Barbados is a world-class holiday destination located in the Southeastern Caribbean. With some of the most gorgeous beaches, beautiful landscapes and friendly locals you will ever meet.
The island is such a popular holiday destination that it plays host to all including the rich and famous. Located in the Lesser Antilles and on the western side of the North Atlantic, Barbados has the advantage of having 3000 hours of sunshine yearly.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which we could earn a commission from.
As such it makes for the perfect holiday getaway and the cruise lines know. That’s why Barbados is such a popular destination in their itineraries. So, whether this is your first cruise to the island or not then you need to plan for your port day in Barbados. And what better way than with this 20 things to do in Barbados for cruise visitors.
1. Explore Historic Bridgetown
Start your day with a quick tour of the island’s capital Bridgetown; located only a mile away from the cruise pier. You can walk into town or take a taxi, either way, there is plenty of transportation means to get you there.
One glance of this beautiful pastel colored tropical colonial town nicknamed Little England will have you sold on the island’s charm. At this point, only your desire will guide you. You can head to Board Street for duty-free shopping or tour the historic district to learn the islands past.
Bridgetown’s historic district was named a UNESCO World Heritage center and features pretty interesting historical edifices. Some of the highlights include the historic garrison that now serves as a Horse race course and has a military museum.
Make sure you check these cruise accessories for your vacation at sea.
Others include the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the Caribbean with an interesting architectural design and detail. Not leaving out old churches such as St. Mary’s and St. Michaels Cathedral together with the parliament buildings which were all built in the 18th and 19th century.
2. Take an Island Safari
With Barbados’ varying coasts and dramatic landscape, the best way to see the island is on an island safari. Especially recommended for when having just a few hours on the port.
Island safari is the most popular excursion on the island and is easy to see why. Set up in comfortable jeep vehicles that can navigate all terrains easily. The island safari takes you to the untouched countryside on the north and east coasts.
A combination of land and sea tour starts with land and ends with a sail along the gorgeous west coast. Where snorkeling and swimming with turtles is the major highlight. Taking an island safari instead of a DIY tour is great for showing you all the major landmarks, what you wouldn’t know naturally and what others leave out.
The tour comes with added perks such as a delicious lunch and refreshments. There are a number of packages to choose from starting from $98. Visit Island Safari for more information.
3. Swim with the Turtles
While seeing Barbados above the surface is pretty interesting a different perspective will take your breath away. Go down and under!!
Swim with turtles and see Barbados from their perspective. This is one activity you shouldn’t miss. Go spend a few hours with these gentle creatures playing and learning their way.
There are plenty of sail tours that offer the ‘swimming with turtles’ excursions. Just do a bit of research and you will find the right fit.
4. Visit Bathsheba Beach
Find out why all the surfers are heading east by taking a trip to the famous Bathsheba on the scenic east coast.
Tales have it that the waters of Bathsheba are named after biblical Bathsheba. As it was believed she used to bathe in milk which resembles the waters of Bathsheba in Barbados. The foamy surf, however, is popularly known as Soup bowl for its resemblance to one.
This location is one of nature’s wonder where you get to witness the sheer strength and raw power of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach at Bathsheba is characterized by large boulders on the beach. They look like they were washed up to shore while in actual sense the wave action broke them away from an ancient coral reef.
The main even at Bathsheba is surfing; this beach is a world-renowned mecca for surfers worldwide. The huge waves and steady rollers that come in from the Atlantic Ocean make it the perfect surfing environment.
These beach foot pads are great for a day on the hot sand.
The beach which features a wide expanse of soft white sandy beach and an adjacent park is perfect for sunning and picnicking. Enjoy long walks as the pure air from the east washes over you as you enjoy time in Bathsheba.
5. Explore Welchman Hall Gully
Visit this enchanting jewel set in the heart of Barbados which is known as Welchman Hall Gully. Experience nature as the first settlers did 300 years ago. Escape from the bustles of everyday life in this center of green refuge.
Explore this tropical rain forest that was once a part of a cave system (now collapsed) on nice shaded paths. Discover rare flora and fauna like the rare green monkey that calls the gully home.
Make sure you have travel bug spray, it can be expensive on the cruise ship.
Enjoy the stunning views of the east coast as you take a much-needed respite in this tropical hideaway. The young ones and you will have fun watching the monkeys get fed, playing with others, hanging and swinging from trees.
6. Hunte’s Gardens
In the heart of the jungle on St. Joseph’s hill is the mystical garden known as Hunte’s Gardens. A visit to this vibrant and magical garden combined with a visit to Welchman Hull Galley will truly be the highlight of your trip to Barbados.
Set up in a sinkhole in the middle of a rain forest, Hunte’s garden is a beautiful garden of rare and exotic plants. All thanks to an extraordinary Horticulturist called Anthony Hunte who designed the garden years ago. If you meet him in the garden he will probably entertain you with tales of the past.
Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the place as you explore flora and fauna. If you need to take a break from walking, there are benches everywhere to sit and relax on. The owner plays classical music to add to the garden’s ambiance. What more could you want?
7. Beach the Day Away
If you are looking to spending some time on the beach, then you are in for a treat in Barbados. The island has plenty of beaches on its entire coast. The most popular beaches are on the western and southern coast and are especially beloved for their warm calm waters and pristine beaches.
Waterproof pouches for a phone and valuables is a must, find one here.
Some of the closest beaches to the cruise pier includes Browne beach at Carlisle Bay; a nice huge stretch of Brown sand with calm crystal clear waters. The boatyard nearby is also another active beach.
Venturing further west you find the long stretches of soft golden sandy beaches of the west. Popular cruisers beaches include Payne’s beach and Sandy Lane. Others include Brandon’s, Batts rock and Fitts village.
While the south coast is much livelier than the west coast and features some of the most beautiful beaches including the world-renowned Crane beach. Which has been named one of the world’s top 10 beaches?
Get all your beach accessories by clicking here.
The south coast offers a bit of everything, snorkeling, swimming and water sports. It’s perfect for the family, individuals or even a group. Another popular beach on this end includes Enterprise beach also known as Miami Beach.
8. Sail Away
Sail along the scenic Barbados coastline on a 63-ft luxury catamaran outfitted for a fun day at sea. One such cat is the Jammin catamaran. It features fun inducing ingredients such as delectable lunch options, a fully stocked bar, very friendly and charming crew and the beautiful boat itself.
Enjoy a tour of the coastline. Go snorkeling and swimming with the turtles. Laugh and have fun as you enjoy the sun and sea. This is a fun tour for all including kids.
The Jammin Catamaran offers different packages, so you can reserve the vessel for you and your partner alone or a group of friends. Or you can take the slightly more private tours with the Calabaza.
For the adventurous at heart, the Jolly Roger offers pirate themed sails. On this fun vessel, you get to play a pirate and even dress up the part. Let your wild side out as you swing from the boat and walk the plank.
9. Discover History at St. Nicholas Abbey
For the History buff, a trip to St. Nicholas Abbey will be a delightful experience. Go and explore one of the only 3 genuine Jacobean mansions remaining.
St. Nicholas Abbey is an old plantation with a tranquil environment. It’s a great place to tour and learn the History of sugar plantations in Barbados. As well as explore the antiques and artifacts on display at the house that bears 350 years’ worth of History.
Take the rum tour at the plantation where you will get to visit the boiling room and distillery where they make St. Nicholas Abbey’s rum. You can also relax in the gardens, gullies and a nearby hill.
10. Look Out from Cherry Hill
Cherry Tree Hill which was named after the cherry trees that used to line the road is a strategic high point that seats 850ft above sea level. It’s part of the formidable St. Nicholas Abbey in St. Peter parish. This is a great place to get panoramic views of the island and provides excellent photo ops.
11. Harrison’s Cave
Discover Barbados natural wonder at Harrison’s Caves. Venture into the underworld and discover the enchanting world of a crystallized limestone cave; characterized by stalagmites and stalactites hanging or raising from the ceiling and floor of underground caves.
The rushing streams and the glossy pools only add to the charm of the place. A tram will whisk you away along the over 2kms long cave system. Where you will learn great facts about the place.
This is a great activity for everyone from kids to grandparents. It opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 4.30, the last trip is offered at 3.45p.m. Wear comfortable shoes. The 3hrs tours will cost you anywhere from US$30 to US$100 depending on the type of tour chosen.
12. Do a Little Shopping
We all can’t resist collecting interesting memorabilia from our travel destinations. Luckily Barbados is not short of talent and the arts and crafts displayed on the island will truly leave you spoilt for choice. There are plenty of shopping places all over the island.
Browse Barbados souvenirs, just in case you’re too busy in port!
You can start your shopping at Pelican craft center which is a 5minute walk from the cruise terminal. Here you will have a glimpse into what the island has to offer, with gorgeous art and crafts on display for your perusal. This center which has over 25 shops and workshops is also a nice way to meet the locals and sample the island’s cuisine.
Or head over to downtown Bridgetown at Broad Street for the best duty-free shopping on the island. With over 60 shops offering great deals, it’s a good place to visit and buy jewelry, perfumes, electronics and more. One of the most notable shopping places in the area is at Cave Shepherd Mall, the largest department store in the entire Caribbean.
While traveling to other towns like the laid back Holetown you can indulge in a premium shopping experience at the Lime Grove. Splurge a little on big names brands such as Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Hugo Boss among others.
Or you can visit the charming pastel-colored village market at Chattels. Made up of nice wooden buildings for more local crafts, souvenirs, gifts, and fashion.
13. Visit George Washington’s House
Located in St. Michael Parish about one and a half miles from town. This is the only known residence of one of the founding fathers of the United States outside the continental USA. A young George Washington resided in this house with his ailing brother in 1751.
Visit the house and museum to explore a 17th-century presidential abode. Don’t miss out on the secret tunnels that were just recently discovered which have been accessible from the house for over 200 years.
14. Andromeda Botanical Gardens
Another interesting place to explore is the Andromeda Botanical Gardens. Created by an exceptional lady named Mrs. Bannochie and later bequeathed to Barbados National Trust.
The Garden is truly a majestic place featuring a wide collection of plants collected from all over the world. The garden has grown to become a beautiful escape from daily life. Its home to the rare green monkeys of Barbados and plenty of wild flora and fauna.
It opens daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and charges an entrance fee of $15. You can even shop for mahogany sculptures, handmade soaps, perfumes, bags and crafts at the craft center in the garden.
15. Experience the Flower Forest
Visit the 53.6 acres Flower Forest located in St. Peter parish on Richmond Hill. The flower forest is the quietest place in Barbados known as a place of peace and tranquility.
If you are looking for a romantic getaway, this place will be it. Featuring beautiful tropical flowers and a selection of bird life you are guaranteed to enjoy your visit.
You will enjoy panoramic views of the picturesque east coast and chalky mountain as you breathe in the fresh cool air that blows in the place.
When you get hungry, don’t fret, there is a lunch place that serves popular Bajan flavors such as fish cakes, flying fish or healing teas. The place opens from 8. 00 a.m. and closes at 4. 00 p.m. charging US$15.
16. Peruse Military History at Gun Hill Signal Station
As the name suggests the station is strategically located on a hill. Gun Hill was a security station and now houses military memorabilia from the 18th century.
Today it is a beautiful place to have a picnic at and offers panoramic views of the island’s dramatic landscape.
Don’t miss the photo op presented by the white lion carved out of stone on site. And climb the tower for even better views of the island. Afterward, grab a drink and meal at the Fusilier bar and café in the place.
17. Diving the Stavronikita
You can go wreck diving in Barbados in one of the most spectacular wreck dives in the Caribbean. Carlisle bay which is just about 5 minutes away by cab from the cruise terminal has a marine park with several wrecks that one can dive.
The staff as popularly known by divers is the most popular of the wreck dives. It’s a 356 foot Greek freighter that went under in 1976. Almost half a century later and the wreck which seats about 100-150 feet below the surface is a burgeoning artificial reef with lots of coral formations and plenty of fish.
You can see some hawksbill turtles, barracudas, and a myriad of fish species down there.
The wreck is pretty big and warranties at least two dives. It’s also a deep dive which is better for advanced divers. Exploring some parts of the wreck require expat divers and a guide. With that said pack your gear and get ready to dive the Stav.
18. Taste Barbados
Barbados can easily be referred to as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. It’s renowned for impeccable cuisine. The cuisine on the island is influenced by African, Indian, British and Caribbean food traditions.
Fish is always on the menu and you must try the flying fish sandwich offered almost everywhere. Popular eating joints include cutters deli, the lone star, and chafette for fast food. Vegetarians also have a spot at the Goodlife which also serves the best smoothies on the island. While in Bridgetown you can try the waterfront café at the careenage or tides restaurant on the western coast.
19. Animal Flower Cave
Visit a beautiful cave on the northern coast of Barbados. The Animal flower cave so called after the sea anemones found in its pools
This wonder of nature features interesting wall formations as a result of iron and copper oxidation. The Cave walls have turned green and brown due to corroding which fascinates anyone that sees them.
Visit this place and enjoy beautiful views of the sea from the cave’s openings. You can as well swim in the deeper pools at the place. This is a quiet place which is a nice escape from the main tourist areas.
20. Tour Mount Gay Rum Center
Another place of interest in Barbados is Mount Gay Rum center. Said to be the oldest rum manufacturing distillery. Here you will learn over 310 years of the island’s rum history, explore their heritage and culture.
Mount gay offers tours around the place and narrates the history of the place and how rum is made. Afterward, a sample of the rum is offered and you can enjoy a traditional Bajan lunch.
Ready for Barbados?
Now that you know how fun Barbados can be, you are well equipped to start planning your trip. As you can see, there are too many things to do in Barbados that it warrants a repeat visit or several of them.
Barbados experiences tropical weather with dry winters and wet summers. But of the entire Caribbean island, it’s the one with the most sunshine yearly. The best time to visit the island largely depends on your interests and budget.
December through to April is the winter season which is dry. It is also the peak season and things are expensive. June to November is the summer/hurricane season. It tends to be wet with short abrupt showers during the day. The trade winds help cool things in this season otherwise it would be unbearably hot.
As for hurricanes Barbados far easterly point in the Caribbean protects it from the worst of hurricanes. The island hasn’t been directly hit by a hurricane since 1955.
With that said you are now able to plan your holiday well for this amazing island. See you in Barbados!! Happy Cruising!!