White sand beaches, crystalline blue-green waters, and a bevy of sea life are just the tip of the iceberg for what the Caribbean island of Barbados has to offer. A coral island, Barbados is surrounded by reef-filled waters; its land is covered in rolling hills, deep ridges and gullies, populated by a range of curious and colorful flora and fauna. Along with its natural beauty, Barbados offers visitors a rich culture, a variety of activities to enjoy, and hidden gems to discover. Visiting the islands in the upcoming summer months, during off-peak season, means the hotels and restaurants are more relaxing and quiet, the water is warmer, and celebrations are at hand with the carnival ‘Crop Over’ festivities bringing music and infectious rhythms to the streets.
Main Attractions & Activities of Barbados
The capital of Barbados, and practically the only city, is Bridgetown. It offers visitors the option to stroll through a historic downtown, filled with many important sights and colonial buildings recognized by UNESCO. Stop by the city museum, Parliament buildings, or do a tour of the Mount Gay Rum Distillery. There’s plenty of shopping and eateries. Visitors rarely stay in the capital, opting for accommodations in the southern towns or on the west coast.
This picturesque village on the Atlantic east coast offers many attractions including the popular Andromeda Tropical Botanic Gardens and nearby Flower Forest where visitors can get a taste of regional flora and fauna. Bathsheba Beach, often called the Soup Bowl, is filled with interesting rock formations created ages ago by ancient coral reefs, making it a favorite for photographers. Many surfers love the waves here, but a strong undercurrent makes it somewhat dangerous for casual swimmers.
Check out this amazing crystallized limestone cavern, replete with streams, cascading waterfalls, and deep pools. Tours are available to discover the wonders of the cave as well as a visitor’s center displaying interesting Arawak Indian artifacts.
Barbados has a wealth of beaches to choose from. One of the most popular locations is Crane Beach, but there’s plenty more to offer. On the west coast lie many of the calmer shores with palm trees swaying over the white sand and aquamarine waters. Take the opportunity to try out jet-skiing, kayaking, catamaran cruises, swimming and snorkeling here. The southeast coast has more lively waves and make perfect spots for water sports including windsurfing, kite surfing, and boogie boarding. While the north is predominantly coral and sandstone cliffs, hikers can find a protected cove now and again for a dip.
Crop Over Festival
The Crop Over Festival means months of celebrations as the islanders take part in the country’s most popular and colorful festival that has its roots in the old days of sugar cane production. Some of the highlights include the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Cranes, the Bridgetown Market, the carnival-like show Cohobblospot which features members of bands in elaborate costumes, as well as a number of folk concerts and art/photo exhibitions celebrating Barbadian history and culture.
Cuisine from the Island
When visitors need refreshment after the day’s activity, they can look to local cuisines to sate their appetites. Try the savory white flying fish, fried up in sandwiches or the variety of fish cakes and empanadas. There’s also cou-cou, a creamy mix of cornmeal, okra, and various vegetables, that serve as a national dish. Other foods to try include jug-jug, cutters, roti, and the variety of bananas. Visitors should also make sure to try the famous Barbados rum, known for being some of the best in the Caribbean.