Think holidays in Barbados are all about lazing on a lounger, sipping rum cocktails and dipping your feet into the pool? Think again. If you’re more of a thrill-seeker, this seemingly laidback island has some uncompromising surprises that’ll get the adrenaline pumping and make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Here are just some of the adventures Barbados has to offer.
Soup bowl surfing
While you can chill all day on the calm, Caribbean-facing west coast of the island, the Atlantic-facing east is constantly pummelled by some of the world’s most magnificent waves. So much so, that leading surfers from across the globe head to the town of Bathsheba, where, offshore, they find the world-famous Soup Bowl and the challenge of its giant barrel waves. This is certainly not the place for the uninitiated: the Soup Bowl can be treacherous and the waves powerful, but for thrills, there are few places like it.
For those with less experience, head for the south coast, where there are still great waves, but where the seas are kinder.
Wreck and reef diving
The shores of Barbados are littered with over 200 shipwrecks, some going back to the 17th Century when European ships first visited the island and were sunk by storm and pirate attack. Many lie in warm shallow waters, which because of good underwater visibility make them ideal for divers to explore. There are plenty of organised diving expeditions on offer, and the most sought-after dives are all around Carlisle Bay, where some of the ships are still in good enough condition to swim inside and are just a few metres from the surface.
The island is also famous for its beautiful coral reefs. Again, excellent visibility and calm seas make these great places to encounter the myriad of tropical fish and other exotic sea life that live upon the reefs. These include sea horses, octopi, barracuda, sea urchins and giant turtles.
If reeling in a whopper is your passion, you’ll be pleased to know that the tropical seas around Barbados are home to over five hundred different species of fish, making it something of an angler’s paradise, especially from December through to April.
There are plenty of highly experienced angling tour operators that know the seas well and can take you to where you need to go to catch the fish you’re looking for – and they’ll also provide you with equipment and refreshments. You’ll find sailfish, marlin, barracuda, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi and even the occasional reef, tiger or bull shark.
There aren’t many places around the world where you can experience life on the bottom of the ocean without getting in the water, but Barbados is one of them. The island is home to the Atlantis, a specially built submarine designed to take people on tours 150 ft. below the surface to view the island’s unique reefs and shipwrecks. Fitted with large portholes, it offers perfect views of the seafloor. For additional thrills, why not take one of the special night dives where you can observe the nocturnal predators, illuminated in the sub’s spotlights, out stalking their prey.
Off-road Jeep Safari
Want to see some of the less touristy gems that Barbados has to offer? Then you’ll need to get off the beaten track and hold on tight as you take an open-sided, 4×4, off-road Jeep safari over the more rugged terrain of the island.
Lasting for up to six hours, participants get to stop off at some of the island’s most fascinating cultural, historical and natural treasures, seeing things that most visitors never get to experience. Indeed, the off-road journey is often an experience in itself.
Race car driving
For those who prefer to be at the wheel and like to put their foot down, head over to the Bushy Park driving circuit in St Philip Parish and sign up for a Radical Drive Experience. Here, you’ll get to push your driving skills and your nerves to the limit as you take a proper racing car for a spin around the racing circuit. Of course, before you do, an expert driver will give you all the instructions you need and do a few practice laps, sat at the side of you. Safety first!
A thrilling resort
If you are looking for a base where you can relax in comfort between all those adrenaline adventures, the exclusive Royal Westmoreland has some of the best holiday accommodation on the island. This prestigious 750-acre private resort, perched over the stunning west coast, comprises only 250 luxury villas and apartments. With complimentary housekeeper and concierge, private chef service, first-class hospitality and world-class amenities, you’ll be well and truly thrilled by what’s on offer. Amenities include a championship standard golf course, state of the art gym, floodlit tennis courts, a range of exceptional eateries and a Beach Club at the nearby Mullins Beach.