While you can usually count on enjoying a beach day when you’re cruising in the Caribbean, sometimes you’re looking for something a bit different. Barbados is home to stunning beaches and world-class golf courses, as well as nature preserves, caves, museums and heritage homes. Even the pickiest person should find an ideal way to enjoy their time on the island. Here are a few ideas to keep you and your cruising crew busy.
If your kids are animal lovers, they will be thrilled to spend time at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve in St. Peter parish. This is one of the island spots where green monkeys hold court. These primates are not indigenous to Barbados, but were brought from West Africa in the 17th century.
The reserve, which spans four acres of mahogany forest, is also home to parrots and peacocks, red brocket deer, red-footed tortoises and the rabbit-like Patagonian maras. The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but the best times to catch a glimpse of those monkeys is either in the morning or at the 2:00 p.m. feeding.
It’s no secret that teens can be fussy. A day at the beach could be a major score or a bore, depending on their mood. Head to The Boatyard to alleviate any worries about the teen reception of the pastime you’ve selected in Barbados. Here, you can mix lounging on the sand and in the surf with more active pursuits on a trampoline, floating “island” and rope swing. There are changing rooms as well as a restaurant and bar, and independent boat captains will take you offshore to view sea turtles for an extra fee.
The Boatyard is located on beautiful Carlisle Bay, a short 10-minute cab ride from the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal. Entrance to this private beach club will set you back $20 per person, but that includes a lounge chair, umbrella (while supplies last), one drink and a complimentary taxi ride back to the ship at the end of the day.
Sail on a Luxury Catamaran and Swim With Turtles
One of the most romantic ways to spend a day on Barbados is on a luxury catamaran, where you can sail the coast, swim with turtles and snorkel the site of an old shipwreck.
Two excellent companies fit the bill for this activity. Just 12 people can book a voyage with Calabaza Sailing Cruises Barbados. The company offers a five-hour cruise that sails along the west coast of the island to various snorkel sites, including one with sea turtles. A Bajan lunch is served on fine china, and drinks, including rum punch, are complimentary throughout the voyage.
Similarly, the 12-passenger Silver Moon can take you to snorkel with sea turtles as well as a 19th-century shipwreck. The outing includes round-trip transportation from your cruise ship, snorkel gear and instructions, a Bajan-style buffet lunch and unlimited beverages (including alcohol).
Party on a Pirate Boat and Walk the Plank
Sometimes you just want to run away and act like a pirate for a day. You can do just that with Black Pearl Party Cruises aboard their distinctive The Jolly Roger 1. (Don’t worry; you’ll recognize the ship instantly when you arrive at the harbor. Look for the two-masted ship with a red sail.) Join a fun-loving crowd for a lunch cruise; the orders of the day include sunbathing on deck, launching yourself into the sea from a rope swing on deck, walking the plank, snorkeling with sea turtles, and visiting a sunken ship. The barbecue buffet and free drinks are a nice touch.
Explore a Cave Filled With Crystallized Limestone
Grab your friends and make a plan to explore Harrison’s Cave. Located at the center of the island in St. Thomas parish, this crystallized limestone cavern will mesmerize you. The cave is classified as “living,” which means it’s constantly changing as new columns, stalactites and stalagmites form along deep pools of clear water. You can take the bus to get here (Route 4, Shorey Village) or hire a taxi.
Rum Distillery Tour and Tasting
OK, so a lot of Caribbean islands boast one or more rum distilleries, and Barbados is no different. Taking a tour of how this spirit is made can be a lot of fun … especially on this island, where some of the facilities have been making this tasty beverage for more than 350 years. And don’t forget that there will be rum tastings and shopping opportunities. One of the most beautiful and historic distilleries is St. Nicholas Abbey, situated about 40 minutes from the cruise terminal near the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. You can also tour the Mount Gay Distillery, as well as Foursquare Rum Distillery.
Tour Barbados’ Northeastern Coast By Segway
Segway tours are awesome for singles because it’s an activity in which the group comes together for instruction and then each individual boards his or her own transportation vehicle. It’s a bonding experience, and groups end up mixing and mingling so it’s easy for a solo traveler to fit right in. Segway Barbados offers 90-minute tours that take you to the cliffs of Barbados’ northeastern coast. You’ll enjoy the views as you swoosh past green pastures, black-belly sheep and sandy beaches. Book this adventure through your cruise line or directly with the company; arranged transportation to and from your ship is included in both options.
Faster Than Sound Aircraft at the Aviation Museum
The Barbados Concorde Experience is unlike anything you’ll find on the other islands of your cruise itinerary. Located at Grantley Adams International Airport in Christ Church — a 30-minute drive from port — you’ll find an interesting museum featuring the British Airways Concorde G-BOAE aircraft. The Concorde was a turbojet supersonic passenger plane that, at maximum speed, could fly twice the speed of sound. The aircraft on display flew to Barbados regularly before all Concorde aircrafts were retired in 2003. If you’re the slightest bit interested in aviation, a visit to this museum won’t disappoint.
If you’d like to spend your time in port leisurely exploring the coastline, enjoying a drink by the sea, doing a bit of souvenir shopping, or sampling one of Barbados’ many excellent restaurants, make a beeline for the Barbados Boardwalk. This one-mile path starts in front of Accra Beach Hotel (on the beach side) and continues on to the south coast at St. Matthias Road. Take in the ocean view and unique heritage homes along the way, or stop at any of a number of shops, bars and restaurants. You can easily get to the beginning of the path at Accra Beach via a 12-minute taxi ride from the cruise terminal.
Flower Forest Botanical Gardens
Barbados’ Flower Forest Botanical Gardens is quite a treat. Tucked 750 feet above sea level in the island’s Scotland District, nearly 54 acres of land has been reserved strictly for botanical development. No matter what time of year you visit, flowers will be in bloom. Depending on when you go, you may see honeycomb ginger lilies or alpinia, calathea or heliconia. Flower Forest is a half-hour drive from the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal, and it’s open daily. Some cruise lines offer this as part of an excursion, or you can take a cab from the cruise terminal.