Experience Barbados … Totally!
It goes without saying that visiting Barbados is an experience in itself, however to help you make the most of your time on the island, we’ve created a list of essential Top 10 Totally Barbados ‘must experiences’.
1. Glass Bottom Boat
Whether you’re a fan of marine life or not, you’ll surely enjoy a glass bottom boat tour in Barbados.
Treat yourself to a relaxing cruise where you can view a wide array of colourful tropical fish, marine plants and coral formations through the transparent base of a glass bottom boat.
You’ll also see the site of an underwater shipwreck and feed the hawksbill sea turtles.
Experienced and knowledgeable tour guides will provide you with instructions about snorkelling and diving to ensure your tour is not only a Totally Barbados experience, but a safe one too.
2. Crop Over Festival
If you’re in Barbados during July and the start of August, then the infamous Crop Over Festival is a definite ‘must experience’. Crop Over is notoriously a party festival however it was historically the signifier for the end of the sugar cane crop harvest.
All throughout this major cultural festival, you can enjoy events that are exclusive to the island.
The festival culminates with the Grand Kadooment Day parade held on the first Monday of August. This takes the form of a large street parade where thousands of revellers ‘jump’ in extravagant costumes all the way from Warrens in St. Michael to the Spring Garden Highway, where the all night street party continues.
Anyone can join in Crop Over and absorb aspects of Barbadian culture, so why not come and experience it for yourself?!
3. Oistins Fish Market
Oistins is Barbados’ smallest city however this historic town boasts the largest fishing community on the island.
You’ll see many Barbadian fishing boats in the waters here and this means you can buy freshly caught fish at the local market in Oistins at very affordable prices.
However, it’s on Friday nights when the streets of Oistins become a hive of activity at the Friday night Fish Fry. You’ll find both tourists and locals flocking to enjoy the very best of local Bajan cuisine prepared right on the spot. Here you can eat a generous portion of freshly cooked fish with your choice of salad, coleslaw, plantain, hot chips, and of course (a Bajan favourite) macaroni pie.
During the Easter weekend, the annual Oistins Fish Festival is also held in Oistins which pays homage to the local fishing community and showcases the industry at its finest. Some of the festival highlights (and ‘must experiences’) include the greasy pole climb, net throwing and fish boning competitions, street parade, and so much more.
Want to know more? See our page all about the town of Oistins.
Located on the west coast of the island, historic Holetown was originally known as Jamestown, after its benefactor King James I of England, as this was the site of the first settlement in Barbados in 1627.
Every February, Holetown also hosts the weeklong Holetown Festival commemorating the anniversary of this original landing; the day Barbados became a British colony.
The festival features many events and entertainment like beauty contests, dance performances, live music, fashion shows, a vintage car parade, and street stalls selling local food and drinks and Bajan-made arts and crafts.
In Holetown itself, there are also a couple of busy shopping centres such as the West Coast Mall and Sunset Crest, both selling everything from groceries to high-end duty free items.
Not forgetting Holetown beach, a pleasant spot to relax amongst some of the islands best hotels and villas. Holetown is a definite must experience.
5. Harrison’s Cave
Located in the central parish of St. Thomas, Harrison’s Cave is one of the great wonders of Barbados.
The underground cave is a wonderful natural display of stalactites and stalagmites, with streams of crystal clear water running through.
Electrically powered trams take you through the cave network and friendly tour guides provide historical and geographical information about the cave along the way.
The visitor’s centre provides refreshments and showcases a wide variety of handicraft and artefacts, collected from various sites island-wide.
Tip: Don’t forget your camera!
6. Black Pearl Jolly Roger 1 Cruise
Another ‘must experience’ is the unique Black Pearl Jolly Roger Cruises.
There’s plenty of action on this fun-filled pirate party cruise, where you can take a turn on the rope swing, swim with the turtles, and even walk the plank.
There’s also a fully-stocked open bar that keeps the drinks flowing throughout the cruise.
For those less adventurous, you can still enjoy the Jolly Roger with a nice barbeque lunch and relaxing cruise which heads out from Bridgetown along the west coast of the island.
7. Atlantis Submarines
Jumping aboard Atlantis Submarines is a one of a kind experience and one of the most highly rated activities in Barbados. It allows you to explore the best of the island’s marine life in a real submarine.
Diving to depths of between 130 to 150 feet, you’ll see different types of coral and reefs, colourful tropical fish, and even a shipwreck.
Atlantis Submarines also offer a night dive with high-powered spot lamps that show marine life from a different perspective, highlighting spectacular colours not seen during the day dive.
What makes this experience so special is that there are only two countries in the world offering night dive attractions and Barbados is one of them so experience this while you can!
8. Barbados Wildlife Reserve
Barbados doesn’t have a zoo, but it does have the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, located in natural mahogany woods in the northern rural parish of St. Peter.
You’ll see the animals at close range and in their natural habitats as they eat, play and interact with the other animals.
There’s a variety of birds such as flamingos, parrots, pelicans and peacocks. The Barbadian Green Monkey is also a common sighting and the reptile lover will surely enjoy the collection of caged snakes.
A great Totally Barbados experience for the entire family.
9. Welchman Hall Gully
Welchman Hall Gully in central St. Thomas is the ideal attraction for the nature enthusiast.
The tranquil three-quarter mile long gully is a tropical rainforest with a beautiful mix of Barbadian native, as well as exotic, plants.
The Barbadian Green Monkey is a common sighting as the Gully provides food, shelter and is a passageway to other gullies for these monkeys.
Welchman Hall Gully came about a result of collapsed caves and is still geologically connected to Harrison’s Cave – as you walk through, you’ll see there is still some evidence of stalactites and stalagmites.
Another experience not to be missed!
10. Crane Village
For more grassroots experience, why not try some local karaoke, eating from one of the many street food vans, or drinking the water from a fresh coconut?Otherwise, why not take a trip to the Crane Village?
The uniquely designed Village is nestled amongst the beautifully landscaped Crane Residential Resort and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean so you get the complete Crane experience in style.
There’s a variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment options and it’s open to both locals and visitors to experience all it has to offer.
There are so many ways to experience the island in true Totally Barbados style, so what are you waiting for?!
Author: Brett Callaghan