The Little Britain of the Caribbean

The Little Britain of the Caribbean

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

The Caribbean island nation of Barbados prides itself on welcoming foreign tourists to its shores, and, in fact, tourism is one of the country’s most important and influential industries. This provides an apt backdrop to the country’s motto: pride and industry, and thousands of tourists visit beautiful Barbados – the Caribbean’s Little Britain – every year.

Barbados is divided into five separate regions, and tourists who want to immerse themselves in the full Barbadian experience should take time to visit each region. First up would be St Michael’s Parish, as this area contains the Barbadian capital of Bridgetown, which lies only 8km away from the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport. The airport is large enough to accommodate most, if not all, international carriers, and it is recommended that, after their arrival, tourists make use of the competent Barbadian taxi service to get to their hotel.

St Michael’s Parish – and especially Bridgetown – is packed full of attractions, and there’s something to amuse everyone no matter what their interests. After, for instance, a leisurely tour of the Nidhe Israel Synagogue – the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere – visitors could explore the Barbados Museum, which is known for its interactive children’s displays, and then progress to an exiting afternoon of shopping at the cosmopolitan Careenage Complex. Top this off with a Bajan dinner featuring spicy Barbadian cuisine and, perhaps, a performance at the Frank Collymore Hall of the Performing Arts, and life in Bridgetown would no longer be a mystery.

Southern Barbados abuts the Bridgetown area, and the south coast is best known for its scintillating nightlife and its abundance of hotels and self-catering apartments. Must-visits on the south coast include the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, with its musty and mysterious mangrove swamps, the bustling and friendly St Lawrence Gap seaside entertainment area and the gorgeous Miami Beach that lies adjacent to the small – but picturesque – town of Oistins.

The Western Barbados shores are lapped by the calm Caribbean Sea, and, when not cavorting in the ocean, visitors could be marveling at the brilliant works displayed at the Gallery of Caribbean Art in Speightstown or yachting on the tranquil Port Saint Charles Marina lagoon. The East Coast, on the other hand, faces the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean, and this pairing provides tourists with some of the best beaches – the Soup Bowl and the Cattlewash among them – that the island has to offer. All who visit Eastern Barbados should also spend some time in Bathsheba, where they can explore the magical Andromeda Gardens, with its huge talipot palm tree, as well as the fairytale-like Flower Forest.

Last but not least is Central Barbados, and no trip to this enticing country would be complete without touring the awe-inspiring Harrison’s Cave, which has stunned generations of visitors with its magnificent limestone formations and crystal-clear underground streams. Central Barbados is also home to the Francia Great House, which is now almost 100 years old and which welcomes visitors over the weekends, the beautiful Sharon and Clifton Hill Moravian churches and the Gun Hill Signal Station with its fully restored lookout-tower and famous lion carving.

Nothing in the world restores lost energy like a trip to Barbados, and this wonderful country has a myriad of delights to offer the casual visitor.

About the author: Maria Catland is a writer for Caribbean Holidays, a guide to the most popular Caribbean islands including Barbados, Jamaica and Cuba.