While in Barbados, it really is worth taking a day out to Tour Barbados and see the true beauty of the island; and to see the dramatic change in scenery between the west and east coasts.
You may wish to go on an organised tour either in a 4×4, which will take you places that a normal vehicle couldn’t go, or you may like to hire a car and drive yourself along the 100 miles of coastline.
Either way, it a great day out.
Starting from the airport, you can visit the British Airways Concorde G-BOAE, or Alpha Echo, now housed in a state-of-the-art exhibition centre adjacent to the Grantley Adams International Airport. Learn about flight’s intriguing pre-history: discover how supersonic aviation was conceived, and get a special insight into the history of aviation in Barbados, which dates back to 1913. Once you’ve walked up the red-carpeted stairs and into the aircraft, relax into the seats and watch a short video showing what it was like to fly aboard this legendary plane.
After this tour, take the ABC highway heading westward and at the Henry Forde roundabout make a right turn. Follow this road and take the right side of the Y junction and you will come upon Barbados Ocean Park (30 seconds away). Barbados Ocean Park is a unique Marine Aquarium set in beautiful gardens filled with lush tropical flowering plants and vegetation much of which are indicative of beach front or seaside gardens.
Ocean Park is a self guided experience and offers educational and interactive talks and demonstrations throughout the day, which is ideal for a family outing.
After the Ocean Park tour follow your steps backwards for 30 seconds and you will return to the Henry Forde roundabout – go straight at this roundabout and follow the winding road all the way till you reach Oistins fishing town (max. 5 minutes).
Once at Oistins, you will be on the south coast and you can drive along the coastline heading towards Bridgetown, where you will see Bajan Roots & Rhythms, a spectacular dinner show held on Wednesday and Friday evenings, where you will hear a live steel band and be entertained with colourful dancing giving the history and heritage of Barbados.
Also on the south coast main road – Highway 7, just on from St Lawrence Gap, you will find the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary where Green Monkeys and tropical birds are abundant.
On your left you will see Worthing Beach or Sandy Beach as it is better known. It is beautiful for swimming here as the reef causes a calm pond.
On your right you will the Roti Den – a roti is a local favourite in Barbados, originally it came from east India, and has now been adopted as a local dish. It is a wrap filled with curried chicken or beef. They are very tasty and worth a try.
Further along the south coast main road you will see Zafran, a very good Indian restaurant, Indian restaurants are limited in Barbados, but if you feel the urge for curry then here is your best bet.
Moving along you will next see Berts Bar, which has recently been refurbished and it a great place to catch some sporting action, they also do a fantastic pizza.
Following on you will see Patisserie Flindt, which makes excellent pastries, sandwiches and salads, visiting here is always a treat! Next door you have Bubba’s Sports Bar, which is fully air-conditioned and has a large restaurant serving all types of food.
As you drive around the island, you will see numerous Chefette restaurants; it is the Barbadian equivalent of McDonalds. Barbados being one of the only places in the world where McDonalds failed and closed down! Chefette sell a variety of tasty burgers, chicken, pizza and other take away foods. Whilst on the island try something from Chefette and you will realise that they have managed to make fast food very tasty!
On your left is Accra Beach, a lovely white sandy bay with plenty of room for peace and quiet.
If you fancy trying your hand at surfing, then stop at Dread or Dead, a surf shop on the right hand side of the road. They rent surfboards, bicycles and have a great range of surfing attire. They also give lessons and there is a bar to relax and plan your surfing adventure.
As you continue along this south coast road you will next come to the historic Garrison area, where you will find George Washington House. Barbados was the only foreign country that George Washington ever visited and so to commemorate his visit in 1751, the house in which he stayed has been refurbished.
On your left here is Drill Hall Beach, which is excellent for surfing.
Moving into Bridgetown, go over the bridge and take the one-way system that takes you behind Broad Street. On your right you will see Cheapside Market, which was the former railway terminal.
Keep straight on this road and you will come to the harbour at the end of the road, with the Pelican Art & Crafts facility on your right. Here you will find a number of boutiques specialising in locally made leather, pottery, and clothing, it is an ideal stop to get those holiday gifts.
Turning right just before the harbour, you will see the Cigar Company; they welcome visitors and are proud of the Royal Barbados Cigar and the Sam Lord’s Cigar.
As you come to the end of this road you will reach the Elsie Payne roundabout, and see the Harbour Master tall ship and the Atlantis Submarine, both of which make excellent excursions.
At the traffic lights, look to your right where you will see Kensington Oval where the ICC Cricket World Cup finals were held in the West Indies in 2007.
Turing left at the traffic lights will bring you onto Spring Garden Highway, and on your left you will see the working flourmills of Bajan Pride.
When you reach the end of the highway you will find yourself at the Frank Worrell roundabout, go straight over here on to Walmer Lodge, this starts your tour of the west coast.
Here you will see some of the most expensive properties in the world, which are home to many of the rich and famous. There is a lot of property development going on in the area, with condo’s springing up. The beauty of the west coast is that next to a multi million-dollar property you will see traditional Chattel houses. Many of the occupants of these small wooden houses have been offered millions by developers, however as generations of the same family have lived and died in these houses, the occupants will not take any offer to move out.
On your left you will see the Manderay Bay development where apartments are selling for anything between $4-$5million USD.
Also on you left you will see Needlepoint, a monument erected to honour those who lost their lives in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner as it took off from Barbados, killing all 73 people aboard. The monument was unveiled during the 1998 visit of Cuban President Fidel Castro to Barbados.
The beach on your left here is Payne’s Bay, which are not only a bustling fishing complex but also home to the turtles. To swim with the turtles is a very tranquil experience.
Then you will see the Coach House on your right, this is an English style pub serving good home cooked food and showing sporting events via satellite.
Moving further up the west coast you will find Sandy Lane hotel on your left, this is one of the finest hotels on the island, drop in for afternoon tea and see how the other half live!
Next stop is Holetown, the first settlement in Barbados. Holetown is quite lively with lots of restaurants and shops, well worth a stop here to browse around.
Continuing up the gold coast you will pass the beautiful bays of Alleyene’s, Reads, Gibbs and Mullins until you reach Speightstown.
Stop here to appreciate the history of this fishing town and get your self a very reasonable lunch from the Fisherman’s Pub, in the centre of the town. There are shops to look around, and here you can really get a feel for everyday life in Barbados.
When you leave Speightstown and continue heading north, you will come to Port St Charles, a superior development of prestigious properties with moorings for yachts.
At this point you can either stick to Highway 1C, or you may like to go off the beaten track and head into St. Lucy. The roads here are smaller and it is quite easy to get lost, however the locals are very friendly and will happily point you in the right direction. You may even have someone offer to show you around the highlights of this beautiful parish. If you do allow a guide to show you they will usually expect payment of around $20BDS. If you decide to try to navigate yourself around these country roads then head up Highway 1C until you reach a roundabout and St. Lucy’s Church, from here go straight over and follow the signs for the Animal Flower Cave.
Once you reach The Animal Flower Cave you are in the most northern point of the island.
Heading back down, it is easiest to go back to St Lucy’s Church and take the Charles Duncan O’Neal Highway. Now you are really in the heart of the sugar cane fields, where you will see some areas are still cropped by hand.
At the bottom of the highway, veer left and head towards the signposts for St Nicholas Abbey. Which has recently been sold for a reported $7million USD. There is a rum distillery here that you can take a tour of, and you absolutely have to stop here to appreciate the stunning beauty that surrounds it and the dramatic view of the East Coast.
In this area you will find the Cherry Tree Hill Reserve which is all part of the St Nicholas Abbey estate. Here there is a reforestation project of mahogany trees. The view from here of the east coast is astounding, and you cannot believe what is in front of your eyes.
Continuing on this road you will come to the Morgan Lewis Mill, which was the last working mill in Barbados, It was lovingly restored in 1996. Also here you will find ATV quad Bikes if you are feeling adventurous!
As you continue your descent into the picturesque east coast you will pass many of our own Black Bellied Sheep, a breed cultivated and unique to Barbados. You may be forgiven for thinking that these are goats; they are generally brown with a black belly.
You are now entering the parish of St. Andrew, which is home to the only mountain in Barbados – Mount Hillaby.
Here you will find Barclays Park, which was donated to the island by Barclays Bank to celebrate the island’s independence from the UK in 1966. This is a beautiful spot for picnics and bathing in the many rock pools that form in low tide.
As you continue your descent you are now in the parish of St. Joseph where you will find Cattlewash, aptly named, as it is where farmers used to bathe their cattle to rid them of parasites.
Keeping on this road will bring you to Bathsheba, home of the infamous Soup Bowl, which is a legend world wide for surfers as it provides excellent year round waves.
Bathsheba is a quaint little town with many bars and restaurants to just sit back and enjoy the entertainment of many professional surfers.
Coming out of Bathsheba you will pass Andromeda Gardens where you can see the bearded fig trees, and if you carry on down the coast road until you reach St Margaret’s Church, stop here for an excellent photo opportunity overlooking St Martins Bay.
You are now entering the parish of St. John and will come to Bath, a lovely area for a picnic and a shaded beach. This is a popular stop for tourists and guided tours.
Head in land now towards Codrington College, and follow the signs for Thicket. From there you will drive through the delightful area called Three Houses, where there is a fresh water stream for cooling off.
Now follow the signs for Ragged Point Lighthouse, and continue down the east coast where you will pass Bottom Bay, Harrismiths, Sam Lords Castle, Crane Beach and Foul Bay. All of these beaches and bays are stunning to look at and well worth stopping at.
From Foul Bay you will reach Grantley Adams International airport, going past the airport and following the road to the bottom will bring into the fishing town of Oistins. Carry on along the main south coast road and you will find yourself back where you started at Bajan Roots & Rhythms.
Stopping at all the suggested places should take you about 5 hours round trip.