Barbados: A Comparison of St. Nicholas Abbey Tours

by Oliver Stallwood  |  Published November 5, 2023

St. Nicholas Abbey in Barbados is one of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations, with a glimpse of the island’s past, present and future all on one 400-acre estate. Here are three of the best tours:

(Photo: bixentro via / CC BY 2.0 Deed)

Located among dense mahogany forests, lush tropical gullies and rolling sugar cane fields, St. Nicholas Abbey is one of Barbados’s must-see destinations. The 400-acre estate includes over 225 acres of sugar cane fields; it is both a relic to the nation’s troubled colonial past and also part of its present and future economy. After the decline of the sugar industry, the 350-year-old abbey, which is found in the hills of St. Peter, is both a preserved estate and a cottage industry of sugar-based products, most notably its trademark offering, St. Nicholas Abbey Rum. It’s an important trip to help understand some of the history of slavery on the island, with detailed archeology revealing the lives of the planters and enslaved laborers who lived and worked on the estate in early colonial times. Tours also take in the award-winning rum distillery, with samples available throughout. Here are three of the best ways to see St Nicholas Abbey:

St. Nicholas Abbey in Barbados Small Group or Private Tour

Anyone who has trudged around en masse struggling to hear what the tour guide is saying will appreciate the joy of a small group visit. This half-day, guided tour to the 1658 Plantation House and rum distillery manages to be both relaxed and informative, with everything from driver, guide, entrance fees, and transportation all included. Of course there is rum tasting, as well as the chance to board a restored steam engine and take a round-trip ride to Cherry Tree Hill. What really stands out are the friendly and knowledgeable guides who not only share the history of the estate but also lesser-known facts about what it was like to live and work there. From €82.83.

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Barbados Ultimate Rum Tour

Calling all rum connoisseurs. This tour takes in not one but two distilleries, starting at the Mount Gay Rum Ditillery in St Lucy, where this world-famous tipple has been made for more than 300 years, and then on to St. Nicholas Abbey. This (potentially) boozy trip visits the abbey in the afternoon with two different options when you book. The first takes in just the great house and distillery tour and the second option adds the heritage railway to the mix. For anyone interested in rum it’s an all-encompassing look at Barbados’s distillery industry, but others may just be happy with a half day to St Nicholas Abbey and save more than half the cash and still get to drink rum in the Caribbean sun. From €198.41.

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Day Tour Including Harrison’s Cave St. Nicholas Lunch and Monkeys

An excellent choice if time is short, this tour includes St. Nicholas Abbey but also packs in most of the other sights to tick off in Barbados. Before the abbey stop is a visit to Harrison’s Cave, a crystallized, limestone cave that was only opened to the public in 1981, as well as popular surfing spot Bathsheba Beach and Cherry Tree Hill, an 850ft high natural viewing point. There’s only one hour to look around St Nicholas Abbey’s Plantation House, museum and distillery before the tour finishes with a local lunch and a chance to spot the island’s green monkeys at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Round-trip transportation from area hotels is included. The local guide has a vast knowledge of the island – if it’s just a short visit to St Nicholas Abbey is enough then this is certainly a good value way to see much of what Barbados has to offer, and spend more time on the beach. From €186.85.

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