Beyond the Beach: Top 10 Things to Do in Barbados
September 3, 2014 | By Melissa Manzo |
Barbados is so much more than a pretty beach destination. Sure, it has immaculate turquoise waters, year-round warm weather between 25 to 30 degrees and almost no humidity – but there is much more that lies beneath the sun and beyond the sand.
This British-influenced island has a rich history, a variety of sporting and cultural events and an amazing food scene.
When choosing your next winter (or summer) getaway, you may want to consider this gem of a Caribbean Island. Here are some of the top things to do in Barbados:
1) Visit Mount Gay Rum Distillery
Firstly, allow us to give credit where credit is due. We would not have this wonderfully sweet liquor called rum, if it were not for the Barbadians. The first rum, a fiery drink called “Rumbullion” or “Kill Devil,” was made of fermented cane juice and introduced by plantation slaves in the 17th century. Eventually, it underwent distillation and a much smoother alcohol, now known as rum, was born. If you’re interested in seeing where the magic happens, get your fill at Mount Gay Rum Distillery, producer of the oldest brand of rum in the world.
2) Drink rum punch
Once the Barbadians perfected their national liquor, they went on to create another delightful alcoholic concoction: rum punch. Luckily for us non-Barbadians, they have made it very easy to remember how it’s made: 1 of sour (lime juice), 2 of sweet (simple syrup), 3 of strong (rum) and 4 of weak (water and ice). Of course, if you’re in Barbados, just head to the local rum shops to savour the real deal.
3) Meet celebrity chefs at the Food & Wine and Rum Festival
Food is a fundamental part of Barbados. It is the first and only Caribbean island to have Zagat-rated food (including its street food!) To honour its culinary heritage, Barbados has recently introduced the Food & Wine and Rum Festival, which takes place in November across various locations on the island. Cooking demonstrations are hosted by international celebrity chefs such as Mark McEwan, Marcus Samuelsson and Anne Burrell. Wine and rum tastings, as well as live entertainment, are also part of the mix. Make sure to get a taste of it all!
4) Try the Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry
If you’re in town on a Friday night, don’t miss the Fish Fry at Oistins Bay Gardens. Choose from an array of fish such as tuna, flying fish, mahi-mahi and swordfish and get it grilled or fried. A plate of fish and beer typically costs about US$15. You can also look through the local arts and crafts items on sale and then dance the night away to reggae and calypso beats. No need to dress up for this event – it is totally informal.
5) Have dinner with a show at Harbour Lights
If you like your dinner with a side of show, head to the open-air Harbour Lights nightclub on a Monday or Wednesday night for their Beach Extravaganza. Sink your feet in the sand while enjoying a BBQ dinner, dancing and fire-eating performances.
6) Party it up at Crop Over Festival
Crop Over is to Barbados what Carnival is to Brazil. It has dancing, parading, vibrant costumes and public street parties. It originally began in 1780 to celebrate the end of the cane harvest, then declined with the sugar industry and was later revived in 1974. The festival runs from May until the first Monday of August, also known as Grand Kadooment Day (both the festival’s grand finale and a national holiday).
7) Sip afternoon tea
While you can really have afternoon tea anywhere in Barbados, Chatters Tea Room remains a unique place to partake in this British West Indian tradition. Located in the Bagatelle Great House, both a former plantation and home of the first governor, Chatters Tea Room provides a historic backdrop to your tea time. If you want to take high tea to even greater heights, indulge in a cake or tartlet too.
8) See historic Bridgetown & its Garrison
Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados, its only city, port of call and historic centre. The Garrison, an 18th– and 19th-century British military base and a current UNESCO World Heritage Site, is its main historic attraction. Within this area you can also find St. Ann’s Fort, the Nidhe Israel Synagogue and the George Washington House, where “Dinners with George” are scheduled to begin in December. (Barbados is the only place George Washington ever visited outside of the US). And for a Canadian historical fact: Did you know the town of Bridgetown, Nova Scotia was actually named after this very Bridgetown in Barbados?
9) Watch a cricket match
Colonial architecture and high tea are not the only contributions the British made to Barbadian culture; when they came, they also brought cricket. Now Barbados’ national sport, cricket has made quite the career for famous Bajan players such as Sir Garfield Sobers. Head to Kensington Oval for professional matches or to take a tour of the stadium where legends have played. For something more local, you can always try to catch an impromptu game in a village field.
10) Sit back and lime
Of all things you must do on your Barbadian vacation, perhaps the most important, is liming – the Barbadian art of having a good time. Liming can be done any time, any place, whether you’re enjoying one of the activities above or hanging out in the comfort of your hotel room. So no matter what, just sit back and have a good lime 😉