If you’re headed to Barbados chances are you’re looking for the best shore excursion you can find for your day in port. I’ve been to Barbados twice now and while there are beautiful beaches with gorgeous blue water up and down the coast there is one excursion you don’t want to miss.
Barbados is known for being home to Hawksbill or Green Turtles… there are even a few specific spots where the turtles are known to happily swim around you whilst you snorkel or swim. This is a huge tourist attraction so there are many tours available… and most of them are very similar.
Of course, finding the perfect shore excursion takes a bit of research but my absolute favorite excursion on Barbados has to be Pirates Cove at Carlisle Bay. This is a fun catamaran adventure that includes swimming with turtles, shipwrecks, rum punch and an afternoon of beach fun.
I love this particular excursion for a couple of reasons: it’s a smaller excursion (the first time we went there were only 10 of us and the second time there were about 15), it’s a great value (with excursions costing upwards of 200 dollars on some islands $38 seems like a steal!), it includes transportation from the port to the beach and back (so you don’t have to worry about grabbing a taxi or driving) and the guides are super knowledgeable (hi Ron!).
We decided to do a 9am tour so that we had plenty of time for lunch and lounging on the beach afterwards. When you get to Pirates Cove they’ll introduce you to your tour guide and then it’s off on the Catamaran.
The first time we went on this tour we had one guide and the second time we had two guides (which I just realized is ironic!) and they’ll get you completely set up once you’re on the boat. It’s only 10-20 minute ride to the first snorkeling spot so you’ll have a couple minutes to enjoy the sea breeze before the tour really gets started.
Once you arrive at the first spot (where the turtles live!) the guides will give everyone life jackets and snorkels… if you’ve never used a snorkel before it’s super easy and the guides will teach you. Then it’s into the water for a swim!
You can either go down the slide or climb down into the ocean… I chose the second option.
Once you’re in the water it’s time for a little bit of snorkeling! Our guide swam a little ways away from the boat before he started to put a bit of turtle food into the water… at first there were plenty of fish who wanted the food but no turtles!
These are wild turtles so they tend to frequent the same spots (especially when they know there are guides with food!) but there are no guarantees. The first time we did this tour we saw one turtle who stayed far away on the ocean floor… the guide said that this was a baby turtle. Apparently the babies like to eat the sea grass at the very bottom of the ocean while the adults do a bit more free swimming.
Which is why I was so excited to see this little guy on the second tour!
This little turtle came right up to us and was swimming alllll around while we snorkeled. I’m so glad we remembered to bring an underwater camera on the second tour so that we could get a few pictures of this guy as well as photos of us in our gorgeous snorkels.
Quite the look, huh?
Once we had swam with the turtle for a while it was back on the boat for a little rum punch (or pineapple juice if you’re not into that kind of thing!). We had a quick drive over to the spot with all the shipwrecks and then it was back in the water.
The guides were really knowledgeable about the shipwrecks and told us all about their history. There were schools of fish allllll around us which was an amazing experience to swim through. I felt just like the little mermaid.
After we had snorkeled around the 3 shipwrecks it was back on the boat (so Mom could drink a little more rum punch!) before it was back to the beach for lunch and beach time.
Pirates Cove has a small beach which is nice… it’s not overcrowded and it’s fairly easy to get an umbrella with two chairs. They are a couple dollars ($10? $20?) and you can pay for your umbrella and claim it before you board the catamaran in the morning so that you have a great beach spot waiting for you when you get back.