Top 12 Family Attractions in Barbados
Barbados is a small island country situated on the far east of the Caribbean. Despite its size, it offers numerous attractions for kids and families, on top of just relaxing on sandy beach.
1. Village Silver Sands
Silver Sands is a small town in the Christ Church district. For a fortnight, it was also our base camp. The town has everything you need:
- Silver Rock – the best kite surfing beach on the island
- a small forest with a park by the beach where we would hide every day to escape the heat;
- a bigger market and smaller stores also opened on Sundays;
- a city playground and
- Surfer’s Bay, a great bar where the kids can play in the tree house while you drink a cold beer, enjoy your burger and watch the waves.
2. Oistins Fish Market
Friday night is when the locals and tourists gather on a small square in the fishing town called Oistins located on the south coast. Even though the biggest party happens on Fridays, you can avoid the crowds and the two-hour wait for the fish fry if you visit the market on other days. The whole square is packed with stalls which, in the evening, offer fresh fish that were caught during the day. Buy yourself a beer, sit down on one of the many benches on the square or just sit on the beach and watch millions of stars cover the night sky. When it gets dark, reggae music starts playing on the main part of the square. A really unique experience.
3. Child – friendly beaches
Beaches are definitely the main attraction for the little ones. There are plenty of beautiful beaches on the southern and western part of the island. We warmly recommend:
- Hastings Beach. Located on the southern side of the island, the beach has a natural pool for children surrounded by rocks. The water comes up only to their bellies.
- A 1.6 kilometers long trail (Richard Haynes Board Walk) for walkers, joggers and sunset watchers leads from Hastings Beach to Accra Beach – one of the longest and well-kept sandy beaches on the southern side of the island offering a lot of shade, shallow water, small waves and snack bars. The beach is great for families. You can also rent out water scooters and other equipment.
- One of the child-friendly beaches is also the Miami Beach, or Enterprise Beach hidden at the end of the fishing village Oistins. A beautiful sandy beach with plenty of natural shade. The main part of the beach is exposed to waves, but there is a hidden cove with a pier on the eastern side of the beach, great for children because of the shallow water and an almost total absence of waves. There is only one bar called Mr. Delicious Snack Bar offering food on the beach, but it has everything you need for a snack.
4. Barbados Wildlife Reserve
This is a spot you must not leave out if you are in Barbados with your kid. The park is located on the north of the island; its main function being the protection of the indigenous Barbadian monkey (the green monkey).
The park consists of two parts: one is called the Grenade Hall Forest & Signal Station. This beautiful forest educational path in the heart of wilderness is one of the most unspoiled parts of Barbados. The renewed signal station gives the visitor the opportunity to take a glimpse into the past when the island did not yet have telephone wiring. The view of the ocean on the other side of the island is also impressive.
The second part of the park called the Wildlife Reserve is a natural reserve and home to the island’s wild animals. Here you can stroll freely among monkeys, deer, turtles, ducks and Patagonian Maras. You can observe caimans, fish, and iguanas, admire the 30-year-old python or listen to the loud chatter of parrots and other island birds. Unfortunately, some of the animals are already extinct in the wild and only exist in this reserve. Turtles, namely the Red Footed Tortoises, are one of the species on the brink of extinction with only 200 still left in the reserve.
5. St. Nicholas Abbey, Cherry Tree Hill and Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill
St. Nicholas Abbey is one of only three still preserved Jacobean plantation houses in the Americas, dating back to 1650. Here you can witness the sugarcane manufacturing process with a (still working) steam mill, try its raw sweetness and take a look at how the main drink of the island, supposedly originating in Barbados, is produced – rum. While you explore the history of the island, and taste its sweets and spirits, children can enjoy watching the exhibition of buses and tractors, or talk to the parrots on the plantation. The products are sold on the estate, and there is also a small restaurant if hunger strikes.
Cherry Tree Hill is a natural avenue connecting the east and west coast of the island and boasts a line of Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) trees and an amazing view of the east coast. Mahogany trees were planted already in the 18th century, and today there is an on-going reforestation programme that includes hundreds of trees being planted every July. This is a truly unique place on the island.
Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill is the last of the 600 windmills that once stood on the island and was used for the production of sugar. It is now a historic monument maintained by the Barbados National Trust.
6. Welchman Hall Gully and Harrison’s Cave
If you are a lover of nature, plants and natural history, a visit to Welchman Hall Gully must not be missed. It is a tropical forest that takes you back 300 years when Barbados was still a real jungle, and before trees were cut down to make space for the sugar plantations. There is only one trail, now an educational path leading down to the valley. You are given a booklet that helps you identify the numbers on different plants and trees and encourages you to explore the surroundings. In the valley, you can admire different types of palm trees reaching up to the sky, giant bamboos, mahogany and sandalwood trees, climb in a natural cave, and call for monkeys. This was a great accompaniment to our youngster who enjoyed this hour and a half in the silence of nature in its purest form. At the cottage where you pay the entrance fee, a friendly old lady shows you around the fruits of nature and offers you some herbs to take with you.
The valley is connected with Harrison’s Cave. A train takes you on a one hour journey, past stalactites, stalagmites, streams and waterfalls. The tour is quite touristy, but interesting for the little one, especially because of the train ride.
7. Bathsheba and roaming around the east coast
The most authentic and, what we consider to be the most beautiful part of the island. Batsheba is most certainly one of the main attractions on the eastern side of the island. It is known as the surfers’ capital with a wonderful beach dotted with rocks poking out of the sea. The Round House restaurant and boutique hotel is a great place to treat yourself to a glass of good punch and enjoy the best view of the coast. The children can play inside in a neatly furnished playground, but you do not really it, if they can run around picking stones and shells on the beach and watch aspiring surfers catching waves instead.
We continued heading south, exploring the beach and its hidden spots on the way. This is how we found Bottom Bay, an idyllic beach surrounded by high cliffs and tall palm trees, secluded and hidden away from mass tourism. The fact that it was covered with seaweed at the time of our visit did not take away from its charm. As far as the service goes, there is a beach boy who will open a coconut for you for 70 $; the most expensive coconut in my entire life.
The neighbouring bay shelters another idyllic beach called Harrysmith and, just a stone’s throw away, Crane Beach, a long white sandy beach enclosed by palms and cliffs. It is said to be Barbados’ most gorgeous beach, and this is probably the reason why one of the island’s most beautiful hotel resorts, the Crane Resort, is situated here. None of the four beaches is appropriate for smaller children because the waves coming from the Atlantic are very strong. However, they are still worth a visit due to their natural beauties and stunning vistas.
8. North Point and Animal Flower Cave
In the extreme north of the island, there is the North Point– home to the most spectacular cliffs and giant waves coming from the Atlantic and magnificently crashing against the rocks. Once a year, humpback whales can be spotted here, but, unfortunately they were not migrating at the time of our visit.
An interesting thing to do is to visit the Animal Flower Cave, an underwater cave where sea anemones live. You can also swim in the cave so do not forget to take your swimsuits with you. After the visit, you can stop at the Pirates Tavern. It has a well-equipped playground overlooking the cliffs, good food, reasonable prices and the best lemonade on the island. You will also find some local artists selling their unique jewelry and souvenirs.
Most of the visitors come to Bridgetown for the duty-free shopping. We avoided it and took one afternoon to wander around and visit the greatest attractions of the city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of them is certainly the Port which is also the most interesting attraction for children.
Then, there is the biggest fish market on the island brimming with action. Our little one was impressed just by looking at all the fish and fishmongers.
Not far away from the fish market, you will find the main city market, the Cheapside Market; one of the most colourful fruit and vegetable markets in the area. The first storey offers great local food and all kinds of homemade juices; from coconut and sugarcane to ginger and cinnamon juice. The best time to visit is on a Friday or Saturday when there are most sellers on the market.
Barbadian Art Earthworks Pottery is situated in the interior of the island. It is a large workshop producing handmade pottery. You can observe the workers during the manufacturing process, try to make one by yourselves and at the end by some and take them home.
Pelican Craft Market is on the way out of Bridgetown, near the port, offering a nice collection of Barbadian art – from canvas paintings, pottery to wooden and glass pieces.
11. Barbados Concorde Museum
The hangar beside the airport houses an exhibit of the Concorde G-BOAE. A must-see before you fly back home. You can see the interior of this amazing plane, watch a short film about it, but mostly impress your youngster just by giving him the opportunity to see this wonderful ‘retired’ bird. A much better use of time than spending your money in (way too expensive) airport shops.
12. Orchid World
A garden where you can admire more than 30.000 exquisite orchids growing on trees, coconut shells and in greenhouses, including Andromeda Botanic Gardens – gardens overlooking the east coast near Batshiba. If looking is not enough, you can also learn how to properly plant and garden.
For more tips on travelling to Barbados, read the article Travel to Barbados with kids – useful tips for families.
The above descriptions are based on personal impressions and information I gathered while travelling with my family. For more information, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.