Although Barbados is a tropical paradise, it has more to offer than just white sand beaches and palm trees galore.
If you’re anything like me and can’t sit still with so much to do and experience, here are 10 experiences you can’t miss in Barbados that have (mostly) nothing to do with the beach:
1) Swim with Sea Turtles
This isn’t like sea world, you are swimming with these amazing creatures in their territory here. I took a catamaran tour with Cool Runnings and would highly recommend them. We were dropped off at a reef and a ship wreck that the turtles frequent where we were free to snorkel with them and parked at a private beach for lunch .
Although the turtles seem to be accustomed to people and swam so close that they brushed along my legs as I swam, they are still wild creatures and shouldn’t be touched. Hey, how would you like it if you were eating lunch and someone started poking you? My underwater camera was damaged so I couldn’t take any photo’s of the turtles, but they were amazing!
2) Visit St. Nicholas Abbey
I loved this place so much that I came back twice in one visit. A beautiful plantation house complete with sugar cane fields, still functioning rum distillery, and a cafe perched beneath the canopy of the forest.
They also served the best rum I have ever tasted made from the sugar cane harvested on-site. You can spend the day exploring the grounds and sipping rum punches.
We hiked the walking trails through the forest and explored the grounds and sugar cane fields. You were free to wander wherever you liked, while being respectful to the boundaries.
I would recommend renting a car to get here so you don’t feel rushed. The first time we went we took a taxi and that was a big mistake! Not only was the cost the same as renting a car, but the taxis wait for you to finish so you feel as though you need to hurry through.
3) Stand Up Paddle Board
See the coast from a different perspective and get some exercise at the same time. This is a fun activity anywhere, but along the beaches of Barbados is the perfect place to start. The west coast of the island is a little more sheltered so there is no fear of being swept away by a large wave and the transparent waters make for the perfect viewing of wildlife below.
4) Spend time at Oistens Fish Fry
Popular with locals, this is a time when local fisherman bring their catch of the week and fry them up at various “stands” at an outdoor style market. It’s a very social, lively place with a lot of conversation, laughter and music. This is a great time to strike up a conversation with some friendly local people.
5) Ride the jitney buses
A quick and cheap way to get just about anywhere you need to go surrounding Bridgetown. Not just an efficient travel system, but a cultural experience all its own!
These small vans race at breathtaking speeds through the narrow streets, honking their recognizable tunes to alert passers by of their coming. They barely pull to a full stop as you pile in, almost sitting in the lap of a new friend as you pass the 2$ fee to the driver. Blaring Soca music thumps in the van as it bounces and jerks around the rough roads. I make it sound life threatening but it is an amazing experience that I highly recommend to get a feel of real Barbados.
6) Drink a Rum Punch
With free flowing rum around every turn this local cocktail is a necessity. Your welcome.
7) Take the Mount Gay Rum Tour
Speaking of rum, this was one tour I was really impressed with. Rum production is a huge part of the history and culture and you can’ to leave without at least learning a little about rum. They do a great job of mixing the history of Barbados with the process of rum making and a wide variety of tastings.
Definitly don’t drive, I didn’t finish all the samples and even walking back to downtown Bridgetown was an adventure.
8) Drive with the top down around the island
One of my favourite things that we did was renting a jeep and taking the top off to drive almost entirely around the island. This let me explore places that I never would have found otherwise. Blasting the local radio stations completely made my day.
We were then able to explore the rougher north side of the island and stopped at Animal Flower Cave. It was worth the visit mostly for the views. The cave was small, but had impressive openings that opened to the ocean.
If you want to skip the cave itself, the restaurant was a great place for a drink with some amazing views of crashing waves and steep cliffs.
9) Eat Fish Cakes and Flying Fish
You can watch the flying fish float majestically over the water in the morning and eat the national dish at night.
10) Talk to the Locals
This really should have been number one. The Bajan people are some of the kindest, warmest and most generous people I have ever met.
After this picture was taken the lovely people in the background called us over to the water. A sea turtle was struggling with a plastic bag around its neck and a fisherman reached in and freed it. Their kindness isn’t limited to human kindness and the love they have for life and their country is contagious.
Have you been to Barbados? Leave a comment below if there was something that you would add to the list!