Budget Barbados: Five Free Island Activities
Travel Blog • Eva Holland • 05.27.09 | 3:48 PM ET
I’ll admit, Barbados is hardly known as a shoestringer’s paradise—this isn’t $5, $25 or even $100 per day territory.
But still, after a couple of extended visits here, I’ve learned that it’s not all pricey cocktails, rooms with a view and chartered yachts, either. There are affordable accommodation options and wallet-friendly meals to be found—and, best of all, some of the island’s most memorable spots are free, or close to it.
This, the northernmost point, may be my favorite spot on the island. It’s all crashing surf and dramatic cliffs, a sharp contrast to the placid beaches on the West Coast. Pack a picnic, and don’t let the hucksters at the entrance convince you there’s an entrance fee—there isn’t. Oh, and don’t miss the blowhole about a hundred yards east of the main path.
Barbados is unusual in its firm stance on private beaches: there aren’t any. Every beach, even those dominated by the ritziest of resorts, is free and open to the public, accessible via a signposted path from the street. The island’s got everything from bustling fun-in-the-sun scenes to undeveloped, empty strips of sand—try Carlisle Bay, near Bridgetown, or Paynes Bay, on the West Coast, for the former and Foul Bay or Bottom Bay, near Sam Lord’s Castle, for the latter.
Folkestone Marine Park
Just north of Holetown, Folkestone is home to a sunken barge and a coral reef busy with colorful fish; there’s also a small museum and aquarium onshore. Access is free, though assuming you don’t BYO snorkel gear, you’ll need to pay a small rental fee.
The Barbados Boardwalk just opened in January and spans about a mile of the South Coast, running west from Accra Beach. It’s a lovely spot in the late afternoon and early evening, before the sun sets but after the day has cooled down a little.
Old stone Anglican churches are scattered across Barbados, often occupying prime viewing points out over the ocean or the cane fields—get out your camera and cue up adjectives like “quaint” or “picturesque.” St. James Parish Church, in Holetown, claims to be the island’s oldest, while St. John Parish Church, on the East Coast, draws the crowds thanks to its cliff-top location. Admission to the churches is free, though donations are welcome.