11 of the best things to do in Barbados

When you think of Barbados, dreamy images of sun, sea and sand probably come to mind.

And to be honest, you’re not wrong. Barbados is home to stunning crystal-clear waters, velvety white sand, and it’s almost always very hot. If you’re in need of a truly tropical escape and a slower pace, then this is definitely where you want to be. 

While Barbados is best known for its beachy landscape, we locals like to say that the island has something for every kind of traveler. From the foodie to the historian to the thrill-seeker, we promise Barbados has a place for you.

 If you need a little inspiration for your next Bajan getaway, here are a few fun-filled experiences to try. 

Boy bathing a horse in the ocean
Stop by Pebbles Beach early in the morning to see racehorses bathe in the ocean © Dan Nitsch / 500px

1. Enjoy a traditional fish cutter at Cuz’s Fish Shack near Pebbles Beach

There are few things more “Bajan” than a fish cutter, so make sure you don’t leave the island without trying one.

The difference between a sandwich and a cutter is that a cutter is made with a traditional Bajan salt bread. Our salt breads (which are not salty at all) are freshly baked bread rolls, with a slightly crusty exterior and a soft, fluffy inside.

You can have a cheese cutter, a ham cutter, even a butter cutter — locals all frequently enjoy these.

But in Barbados, we are known for our delicious fish, and Cuz’s Fish Shack, located in the car park of the famous Pebbles Beach, is one of the best.

Enjoy a delicious, flaky grilled cut of fish sandwiched between a soft salt bead with a dash of Bajan pepper sauce and just, like that, you’re dining like a local.

Local tip: If you head down to Pebbles Beach early in the morning, you’ll be able to see local trainers giving racehorses their baths in the sea. It’s a dreamy experience like no other and a wonderful way to start your day.

2. Take a stroll down Rihanna Drive

If you’re a member of the Rihanna Navy (and let’s be honest — aren’t we all?), then you won’t want to miss this. In 2017, Rihanna’s childhood home became a national monument and attraction officially opened to the public.

If you want to see where this global superstar was born, all you have to do is take a five-minute drive just outside the capital city of Bridgetown, to what was formerly known as Westbury Rd, now known as Rihanna Drive. 

There you’ll find a colorful green and yellow house that you can take photos of outside. For the superfans, the home has recently been listed on Airbnb, so you can actually spend the night there.

Local tip: After you’re finished touring, be sure to enjoy an ice-cold beer or sample our local rum at Wilmar’s rum shop at the end of the street.

A bodyboarder runs past a lifeguard station and out towards the surf
From bodyboarding to scuba diving, make your own aquatic adventure in the sea around Barbados © Tetra images RF / Getty Images

3. Surf, snorkel and dive around the island

It goes without saying that there will be no lack of beachy escapades when you’re in Barbados. Due to its limestone geology, Barbados is home to some of the world’s most stunning coral reefs.

Keep it surface level by snorkeling with the turtles on board a blissful catamaran cruise, or go a little deeper on a scuba adventure with Barbados Blue to explore the island’s famous shipwrecks.

If you’re looking to ride some waves, head east to the Soup Bowl, one of Barbados’ best known surf spots, with some of the most consistent waves in the world.

Local tip: Barbados Blue offers a beginner PADI certification that you can obtain in around 2–3 days. It also offers a special certification program, PADI Coral First Aid, that is designed to teach divers the basics of coral reef preservation.

4. Go camping at Peg Farm

The east coast of the island doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, but if you’re looking for a more “off-the-beaten-path” kind of adventure, there’s a special magic on this side of the island. You’ll be surprised at how different Barbados looks from here. 

A trip to Peg Farm and Nature Reserve is the perfect place to explore this idyllic region, where craggy hills and fresh breezes reign supreme. Equipped with everything you need, the campsite offers a grill, compost toilets and forest showers. 

And if camping isn’t your thing, there’s still so much to enjoy at Peg Farm — from compound tours featuring grazing animals and naturally growing herbs to a delicious farm-to-table cafe.

5. Create or buy pottery in the Scotland District

While you’re on the east coast, be sure to take some time to explore the scenic Scotland District in the parish of St Andrew. 

This area is particularly well known for its distinct red-hued clay, and is home to many clay artisans. 

Many pottery workshops and studios offer classes and all of have clay pieces available for purchase. The ceramics typically have a hard, glazed finish having been fired to stoneware temperatures, a technique perfected by Barbadian artisans. Pick up a few fun pieces as gifts or souvenirs. 

Detour: Though not located in the Scotland district, Earthworks Pottery is one of the island’s best-known studios and very popular with visitors. You can find this modest workshop nestled in a residential area in the central parish of St Thomas, filled with lovely, vibrant clay pieces to choose from. It’s a ceramics lover’s dream!

A hand holds out a glass of rum in front of some wooden barrels
Rum is part of Barbados’ story, so don’t miss the change to try it © Macca Sherifi / Shutterstock

6. Become a connoisseur of a rum in its birthplace

The earliest-known mention of the word “rum” dates to a lease agreement written on March 30, 1650, at Three Houses plantation and rum has been a major part of Barbados’ story ever since.

No visit to Barbados is complete without a taste of the island’s rum culture, and luckily there are plenty ways to do so.

If you’re looking for something a little more luxe, try a guided rum pairing dinner at Colony Club’s Rum Vault. For the history buffs, the world’s oldest rum distillery, Mount Gay Rum, offers tastings, tours and even mixology classes at its visitor center.

And of course, you can always make a stop at a local “rum shop” (there’s one literally around every corner) where you can enjoy true Bajan ambience over a flask of rum, just like locals do.

7. Shop local at Brighton farmers market

Waking up early on vacation is never fun, but I promise that a Saturday morning jaunt to the family-run farmers market in Brighton, St George, is well worth setting your alarm for. 

This is a great spot to grab a cup of coffee, purchase fresh, seasonal produce, support local artisans and craftspeople, and enjoy delicious bites. Look out for one-of-a-kind pieces such as hand-painted ornaments, artisanal soaps and handcrafted jewelry that make lovely souvenirs and gifts.

Planning tip: The farmers market is only on Saturdays. Brighton is a little off-the-beaten path, so either go with your own rental car or book a return taxi ride in advance. Also, bring cash with you – some vendors may be able to accept cards, but many won’t. 

8. Zipline at the eco-adventure park at Harrison’s Cave

Barbados is the only coral limestone island in the Caribbean, and this foundation gives it some unique natural features — namely caves. Harrison’s Cave is one of the most popular attractions, and recently, the entire area has transformed into an eco-adventure park.

You can zipline across famous gullies, visit the aviary, go deep underground to explore the dramatic, natural wonders of the cave, or get active with the on-site, kid-friendly, obstacle course. 

Local tip: Consider including a rum tasting experience in your package — it’s offered on site.

A woman wearing a colorful pink headdress with feathers during a festival
Colorful costumes fill the streets during the Barbados Crop Over Festival © isitsharp / Getty Images

9. Come for Crop Over, the sweetest summer festival

For almost three months, this otherwise laid-back island picks up the pace for a vibrant, festive season of culture, color and camaraderie. 

Crop Over, so named because its origins date back to a celebration that marks the end of the sugar cane season during colonial times, culminates with a huge masquerade event called Grand Kadooment, which takes place the first Monday in August every year. 

Most visitors arrive in time for what is known as “last lap”, which is the week leading up to Kadooment day, which is filled with non-stop parties, concerts and events. 

But if you visit Barbados any time between June and early August, you’ll definitely be able to get a taste of Crop Over.

Learn more about Crop Over with our guide for first-time visitors

10. Get your heart racing on an island safari

If you’ve only got a few days in Barbados, a safari tour is the perfect way to explore. This exhilarating, off-road adventure, on board an open-air 4WD, will take you coast to coast, through forests, gullies and down secret tracks to showcase some of Barbados’ best spots and stunning views.

Routes vary, but you could go to hot spots like Bathsheba Beach, Gun Hill and Cherry Tree Hill.

Your tour guide/driver will share lots of fun facts about Barbados along the way, and the cooler will be stocked with refreshing rum punch and non-alcoholic drinks. These family-friendly tours vary between 3- to 6-hours in length and generally include a delicious Bajan meal.
Planning tip: Island Safari tours offers both land and sea safaris, so if going from an off-road adventure straight onto a dreamy catamaran excursion sounds like your idea of a perfect day, be sure to check it out!

11. Experience the culinary capital of the Caribbean at the Barbados Food and Rum Festival

Barbados is the birthplace of rum and so it’s only natural that the island celebrates its rum heritage. If you are the planning type, the foodie type and/or the rum-drinking type, consider scheduling your Barbados escape around the Barbados Food & Rum Festival in late October. 

From sunrise beach parties and private chef dinners to outdoor fish fries and live cooking demos, this four-day festival is every culinary enthusiast’s dream!

This article was first published Oct 22, 2021 and updated Apr 30, 2024.

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