Unforgettable experiences to try on holiday in Barbados
With its swaying palms, famous Bajan cuisine and laid-back locals, Barbados* is perhaps the most well-known island in the Caribbean.
The birthplace of both Rihanna and rum (one in the 1980s, the other in the 1700s), the island is cool and cultured with 3,000 hours of sunshine a year.
It's a calendar of colourful festivals, world-class restaurants and abundant opportunities to create lasting memories. We've picked some of the best experiences on this quintessential Caribbean island.
Getting to Barbados: check out current offers on holidays to Barbados with TUI*.
Barbados Food & Rum Festival
With a wide variety of cuisine and more than a hundred restaurants across the island, it's no surprise Barbados is often referred to as the culinary capital of the Caribbean.
It's also thought to be the birthplace of rum, with the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, founded in 1703, believed to be the oldest rum producer in the world.
Rum is the local tipple of choice and there are more than 2,500 rum shops dotted around the island that provide the backbone of Bajan social life.
Each autumn (usually at the end of October) the whole island comes together to celebrate its rich culinary heritage through the annual Barbados Food and Rum Festival.
Expect pop-up restaurants, rum tastings, chef demonstrations and beach parties, with most of the events taking place in the capital Bridgetown.
Eco Adventure Park at Harrison's Cave
Harrison's Cave has long featured on lists of the top things to do in Barbados.
This crystallised limestone cave in the central uplands is one of Barbados's greatest wonders, featuring a series of stream caves with deep pools of crystal-clear water and towering columns of limestone.
Now, Chukka Caribbean Adventures has embarked on the expansive development of Harrison's Cave Eco Adventure Park and added zip-lines and swings to make your visit even more thrilling.
Take a tram tour through the cave system to see underground waterfalls and streams, glide through the tree canopy on the Monkey Zipline, tackle the Gully Challenge obstacle course or take a more leisurely journey through the guided nature trail where you'll find the "Selfie Swing" for a memorable photo.
Sushi under the sea
Sushi might not be a cuisine you associate with the Caribbean, but how about a bento box Barbados style? Here you can tuck into a maki roll while eyeing swimming turtles and unfurling sea anemones while aboard the famed Atlantis Submarine.
On this underwater adventure you are lowered to 150 feet below the ocean's surface, where the vessel settles gently on a sandy clearing surrounded by coral reefs teeming with tropical fish and you might even get to see a shipwreck.
The bento box is created by local chefs, Adrian Cumberbatch and Scott Ames of Cook Caribbean.
Try the jerked yellowfin tuna and tempura chive maki, which marries spicy Caribbean seasonings with the delicate preparation of Japanese maki roll, swilled down with a glass of prosecco. The tour time is 90 minutes and departs from Bridgetown.
Dinner at The Cliff
The Cliff is one of the Caribbean's most iconic restaurants, having built a reputation for gastronomic fine dining since its inception in 1995.
It's always been the go-to place for Barbados celebrity spotting, with guests hoping to rub shoulders with the island's regular A-list visitors, including Simon Cowell, the Beckhams, the Rooneys and Hugh Grant.
Now the cliffside restaurant, just north of Bridgetown, has undergone a complete refurbishment and has reopened with the UK's Matt Worswick at the helm as culinary director.
Liverpool-born Worswick has twice earned a Michelin star; at the Latymer in Surrey and at Glenapp Castle in Scotland, where he earned his first star at the age of 26 after reaching the semi-finals of the 2010 Masterchef: The Professionals.
The restaurant's iconic seaside balconies have been modernised, complete with an all-glass, sea-facing kitchen, which lets guests glimpse the culinary team at work.
The Cliff also boasts a fine wine cellar with more than 1,500 varieties of wines from around the world, chosen by their expert team of sommeliers under the direction of the Director of Wine, Alessandro Cassano.
Eat local at Local & Co
Set in a beautifully restored late-18th-century building, which at various times in its life has been a storeroom for sugar, rum and even whale oil, Local & Co brings a new restaurant concept for Barbados with a focus on food sustainability.
Committed to working with local artisans, producers, fisherfolk, farmers and butchers, the restaurant aims to counter the fact that more than 85% of Barbados's produce is imported.
Set in the former CHP Jordan building on Queen's Street, Speightstown, St Peter, you can try dishes created with foraged and wild products that Barbadians would have used in their homes many decades ago.
Try whipped yam, a favourite side dish that the chefs enhance with chicken jus and bone marrow butter, or Italian dishes made with local ingredients, such as breadfruit gnocchi or cassava pasta lasagne.
Take a trip along the East Coast Road
If the west coast of Barbados is all pristine white beaches and swaying palm trees, then the east coast is its alter-ego; a rugged and rocky shore with white-edged Atlantic breakers.>
Hire a car and drive along the coast road (or ask a local taxi firm to take you) and you can enjoy the mountainous interior looming on one side and the ever-changing seascape on the other.
Be sure to stop at the "Soup Bowl", the Mecca of Caribbean surfing, to watch the wave riders. This legendary surf spot in the town of Bathsheba is the location of several international competitions, including the Barbados Surf Pro and the Junior Pro in late March.
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