Barbados

Jocelyn Murray October 25, 2013 No Comments

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Balmy breezes, white sand and turquoise water

Awash in balmy breezes, lush wildlife, and steeped in history that includes real pirates of the Caribbean, the island of Barbados has long captivated visitors from far and wide. It was named Los Barbudos or “the bearded ones” by the Spanish after the island’s fig trees which have a bearded appearance with their long vine-like hanging roots. This eastern-most Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles is quite unique in that it was formed by the merging of the Atlantic crustal and Caribbean plates, rather than volcanic eruptions.

Real pirates of the Caribbean once sailed these seas

Barbados was home to two famous buccaneers—Stede Bonnet and Sam Lord—whose swashbuckling exploits have inspired Hollywood films romanticizing the subject. Stede Bonnet was a retired British army major who befriended the dreaded Blackbeard himself, and raided ships until he was caught and hung for piracy in 1718, while Sam Lord was a rogue who is said to have lured and plundered unwary ships to their demise on the coral reefs skirting the island by hanging lanterns from coconut trees on his estate.

Barbados is beautiful

The colorful history of Barbados lends a roguish dash of romance to the island’s spectacular allure. Its year-round temperature remains a warm 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit with refreshing northeasterly trade winds, and boasts white sand beaches, plenty of water sports, shopping, dining, and sightseeing that includes shipwrecks littering the ocean floor.  

Sightseeing Highlights

Barbados Wildlife Reserve

A primeval wood with a tropical twist

The animals in this reserve roam freely in a lush mahogany grove across the road from the Farley Hill National Park in St. Peter. It has the feel of a primeval wood with a tropical twist, where long vines hang from above and dense vegetation clings with mist. Rustic stone paths meander through this piece of paradise that is home to monkeys, brocket deer, agouti, turtles, iguana, caimans, flamingoes, peacocks, and a host of exotic birds.

 

Farley Hill National Park

Romantic ruins of Farley Hill

Located in St. Peter near the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, this 17-acre property is nestled among mahogany trees, and affords spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, making a lovely picnic spot. Several times a year Farley Hill holds musical and theatrical events, such as the Barbados Jazz Festival. The ruins of the great 19th-century manor on the property are overgrown with moss, and lend an old world grace to the landscape and its stone relics.

 

Welchman Hall Gully

This rain forest has a heady, tropical scent

This tropical rainforest is a sensual delight for hikers and nature lovers, right in the heart of the island. With its light showers and fragrant mists, the moist air of the gully is redolent of the rich soil, dense vegetation, and hints of the tangy sea. One gets the feel for what the island might have been like centuries ago when it was first discovered in all its wild and uninhabited splendor.

 

Harrison’s Cave

Water from Barbados’s underground lakes is among the purest in the world

Considered one of the natural wonders of the Caribbean, Harrison’s Cave makes for an unforgettable tour with its shimmering pools, calcite crystals, waterfalls, stalactites and stalagmites. The sparkling clear water from the island’s underground lakes is naturally purified from the mineral deposits, and the source of all of Barbados’s drinking water.

 

St. Nicholas Abbey

This mansion dates back to 1658

This historical landmark is a gracious Jacobean mansion built in 1658. The plantation and its buildings appear as they did for several centuries, and include the great house, a distillery known for its handcrafted rum, a boiling house, and the plantation itself. The residence is open for touring by the public and includes a short historic film that provides a fascinating glimpse of life on the island around 1935. Large trees with outstretched limbs beckon with the romance of a bygone era, transporting one back in time.

 

Mount Gay Rum Distillery

This is the world’s oldest rum distillery

No trip to the Caribbean is complete without dipping into its rum and pirate history, and a visit to Mount Gay Rum Distillery spikes one’s sightseeing experience with a dash of spicy history and pirate lore. This ranks as the world’s oldest rum distillery dating back to 1703, and conjures images of rum-swilling pirates of yore.

 

This magnificent tree is just one of many on the island

Although the island of Barbados and its history are fascinating, the people are what make it most enchanting. Warm and friendly, the locals have an easy-going charm that make one feel instantly welcome. Everything about the island is captivating: from its intriguing and variegated history, to its colorful Caribbean architecture, and its British colonial appeal evident throughout the culture. But at the end of the day, long after the sun has set, and the crickets awaken with their nightly chorus, it is a beguiling blend of all these things that thoroughly seduce visitors, leaving one forever smitten by this coral island.

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Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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