On the west coast, the beaches are generally narrow but pretty and the sea is usually mill-pond calm, so ideal for swimming and watersports. Favourites of ours here include Paynes Bay beach, where swimming with turtles is usually possible, Mullins Beach, a picturesque locals’ hangout by Oistins and the pink-tinged sands of Crane Beach. The wild Atlantic east cost is not good for swimming, but the beautiful beach at Bathsheba has natural rock pools for safe dips.
Several historic properties shed light on the island’s British Colonial past. St Nicholas Abbey is a rare example of a Jacobean plantation house and shows an absorbing home video shot in the 1930’s of life on the island. Dating from 1660, Sunbury Plantation House has elegantly furnished rooms and does great Bajan buffet lunches.
A love of gardening, inherited from the British, is part of the make up of many islanders. Horticultural delights open to the public include Andromeda Botanic Gardens, overlooking the east coast, with a magnificent, giant bearded fig tree and Hunte’s Gardens, a magical, jungly spot in a sink-hole-like gully. Nearby Welchman Hall Gully, a deep ravine formed long ago by the collapsed roofs of caves, offers a slice of untamed tropical forest.
The calm Caribbean sea off the gently shelving, west-coast beaches is perfect for children. Great family outings include a trip on a mini submarine, a tram ride through the huge underground caverns of Harrison’s Cave and a visit to see the island’s native green monkeys in the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, to name a few of the many activities on offer. We will tell you about many, many more.
The Barbados Garrison
This was the largest British military establishment in the Caribbean in colonial times and more than 80 historic buildings – barracks, canteens, hospitals, stables, forts, a rum store – have survived. The 150-acre complex is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and there are expert-led tours of the site. The former military parade ground is a horse race track:an afternoon at the race is great fun and a real insight into Barbados life.
Oistins fish fry, every Friday evening, is a must – a big, rollicking street party with brilliant, cheap grilled seafood, live bands, dancing and dominoes. Also on the south coast is St Lawrence Gap – or The Gap as it’s called – a strip of lively bars and nightclubs. Over on the west coast, there’s a concentration of more upmarket bars on First and Second Streets in Holetown.