Family Fun in Barbados Without Getting Wet
Concorde museum among the island’s inshore attractions
We all know that Barbados has beautiful beaches, countless pools and aquamarine ocean waters that will no doubt form the crux of your family’s island vacation. But what about those odd days when you need a break from the sun and surf?
The kids might think otherwise, but you don’t want to spend the entire trip immersed in H2O. You need a little counterpoint to round out your Bajan experience, so here are a few suggestions for kid-friendly attractions and adventures on dry land.
One of Barbados’ top tourist attractions recently closed for a year for a $35-million facelift to refurbish its interpretive center and facilities. As of January 2008, it’s open again and should be included on your must-see list. An electric tram takes you through a labyrinth of limestone caverns and chambers covered with creamy floodlit stalagmite and stalactite sculptures. There are a few pit stops around some underground streams and waterfalls where you can get out of the tram and take photos. Some young children or grown-up claustraphobes might be a bit spooked (at one point they turn off all the lights so you can experience total darkness), but Harrison’s Cave is a highlight for many travelers to the island.
- BB$40 adults, BB$20 for children 16 and under.
Aerial Trek Zipline Adventure
Over-12 adventurers can get a birds-eye view of one of Barbados’ oldest ecosystems. Glide through a series of seven platforms (the longest traverse is 260 ft!) through the lush Jack-in-the-Box Gully, while a guide tells you about the flora, fauna and geological formations in the area. Safety is a top priority, and a harness, helmet and gloves are provided. Enclosed footwear is required.
- BB$90 per person, with discounts for larger groups. Call (246) 433-8966.
If you need a beach-free morning or afternoon, visit Ocean Park. Kids of all ages will find something of interest in the 26 displays of Caribbean marine life, including touch pools, an indoor (and blissfully air conditioned!) tropical aquarium area and a walk-through underwater tunnel – watch the baby hammerheads swim above you. At 2 p.m. you can help feed the rays and at 4 p.m. you can watch the sharks’ feeding frenzy in the 100,000-gallon tank. There’s a wonderful children’s playground (not very shady, though, so bring sunscreen), a casual restaurant and a gift shop on site. Around the corner is Pirate Adventure Mini Golf (for an additional fee).
- Entrance costs BB$35 per adult, BB$20 per child 4-12, and free for under threes. A family ticket is BB$100 and includes 2 adults and up to three children.
Barbados Wildlife Reserve
Want to take a stroll with some of Barbados’ famous green monkeys? Head to the Wildlife Reserve, especially between the 2-3 p.m. feeding time, and you’ll no doubt get a close-up of a colony going about their monkey business. It’s not a zoo, per se, rather a sanctuary for a range of mostly free-roaming animals, reptiles and birds (don’t worry, the caiman and python are in secure enclosures). Stroll along the coral stone paths under the shade of the mahogany forest and encounter creatures like tortoises, deer, iguanas, peacocks and macaws. Some degree of caution must be taken as these tame creatures are still wild animals, so don’t let your children feed or touch them.
- The entrance fee is BB$23 and BB$11.50 for 12 and unders, which also includes entry to Grenade Hall Forest just up the hill. Nearby Farley Hill is a pleasant spot for a picnic and/or playground stop.
Barbados Concorde Experience
If you have an avid aviophile in the family, a trip to the Concorde museum is a must (save it for a rainy day, as it’s one of the few indoor attractions on the island). Back in the day, the British Airways “Alpha Echo” Concorde would take off from London at 9 a.m. and arrive in Barbados at 8:50 am the same day. Just like the rich and famous passengers of yore, you’ll proceed from the luxurious departure lounge, up the red carpet and board the sleek aircraft. Various displays, videos and presentations will give you some background on supersonic aviation and the Concorde itself. You’ll even get a chance to hear how the powerful engines sounded.
- BB$35 for adults, BB$25 for under 12s.