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Interesting Things to Do in Barbados for First-Time Visitors


The island of Barbados is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, and has so many things to do while exploring the island. It’s a small yet diverse area with many attractions for locals and visitors alike. The beauty of this country is visible in its people, culture, history, and beaches.

This guide will explore all aspects of visiting Barbados to help you choose which activities are the best things for you to do during your next vacation trip.

Visiting Barbados

History of Barbados

The history of Barbados is a long and complex one. The first people to inhabit Barbados were from South America. These settlers, called Arawaks or Tainos, came around 200 AD and formed small tribes on the island of present-day Barbados. They lived in peace until 1493 when Christopher Columbus mistakenly landed here during his travels across the Atlantic.

Columbus and his crew were the first Europeans to visit Barbados, but they did not stay long. The Arawaks treated them kindly and gave Columbus gold gifts when he left in 1496. He wrote about this island in a letter, describing it as “very hilly” (meaning there are no mountains) and covered with trees.

In 1625, a group of English settlers led by Captain John Powell landed on Barbados and claimed the island for England. They built a fort at Jamestown to protect themselves from attacks from nearby French and Dutch ships. For many years after this time, there was much fighting between European powers over control of the island.

In 1627, a Dutch fleet led by Admiral Pieter Schapenham attacked Barbados and burned the English fort at Jamestown to the ground. The Dutch ruled for about twenty years but were defeated in battle when an English fleet arrived with help from Jamaica in 1651.

The island was finally under British control and stayed that way for the next two hundred years. Unfortunately, this also meant that Barbados had to fight in every European war during those times.

French and Spanish forces attacked Barbados several more times throughout the eighteenth century until Great Britain finally gained control over most of Europe at the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).

Great Britain used Barbados as a stopping point for ships sailing between Europe and North America. The island is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, becoming known as “the halfway house.” Barbados is still known by this term.

Most of this fighting did not directly affect Barbados, and life on the island continued as before. In fact, during this time, Barbados became wealthier than ever because of its ties to Great Britain through trade and control of sugar plantations throughout the Caribbean region

Culture and Customs of the People

The culture and customs of Barbadians are influenced by many events throughout the long history, but especially by the African heritage. The majority of Barbadians have some ties to Africa through slavery or other migrations during colonial times.

The Food of Barbados

One very popular aspect in this country is cooking with spices! Dishes made here are usually spicy and hot rather than sweet, like you often find in the Caribbean. Learn all about the foodie experience in Barbados with a Bajan Food Walking Tour hosted by Viator. We’ve discovered that guided tours are worth the time and can help set a framework for the vacation experience. The local guides tend to share beautiful stories of their homeland, which go beyond the who, what, and where of history books

Visitors to Barbados experience friendly and warm people passionate about their island, history, and culture. It’s a wonderful place for those looking to learn more about African traditions as well as meet locals with European influences from colonial times. The people of Barbados value strong family ties and are very proud of their heritage.

Learn More About the History of Barbados:

Barbados Reef in Eastern Caribbean

The history and culture of Barbados are deeply rooted in African customs, traditions, and beliefs. To learn more about the island’s past, visit the museum at Harrison’s Cave or tour the St. Nicholas Abbey plantation house built by wealthy British settlers during colonial times. We recommend this train ride experience to the St. Nicholas Abbey. There are many other places to gain insight into this country’s culture, including the Atlantis submarine experience to see the ocean floor and a few shipwrecked vessels.

Many visitors to Barbados are surprised at this country’s history and heritage level since it is so small. However, there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to what makes up the island itself. The people are very proud of their traditions which have shaped who they are today, and very willing to share their country with visitors.

Top things to do when visiting Barbados:

  • Go to Harrison’s Cave and marvel at the illuminated stalactite and stalagmite geologic formations in the caverns.
  • Take a train excursion to visit the St Nicholas Abbey plantation, built by wealthy British settlers during colonial times. While here, you’ll get a glimpse of what life may have been like on a large 17th-century sugar plantation. From the mansion, you can visit the cane fields, see an old mill and distillery, then enjoy a meal at the on-site cafe while viewing the beautiful landscape.
  • For more things to do in Barbados, schedule a glass-bottomed boat ride to see majestic turtles while learning about the underwater world of coral and marine life.
  • Visit Bridgetown with a guided walking tour of the city, where you will find various historical and cultural sites to explore, such as St Michael’s Cathedral, one of the oldest Anglican churches in Barbados, dating back to 1628. Another destination (near the cruise ship port) is the Pelican Craft Center.
  • The Nelson’s Column monument in Bridgetown commemorates Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died during a battle with French forces.
  • Try some local flavors, including salt fish and fried flying fish, at one of many beachside restaurants along the coastline, or enjoy fresh lobster in any of the seafood restaurants in the downtown district.

Transportation Options in Barbados

There are many ways to explore this island’s culture and history including using public transportation like minibusses or taxis. Renting a car is also an option if you want more freedom on where you can go.

When visiting Barbados, You can easily visit the historic sites above by taking guided tours around Bridgetown that will take you to see many of the places mentioned. Driving is on the left side of the road, which requires the driver to be more attentive to the road if not already familiar with the road rules and signage.

There are bus tours available that offer different routes, including a city tour of Bridgetown. It’s a great way to see the island and learn about its culture, history, and famous landmarks from the locals. Our bus tour of Barbados was very educational, and the driver knew all the right spots for great vacation photos.

If you’re looking for more freedom on where you go but still enjoy learning about Barbados’ culture and history, then hiring a taxi driver is another option. There are many companies to choose from, and the drivers generally seek out tourists to work with for a day. Our first experience with this touring technique was in Barbados, and we had an amazingly positive experience.

Before You Go

Here are some items that you will find useful for your trip to visit Barbados, and relieve your winter blues.


When you are traveling to your vacation destination it is important to ensure that your clothes and valuables safely arrive as well.

Travel Guide Book

Whenever you are visiting a new and unknown place, one of the best investments that you can make is a travel guide. This guide will give you in-depth and detailed information on the island of Barbados.

Light Reading Before Arriving in Barbados

To get your mind in the setting of a beautiful island getaway, take some time to read a book set in the area. This will help you relax on your journey from a cold winter to a warm and inviting tropical island.

Summary of Things to Do in Barbados

If you’re an avid traveler, visiting Barbados should be on your list of places to see. With its rich history and culture, as well as beautiful natural landscapes and foodie experiences, there are plenty of things to do in this Caribbean paradise.

 Discover the local culture by immersing yourself in the Bajan way of life; everything about your trip will be a new experience. Start planning now for all that awaits you when you step foot on these tropical shores!

Another set of islands that you may want to explore on a future trip are the Virgin Islands,.

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