Tuesday 25 September, 2018

After Crop Over: Wonderful gardens, parks and caves

(Image: Hunte's Garden, courtesy of Hunte's Garden)

(Image: Hunte's Garden, courtesy of Hunte's Garden)

There’s so much natural beauty to see in Barbados. If you want to spend some time enjoying the island’s wonderful plants, flowers and natural landscapes, here are seven places you shouldn’t miss.

Hunte’s Garden: Visitors describe these gardens, a little way inland from the central east coast, as a beautiful spot with something different to see around every corner. The gardens sit in a gully in a rain forest and are tended by the owner, horticulturist Anthony Hunte. “The gardens are incredible; beautiful and serene,” wrote one visitor. “As you trek through the gardens you descend into another world.” One bonus: recent visitors report seeing baby hummingbirds!

(Image: Animal Flower Cave by Jerrye and Roy Klotz MD via WikiCommons)

Animal Flower Cave: This accessible sea cave, at the island’s most northerly point, got its name from the sea anemones – known locally as animal flowers – that live inside it. Coral steps lead down to an opening in the roof of this former blowhole, which was first found by explorers in 1780. There are great views from the cave and a small (cold!) pool to swim in. On the cliffs above visitors will find a restaurant and bar, children’s playground and stalls and shops selling crafts. One caveat: Wear sturdy shoes, as the cave can be slippery and there are sharp rocks.  

(Image: St Nicholas Abbey by travelhunction via Flickr)

St Nicholas Abbey: This grand Jacobean mansion was built in 1658 and comes with a working rum distillery and sugar mill, as well as lovely tropical grounds. The estate, in the north of the island, used to be a thriving sugar plantation and the house is now an antique-filled museum. There’s also a café. “The tour of the fully-functioning steam-powered sugar cane mill and the old (merged with new) rum distillery is mesmerising,” wrote one visitor. “To see such old equipment is such good working order made me smile. So did the rum tasting.”

(Image: Turtle swimming in Barbados via Pixabay)

Folkstone Marine Park: This lovely sea park lies on the west coast to the north of Bridgetown. Offshore, divers can explore the Stavronikita, a damaged Greek freighter scuttled in 1978 at a depth of 40m. Closer to shore, there’s a reef that offers good snorkelling. And on shore, there’s a museum and aquarium, a playground and a shop, as well as a protected beach area. “There are some lovely bits of coral and an abundance of brightly coloured fish to see,” wrote one snorkeller.

(Image: Andromeda Botanic Gardens by postdlf via WikiCommons)

Andromeda Botanic Gardens: Recent visitors rave about the variety of trees, plants and flowers to see at these lush gardens on the island’s east coast. The gardens, owned by the Barbados National Trust, are also home to a gallery promoting local artists and a café. Visitors say informative staff are on hand to point out areas of interest, and there are also hummingbirds and monkeys. “The individual spaces had such interesting flowers, the shapes and the way plants were intertwined made for a lovely stroll,” one visitor wrote.

(Image: Harrison's Cave)

Harrison’s Cave: This cave system, in the centre of the island, is host to impressive stalactites and stalagmites, some of which have joined to form pillars. The complex, which is about 2.3km long, also contains waterfalls that form pools. Visitors can take a tram through the cave system and walking tours are also available. There’s also a visitor centre with handicrafts on sale.

(Image: Flower Forest by TravelingOtter via Flickr)

Flower Forest: A short hop from Harrison’s Cave is another lovely natural area of paths through wonderful tropical trees and plants. The Flower Forest is in a hilly area and the views of the surrounding countryside can be magnificent. There’s a café on site. “The gardens are set on a hillside with wonderful palms and many other variety of trees and shrubs. Flowers were of bright red and yellow hues. The paths are well maintained and not too steep,” one visitor wrote.