Jane and I have been visiting Barbados for the past 20 years. I am often asked why we return year after year. My answer is always the same; the people, the weather, the beaches and the restaurants. Most of our time in Barbados is spent relaxing on the beach or around the pool, and eating and drinking in the fabulous restaurants and bars. However this is not the holiday a lot of visitors want. They want to see more of the island and visit historical sites and other places of interest. I thought I’d share with you my 5 top things any visitor to Barbados should do.
St Nicholas Abbey and Cherry Tree Hill
St Nicholas Abbey was built in 1660 and is one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere. It is situated in St Peters Parish which is 7 km east of Speightstown.
The Abbey is situated on a 400 acre estate. Only the ground floor of the great house is open to visitors, but it provides you with a taste of what colonial life must have felt like in the 18th and 19th century, with the original furniture and interiors preserved.
The Abbey also has its own distillery and sugar mill. One of the highlights of your visit has to be the sampling of the St Nicholas Abbey rum which is produced on site. Its a premium light rumand is better drunk on its own rather than with coke or in a rum punch!
If you visit St Nicolas Abbey you must also visit Cherry Tree Hill. Turn left out of the Abbey drive and pass through a majestic avenue of mahogany trees which then opens up to provide amazing views of the East Coast of Barbados. It is stunning and a spot I return to every time I visit Barbados.
Bathsheba and the East Coast
The east coast of Barbados is wild and untamed. This is where the Atlantic Ocean meets land for the first time since the Canary Islands!
With dramatic limestone cliffs, amazing rock formations and huge waves the east coast has to be visited. Unlike the West and South coasts there is very little development on this side of the island. The golden windswept beached are vast and virtually empty. You don’t swim in the sea here; its only the experienced surfers who venture out to tackle the huge waves and dangerous currents.
Bathsheba is the main resort. It is a very laid back place, unspoilt, with limited tourist facilities. The Atlantis Hotel is a good place for lunch. It is in a stunning setting with great views and delicious food.
Walking the West Coast beaches
Our favourite part of the island, this is where we have stayed on our last 20 visits to Barbados. We spend most of our holidays on one of the beautiful west coast beaches, Alleynes being our favourite. However we also love the beach at Port St Charles, Goodings Beach in Speightstown and Gibbs just a bit further south.
As well as lying in the sun we also love strolling along the West Coast beaches. Twenty years ago when we used to stay at the Sandridge Hotel near Speightstown you could very nearly walk along the beach all the way to Holetown, about 10 kms. However with erosion, development and man made obstructions this cannot now be done.
There are still however long stretches accessible. Last year for instance I managed to walk from Holetown northwards to just past the Lone Star and southwards to Paynes Bay. Admittedly you have to do this at low tide and be prepared to get wet but its worth it. Some of the stretches of beach are deserted and you get the opportunity to see some of the magnificent beach side properties that aren’t visible from the coast road. Gibbs is particularly good in this respect, the properties are stunning with beautiful gardens stretching down to the beach.
Polo at Holders Hill
Every year we try and pay a visit to Holders Hill to watch a polo match between the local Barbados team and the Cheshire team from the UK.
Its an entertaining afternoon and everyone is welcome not just Barbados society! Its a fast and exciting spectacle, with amazing horsemanship displayed. If you have always thought polo was just for the upper classes seeing a match in Barbados will change your perceptions.
A visit to Speightstown
Speightstown is in the north west of Barbados. For me it has a genuine Carribean feel to it. It maybe doesn’t have the choice of bars and restaurants Holetown and the south coast resorts have. However it feels authentic and is geared more to the needs of the locals rather than tourists. It has some beautiful historic buildings dating back to the 18th century that gives it that colonial feel.
We do a lot of our food shopping here. We use the sidewalk fruit and vegetable traders who set their stalls up along the main shopping street. You definitely get better quality produce at lower prices and you are supporting the local people.
Speightstown has some great beaches including Goodings to the south and Heywoods to the north. Over the past few years there has been development of the beach front in the town centre with new cafes and restaurants. However this has not changed the character and atmosphere of the town. I just hope that we don’t see too much further development which could spoil this delightful place.
The Guestbooks Comment: “These are just a few of the places to go and things to do on a visit to Barbados. I could go on and on, a catamaran trip, a day in Bridgetown with lunch at the Waterfront Cafe, great snorkelling…………… Whatever type of holiday you prefer I am sure Barbados will fit the bill.”
For more ideas on things to do on the beautiful isalnd of Barbados have a look at my 2018 trip report click here