Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

12 Best Barbados Tourist Attractions

Swimming with sea turtles
Swimming with sea turtles is one of the best attractions on Barbados. Credit: Pixabay license

Barbados has one of the best natural attractions in the Caribbean: swimming with sea turtles.

If swimming with sea turtles isn’t appealing, Barbados has several things to do on land that may sound more appealing. They include massive shopping, dining and sightseeing in Bridgetown as well as Harrison’s Cave with underground streams and a 40-foot waterfall.

Other Barbados attractions include Andromeda Natural Gardens with six acres of tropical plants and flowers and the Flower Forest that combines a botanical garden and nature trail.

1) Swimming with Sea Turtles

One of the best attractions in Barbados and a recommended family excursion is swimming with sea turtles.

Sea turtles that live off the coast of Barbados have learned to come in contact with humans. Excursions offer visitors a chance to go snorkeling with them and view them up close.

We found these gentle creatures willing to swim within a few feet of us in part because tour guides offered food as an incentive. Anyone with a camera that shoots underwater can take some memorable photographs.

As a package shore excursion, this tour may cost $70 to $100 or more depending on length and amenities such as lunch or open bar.

2) Bridgetown

The capital city of Bridgetown is the most popular Barbados tourist attraction because it has the main island cruise terminal.

Visitors can walk right off the boat and immediately start shopping, dining and sightseeing in this bustling city of 100,000 people. But some of the better shopping requires a quick taxi ride to Broad Street. Fit and energetic visitors may walk the 1.5 miles to get there.

Broad Street is the main thoroughfare where many duty-free shopping opportunities exist. Visitors also can wander around to other attractions including Chamberlain Bridge and Independence Square.

Cave Shepherd is a shopping center on Broad and has some of the best variety in duty-free shopping. Anyone looking for local crafts close to the port can walk 10 to 15 minutes on Princess Alice Highway to Pelican Village. It has a wide selection of handcrafts, art and local food is available.

3) Bridgetown and Island Tours

Like many Caribbean islands, visitors can go on a shore excursion that tours the cruise port and the entire island.

Walking tours of Bridgetown offer visitors a chance to learn more about the culture and history of the city and the island. They cost as little as $25 depending on the tour operator.

A coast to coast shore excursion will cost about $80 to $100 and last up to seven hours. Several different tours emphasize different highlights of the island, such as a visit to a wildlife sanctuary. Private tours may cost $250 per group.

Harrison's Cave
Harrison’s Cave; ©

4) Harrison’s Cave

Harrison’s Cave, a popular Barbados tourist attraction, is a stream cave system that carries water and is more than two kilometers long. It is one of the few tourable caves in the entire Caribbean.

The largest cave in the system is 50 feet high. The system was discovered in the 1700s, mapped in 1974 and opened to the public in 1981.

It is open seven days a week with the first tour at 9 a.m. and the last one at 4 p.m. Fees are $40 in Barbados Dollars per adult and $20 for children, which is about $20 and $10 U.S. each.

If taking a cruise excursion, expect to pay between $50 and $100 per person or more including entrance fee and transportation plus extra amenities. Extra amenities may or may not include lunch and visits to other attractions. One tour included a visit to the historic St. Nicholas Abbey.

5) Atlantis Submarine

Several destinations in the Caribbean including Barbados have the Atlantis Submarine excursion that offers visitors a chance to go as much as 150 feet underwater to view sea creatures and coral reefs. The ride lasts 45 minutes. Prices start at about $100 per adult with discounts for children.

Some Barbados shore excursions include the submarine and Harrison’s Cave for prices starting at more than $200 per person. Budget-minded people should consider doing them separately.

6) Flower Forest

The Flower Forest has more than 50 acres of flowers, trails, monkeys, birds and other plants and animals.

The forest is open seven days a week and has an entrance fee of $7 U.S. It is near Harrison’s Cave above. It is often part of a package Barbados island tour that includes the cave.

7) Andromeda Botanic Gardens

Barbados festival
Festivals top the events in Bridgetown. Copyright Barbados Tourism Authority

The gardens managed by the Barbados National Trust cover six acres and have orchids, palms, ferns, heliconia, hibiscus, bougainvillea, begonias and cacti.

In addition to the flora and fauna, the garden has a stream with pools and waterfalls.

Like the Flower Forest, shore excursions often include the gardens along with Harrison Cave and other attractions as part of a Barbados island tour. Otherwise, entry costs $15 for adults and half off for children.

8) Baobab Trees

Two mature Baobab trees live on Barbados, with the one in Queen’s Park in Bridgetown measuring more than 51 feet wide. It is a quick walk east of Independence Arch and the nearby Parliament Building.

They reportedly were brought to the island from Guinea in Africa around 1738, making them about 270 years old.

9) Jacobean Mansions

Barbados has two of the three remaining Jacobean Mansions left in the Western Hemisphere.

St. Nicholas Abbey in St. Peter and Drax Hall in St. George were built in the 1650s. They display the distinct Jacobean style of curved Dutch gables, chimney stacks and coral stone finials. They also have a Chinese Chippendale staircase, antiques and fine china.

10) Beaches Near Cruise Port

Bridgetown is on the southwest coast of the island, so beaches nearby are popular with the many cruise visitors. Organized beach shore excursions are rare. Visitors are more likely to walk to a beach (if they don’t mind a 30-minute walk) or take a taxi.

Three beaches near Bridgetown include Brandons Beach with watersports, restaurants and calm waters; Batts Rock with picnic areas, playground, facilities, shade trees; and Brownes Beach, which has calm waters and lifeguards.

11) George Washington House

History lovers may want to visit the only house where the first U.S. president ever stayed outside of the country. It was in the Bush Hill House, which has been restored to its former glory.

He spent two months there in 1751 with his brother, contracted smallpox and eventually recovered to return to Virginia.

The house, now a museum, is a little more than two miles south of the cruise docks in Garrison.

12) Heritage Park and Rum Factory

The first rum distillery on Foursquare Plantation opened in 1996—the first on Barbados since the 19th century.

It is located on a former molasses and sugar plantation that originates about 350 years ago. Entry is free.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
October 13, 2023

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