Barbados is a Caribbean island like many of its neighbors, with resorts perched on white powder sand beaches, and oceanside bars serving daiquiris in umbrella-topped glasses. If you take a photo of the beach at sunset, you may not be able to tell Barbados from St. Kitts or Puerto Rico. But Barbados is not like its other Caribbean neighbors off the beach, when you head into the island’s interior - into the heart of the island where the city bustles like any other, and the people are living their lives rather than their roles they may work at the Radisson nearby.
Barbados is an incredible island with so much to experience. Though the island is only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, there’s no shortage of jaw-dropping views and experiences to be had. If you have a week to spend, definitely don’t miss these five things:
The beach. The beaches of Barbados are some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The sand is powder soft, and the water is clear and turquoise blue. Barbados’ beaches are also known as sea turtle breeding grounds, so on the off chance you don’t run into some while snorkeling during the day, just head down to the beach at night for a chance at seeing some sea turtle babies making a run for the waves after hatching from their buried nest.
Harrison’s Cave. I took the eco adventure tour deep into Harrison’s Cave, which was an experience unlike anything else I’ve done before. After gearing up in knee pads, elbow pads and lighted helmets, our group of 15 headed into the depths of the island to explore Harrison’s Cave. The tour included swimming, climbing, and army crawling through a cave of limestone, stalactites and stalagmites and endless amounts of mud. I’m not sure the mud will ever completely come out of my clothes, but it was well worth it.
Bathing the Racehorses. At dinner one night, a fellow conference attendee mentioned that she heard the stables bathe the racehorses early each morning. She said she was planning to go the next morning, and asked if anyone would like to join her. I was torn, as the next day was the only morning I had to sleep past 7 a.m, but I considered how incredible it might be to see racehorses enjoying the saltwater. I said I would go, and met my new friend in the hotel lobby at the crack of dawn. What we saw on the beach that morning was nothing short of spectacular. Three to 5 horses at a time were lead into the surf by their respective handler, and bathed in the warm water. It was quiet except for the occasional sound of a horse stomping at a wave, and the shutter sounds of cameras capturing the moment. And the photo opportunities were incredible!
St. Lawrence Gap. The St. Lawrence gap is the hub of nightlife on the island, with plenty of open-air, beachy bars and party-friendly hotels. When the sun goes down, the neon lights come up and the party begins. But it’s not just a place for booze - there’s some great grub to be had at the Gap, too. I had an incredible meal at Primo, a trendy new restaurant that served Bajan faire with a view of the ocean.
Bridgetown Historic District. Barbados has some truly incredible history, dating far back before the European colonization in 1625. Bridgetown, the island’s capital, is a result of colonization and its easy to see in the architecture of the city center that dates back as far as the 17th century. Bridgetown is home to the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere, as well as the first rum distillery in the world (Mount Gay). For anyone interested in history, architecture or culture, a visit to downtown Bridgetown is a must.
For more photos from Barbados, click here!