Tag: Bridgetown Travel Deals

Bridgetown Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Bridgetown Travel Deals

A – Overview

Easternmost of the Carribean islands, Barbados is a paradise where it is always summer. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the Carribean. The stunning white sand beaches on the Carribean side of the island contrast sharply with the rugged Atlantic coastline, which is reminiscent of the huge boulders and crashing waves of Big Sur. Roads paved in coral are bordered by fields of cane, royal palms, rolling hills and terraces. Tropical flowers bloom in profusion such as oleander, frangipani, jasmine, cassia, bougainvillea, hisbiscus and lady of the night. Scarlet flame trees and coral walls surround the well tended lawns of colorful houses.

bridgetown overview

Bridgetown, the capital, has the English atmosphere which is the island’s heritage. High quality British made clothing and Scottish and English fabrics are excellent buys in Bridgetown shops, and afternoon tea at “half after four” is routine throughout the city.

Barbadians (Bajans) are warm, friendly, hospitable and genuinely proud of their country and culture. Tourism is the island’s number one industry, but there is a sophisticated business community and stable government. Most of the 260,000 Bajans live in three areas: the capital city of Bridgetown, along the west coast north to Speightstown, and along the south coast down to Oistins. Others reside inland in tiny hamlets within the island’s 11 parishes.

Although it doesn’t offer casinos, Barbados has more than beach life. It is a prime destination for travelers interested in learning about West Indian culture, and it offers more sightseeing attractions than most Caribbean islands.

There are no rain forest in Barbados, and no volcanoes, but the Bajan landscape, when morning mists burn off to expose panoramas of valley and ocean, is one of the most majestic in the southern Caribbean. It is an ideal place to take bus or driving tours to visit the seaside villages, plantations, gardens, and English country churches, some dating from the 17th century.

Children are welcome in all areas of daily life on the island. There are activities and attractions that are family-oriented throughout Barbados.

Consider Barbados if you are seeking a peaceful island getaway. Although the south coast is known for its nightlife and the west-coast beach is completely built up, some of the island remains undeveloped. The east coast is tranquil, and travelers seeking solitude discover that they can often be alone there, yet conveniently close to populated areas.

Barbados has a state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal, filled with duty free shops, boutiques, and craft vendors. Excellent shore excursions are available from the terminal. Two fine golf courses, horseback riding, horse racing, cricket matches, fishing, scuba diving, tennis, windsurfing, and snorkeling are all first rate. There are even sightseeing submarines (air conditioned with viewing ports) that will give the non-diver an opportunity to view the sea’s wonders in comfort.

If Barbados sounds ideal as a vacation destination, then book a cruise or a flight and make your plans to visit. You will find that being in Barbados is even better than reading about it!

B – City information

Population:
260,000

Size:
21 miles x14 miles

Elevation:
Mainly flat; some hills; highest hill is 1,115 feet

Capital city:
Bridgetown, population: 97,000

Language:
English

Government:
independent nation within the British Commonwealth

Major industries:
Tourism, sugar production, oil production

Time Zone:
Atlantic Time Zone. Daylight saving time not observed. During the time the US is on daylight saving time, the time in Barbados matches Eastern daylight time in the US. Otherwise, time in Barbados is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Weather:
Barbados is warm and sunny all year round with an average daytime high of 75 – 85oF. The nights are usually slightly cooler.The prevailing northeast tradewinds blow steadily so that although it is bright and sunny, it is not unbearably hot. Rain usually comes in quick showers. The dry season lasts from January to June. Barbados is not in the direct hurricane path.

Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit):

  High Low
January – March 85F 69F
April – June 87F 72F
July – September 87F 74F
October – December 86F 71F

Public Holidays:
January 01 – New Year’s Day – National Holiday
January 21 – Errol Barrow Day (Prime Minister at time of independence, honored on his birthday, January 21st. )
April 13 – Good Friday – National Holiday
April 16 – Easter Monday – National Holiday
April 28 – National Heroes Day – National Holiday
May 01 – Labor Day – National Holiday
June 04 – Whit Monday – National Holiday
August 01 – Emancipation Day – National Holiday
August 06 – Kadooment Day – National Holiday (The finale to the Crop Over Festival)
November 30 – Independence Day – National Holiday
December 25 – Christmas Day – National Holiday
December 26 – Boxing Day – National Holiday

Health risks:
The little green apples that fall from the branches of the manchineel tree are poisonous to eat and toxic to the touch. Even taking shelter under the tree when it rains can give you blisters. Most manchineels are identified with signs. If you do come in contact with one, go to the nearest hotel and have someone there phone for a physician.

The water on the island is plentiful and safe to drink in both hotels and restaurants. It is naturally filtered through 1,000 feet of pervious coral.

Sunburn or sunstroke can be serious. A long-sleeve shirt, a hat, and long pants or a beach wrap are essential on a boat, for midday at the beach, and whenever you go out sightseeing. Use sunblock lotion on nose, ears, and other sensitive areas, limit your sun time for the first few days, and be sure to drink enough liquids.

Electricity:
Electric current on Barbados is 110 volts/50 cycles, U.S. standard. Hotels have adapters/transformers for guests from the United Kingdom or other countries that operate on 220-volt current.

Business Hours:
Bridgetown offices and stores are open weekdays 8:30-5, Saturday 8:30-1. Out-of-town locations may stay open later. Some supermarkets are open daily 8-6 or later. Banks are open Monday-Thursday 8-3, Friday 8-5 (some branches in supermarkets are open Saturday morning 9-noon), and at the airport the Barbados National Bank is open from 8 AM until the last plane leaves or arrives, seven days a week (including holidays).

U.S. Embassy:
Bridgetown
TEL: 246/436-4950.
FAX: 246/429-5246.

Emergencies:
Ambulance (511)
Coast Guard (246/427-8819; 246/436-6185 for non-emergencies)
Fire (311)
Police (211; 242/430-7100 for nonemergencies)

Language:
English is the official language and is spoken by everyone, everywhere. The Bajan dialect is based on Afro-Caribbean rhythms, with the addition of an Irish or Scottish lilt. The African influence is apparent in names of typical Bajan foods, such as cou-cou and buljol.

Mail:
The general post office, in Cheapside, Bridgetown, is open weekdays 7:30-5; the Sherbourne Conference Center branch is open weekdays 8:15-4:30; and branches in each parish are open weekdays 8-3:15. When sending mail to Barbados, be sure to include the parish name in the address.

Money Exchange:
Automated teller machines (ATMs) are available 24 hours a day at bank branches, transportation centers, shopping centers, gas stations, and other convenient spots throughout the island. You can use major credit cards to obtain cash advances (in local currency) using your usual PIN.

Currency:
The Barbados dollar is tied to the U.S. dollar at the rate of BDS$1.98 to $1. U.S. paper currency, major credit cards, and traveler’s checks are all accepted island-wide. Be sure you know which currency you’re dealing in when making a purchase. Prices quoted here are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.

Taxes:
A 71/2% government tax is added to all hotel bills. A 15% VAT is imposed on restaurant meals, admissions to attractions, and merchandise sales (other than duty-free). Prices are often tax inclusive; if not, the VAT will be added to your bill. At the airport, before leaving Barbados, each passenger must pay a departure tax of $12.50 (BDS$25), payable in either currency; children 12 and under are exempt.

Tipping:
A 10% service charge is usually added to hotel bills and restaurant checks in lieu of tipping. At your discretion, tip beyond the service charge to recognize extraordinary service. If no service charge is added, tip waiters 10%-15% and maids $1 per room per day. Bellhops and airport porters should be tipped $1 per bag. Taxi drivers :a 10% tip.

Passports & Visas:
U.S. and Canadian citizens can enter Barbados for visits of up to three months with proof of citizenship and a return or ongoing ticket. Acceptable proof is a valid passport or a birth certificate with a raised seal and a government-issued photo ID; a voter registration card or baptismal certificate is not acceptable.

Passport Offices:
The best time to apply for a passport or to renew is during the fall and winter. Before any trip, check your passport’s expiration date, and, if necessary, renew it as soon as possible.

Telephones:
The area code for Barbados is 246. Local calls are free from private phones and some hotels. From pay phones the charge is BDS25¢ for five minutes. Prepaid phone cards, which can be used in pay phones throughout Barbados and other Caribbean islands, are sold at shops, attractions, transportation centers, and other convenient outlets.

Directory & Operator Information:
For directory assistance dial 411.

International Calls:
The country code for the United States and Canada is 1; for Australia, 61; for New Zealand, 64; and for the United Kingdom, 44.

Long-Distance Calls:
Direct-dialing to the United States, Canada, and other countries is efficient, and the cost is reasonable, but always check with your hotel to see if a surcharge is added. To charge your overseas call on a major credit card without incurring a surcharge, dial 800/744-2000 from any phone.

Divers’ Alert:
Don’t fly within 24 hours after scuba diving.

Currency:
The Barbados dollar (BD$) is the official currency, available in $5, $10, $20, and $100 notes, as well as 10¢, 25¢, and $1 silver coins, plus 1¢ and 5¢ copper coins. The Bajan dollar is worth 50¢ in U.S. currency. Most stores take traveler’s checks or U.S. dollars. However, it’s best to convert your money at banks and pay in Bajan dollars. (Just before you leave home, you can check the current exchange rates on the Web at www.x-rates.com.)

Documents:
U.S. or Canadian citizens coming directly from North America to Barbados for a period not exceeding 3 months must have proof of identity and national status, such as a passport, which we always recommend carrying. However, a birth certificate (either an original or a certified copy) is also acceptable, provided it’s backed up with photo ID. For stays longer than 3 months, a passport is required. An ongoing or return ticket is also necessary. British subjects need a valid passport.

Arriving & Departing:

By Air:
Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) (Christ Church)
More than 20 daily flights arrive on Barbados from all over the world. Grantley Adams International Airport is on Highway 7, on the southern tip of the island at Long Bay, between Oistins and a village called The Crane. From North America, the four major gateways to Barbados are New York, Miami, Toronto, and San Juan. Flying time to Barbados is 41/2 hours from New York, 31/2 hours from Miami, 5 hours from Toronto, and 1 1/2 hours from San Juan.

Transfers Between the Airport and Town:
Airport taxis aren’t metered, but fares are Be sure, however, to establish the fare before getting into the cab and that you understand whether the price quoted is in U.S. or Barbadian dollars.

By Boat:
Half the annual visitors to Barbados are cruise passengers. Bridgetown’s Deep Water Harbour is on the northwest side of Carlisle Bay, and up to eight cruise ships can dock at the well appointed Cruise Ship Terminal. Downtown Bridgetown is a 1/2-mi (1-km) walk from the pier; a taxi costs about $3 each way.

Getting Around:

By Bus:
Bus service is efficient, inexpensive, and plentiful. Blue buses with a yellow stripe are public, yellow buses with a blue stripe are privately-owned and operated, as are white “Z-R” vans with a burgundy stripe. All travel frequently along Highway 1 (St. James Road) and Highway 7 (South Coast Main Road), as well as inland routes. The fare is low; exact change is required on public buses and appreciated on private ones. Check with cruise personnel or your hotel for current fares. Buses pass along main roads about every 20 minutes and are usually packed. Stops are marked by small signs on roadside poles that say “To City” or “Out of City,” meaning the direction relative to Bridgetown. Flag down the bus with your hand, even if you’re standing at the stop. In Bridgetown, terminals are at Fairchild Street for buses to the south and east and at Lower Green for buses to Speightstown via the west coast.

By Car:
A network of main highways facilitates traffic flow into and out of Bridgetown; the Adams-Barrow-Cummins (ABC) Highway bypasses Bridgetown, which saves time getting from coast to coast. Although small signs tacked to trees and poles at intersections point the way to most attractions, be sure to study a map.

Car Rentals:
Nearly 30 agencies rent cars, Jeeps, or small open-air vehicles. Check to see if the car has AC, if that is a priority for you. Also check liability insurance. The rental generally includes insurance. There are gas stations in Bridgetown, on the main highways along the west and south coasts, and in most inland parishes.

Requirements:
To rent a car you must have an international driver’s license or Barbados driving permit, obtainable at the airport, police stations, and major car-rental firms for $5 with a valid driver’s license.

Road Conditions:
Remote roads are in fairly good repair, yet few are well lighted at night — and night falls quickly, at about 6 pm year round. Even in full daylight, the tall sugarcane fields lining both sides of the road in interior sections can make visibility difficult. Pedestrians and an occasional sheep often walk in the roads. When someone flashes a car’s headlights at you at an intersection, it means “after you.”

Rules of the Road:
The speed limit is 30 mph in the country, 20 mph in town. Park only in approved parking areas. Remember to drive on the left.

Churches:
The history of the churches in Barbados gives insight into the past and present. A brief account of each major faith tradition in Barbados is followed by times of weekly worship services.

Roman Catholic
The Roman Catholic church was initially rejected by the Protestant plantation owners in Barbados, and did not become accepted there until after the abolition of slavery in 1838. The following year, a military garrison (the Connaught Rangers) requested and received a Catholic chaplain. This led to increased numbers of local people joining the Roman Catholic Church. Today, Catholics make up approximately four percent of church goers and there are 5 Roman Catholic Churches in Barbados.

Our Lady Queen of The Universe
Black Rock, St.Michael
Sunday 6:30am,8:30am

Our Lady of Sorrow
Ashton Hall, St.Peter
Sunday 9:00am

St.Dominic’s
Maxwell Main Road, Christ Church
Sunday 7:30am,10:00am
Saturday 6:30pm

St.Francis of Assisi
Mount Steadfast, St.James
Sunday 8:00am,10:30am

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Corner Bay St.& Jemmonts Lane, St.Michael
Sunday 7:00am,8:30am,6:00pm
Saturday 6:00pm

Anglican:
The Anglican was the first official religion in Barbados. Today it accounts for 33% of church going members, down from 90% reported in an 1871 survey. Slaves were forbidden membership by the original plantation owners, who were concerned that the church might undermine their authority over the workers. With the abolition of slavery in 1838 many ex-slaves joined the Anglican church. Bishop William Hart Coleridge, the first Anglican Bishop, did much to extend the church’s influence by building ten chapels in the rural areas. His work, which began in 1825 and lasted to 1842, also led to the development of 11 chapel schools and the St. Mary Church in Bridgetown.

All Saints Parish Church
Pleasant Hall, St.Peter
Sunday 8:00am

St.Andrew’s Parish Church
The Rectory, St.Andrew
Sunday 8:00am

St.Anne’s Church
Parris Hill, St.Joseph
Sunday 9:00am , 5:00pm

St.Cyprian’s Church
George Street, St.Michael
Sunday 7:00am, 9:00am, 6:00pm

St.David’s Church
Christ Church
Sunday 6:15am, 7:30am

St.James Parish Church
Holetown,St.James
Sunday 7:30am,9:00am

St.John’s Parish Church
Sunday 7:00am,9:00am

St.Lawrence Church
St.Lawrence Gap, Christ Church
Sunday 8:00am,9:30am,6:30pm

St.Leonard’s Church
St.Leonards, St.Michael
Sunday 7:15am,9:35am,5:30pm

St.Lucy’s Church
Sunday 8:00am
St.Mary’s Church
Bridgetown,St.Michael
Sunday 7:00am,8:30am,6:00pm

St.Matthias Church
Hastings, Christ Church
Sunday 7:00am,8:30am,6:00pm

St.Matthias Church
Hastings, Christ Church
Wednesday 6:30am,8:30am

St.Michael’s Cathedral
Bridgetown, St.Michael
Sunday 6:30am,7:45am,9:00am,11:00am,6:00pm

St.Peter’s Parish Church
Sunday 7:30am, 9:15am

St.Paul Anglican Chursh
Bay Street, St.Michael
Sunday 8:30am

St.Stephen’s Church
Black Rock, St.Michael
Sunday 7:00am,8:30am,6:30pm

Jewish
About 300 Jewish people of Recife, Brazil, persecuted by the Dutch, settled in Barbados in the 1660’s. Skilled in the sugar industry, they quickly introduced the crop and passed on their skills in cultivation and production to the Barbados land owners. With their help Barbados went on to become one of the world’s major sugar producers. There is currently one synagogue situated in Bridgetown. Built in the 17th century (1654) it was destroyed by hurricane in 1831, was rebuilt, fell into disrepair and was sold in 1929. In 1983, it was bought back by the Jewish community and was restored to its present state with its beautiful Gothic arches, and is now a Barbados National Trust protected building and an active synagogue.

Shaare Tzedek Synagogue
Rockley New Road, Christ Church
Friday 7:30pm

Seventh Day Adventist
King’s Street SDA
King’s Street Saturday 11:00am ; Sunday 6:00pm ; Wednesday 7:15pm

The Eastlyn SDA
Cane Hill Rd, Eastlyn, St.George
Saturday 9:00am,4:15pm ; Sunday 6:30pm ; Wednesday 7:15pm

Methodist
The Methodists arrived in Barbados in 1789, intent on Christianizing the slave population. However, their early efforts were unsuccessful and 20 years later they had only 30 converts. The plantation owners were suspicious of the anti-slavery stance of the Methodists and constantly persecuted the church. Methodist meeting houses were pelted with stones and their meetings were often interrupted. The planters’ hatred led to an angry mob tearing down the Methodist chapel in James Street, Bridgetown in 1823. In addition there were several (unsuccessful) attempts to outlaw Methodism in Barbados. The burning of the James Street Church may have been the turning point. After that their membership steadily grew and reached over 5,000 by 1848 .

Hawthorne Methodist Church
Hawthorne, Christ Church
Sunday 9:00am, 5:00pm

James Street Methodist Church
James Street, Bridgetown
Sunday 9:00am, 5:00pm

Quaker
The Quakers were one of the first churches to encourage slaves to join them. This so angered the Plantation owners that it resulted in the legislation of 1676 that made it illegal for blacks to attend a Quaker meeting. One of the original Quaker Churches in Speightstown is currently being rebuilt and restored to its traditional simple elegance.

Moravian
The Moravians arrived in Barbados from Germany in 1765 with plans to Christianize and educate the entire slave population. The Moravians were the first missionaries to allow slaves in their congregation. For the first twenty-five years they made little progress and in 1790 the number of conversions was only 40. The building of the historic Sharon Moravian Church in 1799 seemed to help their cause and by 1812 Sharon alone had a congregation of over two hundred. Today the Moravians exist in Barbados as a flourishing religious denomination.

Calvary Moravian Church
Roebuck Street,Bridgetown
Sunday 9:00am

Sharon Moravian Church
St.Thomas Sunday 9:00am

Bethlehem Moravian Church
Maxwell, Christ Church
Sunday 10:00am

Mt. Tabor Moravian Church
St.John (next to Villa Nova)
Sunday 9:30am

Spiritual Baptist
The Spiritual Baptist Church is indigenous to Barbados. It was founded in 1957 by Archbishop Granville Williams and its congregation has since swelled to over 10,000. Members of the Spiritual Baptist Church tie brightly colored cloth around their heads. New members are baptized by immersion in the clear, coastal waters of Barbados. The Spiritual Baptist Church has a strong African influence and its services involve much dancing and singing.

Rastafarian
Rastafarianism was introduced to Barbados in 1975 as an offshoot of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica. The Rastafarian movement began with the teachings of Marcus Garvey who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the 1920’s. He called for self reliance “at home and abroad” and advocated a “back to Africa” consciousness, awakening black pride and denouncing the British colonial indoctrination that caused blacks to feel shame for their African heritage.

Rastafarians live a peaceful life, needing few material possessions and devote much time to contemplating the scriptures. They reject the white man’s world, as the “new age Babylon of greed and dishonesty.” Proud and confident Rastas stand up for their rights, their hair long, knotted in dreadlocks in the image of the lion of Judah. The movement spread quickly in Barbados and was attractive to the local black youths, many of whom saw it as an extension of their adolescent rebellion from school and parental authority. However, all true Rastas signify peace and pride and righteousness.

Muslim Services
Islamic Teaching Centre
Harts Gap, Hastings, Christ Church
Friday 12:30pm

Juma Mosque
Kensington New Road, Bridgetown
Daily 5 services.
Friday Special service – 12:30pm

Jehovah Witness
The Jehovah Witness community has grown steadily in Barbados over the past years.

Kingdom Hall
Fontabelle, Bridgetown
Sunday 9:00am.

Mormon
Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints
Rendezvous
Sunday 10:00am

Pentecostal
Mount Carmel Pentecostal
St.Patrick’s, Christ Church
Sunday 10:30am,6:30pm

Other Religions
As a result of dissatisfaction with established religions, many groups broke away to form their own religious factions. Some of these groups then divided further, forming new sects. This has led to the large number the large number of sects in Barbados today. Examples of such groups are: the Wesleyan Holiness, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Ebeneezer Revival Centre, Berean Bible Baptist Church, and Unity of Barbados.

 

C – Attractions & Things To Do

bridgetown attractions

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.

Andromeda Gardens:
Bathsheba, St. Joseph
246/433-9384
Daily 9-5
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 Café serves snacks and drinks.

Animal Flower Cave:
North Point, St. Lucy
246/439-8797
Daily 9-4
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.

Barbados Museum:
Hwy. 7, Garrison Savannah, St. Michael
246/427-0201
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 café.

Emancipation Memorial:
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.

Flower Forest:
Richmond Plantation, Hwy. 2, St. Joseph
246/433-8152
Admission charged.
Daily 9-5.
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:
St. George
246/429-1358
Admission charged.
Mon.-Sat. 9-5.
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.

Harrison’s Cave:
Hwy. 2, St. Thomas
246/438-6640.
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
246/422-8725
Weekdays 10-3:30
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 Café, 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
246/423-7350
Daily 10-4.
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
246/423-6270
Admission charged. Lunch extra.
Daily 10-5.
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.

Francia Plantation:
St. George, Barbados
246/429-0474
Mon-Fri 10am-4pm
Admission charged
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
246/420-1977
Daily 9am-5pm
Admission charged
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
246/423-6270
Daily 10am-5pm
Admission charged
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.

Barbados Wildlife:
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
246/422-8826
Daily 10am-5pm
Admission charged.
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
246/438-6671
Daily 9am-5pm
Take Hwy. 2 from Bridgetown
Admission charged
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.

Chattel Homes:
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
246/424-2074
246/425-7777 for restaurant reservations
Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Admission charged
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.

Beaches

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.

Accra Beach
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)

Barclays Park
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.

Bottom Bay
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.

Brighton Beach
Just north of Bridgetown, Brighton Beach is large, open, and convenient to the port. Locals often take quick swims here on hot days.

Casuarina Beach
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.

Crane Beach
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.

Mullins Beach
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
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.

Paynes Bay
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).

Sandy Beach
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.

Bell Buoy
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.

Dottins Reef
You’ll see schooling fish, barracudas, and turtles at depths of 40-60 ft, at this reef off Holetown.

Silver Bank
This healthy coral reef has beautiful fish and sea fans you may get a glimpse of the Atlantis submarine at 60-80 ft.

Carlisle Bay
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.

Eilon
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
246/427-4350
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.

Hightide Watersports
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
246/432-2558
West Side Scuba Centre offers all levels of PADI instruction, reef and wreck dives, night dives, underwater video and camera rental, and free transportation.

Historic Churches:

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
Sharon, St.Thomas
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
Holetown, St.James
1847
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
1836
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
1839
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
1837
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
Speightstown, St.Peter
1837
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.

D – Family Fun Attractions

Andromeda Gardens:
Bathsheba, St. Joseph
246/433-9384
Daily 9-5
A fascinating 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’re now administered by the Barbados National Trust. The Hibiscus Café serves snacks and drinks.

Animal Flower Cave:
North Point, St. Lucy
246/439-8797
Daily 9-4
Small sea anemones, or sea worms, resemble jewel-like flowers when they open their tiny tentacles. They live in small pools — some 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.

Barbados Museum:
Hwy. 7, Garrison Savannah, St. Michael
246/427-0201
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. You’ll see cane-harvesting tools, wedding dresses, ancient dentistry instruments. There is also the grim legacy of slave sale accounts kept in a spidery copperplate handwriting. There are also a wildlife and natural history exhibits, an art gallery, a children’s gallery, a gift shop, and a café.

Emancipation Memorial:
St. Barnabas Roundabout, St. Michael
(Intersection of ABC Hwy. and Hwy. 5)
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.

Flower Forest:
Richmond Plantation, Hwy. 2, St. Joseph
246/433-8152
Admission charged
Daily 9-5
It’s a treat to meander among fragrant flowering bushes, canna and ginger lilies, puffball trees, and more than 100 other species of tropical flora in a cool, tranquil setting. A 1/2-mi-long path winds through the 50 acres of grounds, a former sugar plantation. There are a snack bar, a gift shop, and a beautiful view of Mt. Hillaby.

E – Events & Entertainments

January:

Paint it Jazz festival
1st weekend after New Year’s for a week. There is cool jazz on warm Caribbean shores when Barbados hosts its annual “Paint It Jazz” festival The Caribbean’s premier musical event present s internationally acclaimed musicians such as acclaimed vocalist Chaka Khan, saxophonist Dave Koz, pianist/composer David Benoit and others. The festival, which celebrates the best in international and local jazz talent, has become a major annual Caribbean event.

African Renaissance Dance Festival
Mid-January
246/425-0940

Barbados Windsurfing World Cup

February:

Holetown Festival mid-February
(246)435-6264
The Holetown Festival commemorates the anniversary of the first settlement of Barbados at Holetown in February 1627. The week-long festival begins in mid-February with the opening celebrations taking place at the Holetown Monument. The festival highlights local arts and crafts as well as Barbadian culture and history. It include street fairs, the Royal Barbados Police Band Concert, a musical Festival in the historic Parish Church, and a Beauty Show.

March:

Holders Opera Season
opens mid-March

The Barbados Gold Cup (Sandy Lane)
The running of this prestigious event brings together top class horses from Barbados, Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago. The venue for this nine-furlong invitational race is the historic Garrison Savannah.

April:

Congaline Carnival
Begins late-April
(246)424-0909
De Congaline Carnival is a nine-day carnival. The Congaline Village is the heart and soul of De Congaline Carnival and provides a daily exhibition forum and marketplace for a myriad of free entertainment and local arts, crafts and culture. It is dubbed the “World’s Greatest Street Party” as it culminates in a one-day T-shirt band parade.

Barbados Polo Club Event
(246) 432-1802

Carifta Swimming Championships (246) 429-7946

International Deep Sea Tournament A Fisheries Week of Activities culminating on St.Peter’s Day. (St.Peter being the Patron Saint of all fishermen).

May:

Celtic Festival
Begins mid-May
(246)426-3387
An annual celebration of culture as Celtic people from around the world visit Barbados for their annual gymanfa-ganu and other events including sports.

International Rugby Sevens
(246)437-3836

Gospelfest
Begins last weekend in May.
(246)426-5940
The Barbados Gospelfest held for the first time in 1993 is scheduled for Whitsuntide weekend, the last weekend in May. It is an international festival and attracts major Gospel talent mainly from the USA, UK and the Caribbean. The festival targets the Christian communities across the globe and receives the support of the Gospel music industry in Barbados.

Carlisle Bay Water Festival
(246)228-5117
Seven different Water-sporting Associations converge on the beach in front of the Boat Yard to highlight their sport.

Banks International Masters Football Festival
(246)428-1182 or (246)435-6988
Over 35’s veterans football tournament.

The annual AquaSplash festival includes the Mount Gay Regatta

July:

Crop Over Festival
Begins mid-July
(246)424-0909
Crop Over, a five-week summer festival, is Barbados’ most popular and colorful festival. It’s origins can be traced back to the 1780’s, a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar. At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of another successful sugar cane harvest – the Crop Over celebration. As the sugar industry in Barbados declined, so too did the Crop Over festival and in the 1940’s the festival was terminated completely. However, the festival was revived in 1974 and other elements of Barbadian culture were infused to make the extravaganza that exists today ….. an event that attracts thousands of people from across the globe. It involves community participation in fairs, concerts, cart parades and other cultural activities with an integral component being the Calypso Competition and crowning of the Calypso Monarch.

Sir Garfield Sobers Cricket Tournament
(246)427-2623
Named after the renowned Barbadian cricketer, this tournament is now into its fifteenth season and attracts local, regional and international school teams under 19 years of age.

August:

Banks Hockey Festival
(246)426-7347
Open to men’s and women’s Field Hockey Clubs from around the world. Event’s venue now boasts a new Astroturf.

Caribbean Amateur Golf Championship
(246)428-8022

Barbados Secondary Schools International Soccer Tournament

October:

Pan In Paradise
(246)424-6830
International steelband competition for juniors. Groups expected from UK, Holland, Switzerland, Japan, Florida and the Caribbean.

Public Schools Caribbean Rugby Tournament
(246)426-3387
Under 19 & Public Schools Band Festival. Schools are invited from USA, South Africa, Canada and UK.

November:

NIFCA Festival (National Independence Festival of Creative Arts)
(246)424-0909
November 30th is celebrated as Independence Day and is a national holiday in Barbados. The day begins with an elaborate and impressive parade and ceremony at the Garrison Savannah. However, celebrations run throughout November and include sports competitions, fairs, community events, and religious services. One of the highlights of the Independence celebrations is the decorative lighting of Parliament Buildings and businesses throughout the capital Bridgetown, using blue and gold colored bulbs (the national colours). Roundabouts on the highways are also lighted, creating a spectacular view at night. A highlight of the independence celebrations is the (NIFCA) which showcases the artistic talents of Barbadians. This festival encourages Barbadians of all ages to match their talents in the fields of music, singing, dance, drama, writing, fine art, photography and arts and crafts. The festival runs throughout the month of November and culminates with a gala presentation in which the finalists are featured.

Regional Cricket Series
(246)436-1397

Independence Pro Surfing Championship & Banks Pro Long Board Classic
At the Soup Bowl, Bathsheba.
(246) 228-5117
Surfers from East Coast USA, Caribbean and Puerto Rico.

Sir Garfield Sobers Senior Cricket Festival
(246)427-2623
This tournament, named after the renowned Barbados cricketer, is in its sixth year.

Golf Championship
For more information contact the Barbados Golf Association.

December:

Run Barbados 10k & Marathon Series
This series comprises a 10K and Marathon and attracts international runners. There is also a walk.

Each year in the middle of December
Trucks are dressed-up with lights and Christmas decorations and form a parade through the streets of Bridgetown and the outskirts of the city. Hundreds of Barbadians line the route, especially little children, to watch the parade and to be greeted by Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, and their favourite cartoon characters – some of whom dispense a few treats along the way! The trucks are sponsored by local companies, with Virgin Atlantic airways playing a major role in 2000. Some trucks feature choirs singing Christmas carols while others play recorded songs of the season.

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