At the Inspiring Travel Company, we know Barbados like the back of our hand. We even have our own office on the island, at the heart of Holetown. What’s more, countless members of our team visit each year, whether to see what’s new with our hotel partners or on their own luxury Barbados holidays. It is a favourite destination for many of us, and one that continues to inspire year on year. So, we thought we’d share our top 10 things to do in Barbados, with some insights from staff members who’ve visited recently.
1. Swim with giant turtles in the Caribbean Sea
The clarity and calm of the waters here make them perfect for snorkelling and an encounter with leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles that live just off the shore is a ‘must’. Almost every west coast hotel will offer a trip out to see the turtles, alongside many complimentary watersports and snorkelling equipment too. At Fairmont Royal Pavilion, the kids’ club offers a ‘snorkelling with turtles’ activity which includes information on their protection.
2. See the north and east coast
If you’re travelling with the Inspiring Travel Company to Barbados, it’s likely that you’ll be staying on the glamorous west coast or in the lively south. This doesn’t mean, however, that there’s nothing to see elsewhere on the island. Far from it! An island safari in an open top jeep is a great way to see more of the lush interiors and rugged landscapes of the north and east. Bathsheba Beach is well worth a stop, as it was recently named one of the ‘20 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World’ by the readers of Condé Nast Traveller.
What’s more, if you’d like to stay on this quieter side of the island, our Travel Specialists can arrange this for you. A few years back our CEO, Jennifer Atkinson, stayed at The Atlantis with her husband and she still remembers it fondly: “We were wowed by the contrast of the east coast after years of holidaying on the west coast. That side of the island is so completely different, rugged and beautiful; like scenery out of Jurassic Park! We got some Banks beers and sat on the cliffs watching the surfers catching waves in the Soup Bowl at dusk; it was very special.”
3. Check out Oistins Fish Fry
If you’re in Barbados on a Friday evening, the fishing town of Oistins really is the place to be. Home to a fish market during the daytime, the place comes alive on Friday and Saturday evenings when dozens of barbecue stalls open, sound systems are cranked up and tables and chairs are placed anywhere they can fit for an authentic fish fry. Mouth-watering seafood from mahi mahi fish to lobster are served alongside classic Caribbean accompaniments like plantain and rice and peas. On her first visit to the island in May this year, our Copywriting Executive Aileen Quinn experienced Oistins Fish Fry for herself: “As soon as I knew I was going to be in Barbados on a Friday I decided to go to Oistins and, having heard so much about it, I was not disappointed. I ate far too much, all of it delicious but especially some barbecued red snapper which I can safely say was the best fish I’ve ever tasted! I also had a ball people watching and just enjoying the vibe.”
4. Discover the 'Concorde Experience'
The aviation history of Barbados is linked closely to flight’s most incredible creation: Concorde. At the island’s Barbados Concorde Experience guests can discover what it would have been like to fly on the supersonic craft thanks to its resident British Airways Concorde G-BOAE. The founder of the Inspiring Travel Company (which back then was called ‘Caribbean Connection’), Drew Foster, was one of the first UK tour operators to charter Concorde flights to Barbados in the 1980s, so this is an experience close to our hearts.
5. Encounter the beauty of naturally formed caves
A national treasure, we highly recommend a tour beneath the earth’s surface to amble through the lit pathways of Harrison’s Caves with its stalactites, stalagmites and underground pools. Elsewhere, you might like to explore the beautiful Animal Flower Cave right at the north of the island; Travel Specialist Kelsey Froggett recently visited for the first time and now recommends the trip as a “must see and do when in Barbados.”
6. Sample some rum
Many believe Barbados to be the birthplace of rum, and having been founded in 1703, the Mount Gay Rum Distillery is thought to produce the world’s oldest rum recipe. If you don’t have time to take the tour, then a rum punch from your hotel bar is a ‘must’, or a slice of rum cake for non-drinkers. After staying at Cobbler’s Cove on her recent trip, Aileen Quinn recommends the hotel’s own rum punch blend: “I sampled a fair few rum cocktails during my time in the Caribbean (all for research purposes of course!) and I can honestly say the rum punch at Cobblers Cove was the best with a delicious blend of spices and generous measure of the local spirit.”
7. Sip a cocktail at sunset
Speaking of cocktails, they are the perfect accompaniment to the legendary sunsets you’ll have the joy of watching if you spend an evening or two on the Barbados West Coast. As well as the glamour and host of luxury hotels, its sunsets are one of the most iconic things about this stretch of platinum sands. From adult-only idylls like The House by Elegant Hotels to classic settings such as that of Harold’s Bar at the Sandpiper, there are dozens of spots to choose from for a quintessentially Bajan ‘sundowner’. Our Business Development Manager Natalie Russell Blackburn-Perkins recently visited the Sandpiper following extensive renovations and reports back: “The new infinity-edge pool offers a perfect spot for gazing out to sea with a cocktail in hand and Harold’s Bar has now been extended onto a large seafront terrace where guests can enjoy the signature rum punches in style.”
8. Luxury shopping in Lime Grove.
If you’re looking to pick up more than a few souvenirs while on holiday, the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown is perfect for duty free designer names, such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Louis Vuitton; Bond Street eat your heart out. This exclusive shopping centre is also where our Inspiring Travel Company offices are located and is a great place to enjoy a bite to eat and people watch. Sharon Williams, an Inspiring Travel Company Travel Specialist who visits Barbados for her own holidays year on year recommends “the Lime Bar at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre for a Bajan lemonade.”
9. Sunday Brunch
Something of an institution at many Barbados hotels, Sunday Brunch is a decadent ‘must do’ for any foodie holidaymaker. The most famous of them all is Sandy Lane’s incredible weekly buffet. On a recent family holiday to the island our CEO Jennifer Atkinson went for brunch here and was blown away: “Such abundance of delicious food, always of the highest quality and accompanied by service that’s second to none. I’d recommend booking brunch here as a special treat even if you’re staying elsewhere on the island.”
10. Dine in style
As well as cook-outs and fish fries, Barbados is notable for its wealth of fine-dining restaurants, many of which are internationally renowned. Elsewhere on our travel blog you can read more about our top 10 dining recommendations for Barbados, but one place that always stands out is The Cliff, which our Head of Marketing & E- Commerce Alexis Sharples was lucky enough to dine at on her honeymoon last year: “We had cocktails on arrival, an incredible table with sea views and some of the finest food I’ve eaten anywhere in the world.”
Inspired? Read more about Barbados in our new e-zine, or call our Travel Specialists for a chat your own bespoke Barbados experience!