10 Great Family Activities in Barbados By Katie McElveen

This year, upgrade your family beach trip with a stay in Barbados, where beachy bliss and cool activities come together on one of the Caribbean’s most accessible islands. Even better, through October, kids traveling with their parents  stay and play for free. Here are ten ways to enjoy Barbados with the whole family.

Hit the Beach

With 70 miles of beaches, Barbados has a strand to suit any style. Payne’s Bay and other sun-swept stretches along the island’s south and west coasts are legendary for soft sand that gives way to calm, sapphire-colored water. As you make your way east, the coast changes into a dramatic landscape of massive rock formations and pounding surf.

Get Festive

Barbados is an island of festivals; Crop Over is a three-week extravaganza of art, culture, and music that ends on August 7 with Kadooment, one of the Caribbean’s largest and most colorful parades. This September, Barbados celebrates two inaugural events, the Festival of Cycling, which will open roads and trails to cyclists from all over the world for five days and the Beach and Wellness Festival, a celebration of good health filled with food, active fun and other events.

Go for a Sail

Kick off vacation with a cruise aboard the Jolly Roger and you can snorkel through schools of tropical fish, dance on deck, eat lunch and have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to swim with wild sea turtles. Rather stay dry? End your day with a sunset cruise and watch the azure sky turn scarlet as flying fish leap from the water.

Take a Safari

History and nature come together on Island Safaris’ off-road island tours, which use real-life experiences like driving through a sugarcane field, scrambling over rocky hillsides, meandering through tiny villages, and eating at a local restaurant to share the captivating story of Barbados. Guides can tailor the trip to their particular interests, too.

Discover Wildlife and Nature

Go beyond the beach to discover the natural wonders within Barbados’ lush interior. Tucked into an emerald-hued gully, Hunte’s Gardens is bright with tropical blooms and buzzes with hummingbirds. Peacocks, flamingos, parrots, and deer and other animals live within the Barbados Wildlife Reserve; in the afternoons, monkeys emerge from the forest for feeding time.

Explore History

Step into the past in historic Bridgetown, a Colonial trading center where streets still follow the plan laid out by the British in the mid-1600’s. Constructed by around 1650, the city’s military garrison is considered one of the best-preserved garrison complexes in the world. Both were named UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2011. George Washington visited Barbados in 1751; the residence where he stayed has been transformed into a museum that offers a glimpse into 18th century life on the island.

Taste the World

As the Caribbean’s only Zagat-rated island, Barbados has long been considered the region’s culinary capital. For a real taste of Barbados, grab some fish cakes at Pirate’s Cove and dig in just steps from the ocean. If it’s Friday night, don’t miss Oistin’s Fish Fry, a Barbados institution where you can try Bajan street foods like spicy coucou and flying fish (it’s the national dish) to a soundtrack of local bands.

Go Under the Sea — Without Getting Wet

The clear waters surrounding Barbados were meant to be explored. With coral reefs galore, you’ll find hundreds of varieties of fish, dramatic sea fans, octopus, sponges, and even a few shipwrecks in the immediate area. A working submarine, the Atlantis, glides through this scene and offers a new perspective of life 150 feet under the ocean.

Go Spelunking

Named for the flower-like sea anemones that flourish here, Animal Flower Cave is the only sea cave in Barbados that’s accessible to swimmers. Beyond crashing Atlantic waves, you’ll find quiet pools and awe-inspiring views. Harrison’s Cave, an underground cave system, is a wonderland of gigantic stalactites and stalagmites, cool streams, bottomless pools, and sparkling crystals.

Get Sporty

2017 has been named the Year of Sport on Barbados, so get ready to experience some of the island’s sporting traditions. Spring and summer bring the OK Dinghy World Championships, the Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival, and the Barbados Beach Tennis Open. In the fall, attend the National Triathalon, or beach volleyball tournaments. And the Dragon World Series will draw stand-up paddleboarders from around the world.

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