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Barbados- sun, sea and cruising

Think Barbados and most imagine a fly-and-flop scene with luxury hotels and honeymooners strolling the beaches. This friendly island can mean all these things but it is much more besides. Families and active tourists will find plenty to amuse them - here are some suggestions. 

Activities

Harrison’s Cave
More fun than your average cave tour, the guides here take you on a toy town style train past some epic concentrations of stalactites and stalagmites and let you off for a little wander. There’s a scary moment when they briefly turn all the lights out to show the absolute darkness. 

Catamaran cruises
Like many Caribbean islands, Barbados offers sunset cruises, most departing from the capital Bridgetown. The sunset cruises have a more party crowd, while the morning cruises are not only more family-friendly but offer a higher chance of spotting turtles while you’re snorkelling, as this is when the creatures are hungry. 

Atlantis Submarine
Another chance to spot turtles, this time without getting wet. Night ‘dives’ allow a peek at the reef’s nocturnal creatures. 

Bushy Park go-kart track
Over-12s can have fun whizzing round the professional track here. The basic karting experience has everyone being ranked by average lap time over a 10-minute session great for competitive couples or families. You can also try longer races, and take a spin in the passenger or driving seat of a Suzuki Swift alongside a racing professional.

Cricket
You don’t have to be big into cricket to have fun at a match at Barbados’s famous Kensington Oval. There’s a party atmosphere with cheerleaders, wandering calypso bands and locals getting frantic with flags. For the uninitiated, 20:20 cricket is best a faster game that’s over in one session.

Mount Gay Rum
One for the adults. Tours of the world’s oldest rum distillery cover the history and production process with plenty of jokes thrown in. Rum tasting follows, with very generous shots!

Concorde Experience
Right at the airport, so a good option for keeping older kids amused after check-in, as well as getting misty-eyed yourself. Allow about 45 minutes in the hangar, where you’ll be shown on board the well-loved supersonic jet, get to peek in the cockpit and watch a short film sitting in the seats once used by celebrities and royalty. The tour ends with a light and sound show covering the science bit with cool projections on the side of the aircraft. 

Festivals
There are heaps of festivals throughout the year in Barbados that could add an extra dimension to you holiday. The biggest is the Crop Over carnival during summer (book early) but also look out for Red Bull Global Rally Cross, Barbados Independence Surf PRO Festival, Barbados Reggae Festival, Sandy Lane Gold Cup (horse race) and Holders Season a relaxed spring music and theatre festival held in the grounds of a mansion owned by Jodie Kidd’s mum.

Where to stay

Barbados’s West coast is good for swimming and paddle boarding as it has calmer seas, while the other coasts are good for water sports. The West is also where the priciest accommodation is generally found. The South is known for partying round St Lawrence Gap but is also a good place for active tourists who want to engage more with the locals, get out of the hotel and eat in beach bars.

Barbados hotels with good children’s facilities include Crystal Cove, Turtle Beach, Bougainvillea and, if you’re splashing out, Sandy Lane.