A Barbados Cruise Day Is Wonderful: Here’s 9 Reasons You’ll Want To Come Back

You’ve just returned from a wonderful cruise that stopped in Barbados. You enjoyed every moment of your time on this beautiful island, but you can’t help but feel like you didn’t get to experience everything it has to offer on that short Barbados cruise day. That’s why planning a longer trip to Barbados makes perfect sense.

I’ve been to Barbados more than a few times when cruising with Royal Caribbean, so when the opportunity came up recently to spend 14 days in the Caribbean, Barbados was top of my list, and for good reason. I wanted to see more of what this stunning island had to offer.

From its beautiful beaches to historical landmarks and exciting outdoor activities, I was not disappointed.

Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or with family, there’s something for everyone here.

People leaving a cruise ship which has docked for a day in port
Disembark your vessel for a Barbados cruise day. Photo by Adam Gonzales on Unsplash

Why Should You Do A Barbados Cruise Day On Your Trip?

But before we get into the reason why you should come back and spend a bit longer on Barbados, let’s talk about why a Barbados cruise day should be the highlight of any cruise. There are 3 good reasons. 

  • The size of the island
  • Local transport 
  • The people

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It’s a Small Island

Barbados is small. Very small. In fact, by land mass, it is actually almost exactly the same size as the Isle of Arran in Scotland.

Interestingly Arran is often referred to as “Scotland in Miniature”, whereas you could sometimes refer to the landscape of Barbados as “Great Britain in Miniature”. So, imagine if you will, a place the size of Arran, but with an amazing climate and a population of just under 300,000 very friendly locals.

Map comparison of Barbados and the Isle of Arran in Scotland
Barbados vs. The Isle of Arran

It Has Great Local Transport

This compact size of the Island means it’s relatively easy to get around, especially on the fleet of blue and yellow-striped Buses and “ZR Vans” that populate the main island routes.

The standard bus fare is just $BD3.50 (Barbados Dollars) which is $1.75 US Dollars. 

ZR Vans

You’ll never forget your first trip on a ZR Van. Lots of loud music, beeping horns constantly, and sometimes a little erratic driving – just think of it as a fairground ride and go with the flow LOL.

A Word On Taxis

Taxis are also everywhere, but always check the price first and confirm what currency they quoted you in. That 40 Dollar fare seems cheap when you assume they are talking about Barbados Dollars (so only 20 US Dollars). But once you get to your destination and they ask for 40 US Dollars, you will quickly realise your mistake. The taxi drivers can be a little crafty with this one, so be aware.

Barbados while easy to get around, does not have the best road system once you get away from Bridgetown and the main resort areas. The roads are bumpy and driving speeds can drop to a crawl in some places. So that 20-mile trip that should only take around 20-30 minutes can take a LOT longer.

The People Are Amazing and So Friendly

Okay, I know every island’s tourism department would describe their Islanders as being friendly, but honestly, there is something special about the Barbados people (Bajans).

Stop for directions and they’ll happily jump in the car to guide you. They’ll probably then offer to guide you on a tour around the island or invite you back to their home for lunch. This isn’t to garner tips. This is genuinely how friendly they are.

Man standing on the rocks with a fishing rod
The people in Barbados are always so happy to see you. Image by Brian Dorff from Pixabay

9 Reasons Why You’ll Want To Come Back to Stay in Barbados Longer

Barbados really does make a wonderful port stop, but due to your limited time on the Island, you can’t really do longer trips or experience any of the wonderful Barbados nightlife.

So here’s a list of 9 things that will definitely make you want to come back to Barbados for a longer stay.

1. Experience Oistins Fish Fry

If you want to experience real Barbadian culture, then Oistins Fish Fry is a must-visit place. This weekly event is held on Friday nights, where locals and visitors gather to enjoy freshly caught fish, music, and dancing.

You can choose from a variety of seafood dishes, including grilled or fried fish, lobster, shrimp, and more and the prices are really reasonable for some wonderfully cooked street food.

The atmosphere is lively and fun, and you can even try your hand at limbo dancing.

2. Visiting Animal Flower Cave and Restaurant

Located in the northernmost parish of St. Lucy, the Animal Flower Cave is a natural wonder that you don’t want to miss. This sea cave features stunning rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites.

Just watch your timing for your visit though. High tides or rough seas mean that the entrance to the cave will be closed for safety reasons.

The steps down to the cave are steep and the cave rocks can be slippy. The payment of the entrance fee will include the services of a local guide who will tell you all about the history of the cave and show you the “animal flowers” that grow in the water, that gave the cave its name.

You’ll also have some free time to swim in the large rock pools within the cave itself.

After your swim, you can enjoy a meal at the restaurant overlooking the ocean and watch the waves crash against the cliffs. This is the most northerly point of Barbados. The view is breathtaking, and the experience is unforgettable.

The cliffs and Caribbean Sea around Animal Flower Cave
Make sure you time your trip to Animal Flower Cave as high tide can cut off the entrance

3. Experience the Nightlife of St Lawrence Gap

If you’re looking for a fun night out, head to St. Lawrence Gap. This street is lined with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, and it’s the perfect place to dance the night away.

Known locally as just “The Gap” this is a resort-style strip that is always “jumping”. There is a huge diversity of choice here from local rum shacks and street food to high-end nightclubs and fine dining.

You can listen to live music, enjoy a rum punch, and meet friendly locals and other travelers. The atmosphere is lively and energetic, and you’re sure to have a great time.

The Gap is located on the South Coast and is easy to reach from most of the popular hotel and resort locations.

People chatting and drinking in St Lawrence Gap at night
Settle down for a drink and a boogie in St Lawrence Gap

4. Attend a Cricket Match at Kensington Oval

Cricket is the national sport of Barbados, and attending a match at Kensington Oval is a unique experience.

The stadium is located in Bridgetown, and it’s the home of the Barbados cricket team. It’s a world-class venue that surprises many people when they first see it.

If you can time your visit when there is a major cricket match, it’s a great experience. Quite different from the “Pimms and Strawberries” you might be used to at a village cricket match in England.

You can watch a match, enjoy some delicious food and drinks, and immerse yourself in the local culture. The energy and excitement of the crowd are contagious, and you’ll feel like a true Bajan.

5. Go Celebrity Spotting Near Sandy Lane

Barbados is a popular destination for celebrities, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a movie star or two near Sandy Lane.

Sandy Lane is a luxury resort located just south of Holetown, which is a lively and popular tourist area on the West Coast of the Island. It’s renowned for its three golf courses, including the Green Monkey designed by Tom Fazio, its world-class spa, and its several gourmet restaurants.

Sandy Lane and the nearby private residences at “One Sandy Lane” are also famous for attracting celebrities and high-profile guests, contributing to its reputation as one of the most prestigious resorts in the Caribbean.

It can be fun spending a day at one of the local bars nearby and people-watching. You’ll see countless Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys. And, if you are lucky, you might spot the odd celebrity or two.

Simon Cowell was in residence at One Sandy Lane when we were in town, but we didn’t manage to bump into him much to my wife’s disappointment.

Other well-known names that often frequent the area are Gwyneth Paltrow, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, and Hugh Grant. And of course, you may even spot the “Queen” of Barbados, Rihanna.

When you are in the area, don’t forget to visit Rihanna’s birthplace on the edge of Bridgetown at “Rihanna Drive”.

6. Watch the Horse Racing at Barbados Turf Club

Horse racing is another popular sport in Barbados, and the Barbados Turf Club is the place to be if you want to watch a race.

The club is located in the parish of St. Michael, opposite the historic Garrison building and it hosts races throughout the year.

You can place a bet, enjoy some food and drinks, and cheer on your favorite horse. The atmosphere is electric, and you’ll feel like you’re part of the action. You might even win some Barbados dollars to bring home.

Jockey hiding on a horse in Barbados
The sport of kings is a hug pastime in Barbados. Image by idleroad from Pixabay

7. Swim with the Horses at Pebbles Beach

Of course, we can’t mention the horse racing without mentioning their daily swim in the Sea at nearby Pebbles Beach.

Most mornings the trainers will lead their horses across to the beach for a swim in the Sea. This is part of their training and it can attract a large crowd of locals and tourists.

You need to be out early in the day to see them though. Sometimes they are as early as 5 or 6 am.

If you act sensibly and listen to what the trainers tell you, they will allow you to swim alongside the horses. It’s an unforgettable experience you won’t find anywhere else. The water is crystal clear, the sand is soft and white, and the horses are friendly and well-trained.

8. Get Pampered with a Stay at The Crane Resort

So you were pampered on the cruise and in need of even more pampering? Well, the Crane Resort should be on your list for at least part of your stay.

It’s a luxurious hotel located on the east coast of Barbados. It features stunning ocean views, a private beach, and world-class amenities. You can relax by the pool, enjoy a massage at the spa, and indulge in delicious food and drinks.

We were in Barbados when you had to do departure testing to fly back to the States, and we got our tests done in The Crane. I have got to say it was certainly the most luxurious Covid test we ever had to endure!

The main pool area at The Crane, Barbados
Imagine chilling around this main pool area at The Crane, Barbados

9. Take a Sunset Cruise on a Catamaran

Barbados is known for its beautiful sunsets, and there’s no better way to enjoy them than on a catamaran. Take a sunset cruise along the coast, enjoy some rum punch, and watch the sun go down over the ocean. It’s a romantic and peaceful way to end your day in Barbados.

There are a number of catamaran operators that do trips out of Holetown and Bridgetown. The name you will hear mentioned most is probably “Cool Runnings” or “Tiami” and they both offer excellent service.

However, if you want something a little bit more exclusive and upmarket, give Silver Moon Catamarans a try. They take fewer guests on their boats, so it almost feels like a private charter and they treat you like royalty.

Before the sun goes down you’ll have opportunities for snorkeling and swimming in the calm waters of Carlisle Bay.

The Catamaran trip that we did was the highlight of our stay in Barbados

Catamaran floating just off-shore while people jump off and swim in the sea
If you haven’t had enough aquatic adventures on your cruise, hop aboard a catamaran. Image by u_rbd7iydl from Pixabay

Other Activities For Your Barbados Itinerary

When you’re traveling on a cruise, you only have a limited amount of time on each island. You have to rush to see everything you want to see and do everything you want to do.

These 9 experiences are just a few of the reasons why you’ll want to come back and stay in Barbados longer.

When planning your trip, make sure to include some of the island’s other top activities. Take a tour of St. Nicholas Abbey, a historical home and sugar plantation with a rum distillery and train line. Go underground to the famous Harrison’s Cave. Visit the incredible beaches at Bathsheba and don’t forget to try some of the island’s famous rum, like Mount Gay, which has been produced on the island for over 300 years.

Lastly and most importantly. Don’t ignore that there is lots to do in Bridgetown itself. So many people pass it by on the way to an excursion, not realising what the city has to offer.

Boats in the harbour in Bridgetown, Barbados
Wander along the stunning and tranquil waterfront in Bridgetown. Photo by Scott S. Bateman on Unsplash

Barbados, Where Staying a Little Longer Makes Perfect Sense

A Barbados cruise day is always my highlight of any Southern Caribbean cruise, but if you truly want to experience everything that Barbados has to offer, go ahead and plan that return trip. You won’t regret it. From the friendly locals to the beautiful beaches and rich culture, there’s something for everyone on this Caribbean gem.

Click the button below to find out more about the best things to do in the island’s capital and make that the starting point of your next Bajan adventure. 

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