Our resident Barbados expert, Jan Lewis, shares her recommendations of what to do and see beyond the beaches of this ever popular Caribbean destination…
You may be forgiven for thinking that Barbados has nothing much to offer than beautiful beaches but nothing could be further from the truth. My husband and I moved to the island many years ago and soon afterwards family and friends were eager to visit us. One cousin was especially excited but her husband was not so keen, as a beach holiday was “not his thing”. I did my best to assure him that he did not have to spend each and every day lazing on lovely beaches. My cousin got her way (we women usually do) and here follows a selection of the attractions that enticed them…
Visits to plantation houses are always a hit. St. Nicholas Abbey, St. Peter, in the north of the island, dates back to 1658. It has been lovingly restored to its former glory and has a working sugar factory, bottles its own rum, serves refreshments and offers viewings of a rare 1930’s film depicting plantation life at that time. Sunbury House, in the easterly parish of St Phillip, is equally as interesting to visit, with its collection of old carriages in the garden area. The whole house is open to tour and the restaurant offers Bajan style buffet.
If history interests you, make stops at the Barbados Museum, Garrison area of St Michael, whilst there you can also visit George Washington House, where the first American president stayed in 1751. Underneath the Garrison area lies a system of tunnels, which can be accessed near the house. Arlington House in Speightstown, offers a historical insight into life in a merchant’s home in the northern town which is also known as “Little Bristol”.
A more modern, recent addition to Barbados’ attractions is the Concorde Experience situated adjacent to Grantley Adams International Airport. A tip for you…visit on the day you fly out, allowing at least an hour, or on a rainy day.
Barbados’ number one attraction, situated in the middle of the island, is Harrison’s Cave in St. Thomas. Trams take you on a tour through the caves, which are situated near to Welchman Hall Gully – a tropical valley full of trees, palms, bamboo amongst other plants, you may also get a glimpse of a Barbados green monkey! Animal Flower Cave, right at the north in St. Lucy is a sea cave which can be accessed via steps, take time for refreshments at the restaurant situated right on the cliff edge.
If I have whetted your appetite for nature and plants then head towards to St Joseph where you will find Andromeda Botanical Garden, The Flower Forest and Hunte’s Gardens or to St. George to visit Orchid World. You will not be disappointed.
For the adventurous of you…book a safari trip, lots of fun (and rum) as you are driven through parts of the island that you would not normally see, as the jeeps often go off-road. Talking of rum…you can visit the rum factories at Mount Gay, St Michael and Foursquare, St Phillip for tours and tastings and Banks Brewery in Newton, Christ Church offers tours too.
Barbados is of course surrounded by sea and there are numerous ways to enjoy days at sea:- fishing trips; fun catamarans sailings every day from Bridgetown; the Atlantis submarine introducing you to life below the surface, both day and night!; glass bottom boat trips available from several beaches; diving experiences from different locations.
If shopping is “your thing” Bridgetown, the country’s capital, has duty free shopping as well as more local style shops. Holetown in St. James, on the west coast, has a nice selection of tourist shops and the Lime Grove Shopping Mall.
All of the above attractions are available in Barbados year round but other activities are seasonal. So you can experience a different Barbados depending on when you visit. Knowing what is on at what time of year means that you can enjoy new experiences each time you come….this is very useful for repeat visitors. I always used this trick to entice my family and friends (including my cousin and her husband) to return…no chance to get bored in Barbados! Please read my upcoming blog on Seasonal Events.
For more ideas for Barbados experiences go to the Visit Barbados website