The west coast of Barbados has a shoreline of the calm Caribbean Sea and an eight-mile stretch of golden sand, making it a popular destination for tourists and where many people decide to invest in some of the most luxurious properties on the island.
The west coast takes in the parishes of St. James from Payne’s Bay up to Mullins Bay, where it then becomes the parish of St. Peter. The parish of St. Peter runs from the west side of Barbados to the east, taking in both coasts, so to give you details on the west coast tourist attractions, we will cover St. Peter again on the east coast tourist attractions page.
Before you reach Payne’s Bay, you will see a monument on your left called Needlepoint, unveiled by Fidel Castro in 1998 in memory of the 1976 Cuban plane crash just off the coast of Barbados. The Cuban airliner took off from Barbados, and just minutes into the flight, a bomb exploded, killing all 73 passengers on board.
After Needlepoint, you will come to Payne’s Bay, where you will find a fishing complex and a lovely beach for swimming. You can also swim with the giant turtles that frequent this area.
Along this stretch of road, you will see signs for Holder’s House, an old plantation house, and the family home of model Jodie Kidd. Each year in February and March, the Kidd family organizes Holder’s Season, which brings theatre, song, and dance from all over the world to an outdoor stage within the grounds. For further details, please read our article below on Holders Season.
Also, at Holder’s, you will find one of the island’s four polo grounds, with regular matches throughout the winter months. Polo is a very entertaining sport, so if you have never been, Barbados is the perfect climate for sitting out for the afternoon and watching a game.
If you continue heading north up the west coast, you will see the world-famous Sandy Lane Hotel on your left; this hotel is open to the public for lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. It is usually best to call ahead and make a reservation to ensure your table. A fantastic golf course has also seen world-class golfers such as Tiger Woods play the system. Just along the road, on your right-hand side, you will see signs for Royal Westmoreland, another world-class golf course.
Just up from Sandy Lane is Holetown, a historic market town home to the first British settlers in 1627. Here you will find a supermarket and a few shopping complexes for duty-free shopping. If you are visiting in February, you will also see the Holetown Festival, commemorating the first English settlers with a week-long parade, live music, and street parties. Please read our article on Holetown and the festival below for more information.
Just after Holetown, you will come to a big park on the beach known as Folkestone Marine Park. Folkstone is an underwater park with excellent dive spots and snorkeling sites. The park has an attractive educational display on marine life, and you can hire equipment for snorkeling and book dive boats to take you out.
When in Barbados, one of the biggest things that will strike you both geographically is the importance of sugar to the country’s growth and economy. Therefore you may be interested in visiting the Portvale Sugar Museum, located in St. James, to get a complete history of sugar production.
You are spoilt for choice regarding fine dining on the west coast, and here you will find some of the world’s most excellent restaurants. These restaurants are so renowned worldwide that they have become a tourist attraction themselves! For example, you will find The Cliff and Lone Star here on the west coast.
If you are interested in religious buildings, you will find a few historical churches in this parish, the oldest being St. James Parish Church, an Anglican church built by the English settler constructed in 1628. The Roman Catholic church is St. Frances of Assisi, which has seen parishioners such as Frank Sinatra and former English Prime Minister Tony Blair attend mass there. Further up the coast, when you enter the parish of St. Peter, you will see another Anglican church, also built around 1630, which is St. Peter’s Parish Church.
The next town is Speightstown, a tranquil market town with charming old buildings demonstrating historic Barbadian architecture. For more information on Speightstown, please click on the link below.
Finally, the last place on this coast that you might like to visit is Port St. Charles, a recently developed area of luxurious apartments and houses with moorings for yachts. There is an excellent restaurant here and a human-made beach and other amenities for you to enjoy.