The name of the island means "bearded" referring to the moss the early inhabitants saw hanging down from the trees. Though only 166 square miles in size Barbados has been one of the most important British possessions in the Caribbean.
The early colonists on this Island cultivated cotton and tobacco but demand for sugar grown in plantations, using slave labour from Africa, prompted a dramatic change in agriculture. After slavery was abolished in 1834, it was not until as late as 1966 that the colony was granted independence. A democratic Labour Party was founded in 1938 and is still running Parliament today, with its Senate and House of Assembly. The country prides itself on being a friendly and cosmopolitan country and has successfully held both the World Golf Championship in December 2006 and the Cricket World Cup Super 8 matches in 2007.
For the international traveller, the mooring facilities have been greatly improved since cruise liners started using the port for their “island-hopping” schedules. The centre of activity for berthing has always been around the so-called “Careenage” (marina) that has its Wharf and Fish Market overlooking Carlisle Bay. This is the old part of Bridgetown, and is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean. Its British links are evident everywhere but particularly in its “Heroes Square” with its statue to Admiral Nelson. This was erected long before London's Trafalgar Square honoured him.
A “do-it-yourself” walking tour of Bridgetown might best start from the Careenage and by walking a little way up Broad Street to see the Parliament Buildings. From here and along the Wharf to Heroes Square is a short stroll. Turning into St. Michael's Row brings you up to the Cathedral with its single-hand clock and interesting architecture. If the walk is extended, the “Queen's Park” gardens are a delightful place to rest before returning to the harbour.
If the objective of visiting Barbados is to circumnavigate the island, it is worth noting that the North and East coasts do get the brunt of the Atlantic waves but their beaches are still very good for walking and wind or bodysurfing. The North coast is certainly not recommended for swimming, but does have the quietest of coves that are ideal for snorkelling. A little inland it has Mount Poyer for the experienced climber. The West coast is rightly called the "Platinum coast" since it has the much clearer and warmer waters of the Caribbean. Its beaches are more numerous and so, of course, are the tourist hotels. The South coast is blessed with two bays, Carlisle Bay and Oistin Bay with Bridgetown as its epi-centre. The old part of the city is ideal for those wishing to sample the national dish of Cou-cou and flying fish. The Waterfront Café is noted for its nightlife and cuisine and the visitor can eat whilst listening to some Dixie-land Jazz.
For the visitor staying overnight whilst cruising off the West coast there is an excellent choice of 4-star hotels with their own swimming pools. Consider Colony Club, Crystal Cave and Mangobay hotels, all of which have restaurants overlooking the Caribbean. Midway down the West coast there are the smaller villages called Sandy Lane, Holetown and Lascelles. Mooring is not usually a problem and it is possible to get ashore and look around the local golf courses. Sandy Lane has several and from here it is possible to drive or take a taxi to the newly created "Apes Hill Club golf" and development area. The 18-hole course was officially opened in November 2009 and due to its position in the centre of the island it has stunning views of the West and East coasts. Adjacent to the course is the Wentworth development homes with their own luxurious facilties including tennis courts, a Spa fitness centre, horse-riding, nature walks and restaurants. For those interested in viewing properties for sale this is the “must-see” spot.
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