Your guide to the 11 Parishes of Barbados
Barbados is an idyllic Caribbean island celebrated for its turquoise blue waters, quiet beaches, and lush forest interior. Add to this its rich culture, low-crime rate, English speaking language, and direct flights from many international cities, and you have the makings for one very sought-after destination. There are 11 parishes of Barbados, similar in structure to states or provinces. The most popular places to stay in Barbados are on the island’s south and west coasts. But the choices don’t stop there. You can choose between a rough and relaxing north coast, the affluent west coast, the accessible center of the island, the rustic green east coast, or the vibrant modern south coast. Each parish provides visitors with a unique experience. Making the best vacation rental in Barbados is entirely up to the traveler and what they want to get out of their vacation.
ZenBreak brings you this guide from North to South list some of the greatest places to stay in Barbados, whether you’re looking for crowded beaches, a family-friendly vacation, or something off the beaten road. For more detailed information about what to expect and plan for when you arrive, be sure to check out our before-you-land travel guide.
Barbados’ Northern Coast: A low-key escape from the hustle
St. Lucy Parish
St. Lucy Parish in the north of Barbados is a breath of fresh air. It’s less developed than some of the settlements on the west coast. It’s perfect for those who want to enjoy the basic pleasures of paradise, such as rustling trees and ocean views practically wherever they look.
The majority of those who opt to stay in St Lucy do so because of its remote appeal; in St. Lucy, you truly feel as if you are away from it all, and you’ll find a side of Barbados that many new visitors never get to see.
Tourists to St. Lucy should explore attractions such as the Animal Flower Cave – the only sea cave on the island of Barbados, and reached by the steps and through a hole in a cliff wall. German Scientists have dated the coral floor in the cove to be 500,000 years old. Be sure to bring your swimsuit just in case you want to have a dip in one of its natural rock pools.
Other places to visit in this parish include Maycock’s Bay for surfing, the Fustic House Plantation, and St. Lucy’s Parish Church
St. Peter Parish
Located in the northwestern part of Barbados is St. Peter Parish. The area is known for its sandy beaches, steep terrain, and incredible views. Speightstown is the parish’s largest town, the 2nd largest in Barbados, and is a lively hub for commerce in the region. Known as Little Bristol, it’s a lovely beach town that’s a must-see on most travel guides, especially on weekends when markets are bustling. The name of this region stems from the once-close economic ties between Barbados and Bristol, Great Britain.
Aside from its beautiful beaches, brand new jetty, and architecture, visitors come to tour the St. Nicholas Abbey Rum Plantation, as well as the Arlington House Museum.
Instgrammers love St. Peter for its sugarcane-covered hillsides, the busy marinas at Port St. Charles and Port Ferdinand, and the colonial ruins of Farley Hill National Park. Several events, including the Barbados Jazz Festival, take place in St. Peter throughout the year.
Barbados’ Western Coast: An action-filled beach getaway
This is the finest place to go duty-free shopping, see historic sights and go on a fishing trip. The western coast of Barbados is more upmarket, with a mix of high-end resorts, beachfront villas and condos, etc which is why now it’s also called the Platinium Coast. Many people are drawn to the sandy beaches, including well-known Sandy Lane beach.
Holetown, formerly known as Jamestown, was the site of the island’s first British settlement. It was given the name Jamestown after King James I of England. Things have changed a lot since then, and there is no stuffiness now as the area is home to a growing number of restaurants, pubs, and boutiques.
St. James Parish
St. James Parish is located in the northwestern part of Barbados. Although the region is recognised for being one of the island’s favorite hangout spots for celebrities, there’s more to it than paparazzi and premium lodging. The stonewalls of St. James Parish Church, are but one example. They first opened their doors to parishioners in the 1600s. Today, tours run frequently and it’s quite possible the perfect spot to begin learning about true Bajan (Barbadian) history.
Be sure to visit the Sir Frank Hutson Museum, the Folkestone Marine Park, and the Portvale Sugar Factory, which is one of Barbados’ few remaining sugar factories. Areas such as Sandy Lane, Sugar Hill, Royal Westmoreland, and Porters are all worth stopping to explore.
St. Michael Parish
On the island’s Western Coast is St. Michael Parish and home to the capital of Barbados – Bridgetown. Some of the more notable attractions in St. Michael are the St. Ann’s Garrison a Unesco World Heritage Site, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, George Washington House, and Barbados museum. St. Michael is a home to Carlisle Bay which features stunning beaches and an underwater dive park with many sunken boats and ships.
In addition to being the best place to muster for a fishing excursion, you’ll find the Tyrol Cot Heritage Centre, Frank Collymore Hall (theatre), Cockspur Visitor Centre, Kensington Oval (cricket pitch), Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Pelican Village (local arts and crafts), and Brighton Beach.
With a number of things to do and sights to see, St. Michael is certainly the place to be if you like being in the center of it all!
Central Barbados: A look back to the history of Barbados
St Thomas Parish
St. Thomas was one of the first parishes to be created on the island of Barbados. In 1629, English settlers first arrived at Holetown in the parish of St. James, and with them, began its colonial thumbprint.
Despite the lack of a coastline, the parish of St. Thomas has a lot to discover and explore. The aptly named Bagatelle Great House is located in Bagatelle, St. Thomas, and was a former sugar plantation. Today it hosts private events and boasts a variety of unique restaurants that remain open to visitors.
It’s here in St.Thomas that you can find Harrison’s Cave. This natural treasure is an enormous limestone cavern full of both stalagmites and stalactites. Rediscovered in 1970, it’s now a subterranean park and one of the biggest tourist attractions on the island.
St. George Parish
Being an inland parish, people don’t visit St. George for it beaches. They come for its breathtaking views and on weekends they come to the Brighton Farmer’s Market. Here you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, teas, coffee, patties, pottery, plants, as well as local arts and crafts. It’s a great way to spend an early Saturday morning while shopping and strolling.
If you fancy colonial architecture, St. George offers the Drax Hall Plantation. This is one of the earliest and largest sugar plantation properties in existence, dating back to the mid-17th century. Once owned by a wealthy family in Barbados, Drax Hall was erected by James and William Drax. Like many of the houses of the era, Jacobean style was in vogue, with this structure sporting gable roofs and casement windows to match.
Be sure to check out the Francia Plantation House, Gun Hill Signal Station, and Orchid World on your next visit to St. George.
The Eastern Coast of Barbados: Reconnecting with Nature
St. Andrew Parish
St. Andrew’s Parish Church is another great place for colonial architecture. It also holds Barbados’ highest point, Mount Hillaby. Due to its hills and green valleys, British settlers named the parish in honor of its resemblance to Scotland.
Grenade Hall Forest & Signal Station, Morgan Lewis Windmill, Mount Hillaby, St. Andrew’s Parish Church, and Turners Hall Woods are just a few of the many sights to be seen in the parish of St. Andrew.
One of St. Andrew’s most spectacular views may be found atop once you hike up Chalky Mount (especially, The Hole). Soils in this parish are mainly made from clay, which blends nicely with its surrounding terrain. The Chalky Mount Potteries, where local potters use clay from Chalky Mount’s parish to make lovely items, should definitely be visited while you’re in the area.
Almost half of St. Andrew’s parish is made up of forest area, including Turners Hall Woods – a dense tropical forest.
The Spring Vale Eco-Heritage Museum, situated on the grounds of a former 200-acre sugar plantation in the parish of St. Andrew, is also worth a visit. It’s hoped that these tours will teach both locals and visitor’s alike about the traditional ways and lifestyles of years past.
St. Joseph Parish
If you enjoy touring botanical gardens, welcome to St. Joseph. The Flower Forest, a former sugar plantation, is a popular spot to relax. As are both the Andromeda Gardens and Hunte’s Gardens. While flora is certainly the calling card of the region, Bathsheba beach is a destination unto its own with the perfect waves and is popular with experienced surfers.
St. John Parish
The St. John Anglican Church is one of several Anglican churches in the parish of St. John. The Church is positioned on the edge of Hackleton’s Cliff and offers spectacular views that span from Ragged Point in the east to Pico Tenerife in the north, making it one of Barbados’ most romantic spots.
Many picturesque bays dot the east coast of St. John’s including Consett Bay, Martin’s Bay, and Bath. These are all excellent picnic areas and great places for a swim.
While in St. John, Villa Nova is a must-see. Many Great Houses have been preserved or repaired over the years, and Villa Nova remains in good stead. It was built in 1834, at the same time slavery was abolished. It’s made of coral stone laboriously shaped by teams of stonemasons. The Villa Nova House sits on 6 hectares (15 acres) of land and overlooks the stunning east coast. It has been a place of rest and retreat for both royalty and celebrities.
Barbados’ Southern Coast: For the sun, the surf, and the sand
Christ Church Parish
Christ Church is located on the southern tip of Barbados. Its home is the Grantley Adams International Airport and the St. Lawrence Gap, known locally as The Gap, and is the nightlife entertainment hub of the island.
It’s here in St. Lawrence Gap that you’ll find many of the best clubs, shops, restaurants, and bars in the country and get a true sense of local Bajan culture. Be sure to visit the Harry Bayley Observatory on Observatory Road, usually open to everyone on Friday evenings. You will have the chance to view the clear night sky through a powerful telescope available on site while learning about our place in the universe.
Fancy a day at the track? Christ Church hosts exhilarating horse races at Garrison Savannah. Add to this the Barbados Golf Club, Rockley Golf & Country Club, the popular Banks Beer Brewery, Gorgeous beaches for swimming, surfing, and Kite surfing and the St. Lawrence Church (a landmark from the early 1800s) and you have one incredible place to visit.
The Concorde experience/ Museum next to the airport is also a must-do where you get to learn and see and actually sit on the aircraft.
St. Philip Parish
St. Philip Parish is located in the southeastern area of Barbados and is the perfect destination for someone wanting a quiet holiday on a stunning beach. Be sure to visit Sam Lord’s Castle and enjoy a dip at Shark Hole and view the Bottom Bay. Although the beach and sea views in this area are strikingly beautiful, the tides can be rough and swimming is often ill-advised.
St. Philip is home to a variety of historic plantation houses, with architecture dating back to the 1600s. Ragged Point boasts 4 lighthouses and nearby FourSquare Distillery accepts tour visitors daily. It’s also the place to be if you want to view one of the island’s major attractions – the Bushy Park Racing Circuit, where you can hop in and enjoy a true motor-sport adrenaline-rush.
Regardless of its small size, Barbados truly does offer something for everyone. Whether you are looking to purchase a gorgeous beach house or rent a beachfront villa, Barbados is the right place to be!
If you are looking for a romantic getaway, we’ve got you covered. Check out our selected list of beachfront vacation rentals to enjoy every day of a magnificent sunset next to your significant other.