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October 29, 2021

7 Days/Things to do in Barbados

If you can bear to tear yourself away from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, then there are plenty of exciting experiences to encounter in Barbados. For visitors wondering what to do in Barbados, I’m going to walk you through your arrival first, on the way to Shoreshire villa, and then propose a weeks worth of fun things to do:

Beach Aerial View

So you’ve finally arrived on the beautiful island of Barbados. When airline door opens and you make your first step out of those doors onto the old school stair ramp that leads to the tarmac, a breeze hits you. If you’re dressed in your foreign gear at that point you will be missing out on the first warm embrace the island has to offer. Mind you I’ve made the mistake several times so I’m telling you at a minimum you should be wearing short sleeves and flip flops prior to leaving your airplane seat. That way your vacation begins on that first step.

The airport is a nice airport as far as airports go. The occasional rum punch as you’re about to enter immigration is a nice touch to remove the sting of the long lines which, most of the time, there are. All the more reason to be dressed to move as quickly as you can from that first step to the building.

Post immigration you’ll need to collect your luggage and there will be people wearing red caps everywhere wanting to help you. The minimum wage in Barbados is USD $4.25/hr and they won’t rob you in my experience so if you can help them out they will be appreciative. Otherwise just politely decline and understand why they all want your business.

Porter Services (Red Caps)

Prior to leaving the airport you may want to stop at the duty free shop, right next to the luggage carousel, to buy any foreign alcohol you may want to consume on the island as that’s probably where you’re gonna get it the cheapest but perhaps when in Rome you do as the bajans do.. In this case you will be drinking rum and local beer which will be cheaper than bottled water so you can then leave the airport light and unhindered.

Next stop you’ll need transport from airport. Wherever you want to go won’t be too far from airport as long as you’re staying in traditional areas. The taxi rate is fixed from airport to destination so find an official when you exit the baggage check tell him where ur going and he will tell you the price and arrange you a cab. Also if your hotel has sent you a transport he’ll also know where they are. If you know a transport is coming be sure to not take another otherwise you’ll have to pay twice.

Bajans are quite friendly so you may want to talk to your cab driver and ask him to give you commentary on where you are on the road and any history behind it.. A short island tour of sorts. There is not much on the highway worth mentioning really but he may know more than I do.. You can also ask him to stop on the way, confirming that the price won’t change, so you can get a few beers for the trip as that’s not a problem in Barbados so why not optimize. If your hotel is not to far maybe it’s not worth it but it’s a quick opportunity to maybe see a local spot and interact with locals on your way to said hotel.

If your destination is Shoreshire villa then you’ll arrive in about 15 minutes after leaving airport. You will have been already told the arrival procedure so get settled in. I’m going to assume that your arrival is around 3ish on Saturday so our 7 days of activities will start from tomorrow. In the meantime I suggest you go to infinity hotel bar, Sea fans, and get a banana daiquiri to watch the sunset on the beach. When you’re ready to eat, buy a meal from Sand Dollar Café in the area between your villa and Infinity, since after a day’s flight you’re probably too tired to cook.

Week of fun activities

Sunday (Crystal waters BBQ party):

This is a regular Sunday activity suitable for families and all age groups. In fact there are many more older people here than younger people but you will have fun regardless.

Located oceanside and featuring stunning views, palm trees, crystal clear water and a soft white sandy beach, it is one of the only sheltered lagoons on the island.

Let’s get started on your day and I’ll explain more below.

If you have asked for a grocery delivery then you’re all set to make breakfast. Otherwise I’m going to suggest a return to Infinity for breakfast since they have a pretty good one. I usually get an omelet with scallions(or onions), tomato and cheese and my wife gets the Belgian waffles with extra maple syrup. You can call ahead to do take out so you can enjoy the view from your balcony at the villa while eating breakfast.

The beach is your next stop. The first step of navigating the beach is how to organize beach chairs and umbrellas. Usually there are 1 or 2 vendors competing for your business at different sections of the beach. Mostly they will happily position you wherever you want on the beach but they will give you some pushback about it if it’s far for them to pull the chairs. Also hotels may have rules that require their chairs in front of their hotel. But again there is competition so if you don’t get what you want go to the other guy. Don’t forget to negotiate. There is a set price, depending on where you are, but they will give you a discount if instead you pay for a weeks worth of service.

But Sunday is a bit tricky since the first day's activity, unfortunately, isn’t here so while you’ll sit out on the beach after breakfast for a bit and take everything in, today is Crystal waters day.

Crystal Waters is a 18 minute walk away, located on Sandy Beach, the next beach over. To the left, if you’re leaving Shoreshire villa, you will be walking all the way to the end of St. Lawrence gap until you hit the main road. You will take a left, walk for a bit and turn left to the beach just before the Sands Hotel and before Clifton Market shop. The bar and BBQ station will be on your right just before the beach.

First find the beach chair vendor or otherwise eventually he’ll find you, because most likely, you'll be standing on the beach looking lost.

You’re going to need to arrive at Crystal Waters at least by 10 or 11 to organize beach chairs there for the Sunday BBQ. You’ll want to be getting one of those chairs outside the music area convenient to 1) go into water 2) eat your food 3) get shade from sun without having to rent umbrella i.e.: under those coconut trees. You’ll want the chairs to be a bit away from the beach entrance to crystal waters because people smoke cigarettes there.

At least a day before, you should also call the chefs at +1 (246) 263-2992 or fb message Barbcue101 or ring Crystal Water’s Guest House at +1 (246) 435-7514, to reserve the meals, and specifically what you want, since there is a possibility they run out of food because it’s a very popular spot with locals and tourists alike. They serve fresh traditional Barbadian food.

For drinks either bring your own cooler to keep on the beach, patronize the bar or do a combination of both.

This is a calmer beach than dover’s since it’s completely protected by a reef. If for whatever reason it’s too rough at dover you can come back here any other day.

Music starts relatively early and anywhere from 11:30am to 12pm, I recommend you present your food ticket that you buy from the BBQ area on arrival, get your food, and eat lunch. You can either eat on your sunbed or, if you’re early enough, see if BBQ chefs will sit you at a table. You can also ask them about that when you call to reserve your food.

But the real activity here starts from 2pm until 7pm. They usually rotate the DJs week to week but DJ Impact is my favorite so hopefully you’re on the lucky week. He plays steel drum and is a very versatile singer performing soca (calypso), reggae, the oldies and rock and blues. He gets people dancing. Regularly there are also street performances with a limbo dancing fire eater and a Michael Jackson dancer. And don't miss the happy hour from 4-5pm where you get 2 drinks for the price of one.

All the while you can sunbathe, swim, eat, dance and enjoy your first full day in Barbados.

Monday (Island Tour):

Monday is pretty much a day of recovery in Barbados so perfect day to go on an Island Tour. See write my up for execution.

Tuesday (Catamaran day trip):

There are a few day trip catamarans to choose between.

My preference is to go with Cally and Sarah on the Elegance, which is a more intimate, owner operated company. The lunch cruise includes a return taxi transfer, open premium brand bar and a traditional bajan style buffet. If you're staying at Shoreshire Villa, we've organized a 10% discount with them so look in your welcome package and feel free to message us for more details. If you don't have the secret you won't get the discount.

If they are not available, then I usually go with Cool Runnings asking for captain Eddie. This company has multiple boats and will be more of a party boat but Eddie is a great captain.

You usually need to be at the dock in Bridgetown at 9am. When you book with the company you can arrange transportation from your villa or hotel. The cruise leaves port around 9:30am. There are generally 3 stops. First there is snorkeling with the turtles, then you get to snorkel around a few shipwrecks and then, after a leisurely sail down to the west coast of Barbados, the boat stops in a picturesque bay for a delicious traditional Bajan lunch. After lunch you get to swim again before heading back to port which you will reach around 2:30pm. Alcohol is included, from the full service bar, for the entire trip.

Please tell the beach chair vendor your plans the day before so he won’t be holding an empty chair for you for the whole day. They don’t like that. Just tell them you’re going on a cruise and will be back around 3pm so the chairs are ready when you get back. Then you can spend the afternoon just relaxing not having to hear about it.

Elegance
Wednesday (Day at Dover Beach):

It’s a good day to spend the entire day at your beach by the villa and get the lay of the land. Nicholas, of The Agard Experience, offers complementary introductory watersports to guests of Shoreshire villa. He’s kind of like a one stop shop and he offers Hobie Cat Sailing, Turtle Trips, Reef Trip, Surfing Lessons, Windsurf lessons and Island Tours. Tell him that you’re staying at Shoreshire and he will tell you what he will offer you. His discounts will also be shown in your welcome package. Only the introductory period of specified lessons are complementary. If you wish to continue then you’ll have to pay but I do highly recommend him. He's taught my son both surfing and sailing.

Dover Beach
Thursday (Atlantis Submarine/Crane/Martin’s Bay):

If you want to go on another sweet ocean trip I highly recommend Atlantis submarine.

However if you’d prefer less touring and more beach I recommend you go visit Crane Beach for the day. There maybe big waves here so, depending on who you're going with, you may want to call the resort and check on conditions prior to making the trek.

You would have gotten a preview of this beach on the island tour we did on Monday.

On Crane Beach

To go down to beach you’ll have to repeat what you did and start out with a beverage at Azure, and then instead of going back to your car, this time ask where the elevator to the beach is. There is another public way to get to the beach but I find it less desirable.

On the beach there is a beach chair vendor that’s separate from the hotel which will rent you the sunbed and umbrella. There also is someone who sells strong rum drinks in coconuts. I suggest you supplement with your own cooler full of supplies, otherwise you’ll be spending a lot of money with him. The beach is quite rough here and there can be big waves so gauge what you do based on both your ability and what others are doing.

In the evening you may want leave straight from there and go back to Martin’s Bay because it’s known for having a well attended Thursday seafood gathering with tons of music, atmosphere and well, seafood. It’s casual but be sure to bring a change of clothes if needed and maybe even some jeans in case it gets colder. Locals attend this so there is a high chance you’ll get to interact with someone who actually lives on the island. By now you will have interacted with a few locals who would know if this is still the thing to do so be sure to ask them before you catch a cab all the way there and back. I’m writing from previous experience and things may have changed since I last visited.

Friday (Oistins Fish Fry/Harbour Lights/Baxter’s Road):

Oistins is another weekly event popular with both locals and tourists. People will say it’s authentic but I grew up not too far from here when Oistins was just a fish market and Baxter’s road, in Bridgetown, was the authentic place you went for fantastic street vendor fish fried over a wood fire. At some point the government of Barbados decided that they wanted Oistins to be the place instead so they built up all these stalls and made it into the tourist attraction that it is today.

But they say when in Rome do as the Bajans do and hundreds of them come here every Friday. For about USD $15-$20 you will leave full and content most likely with leftovers. The hardest part is to make a choice of which vendor to go with and how long the wait is. If you go after 8 most likely you will be waiting. Uncle George is the premier seafood griller and Chilling & Grilling make good chicken.

After the food I suggest a little walk around with beverage in hand. The music is pumping in the front and various dancers, some good and some not so good, show off their skills on stage. Over in the back to the right there is old time music and it’s almost like an old ballroom. Some of these people have definitely taken ballroom dancing classes. To the far left there are guys playing dominoes with the seriousness of a chess tournament but granted that the chess players are also drinking rum. Along the back by the ocean are arts and crafts for sale so here’s where you might want to buy souvenirs to take back home.

On Friday nights there also is a beachfront, open air, all you can drink party at Harbour lights (for USD $35) if you are so inclined. I would say that this is the main nightlife on the island, outside of St Lawrence Gap down South and 2nd Street on the West Coast, and people come to it both from the south coast and west cost. It also goes on the latest maybe until 3 or 4am but free drinks ends around 2am. There will also be a lot of Bajans here in attendance. Traditionally you go to Harbour Lights first and then go from there to get even more fresh grilled fish and/or fried chicken at Baxter’s road. That would be a true authentic experience as that’s what Bajans used to do. Baxter’s road used to be called “the street that never sleeps” and they are generally there making fish until early morning. There used to be a place that makes great chicken there too but I haven’t been there lately.

So if you have a chance to go to Baxter’s road and see how it used to be done and let me know what you think. I still prefer Baxter’s road for it’s food and authenticity and I wish the government would make it back into something. Right now it’s a little sad to go there. A bit dark, no tourists and a few questionable characters roaming the streets. Hence I would go with someone, perhaps a local friend or taxi driver, who you feel can keep you safe. I think it’s pretty harmless down there and I have had no problems but you never know. Aside from the ladies down there grilling fish there is also "The Pink Star", not far down the street, which is kind of an institution in that area. It is known for both it's fried chicken and it's world famous liver cutter.

Saturday (Tiki Bar/Walk on the boardwalk/Day at the races/The Museum):
Tiki Bar:

You can either walk (33mins from dover), catch a minibus, or hail a traditional taxi to arrive at Accra beach. I have a few friends who run "The Tiki Bar" at Accra so stop by and give them a holler. I think they have a deal where what you buy in food you get towards a beach chair and umbrella so it's a pretty good deal to try out a new beach, new food and then be steps away from the beginning of the scenic oceanside boardwalk.

Walk on the boardwalk:

The boardwalk about a mile long and once on it you will be able to take in the full glory of the south coast. You will also pass various restaurants and bars that would be more than happy to have you stop in. This is a great, more recent improvement to the island and you will find families and tourist alike taking walks out in nature getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Day at the races:

But the bustle goes on and sometimes on Saturdays, The Barbados Turf Club, which regulates and promotes horse racing in Barbados, hosts horse races at the Historic Garrison Savannah, close to the Bridgetown. The races here have been held here since 1845 and they are well attended by locals who generally make a day out of it. It can be a nice family outing if you want to join them and it certainly captures one of the remaining vestiges of our British colonial heritage.

Some prefer to watch in the stands which requires paying a fee but most just stand around the track, watching the races, buying food and beverages from the vendors, and betting on horses if they are so inclined.

Usually a few races are enough for me because I grew up with this and I now prefer the beach.

The Museum:

You can decide if you want to be very efficient and kill 2 birds with one stone because right near the Garrison Savannah is the Barbados Museum if that's your cup of tea. Its a world heritage UNESCO site so it’s a protected place. With very reasonable entrance fees at $20BDS for adults and $10BDS for children, you may want to go either before or after your day at the races so check the times it's open (currently 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Mon - Sat and 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Sunday).

It’s not a huge exhibition but it includes a lot of detail in the written boards that are all around explaining what some of sea creatures are, and why some are extinct.. It also explains the different tribes that existed, their cultures, and what might or might not have happened to them, (Amerindians the first to populate this island).

It also showed tools the locals used.. cotton making, farming, pottery, jewelry and the history of why the houses here are the size they are..

Of course there was also history on the slave trade and liberation. There are pictures and writing on history boards there showing, exposing and explaining history. There is additionally a section depicting the different make up of the African countries that had been taken as slaves and brought here.

The museum is housed in a 19th-century military prison building but some of the space has currently been repurposed for visitor toilets.

It’s not just a great place for tourists but it's also informative locals. I myself haven't been back since I was a little kid so a visit is long overdue. They say there "if you don’t know where you come from how do you know where you are going?"

Anyway the 7 days are pretty much coming to an end. Rinse and repeat! Because when it’s good, I say, just do it again, but there are many other things to do in Barbados. You could go hiking, zip lining, off roading, rallying, diving, kite surfing and the list goes on but I’m sure you are as good at googling as I am. I just hope that you enjoy my recommendations and enjoy Barbados.

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I grew up in Barbados and now reside in Boston primarily working as a software developer. I'm also a licensed real estate professional so I know what it takes to be a trusted responsive short term rental host. Hopefully i've hired the best on premise staff who have thought of everything, but I myself am always only a phone call away. Being a local (we go back frequently) I know all the things to do, when to do them and I can get you in contact with the right people to facilitate it. My wife, who is russian, and I love nice restaurants and drinks as well so we can point you to our favorite places to go. You can expect a reasonable and timely response from me should you need any assistance. Enjoy your vacation!

Category: Barbados, Holiday Ideas
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