The perfect sun holiday is a delicate balance of adventure and downtime. While both are important, unfortunately, one limits the other. Since we all know how to relax, it’s useful to get advice on what to do with our limited time to explore.
In Barbados, your options are plenty. After you’ve rested and rejuvenated, make a point of getting out to experience these 5 must-dos for a well-rounded island adventure. After all, you want the perfect holiday, don’t you?
Dine at The Cliff Restaurant
Often listed as one of the top restaurants in the world, The Cliff is a fine-dining restaurant that still offers a warm island experience. Set atop a cliff above the Caribbean for unparalleled sea views, an expansive torch-lit patio mesmerizes with dancing flames, green tea mojitos and distant waves gently lapping the beach below. With its western exposure, The Cliff is one of the best places on the island to enjoy a Bajan sunset.
At night, spectacular spotlights accentuate the turquoise water guiding shimmering tarpon in and out of the light. The menu and wine list are extensive, highlighted by island takes on continental dishes with plenty of local fresh fish, too. Each plate is elegantly presented, the Cajun Swordfish and char-grilled Barracuda standouts, along with the Chef’s Sample Menu. And don’t forget dessert! Fresh tropical fruit on top of house-made coconut whipped cream is a masterpiece of simplicity.
Oistins Friday Fish Fry
The Oistins Friday Fish Fry is a not-to-be-missed party for everyone. The southern coastal town of Oistins comes alive each Friday night drawing crowds of locals and tourists from around the island. With plenty of tasty food and drink vendors, arrive both hungry and thirsty.
Jump straight into the grilled Marlin or Flying Fish and make sure you leave room for a side of traditional Macaroni Pie, and of course, a rum punch to wash it all down. Work off your meal to live reggae DJs and even pick up a souvenir or two from the local art and craft vendors on hand peddling handmade jewelry, intricate hand-carved wood sculptures, and more.
The ocean around Barbados is breathtaking; rugged in the north, raw on the Atlantic side and perfectly swimmable on the south and Caribbean coasts. There is literally a beach for every whim.
With some of the most consistent surf in the Caribbean, Barbados attracts surfers from around the world and of every calibre and even hosts a Surf Pro event each March near Bathsheba. The southern beaches offer several beginner-to-intermediate surf breaks and Freights Bay is a popular beach where surf schools offer lessons and board rentals. The sea floor is mostly sandy here making it safe for beginners.
Stand-Up Paddle Board with Sea Turtles
If you’re looking for less white water, try stand-up paddleboarding instead. SUP rentals and lessons can be found on many beaches on the west, and with them, a great opportunity to spot several species of sea turtles that call Barbados home. Here, a conservation project has been in place for over 25 years, helping to restore the island’s sea turtle population and it isn’t uncommon to surf and board alongside these majestic creatures.
Snorkelling is another rewarding watersport common in Barbados, with fascinating shipwrecks even beginners can access in Carlisle Bay. The six shipwrecks here act as artificial reefs attracting a wide array of marine life, including turtles and scores of tropical fish.
And if all you want is a simple swim, you can’t beat the placid Caribbean coast and its array of idyllic beaches, bays and coves.
You have got to try the rum. Barbados is well-known for it, and with several distilleries dotting the island, you should try to visit at least one.
St Nicholas Abbey is a must-see, must-taste experience. This 3-storey plantation house was built in 1658 and is one of only a few Jacobean mansions in the western hemisphere. On-site, there is a boiling house, distillery, plantation, and sprawling gardens, orchards and gullies to wander. There are guided tours through the Great House, gardens, factory and distillery, with a rum tasting to cap off your visit, of course.
Throughout the island, you’ll notice stores decked out in large local company logos like Banks Beer or Mount Gay Rum. The buildings look like they could be corner stores, but they are actually rum shops selling a variety of local elixirs, typically by the bottle rather than by the glass.
They serve food as well, and on Saturdays, it’s a tradition for rum shops to serve a local favourite called pudding and souse. The pudding is a spiced sweet potato mixture and the souse is typically boiled pork accompanied by a pickled cucumber side. If you want to experience Barbados like a local, get out to a rum shop on a Saturday and try this Bajan favourite.
And then there’s the rum punch. Almost every bar and restaurant has a recipe, but be warned, it’s almost always strong. Take it slow.
Explore & Adventure
If you are a confident driver and feel up for driving on the left side of the road, hire a car, if only to get to Bathsheba, a gorgeous fishing town and home to well-known surf spot called Soup Bowl.
Bathe in the Bathsheba Tide Pools
The rugged coastline here consists of stunning rock formations, unruly, captivating waves and dramatic cliffs. There are colourful cabins along the beach, swaying coconut trees and it’s a great spot for a dip, especially in the protected, natural tide pools carved out of the reef by the relentless sea. Just a few feet deep, they are perfect to cool off in and to enjoy the beer you packed for the occasion. Well done.
Up for some Caribbean caving? Barbados boasts some well-known caves, Harrison’s Cave being one of the best. At 2.3 km long and adorned with stunning waterfalls, flowing streams, gorgeous mineral formations of crystallized limestone, a guided tour helps visitors dive into the natural history of the island, literally showing you Barbados, inside and out.
Barbados is one of the few Caribbean islands home to monkeys. Don’t be surprised if you see these curious creatures hopping around the coconut trees while you enjoy the beach. Green Monkeys can be a bit mischievous so keep your eyes on them.