One of the great advantages of sightseeing on an island the size of Barbados is that it doesn’t take long to get from one enticement to the next. The only trouble is, you are likely to wear yourself out with all the sensory enjoyment. So do as the Bajans do and take it easy, go slowly, and savour the moment.
Excellent tours are available, by coach, taxi or even 4×4 off-road transport if you want an expert local guide to fill you in on background and details. If you prefer to go it alone, hire a car and make your own itinerary, either way there is a lot to see and a lot of moments to savour.
You might start out from Bridgetown, the capital and largest city in Barbados. Here you will find the fabulous shopping district of Broad Street (where you’ll probably spot a celebrity or three). Visit the Barbados Museum, built in the early 1800’s as a British military prison, where you can see the history of the island from the original Arawaks of 400 BC, with stunning examples of both Caribbean and European art from centuries past to present. In the ‘other’ Trafalgar Square (renamed National Heroes Square), the statue of Lord Nelson is actually older than the one in London’s Trafalgar Square.
A tour along the island’s coastline offers a wonderful diversity of sites to explore. Nature lovers will want to walk through the Andromeda Gardens, a wonderland of flowers and palms alongside the Atlantic Ocean on the East Coast.
This side of the island is known for its rugged beauty and the coastline offers a magnificent vista which is untouched and timeless. Toward the north is Harrison’s Cave, the largest of its kind in the Caribbean, with underground rivers, 40-foot waterfall and spectacular stalagmites and stalactites in the limestone caverns.
Among the man-made wonders, St. Nicholas Abbey (never an abbey at all but a private home) is one of only three surviving examples of Jacobean architecture in the Western Hemisphere. For a glimpse of life on the sugar plantations in the 18th and 19th centuries, visit Sunbury Plantation House, 300 years old and completely restored, with all rooms open to the public.
Barbados is also known for its delicious and potent rum, and your holiday would not be complete without a visit to one of the hundreds of ‘rum shops’ around the island which are pubs with a Bajan slant.
One of the best spots for a panoramic view over the island is Gun Hill, a signal station about 700 feet above sea level, restored by the Barbados National Trust and guarded by a 7-foot high stone lion carved from a single rock. For extra diversion, you can also get married while you’re there.
If you’d like to go further afield you can take one of the island hopping cruises for a glorious day trip on an 80-foot wooden schooner or other craft. You can visit the Grenadines and other islands such as St. Lucia, Grenada and Mustique amidst the most beautiful azure sea you could ever imagine. Don’t miss the view from underwater, either as this is one of the very best places in the world to dive.