The pear shaped island of Barbados, measuring 21 miles by 14 miles, has some of the most varied terrain in the Caribbean, and is very densely populated with 265,000 inhabitants. Divided into 11 parishes, the north with its dramatic cliffs and crashing waves is the most populated. The East is unspoilt with many windswept beaches, a delight for experienced surfers, ringing the hilly ‘Scotland’ district. The centre of the island is covered with cane fields, lush tropical vegetation and rural villages. The breakers from the Atlantic finally crash into submission on the beautiful beaches of the west, home of the smartest resorts. The More lively surf in the south and south-east are ideal for a host of water sports such as windsurfing, kite surfing and boogie boarding. Barbados is the perfect location to try these activities if you’ve never tried these before. In the north, you will find coral and sandstone cliffs rising straight out of the sea reaching a 100ft plus the occasional sheltered cove.
Getting There – Accommodation – Dining Out
There are regular direct flights to Barbados from London.
There is a vast choice of accommodation on Barbados. Sandy lane is known as the world’s most luxurious and elegant hotel offering a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The Sandpiper is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World offering a very personal service. Treasure Beach is another property for those seeking peace and quiet. The Ocean Two on the south coast offers great value and includes one bed roomed suites with kitchen facilities. There is a vast choice so please contact me for further details.
Dining out can be sophisticated or very casual. The Cliff at St James is reported as the best restaurant in The Caribbean. Go retro and try The Lonestar at Mount Standfast which has a lovely beachside location, try elegant dining at Daphne’s Sassafras at Sugar Hill Resort, or try The Tides for a special meal in its romantic setting.
Culture and History
The Barbadians, or Bajans, have the highest income in the West Indies and almost everyone is literate. The island was originally inhabited by the Amerindians from Venezuela around 1600BC followed by other tribes including Arawaks who were taken (by the Spanish) to Hispaniola as slaves. The Portuguese visited briefly in the 1500s, but the island was uninhabited when the British settlers arrived in 1627; 80 settlers with 10 African slaves. By the 1650s, Barbados had a booming sugar cane industry, the plantation system evolved and the institution of slavery was firmly entrenched. There were many uprisings: 1675, 1698, and 1702, all cruelly squashed by the planters. The final 5000-strong rebellion was in 1816, after abolition of slavery had not given the slaves their freedom, which finally arrived in 1834. In the late 1800s some Barbadians became temporarily rich acting as labourers for the Panama Canal. Grantley Adams of the Barbados Progressive League, formed in 1938 (eventually the Barbados Labour Party), managed to attain fair labour and voting rights. Independence came in 1966 with Errol Barrow of the Democratic Labour Party in charge. Barbados remained in the Commonwealth with a Westminster style of parliament.
Places to Visit
Bridgetown is the bustling capital, with many buildings showing the colonial grandeur. Duty free shops sell luxury items like cameras, crystal and cashmere. In 1813, Nelson’s column was erected in Trafalgar Square before the one in London, shortly after Nelson’s death; the last remaining symbol of colonialism. Many think a Barbadian should take its place. The Houses of Parliament are housed in the public buildings built in the 1870s, situated behind Independence Square. On Broad Street, near the Square, is the Verandah Art Gallery which sells local artists’ work at reasonable prices. The main shopping area is on Broad Street with several duty free stores, with buildings like Barclays and Da Costa’s retaining the old grandeur. St Mary’s Church and beautiful gardens are nearby. East of Trafalgar Square is St Michael’s Cathedral, rebuilt in 1780 in solid limestone after hurricane damage. Nearby is Queens Park House (1780).
Not far south of Bridgeton is the Garrison Savannah, now a racecourse, and the Barbados Museum. East of Bridgetown along Highway 5 is Sunbury Plantation House, 300 years old, beautifully restored and full of Colonial antiques. Close by is the Rum Factory and Heritage Park, the most modern distillery in the world, and adjoining it are local craft shops
There are many other areas of interest, including the Hills of Scotland District, northeast of Bridgetown, with its lush landscape and rolling hills. Also take time to tour the contrasting shoreline of the island as described above.
Contact Simon at Designer Travel Tailor-made Holidays & Cruises
All details quoted are thought to be correct at time of posting but are always subject to confirmation at time of booking
Photo: Sunbury Plantation House (RG) 94