Barbados is the easternmost island in the Caribbean. Just northeast of Venezuela, this British island offers beautiful beaches, historical landmarks, numerous sporting events and celebrated festivals.
To catch a glimpse of Barbados and its people, visit the island’s capital Bridgetown. Barbados’ main city is home to over half the island’s inhabitants. Aside from its duty-free shopping, the city is also famous for its cultural attractions. Careenage, once a natural harbor, now serves as a dock for yachts and boats. There are restaurants, bars and boutiques for locals and tourists alike. On the other side, enjoy some historical views such as the statue of the first prime minister of Barbados, Errol Barrow, the Chamberlain Bridge and the Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge. On the northern shore of the Careenage, along Upper Broad Street, lies National Heroes Square. Formerly known as Trafalgar Square, the triangular plaza is located at the very heart of the city. Some notable sights are the monument of Lord Horatio Nelson, the Cenotaph War Memorial and a fountain that commemorates the introduction of running water in the city. Near the square is the Parliament. These Victorian buildings are open for public viewing. Stop by the Barbados Museum and learn more about the island’s history. There are galleries that feature different artifacts from Arawak days, arts that showcase Barbados planter’s lifestyle, and the Shilstone Memorial Library that documents the West Indian culture. Religious sites you might want to visit include St. Michael’s Cathedral, Nidhe Israel Synagogue and St. Mary’s Church. Queen’s Park is another site you should visit if only for the old and massive baobab tree. The park also contains the island’s largest art gallery. Choose from three different tours offered by Mount Gay Rum Distillery to witness how rum is made: the standard tour lasting 45 minutes, the cocktail tour that takes 2 hours and the lunch tour that includes an outdoor Bajan lunch. Watch a cricket match at Kensington Oval or a horse-racing event in Garrison.
If you are looking for the best beaches on the island, head to Barbados’ south coast. One of the most popular and frequently visited beaches in this part of the island is the Bottom Bay Beach. Being surrounded by a coral cliff and with no amenities available, this exquisite Caribbean beach is isolated, a perfect getaway for travelers. The stunning ocean views and palm trees are perfect for photo shoots and some peaceful walks. Pebbles Beach, Crane Beach with its pink sand, and Enterprise or Miami Beach are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Silver Rock Beach is excellent for wind surfing and kite boarding. Ragged Point is the easternmost point of Barbados where East Coast Light, one of the four lighthouses in the island, is located. The oldest of these four lighthouses, the South Point Light, marks the southernmost part of the island, located just east of Miami Beach. The 300 year old Sunbury Plantation House and Museum is another interesting site to visit. The mansion is a picture of 18th and 19th century elegance with its old furniture, such as a 200 year old mahogany dining table and a collection of carriages. Another 18th century plantation house is situated in Bush Hill, the George Washington House. This is where the teenage George, together with his half-brother, lived while suffering from tuberculosis.
The east coast of the island is home to the renowned Bathsheba Beach and the famous Soup Bowl. The stretch of untouched sand and the strong waves are not safe for swimming, but perfect for surfing and beachcombing. And people come here to witness experienced and hard-core surfers riding one of the best waves in the world. To experience surfing at its best, visit Bathsheba Beach in November, during the Independence Classic Surfing Championship. The west coast has its share of lovely beaches too. Mullins Beach, located just south of Speightstown, is a great location for some family time. The water is excellent for swimming and snorkeling. Brighton Beach and Paynes Bay Beach are other beaches you might want to check out.
Other popular attractions in Barbados include Andromeda Botanic Gardens, a 6-acre piece of land with more than 600 plant species from around the world; Flower Forest, a former sugar plantation that turned into a forest of fragrant flowers; Hunte’s Gardens, an overgrown sinkhole converted into an extraordinary trail of flowers and vines; and Gun Hill Signal Station, an old structure that offers spectacular 360-degree views of the island.
One of Barbados’ most popular attractions, if not the most, is Harrison’s Cave. It is a limestone cave with stalagmites and stalactites. It also includes an impressive 40-foot waterfall, a rare and unusual find in the Caribbean. It offers an underground tour through the cave via electric tram. Another must-do on the island is the Oistins Fish Fry. It is a street fair with food as its main attraction. Oistins is a fishing town so excellent fish is abundant in this part of the island. Tuna, marlin, lobster and even chicken, all cooked and grilled in front of you. Good food, great music including reggae and calypso, plus flowing rum, make for a perfect and unforgettable experience. And don’t forget the largest and most celebrated cultural event in the island, the Crop Over Festival. Every July, thousands of people participate in musical competitions, traditional activities and street parades during this important event.