging Ten in the Surfing Capital of the Caribbean
Engage with the culture of the island while practicing a new skill—hanging ten, of course. Barbados is known as the surfing paradise of the Caribbean, and who better to share that history than the first professional surfer from Barbados, Alan Burke? Sign up for lessons with the man himself via Burkie's Surf School to see what all the fuss is about.
Sail the Tropical Seas with a Catamaran Cruise
From riding atop a surfboard to reclining upon a hammock in a luxury 60-foot catamaran, an excursion with Tiami Catamaran Cruises is a great way to spend the day. You're in the Caribbean, after all, it's a sin not to get out on the water. Check out your tropical surroundings during your catamaran cruise, and opt for some snorkeling—be sure to keep an eye out for sea turtles. Though we encourage drinking rum punch any hour of the day, the sunset sail is particularly conducive to unwinding and enjoying the tropical vibes. So, if possible, plan accordingly.
Watch the Sunset on the Island's West Coast
Speaking of sunsets, travelers must head over to the west coast of the island to witness a spectacularly fiery Caribbean sunset in the Atlantic. Head to Paynes Bay Beach, in Saint James Parish, for prime viewing of the sky's nightly, powerful display. (If only every sunset worldwide looked like those in the tropics.) Sidle up to the 1703 Mount Gay Rum Bar for a cocktail, or book a table at Daphne's for a seaside dinner—the latter is one of Rihanna's favorite spots on the island. Both institutions are part of The House by Elegant Hotels, an adults-only boutique resort that's legendary for its luxury and hospitality. We recommend staying there for the duration of your stay—the unlimited Champagne Breakfast is more than enough to justify a day spent lounging by the beach, just waiting for the sun to set all over again that evening.
Explore the Animal Flower Cave
Head to the island's North Point to explore one of the most underrated natural phenomena in all of Barbados: the shimmering pools and dramatic arches of Animal Flower Cave, in Saint Lucy Parish. The natural beauty of the setting is so magical, with the light cast from the saltwater pools shimmering upon the dark cave walls, that Rihanna filmed a promotional music video here, set to her song "Diamonds." What was she promoting? Visiting Barbados, of course. So, follow her lead. You don't want to make Rihanna ask twice.
Spend a Morning Shelling at Miami Beach
Our final selection brings us back to where it all began—Miami Beach is just a short walk from Oistin's Beach, near the Friday Night Fish Fry. But, at Miami Beach, that bustle and energy will feel lightyears away. The coastline is well-known as being a spectacular spot for shelling, and we suggest you take a morning to reconnect with the little things in life and disconnect from the world. (Easy to do in this tranquil setting.) Officially known as Enterprise Beach, the secluded shoreline is referred to as Miami Beach by locals, though it has little in common with its American counterpart. If you're looking for a seaside scene more aligned with the energy and bling of South Florida, head to Nikki Beach Barbados in Saint Peter Parish. Trust us, you won't be disappointed.