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With so many things to do in Barbados, it’s impossible to do everything in a day!
Barbados is a destination that definitely deserves much longer than just a day. After travelling to Barbados from a cruise ship a couple of times now, I still can’t get enough of this spectacular Caribbean gem. If you can spend a longer amount of time here, do it. However, if you’re visiting Barbados from a cruise ship, you’re in for an amazing day. Here are some suggestions for things to do in Barbados and how we spent our eight hours in port.
MORNING: SWIM WITH SEA TURTLES
Unfortunately, Justin wasn’t feeling very well in the morning. As we’d already booked and paid for the cruise ship excursion, I decided that I’d take the trip by myself.
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Of course, I was feeling pretty bummed out that Justin wasn’t there by my side. I felt even a little bit grumpy when our tour leader made us line up in pairs before boarding the catamaran. I think I was the only one who was by myself!
Thankfully, once we were sailing along, my sadness faded. I was surrounded by the calm, deep blue Caribbean waters. Much like our snorkeling tour in Martinique the day before, I bid farewell to the ship in a much smaller boat. We cruised along at a pretty good speed. After about 20 minutes, we stopped within earshot of Carlisle Beach. This was the home of the sea turtles.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD
I have to be honest here: I have mixed feelings about this excursion. When our boat arrived, we pulled up alongside several other sailboats with passengers all doing the same thing as us. There were hundreds of people all snorkeling in one area. Everyone wanted to see the sea turtles.
We saw several turtles because our guide baited them with food. I’m sure the turtles were happy to receive some food and we were happy to see them. However, I’m not so sure that it’s healthy for the turtles to receive food from humans so often.
On the up side, our tour guides emphasized over and over again that we were not to chase the turtles. The turtles could come and go as they pleased and we were to watch them from afar. If the turtles decided to swim up next to us, it had to be on their terms, not ours.
Naturally, people felt inclined to follow the turtles for a better view without so many people in the way. Most of the time, I saw one turtle and dozens of pairs of legs. People were splashing about to get a better view. It was chaotic.
Our guide kept yelling, “Don’t chase the turtles!” over and over again, which I appreciated. However, there was an overcrowding issue at hand. Furthermore, bringing food to lure the turtles wasn’t natural and can’t be good. I’m sure they are now dependent on feeding here and I’m not sure if the guides were feeding the turtles their proper diet.
The best time of the tour? Most people decided to get back on the boat and I was one of the few people left snorkeling. I had no food for the turtles, yet I ended up seeing a few of them on my own. Perhaps some turtle were searching for a few scraps of leftover food, or the turtles were swimming about now that the tourists had left the scene. I can’t emphasize how amazing it was to swim alongside these beautiful creatures.
WHAT I RECOMMEND
My recommendations: do your research. We opted to book the tour through the cruise ship without thinking much about it. It appears as though the cruise ships hire tour companies that go to Carlisle Beach because it’s so close to the port. There are lots of areas to view sea turtles in Barbados. I recommend booking with a local tour company that will transport you to a less visited space. Look for an eco-friendly tour company that operates as responsibly as possible.
With that said, I was happy to see so many people interested in observing sea turtles in their natural habitat. I truly believe that seeking responsible ways to view wildlife without harming them or keeping them in captivity is best. I highly recommend snorkeling with sea turtles because it’s a truly amazing experience. There’s nothing like watching these gentle animals as they swim up beside you.
If you’re looking to go swimming with turtles in Barbados, there are a lot of tours suggested at the Barbados Tourism website. I recommend asking some important questions before you book:
- Where will we be snorkeling? Is it a high traffic site?
- Will you be feeding the turtles, and what do you feed them?
- Does your company consider environmental initiatives or protecting the wildlife responsibly, and in what ways?
If you can recommend an awesome tour company, please let me know in the comments section of this blog post!
AFTERNOON: GO TO THE BEACH
After having lunch back on the cruise ship, we had a few hours to kill and Justin was feeling better. The two of us were looking for more things to do in Barbados, especially so Justin could experience a little bit of the island. We walked out to the Barbados cruise port area and caught a taxi without any difficulties. Our driver transported us to the beach at Carlisle Bay, which was about a ten minute drive on the way there (and maybe only five minutes going back, as we didn’t encounter any traffic).
Our taxi driver was fantastic. It was $5 per person each way, and he arranged a time to pick us back up. He didn’t accept any payment until he brought us back to the ship to prove to us that he wasn’t going to leave us stranded at the beach (it was all his idea – we would have trusted him!). At the end of our stay, we walked back up towards the parking lot and sure enough, he was waiting for us!
While the scenery around the bay isn’t the most beautiful in the world (unlike our trip to Cockleshell Beach in St. Kitts!), Carlisle Bay has so many positive aspects.
First of all, it’s super close to the cruise port. We were able to visit for a couple of hours without any planning in advance. Later in the day, it also wasn’t very busy either.
Next, the sand is soft and powdery white, and the turquoise waters are fairly calm and warm. It’s the perfect beach for swimming and lounging. We didn’t rent any chairs, but there’s the option to rent them for the day. Justin and I simply used our towels from the cruise ship. Naturally, I wasn’t paying attention at one point and my towel got totally soaked, but what can you do!
Would you like to see more photos of things to do in Barbados? Check out our travel photo album of Barbados. You can see all of our pictures at our photography site, and there’s even a little shop there!
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN BARBADOS
Still looking for more things to do in Barbados? There are tons of great activities and tours to check out, whether you’re visiting Barbados from a cruise ship or you’re spending a week in Barbados (or more!). You can try one or more of these:
- Walking Tour of Bridgetown, Barbados. Walking tours are a fantastic way to get acquainted with a new place, as well as learning facts from a local!
- Surf Lessons in Bridgetown. Did you know that you can go surfing in Barbados? Learn how to surf from a personal coach.
- Tour the Arbib Nature and Heritage Trail. Go hiking and learn about the island’s flora and fauna.
- The Natural Wonders of Barbados Tour. I’d like to do this one when I return! Visit the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, the Flower Forest, Harrison’s Cave, and more.
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