Barbados is a little island country in the Caribbean corner of the North Atlantic Ocean. Even though it is rather quite small, there is quite a bit to see and do on a cruise ship shore excursion; the island even has its own Seven Wonders list.
We visited Barbados during a Southern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas cruise ship.
As we had been to Barbados before, we chose to create our individual itinerary for the day rather than book an organized tour.
We hired a private taxi driver for the day at the pier and went off to see the two island attractions we were interested in exploring.
Our first stop was to see their famous Baobab Tree in Bridgetown’s Queen Park. As some of you may recall, in the ‘Little Prince’ book Baobab, threaten the prince’s little planet, and indeed, these trees trunks are the largest we’ve ever seen.
This particular tree in Queen Park is estimated to be a thousand years old and thought to have reached the island, by floating across the Atlantic Ocean, like a seed from Guinea in West Africa!
The second stop for the day was none other than Harrison’s Cave that over the years has received many awards such as the CTO Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award, and the National Tourism Award.
It is a large, underground stream system with caverns and caves filled with stalactites, stalagmites and pools of water.
A lot of work has gone into making this cave traversable, rightfully earning a spot among the island’s seven wonders.
Different tours are available to the public depending on the visitors’ age. Teens and adults can go on the Eco-adventure, offered daily, which includes a four-hour trek along the surrounding nature trails to explore and the local fauna and flora as well the cave’s natural passages.
The 1.5 hour abridged Scenic Gully tour provides visitors with an understanding of the use of gullies in Barbados and medical usage of plants.
For the younger lot, there are two tours that visitors need to book in advance. The first is a 45-minute Junior Explorer Tour for kids 5-12 teaches kids about the cave formations, animal life and water conservation.
The guides provide nature packs, explorer hats and flashlights. The second, less than an hour long, teaches kids about bats and their importance in the eco- system.
We went on the Tram Tour, which was an hour long and showed us the Cave highlights. The guide related the history of the caves and the various geological formations that make the caves famous. It was fascinating to be finally able to distinguish between stalactites and stalagmites.
Make sure you book in advance and don’t miss out on the souvenir shop at the end of the tour.
You can even have your photo taken in the booth there.
Autism Travel Tips
Inside the cave, there are very well-lit places, but it can be dark too. Bring a little flashlight or use your cell phone light if your child is scared of the dark.
There is constant dripping of water from the ceiling above so pack a hat and prepare your child for occasional splashing onto the face. It is harmless and part of the adventure.
The tram tour is like a Disney open train cart ride, so there is the noise of machinery that is not too loud, but you can reassure your child that the squeaking and the sound of the carts banging together are ‘nothing to be scared of. ‘
The guide speaks very loudly, so if that is a concern, your child can wear headphones to muffle the sound.
There is a place to buy snacks and sandwiches as well as liquid refreshments on the premises, but if your child has special dietary needs, you will need to take this into account and plan accordingly.