Parishes or Sections of Barbados:
1. St. Lucy (at the northern tip)
2. St. Peter (just south of St. Lucy)
3. St. Andrew (northeast coast)
4. St. James (Midwest)
5. St. Thomas (east of St. James in central part)
6. St. Joseph (mideast)
7. St. John (south of St. Joseph)
8. St. George (south central)
9. St. Michael (southwest) (contains Bridgetown)
10. Christ Church (southwest tip)
11. St. Philip (southeast tip)
The terrain of the island's 11 parishes changes dramatically from one to the next, and so does the pace and ambience. Bridgetown, the capital, is a sophisticated city.
Luxurious west coast resorts and private homes are a sharp contrast to the small villages and large sugar plantations found throughout central Barbados.
The heavy Atlantic surf crashing against the cliffs of the east coast is far different than the calm Carribean that laps against the white and pink sandy beaches of the west. The northeast is called "Scotland" because of its hilly landscape.
Bathsheba, St. Joseph
A collection of unusual and beautiful plant specimens from around the world is cultivated in 6 acres of gardens nestled among streams, ponds, and rocky outcroppings overlooking the sea above the Bathsheba coastline. The gardens were created in 1954 by the late horticulturist Iris Bannochie. They are now administered by the Barbados National Trust. The Hibiscus CafĂ© serves snacks and drinks.
Animal Flower Cave:
North Point, St. Lucy
Small sea anemones, or sea worms, resemble jewel-like flowers when they open their tiny tentacles. They live in small pools, some of which are large enough to swim in, in this cave at the island's very northern tip. The view of breaking waves from inside the cave is outstanding.
Hwy. 7, Garrison Savannah, St. Michael
Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 2-6.
This museum, in the former British Military Prison (1815) in the historic Garrison area, has artifacts from Arawak days (around 400 BC) and galleries that depict 19th-century military history and everyday life. Exhibits include cane-harvesting tools, wedding dresses, and ancient dentistry instruments. There is also the grim legacy of slave sale accounts kept in a spidery copperplate handwriting. In addition there are wildlife and natural history exhibits, an art gallery, a children's gallery, a gift shop, and a cafĂ©.
St. Barnabas Roundabout (intersection of ABC Hwy. and Hwy. 5), St. Michael.
This statue of a slave is commonly referred to as the Bussa Statue. Bussa was the man who, in the early part of the 19th century, led the first slave rebellion in Barbados. The statue overlooks a broad sugarcane field just outside Bridgetown.
Richmond Plantation, Hwy. 2, St. Joseph
A perfect way to spend a warm day is to walk in this cool garden among fragrant flowering bushes, canna and ginger lilies, puffball trees, and more than 100 other species of tropical flora. A 1/2-mi-long path winds through the 50 acres of grounds, which is a former sugar plantation. There are a snack bar, a gift shop, and a beautiful view of Mt. Hillaby.
Gun Hill Signal Station:
The 360 degree view from Gun Hill, 700 ft above sea level, was what made this location of strategic importance to the 18th-century British army. The garrison captain, Henry Wilkinson, whiled away his off-duty hours by carving a huge lion from a single rock. It is on the hillside just below the tower. Come for a short history lesson but mainly for the spectacular view.
Hwy. 2, St. Thomas
Daily 9-6; last tour at 4.
This limestone cavern, complete with stalactites, stalagmites, subterranean streams, and a 40-ft waterfall, is a rare find in the Caribbean : and one of Barbados's most popular attractions. The one-hour tours are on electric trams, which fill up fast. Reserve ahead of time.
National Heroes Square:
Renamed in 1999 (formerly Trafalgar Square), this square lies between the Parliament Buildings and the Careenage and marks the center of town. Its monument to Lord Horatio Nelson predates Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square by 27 years. Also in the square is a fountain that commemorates the 1865 arrival of running water in Barbados.
St. Nicholas Abbey:
Near Cherry Tree Hill, St. Lucy
The island's oldest great house (circa 1650), made of stone and wood, is one of only three original Jacobean-style houses still standing in the Western Hemisphere. St. Nicholas, (which has no religious connections), has Dutch gables, finials of coral stone, and beautiful grounds. The first floor, fully furnished with period furniture, is open to the public. The Calabash CafĂ©, in the rear, serves snacks, lunch, and afternoon tea.
Errol Barrow Park:
A community park located in the parish of St. Michael, was opened on 28th November, 1987 in memory of the late Errol Walton Barrow, former prime minister of Barbados.
Sam Lord's Castle:
Long Bay, St. Philip
This Regency house built by the buccaneer Sam Lord is considered one of the island's finest mansions. Built in 1820 and now the centerpiece of a resort, the opulent structure features double verandas on all sides and magnificent plaster ceilings created by Charles Rutter, who also crafted some of the ceilings in England's Windsor Castle. Rooms are furnished with fine mahogany furniture and gilt mirrors that Sam Lord is reputed to have pillaged from passing ships.
Sunbury Plantation House & Museum:
Off Hwy. 5, near Six Cross Roads, St. Philip
Admission charged. Lunch extra.
Rebuilt after a 1995 fire destroyed everything but the thick flint-and-stone walls of this 300-year-old plantation house, Sunbury offers a glimpse of the 18th and 19th centuries on a Barbadian sugar estate. Period furniture, old prints, and a collection of horse-drawn carriages have been donated to lend authenticity. Luncheon is served in the back garden.
St. George, Barbados
You can enter the park for free if you're walking but it costs a small
amount to bring a car in.
daily 8:30am to 6pm.
The Francia Plantation stands on a wooded hillside overlooking the St. George Valley and is still owned and occupied by descendants of the original owner. Built in 1913, the house blends both West Indian and European architectural influences. You can explore several rooms, including the dining room with its family silver and an 18th-century James McCabe bracket clock. On the walls are antique maps and prints, including a map of the West Indies printed in 1522.
Heritage Park & Rum Factory:
Foursquare Plantation, St. Philip
After driving through cane fields, you'll arrive at the first rum distillery to be launched on the island since the 19th century. Inaugurated in 1996, this factory is located on a former molasses and sugar plantation dating back 350 years. Produced on site is ESA Field, a white rum praised by connoisseurs. Adjacent is an admission-free park where Barbadian handcrafts are displayed in the Art Foundry. There is also an array of shops and carts selling food, handcrafts, and other products.
Sunbury Plantation House:
6 Cross Rd., St. Philip
This is the only mansion on Barbados where all the rooms are open for
viewing. The 300 year old plantation house is steeped in history, featuring
mahogany antiques, old prints, and a unique collection of horse-drawn carriages.
Animals found in Barbados include the green monkey, the mongoose, eight species of bat, the rarely seen European hare, red-footed tortoise, three species of lizards, whistling frogs and toads. Barbados is also a haven for many turtles, including the Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project monitors nesting and hatching activity during the turtle season. Barbados is home to over a hundred different bird species, mainly migrant species (including ducks, falcons, sandpipers, warblers and terns). About 20 bird species actually reside in Barbados (these include doves, pigeons, herons, egrets, hummingbirds and finches). Many of the birds seen in Barbados are water birds and can be seen in the marine/wetland areas of the island, such as the Graeme Hall Swamp.
The Graeme Hall Swamp
Located in the parish of Christ Church, it is the largest expanse of inland water in Barbados. The Swamp's Mangrove trees provide a natural habitat for several local species of birds. In addition the swamp is also a temporary home for a large number of migrant and wintering water and shore birds. There are several species of uncommon plants in the swamp including the button creeper (with pink stems and white flowers) and sedges, tall plants that grow to over 3 feet in height.
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP)
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP) was started in 1987 to promote conservation of sea turtles in Barbados. It is a joint activity of the Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and the Fisheries Division of the Government of Barbados. The BSTP relies upon the co-operation of the general public, particularly hotel staff and guests, and other persons living and working near the beach, to monitor nesting and hatching activity during the turtle season (April - December).
Farley Hill National Park:
What used to be one of the greatest houses of Barbados, Farley Hill, is a mansion in ruins.
Surrounding it is Farley Hill National Park. The park lies in the north of the parish of St. Peter, directly across the road leading into the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. You can wander in the park overlooking the turbulent waters of the Atlantic, and bring a picnic.
Barbados Wildlife Reserve:
Farley Hill, St. Peter
Across the road from Farley Hill National Park, in northern St. Peter Parish, the preserve is set in a mahogany forest that's maintained by the Barbados Primate Research Center. Visitors can stroll through what is primarily a monkey sanctuary and an arboretum. Besides the uncaged monkeys, you can see wild hares, deer, tortoises, otters, wallabies (which were brought into Barbados), and a variety of tropical birds.
Welchman Hall Gully:
Welchman Hall, St. Thomas
Take Hwy. 2 from Bridgetown
This lush, tropical garden is owned by the Barbados National Trust. It contains specimens of plants that were native to Barbados when the English settlers landed in 1627. Many of the plants are labeled (clove, nutmeg, tree fern, and cocoa, among others) and there is an occasional wild monkey. The breadfruit trees are said to be descendants of the seedlings brought ashore by Captain Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame.
The Chattel House was the original design of the plantation worker's home. They were modest wooden buildings set on blocks so that they could be easily moved from one leaseholding to another. The name chattel referred to the fact that they were movable property. The steep gable roof, constructed of corrugated iron, were utilized to suit the climate of heavy rains and winds. The roof angle deflects the wind rather than providing a platform for it to lift off. The trim and overhang around the windows and openings were placed there to provide shade and a filter against the rain. Many chattel homes have distinctive jalousie windows, with three sets of hinges: Two vertical and one horizontal, that allows maximum flexibility against the wind and sun.
Tyrol Cot Heritage Village:
Codrington Hill, St. Michael
246/425-7777 for restaurant reservations
Sir Grantley Adams, the leader of the Bajan movement for independence from Britain, once made his home here. His wife, Lady Adams, lived in the house until her death in 1990. In years passed it took a highly prized invitation to visit, but it is now open to all. The house was built sometime in the mid-1850s from coral stone in a Palladian style. The grounds have been turned into a museum of Bajan life, including small chattel houses where potters and artists work. The museum attracts mainly those with a genuine interest in Bajan culture; it may not be for the average visitor intent on getting to the beach on time. The Old Stables Restaurant is located in the former stables and serves meals until 4pm. Reservations are recommended for the Friday buffet.
Bajan beaches have fine, white sand, and all are open to the public. Most have access from the road, so non guest beach goers don't have to pass through hotel properties.
Near this popular beach in Rockley there are plenty of places to enjoy a meal or have a drink. Shops rent equipment for snorkeling and other water sports, and there's a parking lot.
Bathsheba Soup Bowl
The rolling surf on Tent Bay attracts surfers (it's the site of the Independence Classic Surfing Championships each November)
Along the Ermy Bourne Highway, Barclays Park has a beachfront where you can dip, wade, and play in tide pools. There's a shaded picnic area across the road.
The cove north of Sam Lord's Castle is outstanding. Follow the steps down the cliff to a strip of white sand lined by coconut palms and washed by an aquamarine sea. It's out of the way and not near restaurants, so bring a picnic lunch.
Just north of Bridgetown, Brighton Beach is large, open, and convenient to the port. Locals often take quick swims here on hot days.
Located at the east end of the St. Lawrence Gap area, this beach always has a nice breeze and a good amount of surf. Public access is from Maxwell Coast Road. Refreshments are available at the Casuarina Beach Hotel.
This picturesque beach of pink sand is protected by steep cliffs. There's a lifeguard on duty, but the water can be rough. The rolling surf is great for body-surfing if you're an experienced swimmer. Lunch and changing rooms are available at the Crane Beach Hotel.
This beach, just south of Speightstown at Mullins Bay, is a good place to spend the day. The calm water is safe for swimming and snorkeling, there's easy parking on the main road, and Mullins Beach Bar (246/422-1878) serves snacks, meals and drinks.
Needham's Point and its lighthouse are at the south end of Carlisle Bay. One of the best beaches, it's crowded with locals on weekends and holidays. The Carlisle Bay Centre has changing rooms and showers to accommodate cruise ship passengers spending a day at the beach.
south of Holetown, is lined with luxury hotels. It's a very pretty area, with plenty of beach to go around and good snorkeling. Refreshments are plentiful at Bombas Beach Bar (246/432-0569).
In Worthing, next to the Sandy Beach Island Resort, this beach has shallow, calm waters and a picturesque lagoon, making it an ideal location for families.
Silver Sands Beach
Close to the southernmost tip of the island, this beautiful strand of white sand always has a stiff breeze, which attracts intermediate and advanced windsurfers.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling:
There are more than two dozen dive sites along the west coast between Maycocks Bay and Bridgetown and off the south coast as far as the St. Lawrence Gap. The calm waters along the west coast are also ideal for snorkeling. The marine reserve, a stretch of protected reef between Sandy Lane and the Colony Club, contains beautiful coral formations accessible from the beach.
On the west coast, Bell Buoy is a large dome-shape reef where huge brown coral tree forests and schools of fish delight all categories of divers at depths ranging from 20 to 60 ft.
Bright Ledge And Maycocks Bay
On the northwest coast, these beautiful sites have large coral reefs separated by corridors of white sand, and visibility is often 100 ft or more.
You'll see schooling fish, barracudas, and turtles at depths of 40-60 ft, at this reef off Holetown.
This healthy coral reef has beautiful fish and sea fans you may get a glimpse of the Atlantis submarine at 60-80 ft.
Just below Bridgetown is a natural harbor and marine park where you can retrieve empty bottles thrown overboard by generations of sailors and see cannons and cannonballs, anchors, and shipwrecks lying in 25-40 ft of water.
Sunk in 1996, this freighter confiscated for drug running sits in 60 ft of water in Carlisle Bay near three earlier wrecks.
Dive shops provide a two-hour beginner's "resort" course or a weeklong certification course (followed by a shallow dive.) Snorkelers can usually accompany dive trips for a one- or two-hour trip.
Dive Boat Safari
Grand Barbados Beach Resort
Needham's Point, Bridgetown, St. Michael
This dive operator on the south coast offers full dives and instruction.
Dive Shop, Ltd.
Aquatic Gap, St. Michael
246/426-9947; 800/693-3483 in the U.S.;
888/575-3483 in Canada
The Dive Shop, Ltd. is the island's oldest dive shop.
Coral Reef Club
Holetown, St. James
246/432-0931 or 800/513-5763
Available here are one- and two-tank dives, night reef/wreck/drift dives, the full range of PADI instruction, and free transportation.
West Side Scuba Centre
Sunset Crest Beach Club
Baku Beach, Holetown, St. James
West Side Scuba Centre offers all levels of PADI instruction, reef and wreck dives, night dives, underwater video and camera rental, and free transportation.
Christ Church Parish Church
Above Oistins, Christ Church
Although the present church was built in 1935, it is the fourth on the site - the previous ones being destroyed by hurricane, fire or flood. The Church is best known for the famous Chase Vault, in which coffins mysteriously move around within the sealed vault. A detailed investigation in 1820 offered no explanation and the coffins were eventually buried separately and the vault sealed.
Sharon Moravian Church
Built in 1799, Sharon Moravian Church remains as one of the few eighteenth century edifices of Barbados unaltered by any modifications. The original church was destroyed in 1831 but was rebuilt two years later in the same style. The present church with its eighteenth century tower and windows represents the architecture of the Low Countries, the birthplace of Moravianism.
St.James Parish Church
St.James Parish Church is among the four oldest surviving churches in Barbados and is located near the site of the island's first settlement in Holetown. In the southern porch of the church is a bell with the inscription - "God bless King William, 1696". This bell pre-dates the famous American Liberty bell by 54 years.
Main Features: mural tablets, stained glass windows.
St.John Parish Church
Near Hackleton's Cliff, St.John
This classic Gothic church was built to replace a previous structure which had been destroyed by hurricane in 1831. The chancel was added to the church in 1876.
Main Features: Churchyard contains body of Ferdinand Paleologus (descendant of Constantine), Westmascott statue
St.Joseph Parish Church
Horse Hill, St.Joseph
The first church was built before 1641 but was damaged by hurricane in 1789 and completely destroyed by another hurricane in 1831. At this time there was considerable dispute as to where the new church should be located. Thus, the present church was not built until 1839 at the present site, two miles uphill at the foot of Hackleton's Cliff.
St.Lucy Parish Church
Near Sir Theodore Brancker roundabout, St.Lucy
The first St.Lucy parish church was built of wood in 1627 and this was followed by a stone structure in 1741. The fourth (and present) church is an attractive building, constructed in 1837. It is essentially Georgian with the characteristic tower.
St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral
Bay Street, St.Michael
Date Built: 1899
The Cathedral was originally built in 1848 but was destroyed by fire in 1897. Arson was suspected at the time as a result of the attitude of the plantation owners (who were mainly Protestant) to the Roman Catholic Church. The new cathedral was completed in 1899 and consecrated on August 23, 1903.
St.Peter Parish Church
St.Peter was one of the six original parishes and its first church was built in 1629. The second church was built 36 years later and a third church followed in 1837. This church was built in an essentially Georgian style but has a square bell tower.
Barbados: St.George Parish Church
The Glebe, St.George
Date Built: 1784
The hurricane of 1780 destroyed the first church built at this site. A new church was built four years later and this building survived to the present time, making it the oldest church building on the island.
Main Features: architecture is less Gothic and more Georgian, magnificent altar painting The Resurrection; spectacular view of East Coast.