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Tropical Island Barbados Bridgetown cruise port  is a beautiful located at a faraway distance from most Caribbean hotspots. It is about a thousand miles to the east of Netherlands. The Portuguese discovered this island in the 16th century. They named the island Barbados, which translates bearded ones after the roots of the native fig trees that looked similar to bushy beards. Today, there are no traces of the Portuguese influence. The British ruled till mid 20th century. The British cultural legacy is still very evident on the island, and there more world cricketers born here than any other nation on earth.
 
Barbados’ capital, Bridgetown, is a naturally beautiful and throbbing city. Abarbados is about 21 miles long and 14 miles broad. Tourism is the primary revenue generator here, and the locals are known to be helpful and courteous. The island is fringed by silver-sand shores, and the interior comprises lush greenery and a breathtakingly beautiful landscape.
 
All of the amenities on Barbados, and Bridgetown, are top notch. The platinum coast (as referred to by the British) is known for its fine dining options, deep sea diving, underwater excursions, and festivals kick start the beginning of the fabulous activities of Barbados. Museums and archaeological sites showcase the rich heritage of the island, and brilliantly merge information with entertainment. Adrenaline pumping water sports and a buzzing nightlife is what marks this place distinctly.
 
One of the most well-developed of all the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands, Barbados retains the refined elegance and cultural customs of its British roots (think cricket and high tea) infused with a colorful West Indian vibe. Barbados gained independence from Britain in 1966, but many of the relics from its colonial past still stand. In Bridgetown, the clean and safe capital, impressive colonial buildings, and the historic garrison are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. Around the island are sprawling sugar plantations and historic museums, along with endless tropical beauty. Pretty pink and white coral-sand beaches, pale turquoise seas, and a dramatic east coast sculpted by pounding surf are some of the islands major attractions. The warm ocean waters can be turbulent, but the island offers a few sheltered beaches for swimming and snorkeling, as well as great surfing, and some popular dive sites. On land, caverns, jungle-clad gullies, and beautiful botanical gardens showcase the island's natural treasures.
 
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships moor at the Deep Water Harbor, to the northern side of Brighton Beach and just a little away from the heart of Bridgetown. Visitors can explore the gorgeous Brighton Beach or enjoy a relaxing swim. The glistening sand and sparkling water make for a spectacular sight.  Experience the beautiful mahogany trees dancing to the tune of the Caribbean breeze. 
 
Taxis are good for moving in and around Bridgetown because they have government set fares. About five people can be accommodated in a taxi without any additional fare. Taxis are easily available everywhere. The typical fare from the center of Bridgetown to the popular tourist attractions will put you back by about $15.
 
The bus facility here is well organized and timely. The yellow and blue buses cover almost all routes, and have information about the destination displayed clearly on it.
 
Things To See and Do
 
Crane Beach
Crane Beach, with its beautiufl pink coral sand, was once a boat landing where cargo was unloaded and lifted by a crane perched atop the cliff. Today it's one of the most famous beaches in Barbados. Cruise ship visitors, tourists, and locals alike come here to frolic in the rolling surf, sunbathe on the soft sands, and peek at the luxury Crane Beach Hotel, the oldest hotel in Barbados. Public access to the beach requires a descent down many stairs, while the hotel has its own elevator to sand level.Address: Crane Bay, St. Philip

Bathsheba
The quaint village of Bathsheba is the central point for the tourist attractions on the Atlantic east coast. The Andromeda Tropical Botanic Gardens and Flower Forest are nearby. At Bathsheba Beach, also known as the Soup Bowl, large rock formations, which are remnants from an ancient coral reef carved by the surf, stand like gigantic mushrooms in the sea. This beach is great for photographs and surfing, but strong undercurrents can make swimming here dangerous. Address: Saint Joseph

Parliament Buildings
Bordered by National Heroes Square, the parliament buildings (also known as the "public buildings") are two spectacular neo-Gothic-style structures now designated as UNESCO protected properties. Both buildings were constructed of coral limestone between 1870 and 1874. The building on the east side houses the Senate and House of Assembly and features beautiful stained-glass windows depicting British monarchs. The newly refurbished west-side building with the clock tower, houses the National Heroes Gallery and Museum of Parliament where visitors can learn about the island's history from the early days of settlement to Independence. Museum entry includes a tour of the parliament buildings.
Address: Trafalgar Street, Bridgetown, Official site: www.barbadosparliament.com/welcome.php

Andromeda Botanic Gardens
Specializing in tropical plants from all over the world, the Andromeda Botanic Gardens are renowned not only for their collection, but also for their scenic location on a hillside overlooking the Atlantic. Of note are the breadfruit trees descended from those collected by Captain Bligh, of mutiny fame, as well as the rare species of succulents and palms. Also interesting are the large bearded fig trees, which once covered the island in vast forests, possibly prompting passing Portuguese sailors to name the island "Barbados" meaning the "the bearded ones". The garden is also a superb place for bird watching.
Address: Highway 3, Bathsheba, Official site: http://andromeda.cavehill.uwi.edu/
Gun Hill Signal Station
Built in 1818 and used to signal the approach of enemy ships as well as the safe arrival of cargo ships, the Gun Hill Signal Station offers breathtaking vistas across the entire island. The station lies on the highland of St. George. On the lower part of the hill is a lion sculpture carved by a British soldier from a single boulder in the 19th century. Address: Gun Hill, St. George

Welchman Hall Gully
Formed when the roof of a series of caves collapsed, Welchman Hall Gully and the surrounding cliffs hint at the pristine landscape and plant diversity that must have greeted the island's first settlers. The Barbados National Trust now protects the gully, which is home to more than 200 species of tropical plants, including wild ginger and bamboo. Stairs lead to a scenic overlook and lucky visitors may glimpse families of green monkeys frolicking in the ravine. Address: Welchman Hall, St. Thomas, Official site: www.welchmanhallgullybarbados.com/

Harrison's Cave
Harrison's Cave, a crystallized limestone cavern, features streams, waterfalls, cascades, and deep pools. After an educational film, visitors tour a one-and-a-half-kilometer route via electric tram with a stop to walk to a waterfall plunging to a deep pool below. Lights illuminate the impressive stalactites, stalagmites, and cascading waters. Near the cave, a visitor's center displays Arawak Indian artifacts. Address: Welchman Hall, St. Thomas. Official site: www.harrisonscave.com

Flower Forest
Offering beautiful vistas, in the hills of central Barbados, the Flower Forest encompasses 53 acres of peaceful forests and tropical flora on the grounds of a former sugar plantation. Garden lovers can stroll along a circuit of well-marked trails through lush foliage with many spots to sit and relax. The beautiful palms, gingers, and many colorful orchids are highlights. After touring the grounds, visitors can purchase snacks at the small café.
Address: Richmond Plantation, St. Thomas. Official site: www.flowerforestbarbados.com/

St. Nicholas Abbey
St. Nicholas Abbey, with its three gables shaped like wishbones in the Jacobean style, was once the heart of a giant sugar cane plantation and a small refinery. Today it is one of only three known remaining buildings of this style in the Western Hemisphere. The pretty gardens are well kept and encompass the rustic ruins of the farm buildings and old windmill. Built in the mid-1600s to plans imported from Britain, the abbey includes a few inappropriate features for a tropical island, such as upstairs fireplaces. The tour of the ground floor explains a fine collection of furniture, many made from mahogany and cane. A few of the pieces have been in the house since 1810. At the end of the tour, the owners share a family holiday film from the 1930s showing the sea voyage to Barbados from England, and life on the former plantation.
Address: Cherry Tree Hill, Hwy. 1, Saint Peter, Official site: www.stnicholasabbey.com

Farley Hill National Park
Once the grounds of a rich plantation house, Farley Hill National Park is now a picturesque hilltop garden nestled in a forest of mahogany trees. This lush 17-acre park is also a popular venue for picnics and weddings. The house was reduced to a shell of stone walls by fire and the elements, and the ruins now frame the flowers and palms. Visitors can admire beautiful views of the ocean and rolling palm-covered hills from the top of the hill behind the house.
Address: St. Peters, Official site: http://www.nccbarbados.gov.bb/farley-hill-park

Barbados Wildlife Reserve
At the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, opposite Farley Hill, visitors can walk among the animals. Shady paths thread through a mahogany forest populated by deer, agoutis, tortoises, iguanas, and a raucous collection of tropical birds. Wild green monkeys, imported from Africa by early settlers, are also often seen at dawn and dusk, and plant lovers will enjoy the park's vibrant display of orchids. The entrance fee includes a visit to nearby Grenade Hall Signal Station. Address: Farley Hill, Barbados

Sunbury Plantation
Lavishly decorated with Victorian antiques, 17th century Sunbury Plantation is one of the most popular museums on the island. The first teak and mahogany trees on the island were planted here in 1799, and many are still standing. In addition to the collection of antique furniture, some of which is crafted from mahogany, the guided tours cover all aspects of domestic life on a plantation. The estate also features a collection of horse drawn carriages. After the tour, guests can indulge in a Caribbean buffet and stroll around the pleasant gardens.
Address: 6 Cross Road, St. Philip, Official site: www.barbadosgreathouse.com

Hunte's Gardens
Crafted by Anthony Hunte, an avid horticulturist, Hunte's Gardens encompass ten stunning acres of tropical plants on the lush slopes of Saint Joseph Parish. Paths lead deep into a gully where terraced greenery erupts on many different levels. Palms, papyrus, orchids, and crotons are just some of the species flourishing here, and Mr. Hunte is an enthusiastic and convivial host. Green thumbs and plant lovers can relax on strategically placed benches and marvel at the gardens while classical music wafts through the air.
Address: Hwy 3A, Coffee Gully, St. Joseph

Folkestone Marine Park & Museum, Holetown
Off Holetown, where the first European colonists to Barbados landed in 1627, an artificial reef was formed in 1976 by deliberately sinking a fire-gutted 360-foot freighter ship. The Stavronikita now rests upright in 120 feet of water with corals growing on its masts and fish swimming through its hull. Only experienced divers should attempt the descent to the ship. Snorkelers can take the underwater trail around the inshore reef found in the park's Recreational Zone, about half a kilometer offshore. Boats are available for rent in Holetown, and visitors will also find a reef interpretation center and museum of marine life here. Address: Holetown, St. James Parish
 
Beaches
Bridgetown’s West Coast around Bridgetown is idyllic and serene, and perfect for a relaxed day out in the waters.  Paynes Bay is ideal for water sports.  Paynes Bay is quiet and, nice for families. Brighton Beach is scenically breathtaking, while Mullins Beach is sought after by snorkelers for its blue waters. The beach offers top notch amenities and the upscale Mullins Beach Bar.
 
Things to do away from the beach in Barbados:
 Grab a hire car and tour the island. Take in the 'nice views' in Barbados with a hire car. The north and east coasts are quiet, spectacular and unspoilt with amazing views. And the countryside in the centre of the island is truly beautiful, rolling hills, sugar cane plantations. It’s worth the cost to get out and explore. You really feel a world away from the main resorts and beaches. And make sure you visit plenty of rum shops along the way. These are the local bars where you can meet Bajans and try the rums out. Drivers stick to non alcoholic though!
 
Go surfing
Your image of Barbados may be of calm, warm seas, but that is the popular and exclusive western side of the island. Head south or east and there are plenty of waves to catch. Bathsheba and the ‘Soup Bowl’ area are renowned for surfing and there are lots of surf schools along the south coast near Surfers Point. Not for everyone, but very enjoyable even just watching the kite surfers.
 
Step on board Concorde
Barbados airport has a British Airways Concorde which was taken out of service in 2003 following the fatal accident in Paris. Housed in a purpose built hangar, enjoy a multi media experience of life with the supersonic airliner before getting on board to see what life was like on the the weekly Concorde trips from London to Bridgetown.

Visit St Nicholas Abbey
St Nicholas Abbey a stunning Jacobean mansion in the centre of the island, now preserved in all it’s plantation heritage amongst gardens and mahogany trees. Tour the house and grounds and see how the rum is made on the estate before getting stuck in to purchasing hand engraved bottles of their finest liquor. There is a fascinating film made up of old cine film clips from the 1930s about plantation life and the journey from the UK to the island by ship.
 
Go hiking
Local website www.hikebarbados.com runs weekly walks or hikes all over the island on a Sunday with varying degrees of difficulty. A great way to meet locals and enjoy the landscape.
 
Oistins fish fry
Friday night is fish night and it is no different here in Barbados.  Get down to Oistins in the parish of Christ Church around 7pm, find a place to sit and eat locally caught and prepared fish and chips while the entertainment goes on around you. From reggae bands to ballroom music with couples dancing. Next to the beach and under the stars, a really fun evening out.
 
Get out on the water
There are a huge range of options to choose from. Boozy trips on board large boats or sailing on a catamaran to see the turtles along the west coast. Its well worth the effort, most trips involve some food, swimming and the chance to see the coastline and top end hotels and private houses from the water.

Get under the water
Snorkelling is fun along the many coral reefs, but to see under the water without getting wet you have to take the Atlantis submarine. One of only a few in the world to take paying passengers on board, you dive to around 100 feet to view all manner of sea life. Brilliant and a really unique experience. www.atlantissubmarines.com

Go to a sporting event
Cricket's a big deal in Barbados. The island has cricket pitches in every Parish as well as the main cricket stadium in the Capital. Matches are held all the time, so well worth checking out a local match and meeting the locals on the cricket field for a rum punch. Or go to the races in Bridgetown. The race course at the Garrison holds regular meets at this small course and you can really get in with the Bajans and enjoy the race day fun. As I was leaving, the island was about to host the annual marathon, half marathon and fun runs with people competing from all over the world.

Barbados... "Golfers can choose from among some of the best championship courses in the Caribbean". 
 In December 2006 Barbados hosted the World Golf Championships World Cup. The four-day tournament was held at the Sandy Lane Country Club course on the west coast of the island.

In October 2004, perhaps the world's most famous golfer - Tiger Woods - chose Barbados as the venue for his wedding. The ceremony took place at the Sandy Lane Golf Course.  

Playing golf in Barbados 
Barbados Golf Club enjoy a round or two on our 6,805 yard course featuring a dramatic 'Amen Corner' on holes 15 & 16! Excellent golf vacation packages are available from official partner hotels.  Barbados Golf Club, located at Durants in the southern parish of Christ Church, has become the soul of golfing in Barbados for local players as well as hotel guests and visitors cruising through the Caribbean.
 
Ride a segway
The chance to race across the beaches and landscape of the north east coast on a Segway tour. Check out their site for detailswww.segwaybarbados.com –  I even read there was a segway polo club which started up on the island around seven years ago.
 
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Barbados is a known hub for snorkelers and deep sea divers. More than fifty fish species can spot around the shallow reefs of the region. Visitors can swim in the midst of creatures like the Hawkbill turtles and other exotic marine animals. Bridgetown has several diving sites. Experience the night dives here, and enjoy the magic of watching fish, eels, octopuses, and nocturnal anemones in their natural glory. The courses here are all NAUI and PADI certified.

Eating Out
Bridgetown offers several dining options. The Waterfront Café on Cavans Lane is the most popular on the island.  The Creole style meals are quite tasty. Don’t leave without trying their pepper steak and fish burger. It also has a nice and varied vegetarian menu. Tuesday are for buffet and live music. Friday and Saturday witness live jazz performances. Brown Sugar, at the Aquatic Gap is located to the south of Bridgetown and has whips up nice entrees. Visitors can enjoy a candlelight dinner outdoors. Try their Creole chicken, and juicy lobster. The most popular drink and party hub is Harbor Lights on Bay St. The Pelican, on the waterfront also features nice food and live music.
 
Seafood, like snapper, shellfish, and the popular national emblem, the flying fish, is on every menu, from five-star restaurants to beachside cafes. It's usually served with spicy cou-cou (cornmeal and okra), but pudding 'n souse (pickled pork, breadfruit, and sweet potato pudding) and macaroni pie are local specialties worth trying, too. For fresh grilled fish, rum, and reggae, Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry is a must.
 
Nightlife & Entertainment
Nightlife on the west coast revolves around the big resorts, many of which have waterfront pubs and wine bars. For an authentic Bajan evening, try Baxters Road in Bridgetown for a "caf crawl." The south coast buzzes with sports bars and clubs, where margaritas and the local Banks beer flow freely. When the sun sets, join the party for lime, a Bajan street party.
 
Shopping
Since about half a million visitors arrive on Barbados by cruise ship every year, the bustling cruise-ship terminal houses about 30 duty-free shops, 13 local retail stores, and scads of vendors. Cruise passengers can choose from a range of products, including the arts and crafts of Barbados, jewelry, liquor, china, crystal, electronics, perfume, and leather goods. The interior was designed to re-create an island street scene; some storefronts appear as traditional chattel houses in brilliant island colors, complete with streetlights, tropical landscaping, benches, and pushcarts.
 
The Pelican Craft Centre, on the outskirts of Bridgetown near the cruise terminal, has a good selection of shops selling local art, pottery, woodwork and glass products. A short walk away is Cheapside Market, a colourful, large-scale fruit and veg market, at its liveliest on Fridays and especially Saturdays.
A drive inland, but worth the effort to visit, is Earthworks Pottery (earthworks-pottery.com): there's a large showroom of desirable hand-decorated bowls, pots, jugs and plates (the coffee pots in the shape of Bajan chattel houses are fun), and you can watch the ladies at work. Next door, On The Wall Art Gallery (onthewallartgallery.com) showcases local artists, and has tempting, inexpensive items for sale, such as painted coconut shells.

In Holetown, there's the new Limegrove Lifestyle Centre (limegrove.com), a hilariously over-the-top mall with top-end jewellers,  boutiques and delis. For more affordable souvenirs, head to Best of Barbados in Holetown's Chattel Village, which sells lots of nice, affordable prints of local scenes that also adorn table mats and trays, and a good selection of books on Barbados and island music. The family-run business has several other gift shops on the island - see best-of-barbados.com for locations - including in the airport departure lounge.

You may find duty-free merchandise here at prices 20% to 40% lower than in the United States and Canada -- but you've got to be a smart shopper to spot bargains, and you should be familiar with prices back in your hometown. Duty-free shops have two prices listed on items of merchandise: the local retail price, and the local retail price less the government-imposed tax.
 
Some of the best duty-free buys include cameras, watches, crystal, gold jewelry, bone china, cosmetics and perfumes, and liquor (including locally produced Barbados rum and liqueurs), along with tobacco products and cashmere sweaters, tweeds, and sportswear from Britain. Items made on Barbados are duty-free.
 
The quintessential Barbados handicrafts are black-coral jewelry and clay pottery. The latter originates at Highland Pottery, Inc. (tel. 246/422-9818), which is worth a visit. Potters turn out different products, some based on designs that are centuries old. The potteries (which are signposted) are north of Bathsheba on the east coast, most of them within or immediately adjacent to the hamlet of Chalky Mountain, in St. Andrew's Parish. In shops across the island, you'll also find a selection of locally made vases, pots, pottery mugs, glazed plates, and ornaments.
 
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Island artisans weave wall hangings from local grasses and dried flowers, and also turn out straw mats, baskets, and bags with raffia embroidery. Leatherwork -- particularly handbags, belts, and sandals -- is also found on Barbados.
 
In Bridgetown
 
Cruise passengers generally head for the cruise-ship terminal at Bridgetown Harbour, which has some 20 duty-free shops, 13 local shops, and many vendors.
 
At Articrafts, Norman Center Mall, Broad Street (tel. 246/427-5767), John and Roslyn Watson have assembled an impressive display of Bajan arts and crafts. Roslyn's distinctive wall hangings are decorated with objects from the island, including sea fans and coral.
 
Cave Shepherd, Broad Street (tel. 246/227-1330; www.caveshepherd.com), is the largest department store on the island and the best place for duty-free merchandise. There are branches at Sunset Crest in Holetown, Da Costas Mall, Grantley Adams Airport, and the Bridgetown cruise-ship terminal, but if your time is limited, try this outlet, as it has the widest selection. The store sells perfumes, cosmetics, fine crystal and bone china, cameras, jewelry, swimwear, leather goods, men's designer clothing, handicrafts, liquor, and souvenirs. Take a break in the cool comfort of the Balcony, overlooking Broad Street, which serves vegetarian dishes and has a salad bar and beer garden.
 
Harrison's, 10-14 Broad St. (tel. 246/431-5500), has six branch stores, all selling a wide variety of duty-free merchandise, including china, crystal, jewelry, watches, liquor, and perfumes -- all at fair prices. Also for sale are some fine leather products handcrafted in Colombia.
 
Little Switzerland, in the Da Costas Mall, Broad Street (tel. 246/431-0030; www.littleswitzerland.com), offers a wide selection of watches, fine jewelry, and an array of goodies from Waterford, Lalique, Swarovski, Baccarat, and others.
 
Pelican Craft Centre, Harbour Road (tel. 246/427-5350), consists of about 20 somewhat disorganized crafts boutiques, each of them clustered tightly into a folkloric/ethnic blend of thatched roofs, dust, and commercial hubbub. It's been accused of being somewhat overpriced and something of a tourist trap, but there are occasional moments of charm among the handcrafted items on display. Most of the shops here are gimmicky, but a few intriguing items can be found if you search hard enough. Sometimes you can see craftspeople at work. In Bridgetown, go down Princess Alice Highway to the city's Deep Water Harbour, where you'll find this tiny colony of thatched-roof shops.
 
Elsewhere on the Island
 
The Watering Hole, Hwy. 7, St. Lawrence Main Road, close to the entrance to St. Lawrence's Gap (tel. 246/435-6375), is not only the best place to purchase bottles of Bajan rum at duty-free prices, but is also a great dive for hanging out. A small bottle of rum (about 6 oz.) sells for around $8. Some locals as well as savvy visitors come here and make an evening of it, sampling the various rum drinks. Of course, you may need someone to carry you back to your hotel, as these punches are lethal. Opening times vary -- call to be sure -- but we've seen this place going strong at 3am. One of the more interesting shopping jaunts in Barbados involves a visit to the very laid-back vendors at Tyrol Cot Heritage Village, Codrington Hill, St. Michael (tel. 246/424-2074), the former home of Bajan national hero Sir Grantley Adams. On the grounds of the former prime minister's estate is a colony of artisans, who turn out an array of articles for sale ranging from paintings to pottery, from baskets to handmade figurines.
 
Earthworks Pottery/On the Wall Gallery, Edgehill Heights 2, St. Thomas (tel. 246/425-0223; www.earthworks-pottery.com), is one of the artistic highlights of Barbados. Deep in the island's central highlands, Canadian-born Goldie Spieler and her son, David, in business at this site since 1978, create whimsical ceramics in the colors of the sea and sky, with touches of watermelon pink. Many are decorated with Antillean-inspired swirls and zigzags. On the premises are a studio and a showroom that sells the output of at least half a dozen other island potters. Purchases can be shipped. Immediately next door is the Ins and Outs Gift Emporium (tel. 246/438-3438), where jars of locally made condiments -- jams, jellies, sauces, and spices -- are sold along with a small selection of island-inspired reading materials.
 
The Shell Gallery "Contentment," Gibbes Hill, St. Peter (tel. 246/422-2593), has the best collection of shells in the West Indies. Also offered are shell jewelry, and local pottery and ceramics.
 
Greenwich House Antiques, Greenwich Village, Trents Hill, St. James (tel. 246/432-1169), a 25-minute drive from Bridgetown, feels like a genteel private home where the objects for sale seem to have come from the attic of your slightly dotty great aunt. The building that contains the shop is at least a century old, the historic centerpiece of what used to be a sugar plantation. Dozens of objects, both utilitarian and decorative, including some good examples of Barbados-made mahogany furniture, fill every available inch of display space.



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