It’d be easy to spend a perfectly enjoyable trip to Barbados basking in the sunshine along its western Platinum Coast beaches and visiting its most significant historic and cultural landmarks. But it’d also be a shame—because this diverse island nation has much more to offer. Here are five lesser-known places that exemplify this diverse southern Caribbean nation and are well worth the detour.
John Moore Bar
Barbados is celebrated as the 17th-century birthplace of rum, first produced by plantation slaves who fermented molasses, a by-product of sugar production. By the 19th century, Barbados was an international rum producer and the drink was an integral part of island social life. These days, while Barbados remains home to several major producers, its rum culture truly lives on through its hundreds of neighborhood rum shops. One of the longest tenured establishments, the John Moore Bar in St. James parish (est. 1959) has been a gathering spot for locals including former prime ministers. The colorfully painted shack pulses with Caribbean music and the sounds of rum punch and cocktails being prepared.
The west coast of Barbados faces the Caribbean Sea and features the island’s premier calm-water beaches. The east coast, meanwhile, has emerged as the best-kept secret of adventurers and water sports enthusiasts. The small inlets amid large rocks act as natural tide breaks at Martin’s Bay in the parish of St. John, an especially inviting east coast spot. A small fishing community provides fare for the Bay Tavern restaurant, where locals gather at picnic tables overlooking the bay. A shallow offshore reef breaks the waves and creates small pools perfect for soaking. Explorers can hike along the cliffs—overlooking the southern coast—and follow the old train line to Bath Beach.
Barbados Concorde Experience
The supersonic Concorde passenger jet only operated for 27 years, completing its final journey in 2003, and it only flew to one Caribbean destination: Barbados. While you can no longer take flight, you can board the legendary plane via the Barbados Concorde Experience. Housed in a dedicated hangar at Grantley Adams International airport, the decommissioned British Airways jet is open to visitors, who can board the aircraft for a short film on the plane’s history. A “departure lounge” features Concorde souvenirs and crew uniforms.
This quiet stretch of beachfront is popular with locals and in-the-know visitors drawn to its tranquil waters, unassuming beauty, and terrific location minutes from downtown Bridgetown. Visitors can enjoy a cutter sandwich at Cuz’ fish shack or lunch at the Brown Sugar restaurant, both Barbados institutions.
Nigel Benn Aunty Bar
It’s exactly what the name suggests: a bar run by the aunt of retired Bajan middleweight champion boxer Nigel Benn. Nicknamed "The Dark Destroyer," he won the WBO middleweight title in 1990 and the WBC super-middleweight title in 1992. Photographs of Benn, his celebrity friends, and visitors adorn the bar, which also features the Old Brigand rum brand’s livery. Benn reportedly purchased the bar for his Aunty Lucille, a welcoming and spirited lady who runs the establishment to this day. It’s located in St. Andrew parish in the midst of beautifully lush countryside, which is reason enough to pay a visit.