Popular Barbados Shore Excursions
Banks Brewery is the island brew, and a tour of the plant shows off just how far this little brewery has grown in about 50 years. Tastings and souvenir shopping are the best. (Newtown Road, Bridgetown; open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
George Washington's House is the only place outside the U.S. where the first president ever visited. The house is perfectly restored with period antiques and is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. (Bush Hill, The Garrison, St. Michael; open Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
The Jolly Roger Pirate Cruise is a four-hour pirate-themed cruise that features a sail down the west coast, snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles, a BBQ buffet lunch and an open bar. You'll even get to "walk the plank" and take a few rope-swing jumps from the ship. Plus, you'll get picked up and dropped off right outside of the cruise port. Tip: Mention Cruise Critic for a 10 percent discount.
Harrison's Cave is one of the premiere show caves in the Caribbean. A major expansion in 2010 included a visitor's center and interpretive center. It's a great place to see green monkeys and the bearded fig trees from which Barbados gets its name. (St. Thomas; 246-417-3700; open daily 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.)
In Chattel Village, Holetown, a dozen or more brightly painted little houses, reflecting the style of portable plantation homes, are home to gift shops and restaurants offering everything from Cuban cigars and home decor to resortwear. The village is located directly on the bus route for those coming from Bridgetown.
At Mount Gay Rum Distillery, learn the history of rum on the island, learn how to mix various cocktails, and have some lunch when it's all over. (Brandons, St. Michael; open Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays)
Cherry Tree Hill, St. Andrew Parish, is the second-highest point on the island, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and a valley nicknamed "Scotland" for its rolling green hills.
At Farley Hill National Park, St. Peter Parish, see ruins of a great manor house and views of the Scotland district from pagoda. (open daily 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Arbib Heritage and Nature Trails Eco Adventures offers lush views of the island's interior on walks that visit towns and gullies. Walks take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and reservations are required. (St. Peter; 246-234-9100)
Afternoon tea at the Taboras Restaurant in the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, St. James Parish, is served daily between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. (246-422-5555)
Best Beach for a Half-Day Visit: Gently curving Brandon's Beach, also known as Weiser's Beach (Weiser is a popular beach bar), is visible from your cruise ship; it fronts the Caribbean.
Best Beaches for Beach Bums: At Payne's Beach, there are plenty of beach cafes, bars and places to rent snorkeling equipment and going parasailing. On the southern part of the east coast, Crane Beach -- with its cliffs, dunes and pink sand -- has received accolades as one of the Caribbean's prettiest beaches. It's a great place for body-surfing. Worthing Beach on the south coast is also convenient to the cruise ship, and it's a perfect swimming beach.
Best Secluded Beaches: Tons! The most romantic beach is actually a collection of them, five miles long. They're strung along the east (Atlantic) coast between Belle Plain and Bathsheba. The surf is too rough for swimming, however. For romance and easy surf, check out the stretch in Holetown between Sandy Lane and Payne's Beach. On the island's south side, Harrismith Beach and Bottom Bay (both in St. Phillip Parish) have beautiful cliff sides, palms and caves; take a picnic. Batts Rock (St. Michael Parish) is also a great secluded beach that doesn't get a lot of traffic.