Visiting Barbados: A Family-Friendly Guide

Visiting Barbados: A Family-Friendly Guide
Sunset from the Fairmont Royal Pavilion. Photo by Kaitlyn Riggio

Visiting Barbados: A Family-Friendly Guide

I’m the kind of person that loves to be on the go, even on vacation, so you can only imagine how thrilled I was when I got to explore everything Barbados had to offer earlier this year. 

I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about Barbados before this trip, other than it’s where Rhianna is from. But after only a four-day visit, it’s already on my “Must Visit Again” list. And if it’s not already, I recommend adding it to your travel bucket list. 

Barbados is the easternmost island in the Caribbean and among the safest Caribbean destinations for visitors, so you can have some peace of mind when planning your vacation. Its proximity to the equator means temperatures hover between the mid-70s and high 80s all-year round, making it the perfect choice for a tropical getaway at any point in the year. 

You won’t have any problem putting together a stacked itinerary for your trip. When it comes to planning a vacation for the whole family, Barbados has something for everyone.

You can learn about history, relax on a beach, get in touch with nature and go on break-neck adventures all on one trip. And with a total area of just under 170 square miles, you can explore the whole island on your trip. 

This was my first trip to Barbados, and I was not ready to head back home at the end of it. There’s definitely a return trip to Barbados with my family in my future. 

Here’s how you can get the most out of a family vacation to Barbados.

Psst… Here are the 10 Best Family-Friendly Hiking Trails In and Around NYC This Spring!

Where to Stay in Barbados

Tourism is the primary industry in Barbados, so there’s no shortage of all-inclusive resorts and hotels for your family to choose from. 

I stayed at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion in St. James, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. The 72-room resort provides a luxury experience in a close-knit, friendly environment. I was consistently blown away by the staff’s kindness, hospitality and commitment to the guest experience. 

Whether you opt for an oceanfront guest room, a suite or a villa, you’re sure to find a rooming option that’s a perfect match for your family’s needs. 

All rooms at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion include a furnished balcony, perfect for enjoying a view of the beach or taking a relaxing afternoon nap, complete with the soothing sounds of waves crashing on the shore. 

Luxury Oceanfront Room. Credit: Fairmont Royal Pavilion

The easy access to the beach is one of the resort’s best features. It was incredibly easy to head down to the beach for an afternoon swim or just to relax under an umbrella. 

If you’re looking for things to do in addition to laying on the beach, you’re in luck. You can take a moment to yourself for a yoga class or take a fitness class with the whole family; break a sweat in the fitness center; paddleboard, snorkel or just float in the water; take a dip in the pool and more. The best part is, all of these amenities are included in your stay at the resort. 

There’s so much to do at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, it’d be tempting to stay at the resort the whole time. But that’s just the beginning of what Barbados has to offer. 

Things To Do in Barbados

Barbados truly has something for everyone. Here are some ideas for how to fill your family’s itinerary for your trip. 

Sail on a Catamaran

Explore the water in a new way by taking a trip on a catamaran. And you don’t need boating experience to get in on the fun. Companies like Seaduced will give you everything you need to have a fun and relaxing time on the water. 

Their two catamarans can accommodate up to 20 people and are manned by exceptional crew members, including a captain, first mate and professional chef. There’s more than enough room to lounge and get some time in the sun on board. And you can take your fun into the water, too. Seaduced catamarans come with equipment to snorkel with sea turtles, kayak, paddleboard or just float. 

If playing in the water isn’t your speed, be sure to take advantage of the boats’ board game selection, TV and stereo system. 

Visiting Barbados: A Family-Friendly Guide
Hunte’s Gardens. Photo by Kaitlyn Riggio

Wander Hunte’s Gardens

Hunte’s Gardens prides itself on being “the most enchanting place on Earth,” and I can’t say I disagree. Situated in what used to be a gully, Hunte’s Gardens is an intricately designed and cultivated garden that allows visitors to get lost in the serenity of nature. 

While visiting, you’re almost certain to run into Anthony Hunte, creator and keeper of the gardens. Enjoy refreshments at the garden’s top house before exploring the grounds at your own leisure. 

There are countless rare exotic plants and various species of birds along the easy-to-navigate paths throughout the gardens. Be sure to grab a printed handout of some of the things you may find as you explore. 

Take your time here. The garden is full of benches and seating nestled into the gardens, where you and your family can have a picnic or just relax. I’m a huge plant and nature lover, so visiting Hunte’s Gardens was probably the highlight of my trip and it’ll be first on my list of must-dos on any return trips I make. 

Take an Island Safari

Nothing beats a private tour of Barbados, and Island Safari Barbados offers tailor made safari options that allow you to see all of the must-see spots on the island on a personalized itinerary. 

You’ll criss-cross the island, passing beautiful shorelines and rock formations, historical sites and maybe even seeing some native animals like monkeys along the way. 

Be sure to strap in and hold on tight. Island Safaris can be thrilling and bumpy rides! 

Visiting Barbados: A Family-Friendly Guide
View from Cherry Tree Hill. Photo by Kaitlyn Riggio

Tour St. Nicholas Abbey

There are no nuns in sight at St. Nicholas Abbey– and that’s because it’s actually one of the oldest plantations in the Caribbean as well as a rum distillery. This is a perfect stop for any history buffs, rum enthusiasts or train fans in your family. A visit to St. Nicholas Abbey includes a tour of the property’s Great House and gardens, a look at the factory and distillery and a rum tasting. 

And you can’t go to St. Nicholas Abbey without taking a ride on the Heritage Railway. You’ll journey through the plantation’s grounds on a steam locomotive, all leading up to Cherry Tree Hill, where you can get an unbeatable view of Barbados’s east coast. 

Visiting Barbados: A Family-Friendly Guide
Inside of Harrison’s Cave. Photo by Kaitlyn Riggio

Explore Harrison’s Cave

If you’re looking to add adventure to your vacation, look no further than Harrison’s Cave. One of the island’s greatest natural wonders, Harrison’s Cave is an active limestone cave with flowing streams, pools of crystal water and towering stalagmites. 

Eager adventurers can take a spelunking adventure through the cave, where you’ll crawl through hidden passageways just like early explorers did. There are also tram tours that will take you through the cave, if you want to explore without the full spelunking experience. 

If you want to give your kids a place to blow off some steam, check out the Eco-Adventure Park. Your kids will be able to zip line and tackle the Challenge Course. 

Want a truly unique experience that will take your visit to Harrison’s Cave to the next level? Look into the Crystal Cave Affair, created by Fairmont Beyond Limits. This exclusive event includes an unparalleled four-course meal by Fairmont’s executive chef and culinary team. It’s an experience truly unlike any other in the Caribbean. 

Know Before You Go: Tips for Traveling

Protect Yourself From the Sun

The UV index in Barbados is no joke. It can climb up to over 11 at most points during the year, which is considered “Extreme” (for reference, New York usually caps out at an 8 during the summer months). 

For UV values that high, the National Weather Service recommends applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every two hours. But from experience, I’d recommend reapplying more frequently than that, especially if you’re going to be on the water. Don’t forget to pack a hat and sunglasses! 

Stay Hydrated

Being a tropical island, Barbados can get hot, especially in the middle of the day. Plus, the flight from the New York area to Barbados is about five hours, and you can get dehydrated on planes. Start drinking water before you leave for vacation, and keep drinking water when you arrive, especially if you have a lot of active outdoor adventures planned.

Even though vacation is often associated with soda for kids or alcoholic beverages for parents, mixing in water to stay hydrated will make a world of difference when you’re outside and on the go. 

Know How Your Money Converts

If you’re like me, you may jump with surprise when you look at a price tag in Barbados and see a number that’s higher than what you’re expecting. Keep in mind that 1 Barbadian dollar is worth fifty cents in US dollars. Thankfully, that’s a super easy conversion! Cut any price in Barbadian dollars in half to get the price in US dollars. 

Look For Ways to Expedite Your Airport Experience

The airport is probably the least exciting part of a vacation experience, especially when traveling internationally. Luckily, a number of resorts in Barbados offer Fast Track Service at the airport, helping you get to your vacation quicker. 

All room categories at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion offer this perk, and it took so much out of the stress out of traveling (a huge plus for me, considering this was my first time traveling internationally by myself).

A representative from the Fairmont was there to meet me at the Grantley Adams International Airport as soon as I got off the plane. She helped guide me through customs and lead me to the car service that took me from the airport to the resort.