Barbados Cruise Tips, Activities, and Overview
Food and Drink in Barbados
Bajuns love their buffets, especially for lunch. You'll often find a selection of rice dishes, macaroni pie and vegetables, usually a little over-cooked or mushy for many tastes. A good Bajun buffet will always include a couple of kinds of chicken and seafood, too. A flying fish sandwich is a must while visiting the island, and most lunch spots will offer one on the menu. One thing you won't find often is a hamburger or red meat. The Bajuns just don't like it much.
The Waterfront Cafe is Bridgetown's best-known restaurant. On the waterfront at the Careenage, it serves everything from flying fish to mushroom pasta. Live entertainment, usually jazz, fills the stage on Friday and Saturday nights. (246-427-0093; open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m.)
The Tides Restaurant offers elegant waterfront dining along Barbados' Platinum Coast. Try the steamed flying fish Creole or the marinated sashimi salmon salad, or surprise yourself with the catch of the day. The sticky pudding for dessert is a reflection of the region's British heritage. Vegetarian and children's menus are available in the high season. (Balmore House, Holetown; 246-432-8356; open daily noon to 2 p.m. and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., November to May; open for dinner only and closed Sundays from June to October.)
The simple motto at the historic Hotel Atlantis Restaurant is ABC -- All Bajan Cuisine -- and it works. Sample local favorites like pumpkin fritters, steamed fish Creole and breadfruit casserole as you watch the Atlantic surf pounding onto the beach below. Sumptuous lunch buffets are offered on Wednesdays and Sundays. (Bathsheba; 246-433-9445; open daily 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Closed for dinner Sundays)
At The Fish Pot, located inside the Little Good Harbour Hotel, the open dining room and fresh Caribbean breeze make any meal taste better. The baby clams come with Creole sauce, and the ravioli has a bit of Jim Beam whiskey in the butter sauce. Feeling decadent? Treat yourself to the grilled lobster. It's worth the journey north of Speightstown. You might even want to dress up a little for this dinner out. (Shermans, St. Peter Parish; 246-439-3000; open daily)
Wiggle your toes in the sand at picnic tables on the beach in front of Zaccio's Restaurant and Beach Bar, or enjoy the breeze from an indoor table. Because it's probably the most popular pizza place on the island, reservations are necessary for Friday and Saturday nights. We love the macaroni pie, salads and paninis. Even the barbecued ribs are pretty good there. (Holetown, St. James Parish; 246-432-0134; open daily noon to 10 p.m., sometimes later in high season)
Best Cocktail in Barbados
Try anything with Mount Gay Rum. That's the local label, the oldest existing rum distillery in the world, and Bajuns are quite proud of it. A basic Rum Punch or Rum Runner is served at every restaurant and bar on the island. The local beer is Banks. Tours of the brewery and Mount Gay distillery are fun times.
Beaches in Barbados
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.
Don't Miss in Barbados
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)