Home TripsAll Over the World One Day in Barbados – Rum, Monkeys and 4x4s

One Day in Barbados – Rum, Monkeys and 4x4s

by Grant
Barbados Rum, Monkeys and 4x4s

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Barbados was the final stop on our southern Caribbean cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas. Compared to the other stops we made, the port at Bridgetown was far more industrial, with several docks and several container ships.

We had a busy schedule of things we wanted to see and do in Barbados. To start, we decided to head to the Mount Gay Rum Tasting Room for a tour and, of course, to taste some delicious rum.

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Mount Gay Rum Distillery

We had planned on just walking to the tasting room, since, according to online maps, it was only a half-hour walk. We figured out pretty quickly it would be a miserable half-hour, so quickly grabbed a cab. The fare was $10 each way. Not cheap, but would not break the bank either.

The Mount Gay Rum Tasting Room is a great place to learn how rum is made and just hang out.
The Mount Gay Rum Tasting Room is a great place to learn how rum is made and just hang out.

We arrived just after a tour started, so spent a bit of time perusing the gift shop looking at the various products and comparing prices while we waited.

Pro tip: most cruise ports have duty-free shops right next to the dock and Bridgetown is no different. I checked the prices of the various Mount Gay Rum products there and took pictures with my phone. The prices were actually cheaper at the dock.

The Mount Gay Rum tasting tour takes visitors through the blending and bottling portion of the operation.
The Mount Gay Rum tasting tour takes visitors through the blending and bottling portion of the operation.

The tour takes you through the basics of the history of the distillery, how the rum is made (which is elsewhere on the island) and a brief tour of the mixing and bottling plant. Then the fun part: tasting the rum!

Rum Tasting Before Lunch… mmm Rum!

Confession time: I am much more of a whiskey fan (especially Scotch and American craft whiskey) than a rum fan. That said, Mount Gay has some very nice and very smooth rums. Color me impressed.

We enjoy visiting all manner of breweries, distilleries and wineries. We love sampling local drinks and food.
We enjoy visiting all manner of breweries, distilleries and wineries. We love sampling local drinks and food.

In all, we had a great time at the distillery and it was well worth the $15 per person price of admission.

On the way back, we stopped at the duty-free shop and picked up a couple of bottles of Mount Gay XO (or Extra Old) rum, which was easily our favorite of the bunch, though we enjoyed the Black Barrel as well.

Pro tip: when traveling to the Caribbean, you can bring back one liter of alcohol per person duty-free. But, in Caribbean Basin Initiative countries, you can bring back an additional liter of locally-produced alcohol duty-free.

4×4 Adventure and Green Monkey Encounter

After dropping off our loot with the folks aboard the ship and grabbing a bite to eat for lunch, we headed back out to catch our shore excursion: a sight-seeing trip across the island in the back of converted old Land Rovers.

Interestingly, Bridgetown had basically a shore excursion terminal, much like an open-air bus station, where you wait to catch your excursion. We piled into the backs of the vehicles and went cruising through the Barbadian countryside.

The small house on the left (with the rusted tin roof) is a chattel house, a term used to describe a moveable home. Chattel houses could be disassembled and moved easily as the owner did not own the land under the house.
The small house on the left (with the rusted tin roof) is a chattel house, a term used to describe a moveable home. Chattel houses could be disassembled and moved easily as the owner did not own the land under the house.

We got to see churches, old sugar plantations (a staple on any tour in the Caribbean) and new high-end developments on the way to the wildlife preserve. Did I mention we saw Rhianna’s house? We saw Rhianna’s house. The folks there are very proud to say she is from Barbados.

Barbados Wildlife Reserve

The wildlife reserve basically had two parts: an area for the green monkeys and an area for some of the other wildlife found on the island which had monkeys as well.

A green monkey in the trees.
A green monkey in the trees.

We spent a little bit of time watching the monkeys play and torture the local rooster, before heading to the other part of the reserve for a guided walk. We got to see small deer, birds, iguanas and tortoises. Our arrival coincided with feeding time, so the animals were pretty active.

The reserve had a bit of a zoo-like feel to it, but it was nice place to walk through and see the critters.

The Atlantic Coast of Barbados

Hopping back into the trucks, we headed east across the island toward the Atlantic Coast. Our guide did a good job explaining the sights along the way, including one of the few working windmills from an old sugar plantation left in the Caribbean.

One of the last remaining operational windmills from Barbados' sugar farming days.
One of the last remaining operational windmills from Barbados’ sugar farming days.

The Atlantic Coast was both rugged and beautiful. The water is much rougher on this side of the island, so it is not a good place for swimming, but it was quite beautiful and much quieter than the Caribbean side of the island. I could easily see renting a small house for several days if I wanted to get away from it all.

The Atlantic Coast of Barbados is a bit rocky with a heavier surf but is just plain beautiful.
The Atlantic Coast of Barbados is a bit rocky with a heavier surf but is just plain beautiful.

We stopped briefly to stroll along the beach and grab a tasty beer. Our guide told me I should try Banks, a local brew. As a big proponent of drinking local, I was happy to make a point to get one… Only to discover the nearby bar had stopped carrying Banks in favor of Stag out of Trinidad. Oh, well. Next time.

One of the reasons we chose this tour was the ability to get out and see large parts of the island away from Bridgetown. We really enjoyed that aspect of the tour. The only disappointment, at least for me, was the 4x4s never actually left the paved road. I would have loved to go on some dirt roads to some obscure places.

Selfie time!
Selfie time!

Thanksgiving on the Adventure of the Seas

Our visit to Barbados was actually on Thanksgiving. So, we were looking forward to dinner that night in the dining room. While we were traveling without our families, at the least we enjoyed a delightful, traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

The menu had turkey with gravy, stuffing, greens, and, of course, pecan pie for dessert. While it was not as good as homemade, it was still a well-done meal and we enjoyed it. Now, if we could just get them Bonnie’s bourbon pecan pie recipe.

The Adventure of the Seas served a very nice Thanksgiving dinner.
The Adventure of the Seas served a very nice Thanksgiving dinner.

I know we have said this with every island we have visited: we simply must come back. We enjoy cruising every now and then. That said, the visits to each of these islands are simply too short to really see everything we want to.

For more from our 2016 southern Caribbean cruise, be sure to read our overviewtips on staying healthy on a cruisepros and cons of staying in an aft cabin, as well as our port reports from Saint Martin, Saint Kitts, Antigua and Saint Lucia.

Travel Resources

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What do you use to find a hotel?

We typically stay at Hilton properties, so we use the Hilton website. We can find good Hilton Honors discounts or AAA discounts for a hotel there. We make great use of our free night certificates from our Hilton Honors American Express.

If there are no Hilton properties available, we use TripAdvisor to read reviews and book the hotel. We find we can get the best price that way.
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What if I need more space than I can get at a hotel?

We use Vrbo for the times when we have rented a cabin for a weekend getaway, like this cabin in Townsend, TN, or needed to rent a house for a large family vacation. We had a great experience with them in terms of refunding deposits when COVID hit and will continue to use them.
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Who do you use for rental cars?

As a general rule, we book with Hertz for rental cars. We have had nothing but good experiences with them. Plus, we really like unlimited mileage and not worrying about crossing state lines. We have even rented from Hertz overseas in both Slovenia and Croatia.
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How about booking a cruise?

We have found some amazing prices booking a cruise through Cruise Direct. We have saved a lot of money on our cruises compared to what we found elsewhere, making a last-minute Bahamas cruise even cheaper.
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What if I want to rent an RV?

We highly recommend Outdoorsy for RV rentals. We rented a camper van for a week to visit Rocky Mountain National Park for the elk rut and Custer State Park for the Buffalo Round-Up and had a blast. The program was easy to use and we really enjoyed the freedom of having a camper van for that trip.
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What do you use for booking tours?

We don’t often book tours. Typically, we like to do stuff on our own. That said, there are some experiences you just can’t have any other way. So, when we do want to book a tour, we always check Viatour first.
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Do you use anything to get discounts on the road?

We make extensive use of both Good Sam and AAA on the road. Good Sam is normally regarded as a discount card for RVers at campgrounds and Camping World but anyone can use the 5 cents off a gallon at the pump at both Pilot and Flying J.
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We have had AAA as long as we have been married and it has more than paid for itself in discounts at hotels, aside from the peace of mind of having roadside assistance. Add in paper maps and the ability to get an international driver’s license and it is more than worth it for any traveler out there.

Port report from Bridgetown, Barbados, including the Mount Gay Rum Tasting Room, green monkeys at the wildlife preserve and the rugged Atlantic Coast.
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