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Indulge in a tropical escape to the Eastern Caribbean island of Barbados, where powdery white beaches and clear turquoise seas await. This beautiful island is the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway in the warm sunshine.

While Barbados is encircled by many gorgeous beaches, it’s also known for much more. From fantastic snorkeling and delicious cuisine to world-class rum and rich culture, there’s something that appeals to every type of traveler while spending time on this gem of an island.

Lounge on the idyllic island shores, taste the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean, and enjoy a thrilling aquatic adventure while spending time in Barbados. Here are some of the aspects of Barbados that make this such an exciting Caribbean destination.

Beautiful Beaches

Pristine white sands of Carlisle Beach with clear blue waters

Carlisle Bay

It’s no secret that Barbados is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The serene Caribbean coast on the west is famed for its aquamarine waters and soft sands, while the wilder beaches in Barbados on the east coast are exhilarating to visit, with big rollers and dramatic scenery.

Choose from quiet, secluded stretches of sand to the chic beaches of the Platinum Coast in the west, lined with classy restaurants and cool bars. Near the bustling little capital, Bridgetown, you’ll find Carlisle Bay, a beach with a quieter section as well as a livelier area for watersports and beach bars.

On the southern edge of the island, Crane Beach dazzles with its slightly pink sands, backed by giant cliffs. Wade into the azure water for some exciting snorkeling over the coral reef here, or simply enjoy a cooling dip.

Couple walking in Bathsheba Beach

Bathsheba Beach

Head to the Atlantic side of the island, where you’ll uncover sweeping natural beauty. Bathsheba Beach’s big waves make it a favorite for surfers but this is also a fantastic spot for a stroll along the shore, capturing photos of the rocky landscape.

Excellent Snorkeling

People snorkeling in Barbados

Snorkeling in Barbados

One of the top things that Barbados is known for is its snorkeling. With impressive visibility, warm waters, and a diverse array of marine life, the conditions for snorkeling in Barbados are ideal.

Discover the enthralling underwater world with opportunities to explore shipwrecks, see schools of exotic tropical fish, squid, and sea stars. Sea turtles are common around the island’s coast, and you’ll often spot one gliding gracefully through the blue.

Take your fins and mask to the west coast’s tranquil Gibbs Beach, a popular destination with white sand and calm, clear, turquoise water, home to rainbow-hued parrotfish and needlefish, among others.

Explore the rich artificial reef at Folkestone Beach, where a shipwreck has become colonized by a wide array of marine life. Here, you could spot trumpet fish, parrotfish, the electric blue tang, and even moray eels. Drift above corals and sponges spanning the entire color spectrum in this designated marine park on the island’s west coast.

Shipwreck in Carlisle Bay

Carlisle Bay

Crescent-shaped Carlisle Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another great spot for wreck diving and snorkeling. No less than six shipwrecks lie at various depths, buoys helping to guide swimmers to the spot.

Glide above coral gardens near the Berwyn wreck, one of the most accessible wreck sites. Stingrays, barracuda, seahorses, squirrelfish, and purple shrimp are just some of the sea creatures you might view. Keep an eye out for green and Hawksbill sea turtles, too.

Delicious Cuisine

What is Barbados known for - cuisine

Barbados cuisine

In addition to lush tropical scenery, Barbados is known for its delicious and eclectic culinary scene. Experience authentic culture and island flavor through the food of Barbados, influenced by Creole, Portuguese, and British cuisines, among others.

The national dish of Barbados is a must-try when visiting the island; flying fish is a key part of Bajan cuisine and is found on most menus. You’ll see it paired with cou cou, a cross between grits and polenta. Enjoy the fresh catch steamed, grilled, baked, pickled, or, the most popular method, fried. Order at the traditional Friday night Fish Fry, a lively event with music and food enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Woman holding a plate of conch fritters

Conch fritters

Other culinary highlights that will make your trip to Barbados even more delicious are fish cakes, plantains, roti (flatbread stuffed with seasoned meat), black cake (delicious, rum-infused fruit cake), and macaroni pie, the Bajan equivalent to macaroni and cheese. You’ll find peas ‘n’ rice everywhere, too, which is strictly black-eyed beans and rice, spiced up with smoky chili peppers and served with everything.

Don’t miss out on the island’s superb fruit, either. You’ll find mangoes bigger and sweeter than you’d ever have imagined, as well as bananas, passionfruit, guava, cherries, melon, and soursop.

World-Class Rum

Couple trying rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery

Mount Gay Rum Distillery

Barbados has produced high-quality rum at the famous Mount Gay Distillery since the early 18th century. Embark on a tour of the distillery where you can learn about the history and production of this delicious liquor, said to be the oldest rum in the world. Taste the varieties, such as the favorite Mount Gay Rum Extra Old and Mount Gay Black Barrel.

There will also be a chance to try the celebrated rum punch, the island’s most famous cocktail. Refreshing, potent, and irresistible at the same time, the local recipe is a mix of rum, lime juice, simple syrup, bitters, and either passion fruit juice or water, served over ice with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Green Monkeys

Green monkey on a tree at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve

Green monkey, Barbados Wildlife Reserve

Head to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve in the north of the island to view the cheeky, sweet-faced green monkeys, originally brought to Barbados from West Africa hundreds of years ago. The monkeys have been on the island so long that they have evolved over the generations to present different characteristics from their African ancestors.

Although you might spot green monkeys scampering through the trees around the island, the four-acre wildlife reserve is a fantastic place to watch them up close in their natural environment. Look out for babies, too, clinging to their mothers.

Botanical Gardens

Flowers blooming at the Orchid World and Tropical Flower Garden

Orchid World and Tropical Flower Garden

Discover the wide spectrum of tropical flora and fauna in Barbados with a visit to the island’s luxuriant botanical gardens. On a hill surrounded by fields of sugarcane, you’ll find the lush Orchid World and Tropical Flower Garden, a six-acre garden oasis displaying dozens of species of exquisite orchids.

Stroll through five orchid houses, where you’ll have the chance to view the ascocendas, vandas, and phalaenopsis varieties that thrive in the rainforest and the tropics. A tumbling waterfall, lush trees, and sweeping views from the garden’s vantage point add to the ambiance of this serene spot.

Lush landscape of Flower Forest Botanical Gardens

Flower Forest Botanical Gardens

Another popular garden visit is the Flower Forest Botanical Gardens, situated on the grounds of an old sugar plantation and sprawling across 53 acres in the countryside. Wander the tranquil property, lush with tropical flowers and exotic trees.

You’ll see a magnificent array of flowers, from African tulips to lilies, amethyst, and parrot’s beak, with views down over the sugar cane fields to the azure ocean in the distance. While you’re here, pay a visit to the gift shop, a treasure trove of local arts and crafts, including handmade pottery by Earthworks.

Historic Landmarks

Bird's eye view of St. John’s Parish Church

St. John’s Parish Church

From quaint churches to old sugar mills and UNESCO World Heritage sites, Barbados has a rich architectural heritage.

Visit the 17th century St. John’s Parish Church, holding the title as the oldest church on the island. The Gothic-inspired church was destroyed several times over the years by hurricanes and reconstructed for the last time in the 19th century.  Marvel at the rippling color filtering through the stained glass windows, the elegant curved staircase, and intricately carved wooden altar.

Outside, you’ll find one of the oldest sundials on the island, near the graveyard. You can also see the tomb of Ferdinando Paleologus, thought to be a descendant of the brother of Constantine The Great, the last Christian emperor of Constantinople, now Istanbul.

Yellow and green exterior of George Washington House and Museum

George Washington House and Museum

Venture to the George Washington House and Museum, another historical landmark, located in  St. Michael’s parish, just south of Bridgetown. Referred to as the “Bush Hill House”, this plantation home was the residence of George Washington and his brother in the early 1750s. The property was sold to the British army after Washington left but is open to the public. You can also explore the tunnels once used as an escape route for the troops housed here.

Tour the grounds of the historic Gun Hill Signal Station, built in 1818 to warn about approaching vessels and threats. Since then, the signal station has served as a means of announcing anything from public information issued by the Council of Barbados to hurricane warnings.

Stroll the manicured grounds, adorned with tropical plants and flowers, to reach the signal station. Not surprisingly, you’ll have sweeping panoramic views from this historic vantage point, so it’s worth lingering a while in the café to enjoy the setting.

Sugar Plantations

Sugar plantation in Barbados

Sugar plantation in Barbados

Sugar cane is one of the island’s most important industries and historic plantations serve as important cultural landmarks. The first island settlers brought sugar to the island in the 15th century, exporting molasses, sugar, and rum to Britain. At one point, there were over 600 plantations on the island. Many of the restored plantation houses now house businesses, from distilleries to museums.

Explore St. Nicholas Abbey, where you can explore all facets of the island’s history and enjoy a rum tasting in an old plantation house, dating back over 350 years. Located near Speightstown, this property is more than a distillery; a Great House, orchards, and gardens sprawl across the grounds.

You’ll find artifacts and antiques from the 17th century in the Great House Museum, as well as opportunities to taste the estate’s small-batch rum in the distillery.

Popular site of Morgan Lewis Windmill

Morgan Lewis Windmill

The Morgan Lewis Windmill in St. Andrew Parish, meanwhile, is the only undamaged and restored sugar mill in Barbados, and one of just two in the entire Caribbean. Historically, sugar cane was ground in the 18th and 19th centuries by this wind-powered mill.

Admire scenic views over the east coast, venture inside the mill and learn about its history and the production process, and relax with a snack at the café.

Natural Wonders

Beautiful stalagmites sparkling inside Harrison's Cave, Barbados

Harrison’s Cave

In addition to gorgeous beaches, rich marine life, and breathtaking coastal scenery, Barbados is famed for the dramatic Harrison’s Cave, a limestone cavern discovered in the 18th century, just outside the village of Holetown.

You can travel through the cave system, which stretches a mile long, by electric tram. You’ll marvel at spindly stalagmites and stalactites, a subterranean waterfall and pool, and the Great Hall, the largest portion of the cavern, which soars 50 feet high.

Superb Shopping

What is Barbados known for - Mount Gay Rum

Mount Gay Rum

Barbados produces arts and crafts of high quality, as well as gourmet items that make wonderful gifts and souvenirs. Whether you’re in search of rum, spices and alcohol-infused fruit cake, or hand-crafted pottery, there’s a perfect island token for everyone. Ideal souvenirs include sweet tamarind balls, coconut bread, or classic Bajan Pepper Sauce to bring the flavors of the tropics home, as well as rum.

Peruse the stalls at the lively Bridgetown Market on the weekends. Here, you can taste locally grown fruits and vegetables, browse clothing, jewelry, and authentic Caribbean crafts. Head to the south coast, where you’ll find art galleries and craft shops in the popular Crane Village. Every Wednesday, the village is host to a large market selling traditional culinary items, arts and crafts, and jewelry.

Or for designer fashions, jewelry and beauty products, head to Holetown’s Limegrove Lifestyle Center, a one-stop shopping and dining destination.

Aerial view of Barbados waterfront

Barbados

Discover all the amazing things that Barbados is known for with a visit to this beautiful Caribbean island. A luxury cruise is the ideal way to experience what makes Barbados such an incredible destination. Browse itineraries on our website and book your Caribbean island getaway today.

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