Barbados - Landmarks and Points of Interest
The North Point of the island is home the Animal Flower Cave, which was formed by the relentless pounding of the Atlantic Ocean into the cliffs. The cave was named after the sea anemones, or animal flowers, that once flourished here. The view from here is remarkable and can often afford whale sightings.
The West Coast of Barbados is home to Speightstown (pronounced "spikestong"), the second-largest town on the island. Speightstown once enjoyed the status of being an important trading port with England; now it is the island's major shopping destination. The Barbados National Trust manages the Arbib Nature and Heritage Trail, where hikers can take guided tours of forests, beaches and sugar plantations. Just outside of Speightstown is Port St. Charles at Heywoods Beach, an official port of entry into Barbados, yacht marina and residential development.
Barbados' earliest settlers landed in Holetown in 1627, and they are memorialized by monuments here. Holetown is home to a slew of restaurants and a shopping village, as well as the annual Holetown Festival. The Folkestone Marine Park & Visitor Centre consists of a reef rich with marine life, a museum and aquarium. The reef is made of the remains of the sunken ship Stavronikita, which sits 120 feet under water. The greater Holetown area also hosts the popular natural attractions of Harrison's Cave and Welchman Hall Gully.
The capitol and largest town in Barbados, Bridgetown is home to the island's financial and political center. It also offers a range of offerings for tourists, including shops, restaurants and historical attractions. Bridgetown's center is the National Heroes Square, which was, until recently, known as Trafalgar Square. North of here are the Parliament buildings, the west wing of which contains the National Heroes Gallery. This museum traces the lives of the ten national heroes of Barbados through a series of sculptures, artifacts and murals by local artists. Bridgetown is also home to the Nidhe Israel Synagogue, believed to be the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Oistins Fish Market is a lively marketplace, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, when locals gather for dancing in the central dance hall and dine on traditional Bajan fare (fish cakes, "jug-jug" (guinea corn and green pies), fried fish and beer) sold in stalls. This is also a good place to shop for local arts and crafts.
The Garrison Savannah area of Bridgetown contains the racetrack where horse racing has been held since the 1800s. Housed here in the former British Detention Barracks, the Barbados Museum traces the island's history from the 16th century to present day and is not far from the Barbados Gallery of Art. Near here, the Georgian-style George Washington House is where the first American president lived, in 1751, at the age of 19 for six weeks with his half-brother. Barbados is the only place outside of the United States where George Washington ever lived.
The South Coast of Barbados is the center of the island's nightlife and resort market. The beaches here are popular with windsurfers, divers and kitesurfers.
The East Coast features rock formations along the Atlantic coast; the rougher waters here, especially the Soup Bowl at Bathsheba, are popular among surfers. The Grenade Hall Signal Station is part of an 1800s network of six communication towers across Barbados. The tower features exhibits and viewpoints with telescopes. The 250-year-old Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill is the largest existing windmill in Barbados. The St. John's Parish Church, built in 1836, contains the remains of Ferdinando Paleologus, a descendant of Emperor Constantine the Great.
Barbados has several facilities for sporting and other events. The National Stadium, just outside of Bridgetown, can hold up to 13,000 for sporting, cultural and other events. The legendary Kensington Oval is one of the most popular cricket venues in the West Indies. The Waterhall Polo Center contains a full-sized polo field and clubhouse, as well as more than 100 stables and polo-ponies, and offers lessons to would-be polo players of all experience levels.