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Located on the southwestern coast of the Caribbean island of Barbados, St. Michael is one of the country’s 11 parishes and home to its capital of Bridgetown. While the tropical pink sand and exotic fish make Barbados one of the Best Beach Getaways Around the World, limiting yourself to the country’s perimeter would be doing it an injustice. We know you’re going to spend some time on the beach, but here are some other great ideas for things to do in St. Michael, Barbados.
See St. Michael’s Cathedral
Ever since the English arrived in Barbados in the mid 17th century, the island nation has become a staunchly religious society with over 95 percent of the population identifying themselves as Christian. The St. Michael’s Cathedral stands as the tallest Anglican church on the island (most people consider themselves Anglican), and is also home to the biggest pipe organ in the entire Caribbean. Over 1,600 people visit St. Michael’s Cathedral to worship on a weekly basis, so stopping here will give you an authentic view of Barbadian culture. And for an in-depth view of the current safety situation here, check out Is Barbados Safe?
Visit the Barbados Museum and Historical Society
Before you leave Barbados, it’s important you get up to speed on the country’s history. The island nation has had its fair share of colonialism, slavery, civil wars, and independence movements, and there’s no better place to learn about these things than at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. Housed in what was once the British Military Prison, today it consists of eight galleries, each with their own theme. The African Gallery explores the African heritage and culture that is still thriving in Barbados, the Jubilee Gallery has artifacts from 4,000 years of human history, and other galleries showcase the country’s history of cricket, jazz, war, and independence.
Watch a Horserace at the Garrison Savannah Racetrack
Another gem located just outside Bridgetown is the Garrison Savannah Racetrack. Even though this tradition started as a foreign import, nowadays it’s an integral part of local culture. There are daily horse races here, so don a hat and a fancy dress and place a bet on the most valiant looking steed.
Drink at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery
Alongside sugar cane, the rum industry has played an important role in the history of Barbados. If you need to get out of the sun for a few hours, head to the Mount Gay Rum Distillery to discover how the Caribbean’s go-to liquor is distilled and produced. Don’t come on an empty stomach though — samples are handed out at the end of the tour, and bottles are sold at cheaper duty-free prices than you find elsewhere on the island.
Stroll the Cheapside Market
For everything from handmade souvenirs to t-shirts and incredibly fresh fruit, make your way over to St. Michael’s Cheapside Market. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Cheapside becomes an epicenter of food and culture right in the heart of Bridgetown. Even if you’re not buying, exploring the colorful strips will give you a great taste of local culture.
Ride a Bajan Bus
Bajan buses are large, colorful, and often intricately-decorated school vehicles that have served as a vintage transportation system on the island for decades. Hop on a Bajan bus and tour the island with a knowledgeable guide. Kind of like the jeepney in the Philippines or the chiva bus in Colombia, it’s a great way to tour the country in style. #1 Bajan Bus is a reputable tour company with competitive rates.
Take a Submarine Ride
One of the main reasons you’re probably heading to (or considering) Barbados is the beaches. Lounging on the sand is one option, but have you ever considered a ride in a submarine? Break out your bucket list because plunging into the depths of the Caribbean is one of the best things to do right off the coast of St. Michael. With Atlantis Submarines, you can dive down 150 feet to a shipwreck on the ocean floor, all while seeing tropical fish along the way.
Marvel at the Jewish Synagogue
Following extreme persecution in South America in the 17th century, some 300 Jews fled various countries and decided to settle in Barbados. Here, they created the Jewish Synagogue, which is one of the oldest active synagogues in the world. After an impressive restoration project in the 1980s, it now stands in perfect condition right in the city center. If you’re not Jewish or interested in religious history, they also have a learning center that teaches visitors about the slave trade and how it impacted modern society.
Go to a Match at the Kensington Oval
Barbados is no stranger to professional sports. In fact, cricket is so widely popular here that in 2007 the Kensington Oval, which is the country’s premier stadium, hosted the International Cricket World Cup. The stadium hosts tons of cricket games between local, regional, and international teams, and after the $45 million dollar renovation a little over a decade ago, it’s one of the best things to do while in St. Michael.