Barbados: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Welcome to the stunning island nation of Barbados! Located in the Lesser Antilles island chain of the West Indies, it’s the easternmost Caribbean island. With its pristine beaches, vibrant culture, and friendly Bajan dialect, this Caribbean gem offers an unforgettable travel experience. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, Barbados has it all.

A seaside restaurant in Barbados called Surfers Cafe | Davidsbeenhere

Whether you want to dive into crystal-clear waters to explore colorful coral reefs, unwind on white sand beaches, or indulge in mouthwatering flying fish, pudding and souse, or roasted breadfruit, every day in Barbados is an adventure.

Enjoying a wild Bajan haircut and massage | Davidsbeenhere

I visited the island in the fall of 2022 with the help of my local friend Craig and his girlfriend Nerissa, who took me to their favorite haunts for over a week. After experiencing true Bajan (Barbadian) culture and cuisine, I left with a new appreciation for the island and its people. These are the top things you must do on the island of Barbados!

Enjoy a Traditional Bajan Breakfast

One of my favorite experiences in Christ Church was enjoying a traditional Bajan breakfast. Craig took me to Surfers Café, a restaurant right on the Atlantic Ocean. There, we enjoyed saltfish, fish cakes, fried plantains, a bake, and corned beef hash.

The briny, flaky saltfish, savory fish cakes, fluffy bake, and sweet fried plantains were a fantastic combination. Adding my pineapple-and-guava flavored David’s Been Here hot sauce gave it a spicy and tropical kick that I loved. We ended with mimosas and coffee, and the total cost for three full breakfasts was $146 BBD or only $72 USD!

Visit Rihanna Drive

If you’re a fan of pop culture, no trip to Barbados is complete without visiting Rihanna Drive. This street is named after the famous pop singer Rihanna, who grew up in a small house along it. The house is fenced and has a sign with Rihanna’s name and the colors of the Barbados flag on the ground. While you can take a picture in front of the house, it’s important to be respectful of the property since people live inside.

The childhood home of Rihanna on the island of Barbados | Davidsbeenhere

Nearby, you’ll find the Rihanna Drive Community & Tourist Shop & Eatery. Here, visitors can order rum, beers, and food. On our visit, we tried Deputy Beer before continuing down the street. A sign on display showcases all of Rihanna’s achievements, while her hit song titles, including “Pon de Replay,” “Umbrella,” and “Work,” are written on the ground!

Try Rum-Infused Bajan Food

One element of Bajan cuisine you must experience in Barbados is its rum-infused food. In Holetown, you’ll find Rum Stop, a restaurant that infuses their food with Mount Gay rum, the most famous rum brand on the island.

You can’t go wrong with their mouthwatering rum-infused ribs, Bajan macaroni pie, Bajan fish cakes, fried pork nuggets, deep-fried breadfruit chips, and flying fish. They came with various rum-infused vinaigrettes and a balsamic reduction.

Rum-infused ribs and Bajan macaroni pie at Rum Stop in Barbados | Davidsbeenhere

The Bajan fish cakes were crispy on the outside and served with a delicious tomato-rum mayo. The fried pork nuggets were tender and flavorful, accompanied by juicy roasted peppers. Adding my David’s Been Here pineapple-guava hot sauce gave the breadfruit chips a fruity and slightly spicy kick. I also loved the fried flying fish with mashed potatoes and strawberry-rum vinaigrette! While you eat, you can indulge in 40 different types of Bajan rum!

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Indulge in Bajan Rum in Barbados

If you’re over 21 and visiting Barbados, Mount Gay Rum is a must. The oldest rum distillery in the world, there’s a reason why it’s so popular on the island. From their Silver and Eclipse rums to the Black Barrel spiced rum and XO aged 7-15 years, each had its own distinct characteristics. One standout was the smooth XO rum, as well as their Blood, Sweat & Tears made with rum, lime, and cranberry juice.

Mount Gay on the island of Barbados is the oldest rum distillery in the world | Davidsbeenhere

Another fun spot to enjoy is John Moore Bar, a rustic establishment known for letting its patrons leave their mark by writing their names on the ceiling! Here, we enjoyed Foursquare Old Brigand Rum, which I also quite enjoyed!

Visit the Bajan Food Trucks at Worthing Square

When you find yourself on the hunt for some late-night eats on the island, I recommend the food trucks at Worthing Square. Here, I started with reina pepiada and empanadas de pollo at Arepitas. The reina pepiada, a fried corn sandwich, was flavorful and hearty. I also enjoyed the tequeños, which are similar to mozzarella sticks.

We also found a Middle Eastern food truck that sold shawarma and kebabs. The lamb kebab was the my personal favorite, and the pita with garlic sauce was fantastic. Their Thunderbird Combo, which consists of Indian-inspired tacos with chicken, cucumbers, and onions, were excellent and full of authentic Indian flavors. We finished up at Bella’s Desserts, where we tried the Bailey’s cheesecake with caramel and an Oreo crust. It was a sweet and rich way to end our night!

Try Bajan Breakfast Items at Crumbz Bakery in Bridgetown

In Bridgetown, Barbados, we visited Crumbz Bakery, a hidden gem without a sign. We tried three delicious pastries: the beef patty, currant slice, and meat roll. The meat roll was reminiscent of a pastel with its flaky layers and flavorful beef filling. The currant slice was dense and packed with currants, cinnamon, and raisins. It was both filling and tasty.

The beef patty stood out with its large size, flaky crust, and generous amount of meat inside. It had a curry-like flavor with a hint of sweetness. To enhance the flavors, we added David’s Been Here hot sauce, which added a tropical sweetness from pineapple and guava, along with a touch of heat. Overall, the visit to Crumbz Bakery on Broad Street was a memorable experience filled with colorful buildings and delectable pastries.

Shop at Cheapside Market

Cheapside Market is a great place to experience a Bajan farmer’s market. While the market is mostly closed during the week, Saturdays are the best days to go. Although there were only a few vegetable vendors open, there were eight or nine butchers selling a range of meats, including beef, cow heel, lamb neck, pig feet, pig ears, tongue, and brain, and more.

A vendor selling crafts at Cheapside Market | Davidsbeenhere

Outside of the butchers’ area, we encountered a vendor named Sheryl. She sold tamarind balls, bottled sugarcane juice, coconut water, pepper sauces, and seasonal juices. Each pepper sauce costs 10 BBD/$5 USD. Her tamarind balls contained fresh cayenne pepper and had a spicy kick, while her sugarcane juice was sweet and refreshing!

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Dine on Flying Fish in Oistins

In the village of Oistins, Barbados is Oistins Bay Garden, a popular spot known for its seafood, especially flying fish, a local favorite. This place is a favorite among locals, including Rihanna herself! On Friday nights, the gardens turn into a lively party with music and large crowds. Food vendors offer a variety of seafood options such as swordfish, tuna, marlin, mahi mahi, lobster, and of course, flying fish.

Craig and I headed to Pat’s Place, where we had grilled flying fish, swordfish, and mahi mahi. The flying fish, although small, were bursting with flavor and paired perfectly with the macaroni pie and salad. Mustard and tartar sauce added a sweet and spicy element to the dish. The tender mahi mahi and blackened swordfish were also outstanding! They’re a must for any seafood fanatic visiting Barbados!

Explore Bajan Street Food on Baxter’s Road

If you’re out late at night in Barbados, a nighttime street food tour of Baxter’s Road a must! This area is famous for its fish fries. There, you can try fresh and tender marlin, fries, breadfruit chips, sweet potatoes, and plantain. I also recommend the cutters at Bryan’s Bakery. These sandwiches are fantastic, especially their spicy liver cutter!

Gap Burger, offers burgers, hot dogs, pig tails, jerk chicken, spare ribs, and more. I loved their sliders and pig tails, which are a Bajan staple. The Gap Burger sliders come with onions, cheese, and coleslaw. The pig tails are a fatty and meaty treat, which come with a sweet and tangy sauce that I couldn’t get enough of!

Enjoy Loaded Roasted Breadfruit

During my adventures in Barbados, I had the opportunity to learn about and taste roasted breadfruit, a popular local favorite. At Yelluh Meat in Bridgetown, I saw how the cooks char the breadfruit over a fire, cut it open, remove the heart, and add butter. The resulting dish is smoky, cheesy, and filling.

But then, they load the roasted breadfruit with lots of savory toppings including pickles, saltfish buljol, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and lime juice. This combination is refreshing and briny, almost like a ceviche. I also recommend their breadfruit shell tacos, which they fill with slaw, beef, cheese, and pineapple salsa. You can also get jerk chicken or saltfish buljol instead of beef. Whichever you choose, it’s a win!

Eat Pudding and Souse

During my trip to Barbados, I had the opportunity to learn how to make black pudding and souse, one of the national dishes of the island, from Craig’s mother, Brenda. The black pudding is made using pig head, sweet potatoes, onions, marjoram, and thyme. The intestines are cleaned and stuffed with a mixture of ground onions, shallots, potatoes, herbs, and spices. A browning syrup is used to darken the mixture. The result is a flavorful and juicy black pudding.

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The souse is made using cucumbers, onions, chilies, parsley, and lime juice. It has a spicy and tangy taste that reminded me of tabbouleh. Both the black pudding and souse require overnight marinating for the flavors to develop.

Black and white pudding made by my friend Craig's mom, Brenda | Davidsbeenhere

The black pudding had a similar sweetness to the steam pudding, and the pork was tender and juicy. I couldn’t believe how earthy it was, and it was complemented by the herbal and rich souse. The marriage of all the different flavors blew me away!

Try Saltfish and Coucou

Another immensely popular dish in Barbados is flying fish. In fact, it’s so popular that, when I  visited Fred’s Bar & Restaurant in Oistins to try the iconic Bajan dish, it was sold out! Instead, I opted for saltfish and herring and coucou, a savory porridge made with cornmeal and okra.

The coucou had a texture similar to mashed potatoes and paired nicely with the saltfish and its flavorful gravy. I’m usually not a fan of fish with bones, but the ones in the herring were pretty easy to manage. The briny saltfish with the smooth and hearty coucou were wonderful, and the sweet potato we had on the side was perfectly cooked. It was a great bargain at 54 BBD ($27 USD)!

Visit Barbados’ Only Craft Brewery

If you’re a craft beer lover visiting Barbados, there’s only one craft brewery option for you, but it’s a good one! Dread Hop Brewing began bottling their beers in 2014 and recently opened their taproom and beer garden in 2020 amidst the pandemic. With a selection of ten different beers, many of which are named after Barbadian locations, there is plenty to choose from.

Dread Hop Brewing is the only craft brewery on the island of Barbados | Davidsbeenhere

The Calypso Pilsner is exclusively available in their taproom and cannot be purchased in bottles, but it’s more than worth a trip to the brewery to try it. The summer ale offers a smooth and crisp experience, while the smoky and chocolaty smoked porter was one of my personal favorites.

Enjoying a drink with Craig at Dread Hop Brewing | Davidsbeenhere

I loved the citrusy and hoppy notes of the Pelican Island IPA and the caramel flavor in the red ale. The Long Beach White Ale is both light and crafty, while the Barracuda Double IPA lacks excessive hop bitterness. The hazy IPA is also a winner. I recommend ordering a flight or two so you can try as many as possible!

Eat Bajan Fast Food at Chefette

One of the most famous places to eat fast casual fare in Barbados is Chefette, a family-owned fast food chain that’s exclusive to the island. They boast 15 locations across the island and are known for having healthier, higher-quality food than typical fast food chains. They offer lots of options, including burgers, pizza, roti, sandwiches, and chicken nuggets, and more.

Their snack box included fried chicken, fries, and a roll. The chicken drumstick was crispy and juicy without being greasy, while the roll was fluffy and complemented the chicken well. I also had a chicken and potato roti, which contained flavorful curried chicken and a lot of potato.

Chefette is a popular locally-based fast food chain | Davidsbeenhere

The chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce had a nice crisp, and I also enjoyed the pickle and tomatoes on their barbecued quarter pound burger! I’m not usually a fast food guy, but Chefette is one spot I’ll gladly recommend! It’s another of Rihanna’s favorites, and after visiting, I can see why!

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Have a Trini Breakfast in Barbados

The main person responsible for my visit to Barbados is an incredible woman named Auntie Indra, runs the Airbnb I stayed at on the island. She also happens to be Craig’s girlfriend Nerissa’s mom! On my final day in Barbados, I visited Auntie Indra’s home for a traditional Trini breakfast including doubles, smoked herring, aloo pies, pholourie, and bakes.

The bara she made for her doubles were both crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They were the perfect vessel for the rich chana, cucumber, and the tamarind, mango, and pepper sauces. The fluffy pholourie, which are savory fritters made from bara dough, were excellent, as were the potato-filled aloo pies. Putting the herring and tomato choka (similar to salsa) in a bake made for a smoky and slightly salty sandwich. I loved adding my David’s Been Here hot sauce to everything to give them a sweet and slightly spicy flavor!

Experience Coconut Day

Sundays in Barbados are known as Coconut Day, and you’ll see locals harvesting coconuts around the island to sell. I had the opportunity to witness the coconut harvesting process first-hand with a man named Marcus and his friend Rumel. I learned during our outing that there are 40 different varieties of coconuts in Barbados.

Seeing them scale coconut trees using rock climbing gear and rope was incredible and gave me new appreciation for their hard work! Enjoying the water and meat inside one of the coconuts was the perfect way to cap off my day with them!

Eat at Cuzz Cutters on Pebbles Beach

During my last adventure in Barbados, I decided to visit Pebbles Beach on the island’s southern coast. One of the popular eateries in the area is Cuzz Cutters, known for its delicious sandwiches called cutters. Their fish cutters are famous and contain fresh marlin served on a fluffy bun with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, and more.

Personally, I found the marlin and the salt bread to be particularly delightful. The vegetables were incredibly fresh, and the fish itself was tender and perfectly seasoned. For those with a bigger appetite, Cuzz Cutters also offers a double fish cutter option. Each cutter is about $6 USD each, and are quite filling! I definitely recommend having one when you visit Pebbles Beach!

Book a Trip to Barbados

Barbados is an incredible island. Many people know it for its Crop Over celebrations or for being the home country of Rihanna, but there’s much more to it than that. Barbados is a gorgeous location with friendly locals and some of the tastiest food in the region.

Hanging with my buddy Craig on the island of Barbados | Davidsbeenhere

Its seafood is out of this world, and other specialties like pudding and souse, roasted breadfruit, and beef patties are must-tries for any foodie. Book a trip to Barbados today to experience this magical island nation for yourself!

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