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 actually runs from the west side of Barbados to the east taking in both coasts, so for the purpose of giving you details on the west coast tourist attractions we will cover St. Peter again on the east coast tourist attractions page.
Just before you reach Payne’s Bay, you will see a monument on your left called Needlepoint, which was 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.
Just after Needlepoint you will come to Payne’s Bay, where you will find a fishing complex and a nice beach for swimming. You can also swim with the large turtles who frequent this area.
Along this stretch of road you will see signs for Holder’s House, which is an old plantation house and the family home of model Jodie Kidd. Each year in February and March the Kidd family organize 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 to watch, so if you have never been then 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. There is also a wonderful golf course, which has seen world-class golfers such as Tiger Woods play the course. 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 that was home to first British settlers in 1627. Here you will find a supermarket and a few shopping complexes, which are ideal for duty free shopping, If you are visiting in February then you will also see the Holetown Festival, which commemorates the first English settlers with a week long parade, live music and street parties. For more information please read our article on Holetown and the festival below.
Just after Holetown, you will come to a big park on the beach, known as Folkestone Marine Park. This is an underwater park with excellent dive spots and snorkeling sites. The park has an interesting 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 and in the culture is the importance of sugar to the country’s growth and economy; therefore you may be interested to visit the Portvale Sugar Museum, which is located in St. James to get a full history on sugar production.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to fine dining on the west coast and here you will find some of the world’s finest restaurants. These restaurants are so renowned throughout the world that they have become a tourist attraction in themselves! For example here on the west coast you will find The Cliff and Lone Star.
If you are interested in religious buildings then 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 built 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 get in to the parish of St. Peter, then you will another Anglican church, also built around 1630, which is St. Peter’s Parish Church.
The next town up is Speightstown, a tranquil market town with some nice old buildings demonstrating some Barbadian architecture of years gone by. 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 a good restaurant here and a man made beach and other amenities for you to enjoy.