A WEEK IN BARBADOS – THINGS TO DO, SEE AND EAT!
So, you are planning a trip to Barbados and you’re overloaded with so much information on what to do and see whilst you are there. Here is my guide of things to do if you have a week in Barbados including food and entertainment choices. I am a huge foodie, so we made sure to sample a lot of delicious food. I had no idea what to expect besides great food, beaches and people, which family and friends who have been to Barbados always rave about, and it was a treat to for us to discover it as described!
Location and Getting to Barbados:
Barbados is an island located in the Eastern Caribbean and flights arrive into the capital city Bridgetown. The island is small so regardless of which part of the island you decide to stay in, you’ll be able to access it easily. It takes about 4 hours to drive around the whole island to give you an idea of its size.
We flew in from London which took about 8.45hours and felt short, sweet and it was a flawless flight on Virgin Atlantic with some of the friendliest cabin crew I’ve ever encountered, right from the check in desk at Gatwick airport.
One thing I would advise if you are flying Virgin Atlantic would be to book economy premium. Virgin Atlantic (and I’m sure a lot more airlines, sigh) are doing this annoying thing where they have different categories of economy; if you book the lowest class of economy the leg room is teeny, and you may even be stuck having to pay for your checked luggage. So be aware of this whilst booking flights and always call to ask if you are unsure about what seats you are booking. I’ve seen on Expedia they now allow you to select premium economy or economy so if you’re fussy over luggage and leg room then that is for you!
If you are flying from Lusaka, then most flights will route you through America and it will take approximately 25hrs to get to Bridgetown with the cheapest flight. Another important thing to note is that even though Barbados is visa free for Zambians, you would need an American visa even if you are just transiting through their airport and not actually leaving it. For up to date info, contact the American embassy in Lusaka to ensure you have the right info before booking flights.
As usual we booked our flights through Expedia and got the best deal at the time.
Accommodation in Barbados:
Options are plentiful varying from hotels, private villas, boutique hotels and Airbnb so really and truly it is just down to your preference and what you want from your experience. I would say if you want a decent style of accommodation it is costly, but there are many budget options if you are fuss free.
Barbados is a luxury island so keep that in mind as you create your travel plans. We visited in December which is peak period on the island and accommodation can book out very quickly. We booked our trip in October but thankfully we still managed to find one of the last great deals on accommodation.
I did so much research before booking the trip in terms of reading travel blogs and speaking to family/friends for advice before booking accommodation, but really and truly if you’ve never been to a country before it is a gamble because your tastes will not be the same as others. I literally picked the accommodation based on price and how stunning it looked and thankfully that worked out!
We stayed in St Lawrence Gap in Christchurch Parish which was a 30/40-minute ride from the airport and such a fun area to be in. As soon as we were driving into the Gap as locals call it, my husband I both looked at each other with huge smiles and said we’d picked the best area!
On the doorstep of our boutique hotel called South Gap Hotel was a walking strip with soooo many restaurants, bars, supermarkets and the beach a 2minute walk away! Winner! Our hotel cost approximately $240 per night and we got ocean views from our room (and crashing waves at night, heaven) and a super cute kitchen, so we cooked breakfast in our room most of the days if we woke up early enough! I loved this boutique hotel because it has a limited amount of rooms and therefore it doesn’t have a claustrophobic feel of having too many other humans in public spaces at the same time. Like for e.g. we didn’t have to fight for sun loungers by the pool or wait hours for a cocktail because the place is overrun. We used booking.com to book our boutique hotel. Also – the most helpful and charming people work at South Gap Hotel!
The other areas that I saw that I would recommend for you to stay if you aren’t feeling St. Lawrence Gap would be St James and St Peter on the West Coast. The South and West coast also typically have the calmest waters and entertainment in terms of dining and nightlife. If that is not your speed, the Barbados countryside has delightful guesthouses for a different experience.
Getting Around Barbados:
Hire a car, hire a car! I can not reiterate this enough if you are comfortable with driving in a different country (which luckily my husband is, and I can give directions whilst sipping from my happy cup hehe). But seriously, we found this to be the most cost-effective way of getting around the island and seeing as much as possible.
Tishaun, one of the lovely women working on the front desk at South Gap Hotel found us a rental for $65 a day! We were so thrilled with the price because honestly it is a steal compared to what taxis would have cost. We used Google maps to get around because we easily got a Bajan sim card at the shopping mall. It was literally a 10minute process. I love countries with quick and efficient systems in place!
As I’ve mentioned before, Saint Lawrence Gap has got everything you could possibly want within walking distance but if you want to see more of the island then hiring a car is where it’s at. You can also book tours with tour operators but that will be more costly, and you will be on the tour company’s schedule. My husband and I love the freedom of stopping if we find a cute restaurant or bar so having the car was perfecto!
The public transport system is very easy to use on buses and if you choose to do that, then the front desk of wherever you stay, or Airbnb hosts will happily give you information on how to get around.
Walking is also recommended, and the island feels safe. Of course, take precautions like you would in any country and avoid walking late at night and in deserted areas but in the busy areas, you’ll spot many a tourist and locals walking to the beach or restaurants.
Things to do in Barbados:
There a probably a million and one fun things to do in Barbados, and it is down to preference, so I’ll stick to the ones we did which is a realistic expectation of what you can do in 6 full days if you want a mixture of relaxation, laid back activities and lots of food and booze. Thankfully for us, the internet these days has loads of recommendations and reviews for pretty much any activities you would want to do.
WATER SPORTS: Hella fun! I don’t think a trip to Barbados would be complete without any water sport activities. We went to Carlisle Bay Beach to ride jet skis and do jet blading. We found the activities in our Barbados travel guide and booked directly through them. Granted, the beach was overcrowded because it is right next to the cruise ship stop and consequently you get the overspill from that. With that said however, the beach was still extremely clean with clear blue water.
We paid $80 as a couple to jet ski for 30minutes. I would also say you do not need to book the activity in advance, once you get to the beach there will be numerous people coming to offer water sports to you and make sure you haggle the price down! The area to jet ski in was limited but I was extremely fine with that because I’m a wuss and I was constantly worried about our stuff flying out from its enclosure hehe! Also – don’t jet ski with your sunglasses on because you’ll also be worried about dropping them in the water and urge your speedy husband to slow down and ruin his fun!
I opted not to do jet blading, but my husband did and absolutely loved it! You’re basically attached to some contraption and thrust in the air like you are flying. It looked like so much fun, but after the jet skiing I was more content sitting on the beach as the sun went down and enjoying my rum punch. Check out their website, Jet Blade Barbados for more info! FYI, best rum punch is in the car park at the camper van converted into a bar closest to the entrance of the beach. Pirates Cove, where we watched the sun set is also such a vibe with great cocktails and nice music.
CATAMARAN BOAT CRUISE: My oh my, what an absolute blast! Do your research and find a catamaran cruise that suits your style and personality! I had scoured the net to find one which I knew we would love, and Cool Runnings was it! From beginning to end it was so much fun with loud music and lots of booze flowing. You can choose from either a lunch cruise or sunset cruise. We choose the sunset cruise because we wanted a nice sunset for our last night in Barbados, so we wanted to make it special.
Booking it is easy, if you have access to your phone book them direct or do it through your hotel. The $90 you pay for the cruise includes pick up and drop off from your abode in an aircon car, all the booze you can drink, a delicious spread of food, snorkelling with beautiful turtles and over a shipwreck and most importantly incredible views the whole time. I knew it was going to be LIT when we saw the people coming off the afternoon cruise staggering and extremely happy!
Find more info on their website, Cool Runnings Barbados.
ANIMAL FLOWER CAVES: Located in the most northerly part of Barbados in St Lucy Parish in the beautiful countryside, this area is breath-taking. Another win if you’ve hired a car because you will thoroughly enjoy the views and drive and it’ll cost you way less than a hired tour.
The Animal Caves are located under the cliffs and you must go down coral steps which lead you into the cave. The reason for the name Animal Flower Caves is because you’ll find anemones (a beautiful flower which consist of tentacles that can sting and paralyse fish) in the pools, some of which are deep enough to swim in. We did have that as an option but after a delicious lunch in the Animal Flower Cave restaurant, that was the last thing on my mind. I found the anemones fascinating with the spectacular views out onto the Atlantic Ocean and the incredible waves crashing into rocks.
This part of the island is a huge contrast to the other sides of the island we’d witnessed and absolutely beautiful in its own right. Make sure to visit the restaurant because it’ll knock your socks off. It was our second-best dining experience and their menu truly encompassed a Bajan experience. We had grilled octopus to start, and then curry lamb and catch of the day which was mahi-mahi with sweet potato mash and vegetables. All scrumptious washed down with a nice bottle of wine and views for days.
To see the Flower Caves will cost you 25Bajan dollars which is approximately $12.5USD. This is not inclusive of restaurant visit, that is a separate cost according to what you order on their menu.
OISTIN’S FISH FRY: I would consider this both a culinary treat in addition to seeing and experiencing true Bajan culture through their fish/seafood, community spirit and music. Oistins is a town in the South East of the island and every Friday they have a fish fry, which is a celebration of the contributions made by those working in the fishing community. And what you get from that is an amazing street party with loads of different informal style market stalls selling fish of the day and lots of drinks including rum punch and the locally brewed Bajan beer called Banks.
The fish fry attracts both locals and tourists and is an amazing thing to do. The sweet soca and calypso music plays, and the smells are heavenly. I probably drunk way too much rum punch that day but I was not sorry! I tasted blue Marlin fish with macaroni pie and grilled potatoes which was so good. It was such a huge portion that I had to take some back to the hotel and have it for brunch the next day.
You will probably be confused about which stall to eat at because there is a lot of activity happening, so I would recommend you walk around and get a feel of where you want to be before you settle for once spot. Get there for about 6/7pm before it gets too packed and you can enjoy a delicious meal before you get to dancing and enjoying the atmosphere. The day we went there was lots of different entertainment on a stage and one of my highlights was the Bajan Michael Jackson impersonator. He had moves for days!
There is also a wide array of stalls selling jewellery and other arts and crafts so carry cash with you, although there are ATM’s close by but those always have queues and watch your bags as you would in any crowded place. A must do in Barbados. The people are extremely friendly, welcoming and helpful.
RIHANNA’S HOUSE: As a huge RiRi fan I was never going to miss the opportunity to be in her place of birth and not see where she grew up! We literally typed ‘Rihanna’s childhood home’ into google maps and it directed us right to the front doorstep of her childhood home. It was so nice to see where she grew up, in humble beginnings and to see what she has done with her life. So motivating and inspirational.
And btw, on your adventures if you happen to go past 1 Sandy Lane which is an exclusive and huge mansion where Rihanna now rents an apartment when she’s at home, it is a huge difference from how she grew up. That area also has some cute holiday homes for rent as well as restaurants and beaches as an option for area to stay in.
BEACH BUM: You couldn’t go all the way to Barbados and not enjoy part of your trip being a beach bum. I kid you not, Barbados has some of the best beaches I’ve been on ever. So clean and the water is always sparkling and clear whichever beach you are at!
Mullins beach on the West coast of the island has some beautiful beaches as well as the South coast where we were staying. Google beaches close to you and they’ll be a wide selection. Some of the popular beach spots for entertainment are Nikki Beach on the North west side of the island. It has a restaurant, beachside cabanas and the ultimate posing spots! We did want to go there but time was not on our side.
RUM TOUR: This is something that we didn’t manage to do, but I would have loved to. I love alcohol and learning about its history, especially in a country like Barbados which is steeped in a lot of history. But sadly, we couldn’t make it because the hubs and rum don’t go well together, and secondly, I really wanted to do the rum tasting with lunch after, but we missed it because it only happens on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Mount Gay distillery is the oldest one on the island so I would recommend it. They have a wide selection of tours on their website for you to choose, from quick tours, learning about how the rum is distilled, cocktail making classes….the list is endless. They basically have something for everyone!
I had so much Mount Gay rum in for form of rum punch and rum cocktails and I can definitely attest to its incredible taste!
Eat and Drink:
I mean, you cannot go all the way to Barbados and not want to try all the delicious food that the island is famous for, right?! Food is one of the reasons I was most excited about going to Barbados being the true foodie I am. I have always loved Caribbean food, and that has been heightened by having a lot of close friends and even family from Barbados and the Caribbean at large. So, I knew what I wanted and what I needed to explore. I also got some recommendations on eateries from friends too. Below are my favourite eating experiences:
CHAMPERS: Probably about a 10minute drive from where we stayed in the Gap is this incredible restaurant. It was our number one eating experience in Barbados without a doubt. We went there for dinner one night and what a treat it was. The space is well executed with amazing views over the ocean. Their service is impeccable from the moment you enter the restaurant and their menu is so extensive with the most amazing food options.
I had been dying for scallops the whole trip and they were either sold out or off the menu in a lot of other places we’d visited, but finally Champers did the business for me. HALLELUJAH! To start I had the pan seared queen scallops on a risotto cake finished with a light saffron cream that was so delicious I honestly could have had two portions! The hubby had the slow roasted pork belly was also delish and cooked to perfection.
For mains I had the parmesan crusted barracuda fish (I know, who knew such a combo existed but thank the heavens for these chefs), with mashed potatoes and veggies, and the hubs ordered rib-eye steak which was yummy too.
The wine list was also faaaabulous and we enjoyed a nice Chilean red wine to relax into the evening with. Heads up, book a table in advance because this place is super popular and gets booked out!
SEASHED: Located in Mullins Beach on the west coast, this was an approximately 45minute drive from where we stayed, but because we had the rental car it wasn’t a problem getting there. They also have an incredible beach so you can spend a whole day there relaxing or do like we did and get there in the late afternoon for sundowners into dinner.
The space is very rustic chic with wood elements everywhere. I loved it so much because it felt like my personality in a space if that makes sense! Their service was absolutely excellent (a recurring theme in Barbados) and it was perfect to chill overlooking the beach. The sunset was one of the best in Barbados that day.
Now onto the yummy food; to start we had the grilled octopus starter and then for mains we ordered the seafood salad complete with mango in addition to the steak frites. All the food was delicious and cooked to perfection. I washed this down with the Minuty French rose wine. When it got dark, they also had a solo singer perform beautiful relaxing music. What a night! I would also recommend booking a table at Seashed in advance because it gets fully booked. It isn’t the cheapest restaurant, but it is worth the treat!
THE TIDES: We didn’t make it here, but it is high on my list of places to eat at. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough time and space in my belly to eat everywhere we desired. The Tides is huge on seafood (think scallops, oysters, salmon) and fresh food in a stunning setting overlooking the ocean and is revered as one of the best eateries in Barbados!
CAFÉ SOL MEXICAN GRILL AND MARGARITA BAR: The first restaurant we visited on our trip and conveniently located on the Gap and a two-minute walk from our hotel. I was not joking when I said our options for food were plentiful in St Lawrence Gap. We chose Mexican the first night because I really needed a few margaritas and easy food. Plus, the music was really inviting!
The margaritas did not disappoint and neither did their amazing fajitas and guac and chips. We were both so exhausted from our early morning and flight to probably enjoy it to its full capacity, but it is well worth exploring.
MCBRIDES: What we would consider a fun party spot! Think outdoor bar area and then an inside bar/dance area as well as VIP area (which was actually pretty empty coz the real fun was happening in the public areas), with fantastic predominantly Caribbean music and a great mix of tourists and locals.
We had no idea what to expect but I am extremely glad we went because we had the best night! It was lots of fun watching the locals get down to their moves and of course I got involved and did my thing too! The rum flowed and before we knew it, it was 4am! Yes, it was that fun! Do not miss out McBrides located on St Lawrence Gap on any trip to Barbados!
BURGER SPOT OUTSIDE SOUTH GAP HOTEL: After a night of booty shaking and lots of rum the only logical thing to do is to look for something greasy and hearty. At least for us anyway! And conveniently located right outside South Gap hotel on the right is the best burger spot you’ll ever find! It is so good that when Rihanna is in Barbados, she always gets a burger from there. I was too lit to get the name of the burger joint, but it is super famous in Barbados and anyone will lead you there with my basic directions haha! The bun is warm and moist, the burger meat tender and the female proprietor adds in some coleslaw which just cements its greatness!
BREAKFAST AT SOUTH GAP HOTEL: We had a really enjoyable breakfast at our hotel on our second day on the island. I love that their menu has something for everyone; from a varied healthy corner, to English brekkie to a traditional Bajan brekkie. My husband had the Bajan breakfast which came with fritters, plantain and saltfish.
Whilst you’re on the island make sure you try the local Bajan fare and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed!
BARS IN ST. LAWRENCE GAP: During the day and even into the evening, walk the Gap and pop into any of the bars that take your fancy. They have different vibes and styles, but we had lots of fun popping into different cocktail bars during the day when the heat became overbearing. Our favourite was Sharkey’s for their delicious cocktails and their menu also looked so yummy with a mixture of Caribbean and bar-style food favourites alike.
CURRENCY: Barbados Dollar is the currency on the island. USD is also widely accepted so I would advise you to take some dollars with you if possible. They have currency exchanges and ATMS located in most places, and another impressive thing is that VISA is accepted almost everywhere. We found ourselves at a cute pub in the countryside town of Bathsheba and even there they accepted card payment.
When paying for things you can actually use USD and get change either in USD or Bajan Dollar depending on your preference. 1USD = 2Bajan dollars.
LANGUAGE: English is spoken across the whole island, even though the Bajan accent makes it sound a whole lot sexier! I could have honestly spoken to the islanders the whole day. It was so hilarious because Bajan people kept thinking my husband was Nigerian because of his accent….which by the way sounds nothing like a Nigerian one and is very much Zambian!
THE END: Thank you so much for reading my Barbados travel guide, I thoroughly hope you enjoyed it and has given you some insight to this beautiful country. If you have any more questions, please feel free to reach out to me and I would be happy to help.