Bordered by the Northern region of the Atlantic ocean, Barbados is home to sea, sun and sand. The island enjoys tempting crystal clear waters, beautiful undulating landscapes and warm, friendly people. As a result, the island enjoys a healthy supply of travellers who visit our shores annually. However, as the number of travellers grows, so too does their impact on our little Caribbean island gem. As such, it's crucial to understand how you can enjoy a well-deserved vacation in an eco-friendly way and still help boost the economy of a small island.
Sustainable tourism ensures that the majority of tourism’s benefits trickle down into the host island’s agriculture, people and to the economy instead of leaving the island to go to foreign entities. Barbados has pioneered this focus on eco-tourism since the 1990s, devoting itself to initiatives which prioritise the preservation of the environment. Even establishing a National Commission on Sustainable Tourism Development, encouraging visitors and islanders to eat local and even banning single-use plastics in April 2019. Barbados focuses on the holistic benefits of tourism, factoring in the impact visitors have on the island’s economy, agriculture and environment, but also the effect our island has on visitors! Visitors can enjoy our island and support its initiatives on sustainable tourism excellence in small ways.
Imagine eating lunch at a sea-side restaurant, waves lapping against the shore as a backdrop to your ‘office’ space. Warm sand between toes on your ‘office floor’. One such restaurant is La Cabane at Batts Rock beach St James. This idyllic beach on the West Coast is popular among locals and visitors and has even been visited on a few occasions by the Prime Minister, Honourable Mia Amor Mottley. Also known as ‘The Love Shack’ its hammocks and organic architecture are minimalist as the coasts’ natural beauty reflects elegantly on the seaside location.
With daily activities such as yoga, the spot focuses on the wellness of its visitors. What a relaxing way to start your day! Almost 100% of their Barbadian food is locally sourced to limit the impact transportation has on the environment concerning oil, fumes and exhaust. Owner Papajules focuses on providing the freshest food to his guests as he is also a health enthusiast - implementing activities from his own wellness journey into his company. As a result, healthy breakfasts and detox juices have become highlights of the restaurant to complement its wellness activities such as paddle boarding, swimming lessons, cardio and meditation. The company has also implemented the use of bamboo straws over plastic, and employees can be seen wearing ‘Save the turtles’ t-shirts. If you need a healthy, sustainable culinary tourism experience, La Cabane is the place to be.
Chattel House Audio Tour
For history and nature enthusiasts Deborah Grant’s tours are a dream. A Chattel House Audio Tour resembles a time machine - tour guides reveal fantastic stories of Barbados’ history while literally keeping you on your feet and reducing strain on the environment! Knowledgeable tour guides take you on a rich walking journey through the island’s towns of Speightstown, Holetown, Bridgetown and Oistins. These audio tours provide insight into the gothic architecture of the island’s oldest buildings and statues and are steeped in the colonial history from enslavement to revolt! They also employ technology which allows customers to enjoy crystal clear audio while following along at their own leisure. Tours are heard through an attached microphone while visitors listen through earbuds perfect for maintaining any necessary distancing protocols! Armed with complimentary healthy snacks and water, Chattel House walking tours are just as fun and interactive as a tour on wheels - perhaps better - as you blend in with locals. Get active and reduce harm to the environment.
The Barbados Museum and Historical Society
Don’t spend all of your time at the beach - take a trip to Barbados’ interactive museum and learn more about the rich history of the island from its indigenous people, settlers and Africans, which now contribute the majority of the island’s populace. A visit to the museum is an enthralling way to understand how these diverse groups interacted to build the vibrant community we have today. The Barbados Museum, found just on the outskirts of Bridgetown at the Garrison Savannah, is an alternative way to enjoy the island sustainably. Juxtaposing a former military base and the current home of Barbados’ Gold Cup, it represents another fun way for you to stay active, explore and invest in the local community of the island.
For those staying on the south coast, close to Dover Beach, you may be lucky enough to enjoy turtle hatching - it may be one of the most memorable experiences on your stay. Reduce your jet-ski trips, and instead enjoy the touching view of hatchlings scampering from their shells to the ocean floor.
Although there are no organised trips for turtle hatching, most hotels work with the Turtle Protection Group - they assist baby turtles in getting to the ocean - offering a better chance at survival. Through this organisation, hotels play their part to protect the marine life of the island. Barbados is committed to its sea turtle project ( which is based at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus). It operates a 24 hour “Turtle Hotline", so should you glimpse turtles wandering off beaches into roads, disoriented hatchlings or even illegal capture don’t hesitate to call the hotline at 246-230-0142. Sea turtles are protected through legislation in Barbados, and the protection group is devoted to educating locals and visitors about sea turtle biology, conservation efforts and research programmes.
Barbados may be a bite-sized paradise, but it is one of the most flavorful parts of the Caribbean region. Devoted to promoting sustainable tourism excellence, the island has restructured its tourism package to holistically benefit tourists as well as our local communities. Although we have a long way to go, exploring alternative sustainable culinary tourism activities such as eating lunch at eco-friendly restaurants, engaging in walking tours to limit transportation exhaust, as well as visiting museums and engaging in turtle watching can prove to be more beneficial to the island. So grab a friend and enjoy a sustainable bite of paradise today.