This easternmost Caribbean island is one of the most diverse in the region, known equally for luxury five-star hotels and humble rum shacks with corrugated tin roofs. Sunbury Plantation on the eastern highlands showcases the island’s sugar-producing history, and cruise ships dock right in the capital Bridgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage site to the southwest.
What We Love
Oistins Fish Fry: This Friday night tradition is one of the best street parties in the Caribbean. Tourists and locals head down to Oistins Bay Gardens around sunset to walk the stalls grilling fresh tuna, marlin, and flying fish. DJs spin reggae, calypso, and reggaeton into the wee hours.
Harrison’s Cave: This limestone cavern in the central highlands is home to dramatic stalagmites and stalactites formed by centuries of erosion. Pair it with a visit to the nearby Barbados Wildlife Reserve to see the mischievous monkeys native to the island.
Best Known For
Rum: The sugar-based spirit was invented on the island, and local lore says that Barbados has 1,500 rum shops. Visit the Mount Gay Rum Tour to learn how it’s made and taste different versions (and pick up a bottle or two).
Surfing: Barbados is ideally suited to catch long Atlantic waves, making it one of the Caribbean’s top surfing spots. You’ll find people boarding year-round, especially at the Soup Bowl at Bathsheba on the island’s eastern shore.
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Who It's Best For
Partyers: As you’d expect, the island that gave us Rihanna knows how to have fun. She goes home every summer for the Crop Over harvest festival, but you’ll find hopping nightlife all year long, with an international crowd on the dance floor.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Rough Waters: Barbados is in the easternmost Caribbean, and edged by both the calm Caribbean and the rougher Atlantic oceans. Surf conditions vary depending on where you are on the island, so choose your beach time accordingly.
Susan Moynihan is a Florida-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Parenting and Woman’s Day.