Barbados, a popular stop on many Southern Caribbean cruises, is an independent island nation within the British Commonwealth. Its capital city of Bridgetown is located in the parish of St. Michael and is the hub for cruise ship activity. With rich history, pristine beaches, and awe-inspiring natural landscapes, who wouldn’t want to visit this lovely island? But, how will you have time to see it all? Luckily, we have comprised our list of the 5 Best Things to Do in Barbados on a cruise.
Best Things to Do in Barbados on a Cruise – Photo Credit Carolyn Sugg|Source|CC BY 2.0
5 Best Things to do in Barbados on a Cruise
Take a Mount Gay Rum Factory Tour
If you want to tour the world’s oldest rum factory and “taste the magic” of this 300 year old rum, then a visit to the Mount Gay Rum Factory should definitely be on your list of the Best Things to Do in Barbados on a cruise. Here, you will learn a bit of history and about the processes involved in producing the world’s finest rum.
Visitor Center Mount Gay Rum Factory – Source
During the eighteenth century, rum and sugar cane were in high demand. Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, had become one of the wealthiest ports in the world. A barrel of Barbadian rum became a symbol of sailors’ successful voyages to the Caribbean…and of course, it should also be a souvenir of your cruise to the Caribbean and this lovely island!
The most popular tour, the Signature Tour runs regularly throughout the day Monday-Friday and seasonally on Saturdays. With this tour, knowledgeable guides will first provide you with a bit of history, and then you will get on to the taste testing part of the tour where you will be able to sample an array of fine rums. The tour ends at the Mount Gay Bar and Lounge where “rum expert” mixologists mix up the magic for your taste buds to enjoy a cocktail sample. Just don’t forget that you need to be able to walk back to the ship!
Other tours are also available for additional costs including the Bajan Buffet Lunch Tour which includes traditional rum inspired local dishes and the Mount Gay Cocktail Tour which includes extra time with the mixologists and the opportunity to create and sample your own cocktails.
Barbados is home to some untamed wildlife and lush tropical gardens where you could spend days exploring. If you like getting up close and personal with nature, then taking a walk on the wild side of Barbados should be on your list of the Best Things to Do in Barbados on a Cruise.
The Andromeda Botanical Gardens is a 6 acre garden found in the Parish of St. Joseph that contains a variety of lush tropical foliage. This garden was originally started as a private plant collection around the home of Ms. Iris Bannochie in 1954 but was later turned over to the Barbados National Trust. It is open daily from 9am-4:30pm for the public to explore for an entrance fee of $15.
The Flower Forest, established in 1985, was formerly a sugar plantation but is now a 53.6 acre reserve for botanical ventures. This garden park is home to many species of trees and flowering plants and is open daily for the pubic to explore from 8am-4pm for a cost of $12.50. It is also a popular location for weddings and other private events.
Hunte’s Gardens, created by the island’s leading horticulturist Anthony Hunte, is his unique botanical representation. Located in a sink-hole like gully of the lush rainforest, this area offers a multi-dimensional experience with an easy to walk trail. You may also find the owner himself still working in his gardens during your visit.
Green Monkeys in Wildlife Reserve Photo Credit Andreas Belslegel|Source|CC BY 2.0
Barbados Wildlife Reserve provides you the unique opportunity to see animals in their natural habitats. Birds, reptiles, and especially green monkeys can be observed here. The green monkeys are most abundant during feeding times (around 2pm). Entrance fee also includes admission to nearby Grenade Hall Forest & Signal Station.
Visit Harrison’s Caves
Harrison’s Caves in Barbados tops our list of the 5 Best Things to Do in Barbados on a Cruise. One of the great natural wonders of the Caribbean, Harrison’s Caves is now a tourist attraction but remained relatively unexplored until the 1970’s. Harrison’s Caves is a massive, active cave system that runs nearly 1.5 miles long with running water and growing stalagmites and stalactites.
These caves were formed over time by water erosion through limestone rock. It was first in 1974 that a Dutch engineer and cave adventurer mapped the caves. After that point, the Barbados government began to develop and excavate the cave to accommodate trams. The caves opened to the public in 1981.
Tours of Harrison’s Caves run daily for $30 and are approximately an hour in duration. Traveling by tram, you will be able to explore these caves with guidance from an experienced staff member. Tour guides will provide history throughout the tour, and there will be stops for you to hop off for a closer look and capture some amazing photos. During your tour, you are sure to be engrossed by all the magnificent sights and sounds of this natural wonder.
Right next door to the caves is the Welchman Hall Gully. The gully which is ¾ mile long is a touch of tropical forest, mixed with Barbadian and other exotic plants with walking trails to allow you to discover this naturally beauty.
Of course, a tour of Harrison’s Caves can be coupled with the Gully or various other island highlights for a truly unforgettable excursion in Barbados.
Take an Island Highlights Tour
If this is your first time in Barbados and you want to get a glimpse of what the island has to offer without spending your whole day at one attraction or if you are more of a history buff, then you should put an island highlights tour on your list of the 5 Best Things to Do in Barbados on a Cruise. With this option, you will be able to visit many historical sites in a condensed amount of time.
Morgan Lewis Windmill Photo Credit – Oakley Originals| Source|CC BY 2.0
Your tour will most likely give you up close looks at landmarks such as the Morgan Lewis Windmill which was the last operating sugar windmill in Barbados, St. John’s Church which is a 19th century Gothic church and one of the oldest churches on the island, and The George Washington House in which the former U.S. president once resided.
For some amazing views of the island, a stop at Cherry Tree Hill is in order as it is an excellent spot to view the “Scotland District” and is lined with mahogany trees. Or, you can stop Gun Hill Signal Station which is one of the oldest military defense stations and provides some picturesque sites of the entire island.
St Nicholas Abbey – Photo Credit Robert Patton|Source|CC BY 2.0
Your tour may also include stops at St. Nicholas Abbey, one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere, and historic Bridgetown and its Garrison which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Once you see what Barbados has to offer you will want to come back for more.
Spend the Day at a Beach
If you have a port intensive cruise, then you may want to just relax and enjoy some beach time while you are in Barbados. Lucky for you, there are several beaches with plenty of sand and sun calling your name. With so many choices, a beach break makes our list of the 5 Best Things to do in Barbados on a Cruise.
Carlisle Bay located within walking distance of the pier is home to Browne’s Beach, one of the largest beaches in Barbados, as well as The Boatyard where you can purchase beach packages and water sport activities.
A bit further from the port, toward the west coast of the island, you will find Payne’s Beach and Sandy Lane Beach. Both beaches are popular stops for cruisers. Calm and clear waters await you at either beach. You can rent additional equipment, such as beach chairs, or engage in some water sports including catamaran sailing and jet skiing for additional costs.
Payne’s Beach – Photo Credit Pierre Mangin|Source| CC BY 2.0
Bathsheba Beach is located on the rugged east coast of Barbados which is known for its dramatic rock formations which have broken away from ancient coral reef. This area, also known as the Soup Bowl due to its foamy surf, has some of the best waves in the world. While swimming in this area can be dangerous, it is definitely a natural wonder to behold and a surfer’s dream.
Bathsheba Beach – Photo Credit Manuel Reinhard|Source|CC BY 2.0
If you prefer a more relaxing beach day with some swimming or snorkeling, Crane Beach is a popular choice on the southeast coast of the island as it is considered one of the island’s most beautiful beaches.
Lounging Around Rockley/Accra Beach – Photo Credit – Jenni Konrad |Source| CC BY 2.0
Accra/Rockley Beach, on the south coast of the island, is also another popular stop as the waters here are ideal for snorkeling, boogie boarding, and body surfing. The facilities at Accra include a play-park, beach bars, umbrella & chair rentals, and a food court. There is also a local market where you can spend some time browsing locally made crafts, jewelry, and clothing.
Now that you know what there is to do in Barbados, all you have to figure out is what you want to do on your next cruise. Which of our 5 Best Things to do in Barbados on a Cruise will you try?
Have you been to Barbados? Do you agree with our Best Things to Do in Barbados on a Cruise? Drop us an anchor below to let your fellow cruisers know what they should do and see while stopped at this Southern Caribbean port of call. Help make their time in Barbados memorable!