I love spontaneity as much as anyone and I m a firm believer that some advanced planning let’s you make the most of any new location. Not every minute of every day needs to be planned. But having an idea of things you want to see and do can really be helpful. It minimizes the amount of time you need to spend thinking about these things on your travels. It allows you more time to spend exploring and having new experiences.
I have been to Barbados several times and have combined my favourite days and activities from my last few trips to craft what I think is a perfect week here, especially for a first time.
Arrive and explore your surroundings. I love to stay at the small South Beach Hotel when I visit. From here, the South Beach Boardwalk and Rockley beach are steps away. There are many other hotel options on the island to choose from as well.
If it is your first visit, I do recommend staying on the southwest coast because there are more activities and hotels on this side. The beaches are also more swimmer friendly here and it is closer to the airport in Bridgetown. Head to Champers restaurant this evening to splurge on an elegant dinner out.
Day two :
After a breakfast of local fruit or tasty treats head off in your rented car to the historic St. Nicholas Abbey. After taking a short guided tour of the plantation house and sampling unparalleled rum punch you are free to spend as much time as you would like exploring. I would recommend at least an hour or two to fully appreciate the plantation. Stroll the still operating sugar cane fields, explore the lush forest trails, and sip on cappuccinos or rum punches in the cute outdoor café.
After a light snack, take the short drive to the Barbados Nature Reserve. The hike to the top of the lookout is well worth the view and you might meet some new furry little friends along the way. An alternative to this if hiking isn’t your thing or if there are mobility issues is Harrison’s Caves. A this location, there is an elaborate series of caves naturally cut into the limestone underground. The are is so large that our tour needed a small train to take us through. I have been to quite a few caves, including the Waitomo glow worm caves in New Zealand, but these were some of the largest I had seen and the glass elevator bringing you down the quarry gave some amazing views as well. After freshening up from the day, enjoy a delicious dinner at Tapas restaurant.
This morning stroll to Italia Coffee House, the outdoor coffee Kiosk and sip your morning jolt listening to exotic birds and soaking in the sunshine.
Roll the top down on your rented car and head up the coast with the jamming sounds of a local Soca radio station guiding your way to the rugged north side of the island. Your first stop is Animal Flower Cave, an impressive sea cave overlooking the jagged cliffs of the northshore .
The tour of the cave itself was a bit pricey for what it was (short and not terribly informative). But I really enjoyed swimming in the warm pools and looking out into the sea. If you don’t want to splurge on the cave itself, the different landscape here makes it worth the drive alone. Grab a bite in the café or simply stroll through a walking path along the cliffs to listening to the crashing waves.
After lunch, continue your drive through small towns and past charming churches to Bathsheba Beach. Reminiscient of the Twelve Apostles on the great ocean road in Australia, towering rock formations line the beach. The rocks have been beaten down by the hard waves. It is these waves that make this beach a popular surf destination as well. It is the perfect spot for nature or people watching. Your evening is free to explore.
Wake up bright and early today for your shuttle to the Bridgetown docks to board your catamaran (we used Cool Runnings and loved them!) .
Spend your morning soaking up sun and swimming with sea turtles in their habitat. Lunch is included and all you can drink. The boat will dance it’s way back to the dock in the afternoon (I mean this literally, probably the best at sea dance party I’ve experienced to date). Spend this afternoon exploring the islands capital and largest city, Bridgetown.
I recommend the parliament buildings and the museum here, I was pleasantly surprised! The hours of operation are strange so be aware that it may be closed on days you wish to visit.
Stroll the busy fruit markets, wander through the colourful shops of the Pelican Village. The afternoon is yours. Free to explore.
In the morning, head to the Carlisle Bay Beach to rent stand up paddle boards or take a lesson if it I s your first time. We splurged on the lesson at Paddle Barbados our first time because we were a little nervous, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be more than fine. We have done it many times since and have fallen in love with it. This is the perfect way to view the coastline from another perspective, search for sea life, or just get a little sun.
Enjoy a hearty lunch of authentic local foods at Brown Sugar restaurant. Lunch is buffet only, so bring your appetite!
After lunch, board a local jitney bus (2$/ person) for the short trek to Mount Gay Rum Distillery to take the tour. I was a huge fan of this tour. I don’t normally love distillery tours and don’t usually find the process very interesting. This tour was fantastic. Not only was the distillery itself visually impressive, the guide was very informative and funny. The never-ending tastings didn’t hurt either! Definitely don’t drive to this activity.
If you are looking for a little nightlife take the short jitney bus ride to “The Gap” to find a variety of bars and restaurants.
I am such an active person so normally it can be hard to twist my arm into having a relaxing morning or day on the beach. But L loves beach holidays so I usually plan a day for him to enjoy. On this day, spend it sitting on a beach sipping delicious tropical drinks.
However, if you’re like me and the beach thing isn’t really for you, today would be a perfect day to explore Harrison’s Caveor or Lime Grove. Lime Grove is a luxury shopping centre. Most things here were generally out of my price range but it was such a nice location that I just enjoyed walking around. The bus ride was also a fun way to feel more like a local and to see parts of the island that I had not visited yet.
On Friday night, bring your appetite to the Fish Fry. This was one of the most memorable activities on our several trips here. It is a wonderful place to meet locals, sample various seafood dishes, and shop for handmade crafts. We ended the night dancing to a live performance and sipped rum punches with a few of the local vendors; the perfect night.
On this morning, stroll down the beach path to the Artsplash Center Cafe to enjoy a smoothie or iced coffee and say goodbye to beautiful Barbados before catching your flight home.
If you have any questions about Barbados or my experiences here please feel free to comment or email!