Although it’s best known for year-round sunshine and glamorous, wave-lapped beaches, there’s plenty more to discover on Barbados. And guess what? Many of the Caribbean island’s best activities are completely free to enjoy. Here’s a quick guide to some of the best things you can do without spending a single cent.
Beaches and coastal areas
Wherever you go in Barbados, you’ll never be too far from a beach. There are around 70 miles of powder-white sands to enjoy in Barbados and there are loads of free ways to enjoy the abundance of natural beauty.
Go swimming with turtles at Paynes Bay
Swimming with turtles is an exciting activity for the entire family. Head to Paynes Bay at around 4pm and if you swim out about 50m from the shore to the anchored catamarans, you should be able to see turtles gliding through the water together. It’s an unmissable sight, especially if you’re new to snorkeling in tropical waters. You can read more on swimming with turtles in Barbados here.
Enjoy a picnic at Sandy Lane beach
The beach at Sandy Lane is the perfect place for a picnic. Located in the St. James area, this is one of the world’s best beaches, providing a top relaxation spot for families and couples alike.
Go surfing at Miami Beach, Oistins
Located on the south coast of Barbados in the parish of Christ Church, Miami Beach is the perfect place for surfing and bodyboarding. The eastern end of the beach picks up most of the swell, while the western side is better suited to swimming and snorkeling.
Take a stroll along the Boardwalk
Among the myriad free attractions in Barbados, the mile-long Boardwalk is one of the island’s most popular. Less than 4 miles south of Bridgetown, the Boardwalk connects Camelot and Accra beaches. Crabs and turtles call this area home, and the views over the water are astonishing. Along the way you’ll pass a few tucked-away bars and restaurants. Our tip? Visit during sunset or sunrise when the skies are at their most beautiful and colorful.
Go snorkeling at Folkestone Marine Park
A 20-minute drive north of Bridgetown, the Folkestone Marine Park was formed by the sinking of a Greek ship called Stavronikita. It now rests less than half a mile from shore, 120ft below the water. If you’re a more experienced diver and are happy to pay to rent a boat, you could consider a dive here. The specially created Recreational Zone is perfect for snorkeling. It’s free to explore and has an inshore reef with plenty of fish and marine life to discover.
Look around the Animal Flower Cave
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Carved out by the sea and named after the sea anemones found there, the Animal Flower Cave is one of the island’s most unusual tourist attractions. It’s tucked away beneath the North Point cliffs in St. Lucy parish, and (paid for) guided tours are available daily between 9am–4.30pm. If you’d prefer you keep things free you can view the cave from outside.
Try wave jumping at Crane Beach
Once voted one of the world’s best beaches, Crane Beach offers a sublime stretch of sand and some even more impressive waves. These big rollers aren’t for the faint hearted, but strong swimmers flock to this area to leap through the crashing waves.
Visit Cove Bay
Over on the northeast coast of Barbados, Cove Bay offers exceptional scenery and plenty of peace and quiet, making it a popular spot for a picnic. It’s a bit of a trek to reach, and you’ll need to pass through fields to get there. Swimming can be dangerous at high tide but at low tide natural pools form, providing the perfect place for a quick dip. There are no restaurants or amenities available onsite, so make sure you pack plenty of drinks, snacks and suncream.
Take a walking tour through historic Bridgetown
Bridgetown is one of the few World Heritage sites in the Caribbean. Dating back 400 years, this is without doubt the island’s cultural capital, and it’s bursting with historic sights and great places to eat. Don’t miss the bronze statue of Nelson at the top of Broad Street!
Go hiking with the Barbados National Trust
Discover cane fields, tropical forests, gullies and coastal communities as you hike through the island’s interior with the Barbados National Trust. You’ll be able to soak up its rich history, enjoy some great weather and meet friendly locals along the way. Hikes take place in the morning, afternoon and evening – you can find out more here.
Admire the Barbados Garrison
Construction of the the Barbados Garrison began in 1705. Today it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site and is definitely worth a visit on your Barbados trip. Tours allow you to soak up the building’s rich history, but aren’t especially cheap. If you want to save money you can admire the British colonial architecture for free from outside.
Attend the Crop Over Festival
Traditional end-of-harvest celebrations still take place in Barbados today, spread across a two-month-long event in the summer. July is the peak of the partying with residents and visitors lining the Bridgetown streets. Parties continue around the clock with food fairs and live Calypso music.
Visit a farmers’ market
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The Holders Farmers’ Market is held every Sunday in the grounds of the historic Holders House. Try delicious banana bread and fresh fruit smoothies from the various food stalls – you can also buy souvenirs such as clothes, hand-woven baskets and traditional wooden bottles.
Attend a hatchling release
A hatching release is quite a common and eye-opening occurrence in Barbados. Head over to the west coast of the island to Good Shepherd beach in Fitts Village for regular releases. These events have become extremely popular among families with young children, who love seeing baby turtles walk down to sea for the first time.
Create your own island tour
Plenty of local tour operators offer guided tours. However, if you want to keep costs down, we’d recommend researching and planning your own self-drive tour. That way, there’s no restriction on how much time you can spend in each place and you’re free to explore as you please.
Discover the local wildlife
All across the island, green monkeys can be seen, especially in the early mornings. The many small tropical birds are used to being fed around the resorts, so await their presence on your balcony, searching for crumbs. Whistling frogs are rarely seen, but there’s a good chance you’ll hear their charming calls on your daily strolls.
Take a quiz at the Golden Anchor
Located in Holetown, the roadside rumshack called the Golden Anchor is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Most evenings a traditional-style pub quiz takes place – with the island’s best menu and quiz rounds to suit everyone, it’s an entertaining night for all.
Try a traditional ‘fish fry’
Every Friday night, The Oistins Fish Fry hosts an enormous street party for locals and visitors in Oistins fishing village. Eat delicious fried fish, drink classic rum and watch live music on stage as you chill out on the golden sands.
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