The Best Things to Do in Barbados
Barbados is the antithesis of the sleepy Caribbean destination. Travelers may find they haven’t scheduled enough time to explore all of the attractions and activities in Barbados’ 166 square miles. From numerous historic landmarks to an abundance of adventure and water sports activities and a surprising array of distinctive elements, Barbados features something for everyone.
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Historic Bridgetown, the Garrison was Britain’s first permanent military base in the Caribbean. Established in 1705, it was the obvious destination for transatlantic traders and naval expeditions due to its location, which was farther east than its neighbors in the Caribbean and thus closer to England. The primacy of St. Ann’s Fort for British operations in the region would last through the 18th and 19th centuries. Of particular interest to American travelers is George Washington House, where the president lived for two months in 1751. His only journey outside North America was to accompany his brother who was suffering from tuberculosis and had been advised to spend a winter in the tropics. The Barbados Museum and Historical Society, in the former military prison, should be high on all travelers’ lists, regardless of nationality.
Foster Hall, Barbados
A half-hour’s drive from Bridgetown on the east coast, these gardens on just 2.4 hectares (six acres) of lush grounds are home to an astounding variety of tropical and subtropical plants, from orchids to palms and species found only in Barbados. The gardens were the personal project of Iris Bannochie, one of the island’s leading 20th-century botanists, who began designing them in 1954 and left them to the Barbados National Trust upon her death in 1988. An on-site café is a good option for a light lunch.
Bushy Park, Gaskin, Barbados
Bushy Park in Saint Philip parish is a 2.2 kilometer, FIA grade-3 motorsports course that hosts professional auto racing events including the annual Global Rally Cross Championship. Visitors can test their skills in a variety of race cars from go-karts to Suzuki Swift Sport race cars. Prices start at $35 for 10 minutes. Bushy Park is open to the public on days when races are not scheduled.
Too often us intrepid experiential travelers can get caught up in the whole effort of trying to do it all. “I must explore this off-the-map place!” “I have to try this exotic dish!” It’s easy to forget that sometimes the best way to get to know a place is to simply stroll aimlessly. Luckily, Barbados makes it an attractive prospect.
Rum is king in Barbados. While the Mount Gay rum distillery is in the north, guests in Bridgetown can learn all about centuries’ worth of rum production at the Mount Gay Visitor Centre. Of course, a tasting is part of any visit. Those who wish to continue their rum-themed exploring should head to the Foursquare Rum Distillery and Heritage Park, 25 minutes east of Bridgetown by car. The self-guided Foursquare tour includes opportunities to talk with employees of the distillery about the rum production process.
After a delightful tour of the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, we walked our tipsy selves back through Bridgetown, stopping at every stall to inspect the local fruits and veggies. One thing we don’t find nearly as often in Puerto Rico is soursop (sugar apples), which is very unique and oddly shaped fruit, with a sweet gritty taste. It looks like several kernels of green bumpy corn stuck together to form a ball, and you peel off each kernel, sucking the white flesh and juices and discarding the skin. It’s interesting. But our stroll was definitely worth it, to experience Barbados by foot, mingling with locals and exploring the city, was priceless.