Visiting Christ Church - What to See and Do
(Christ Church Grantley Adams International Airport BGI, Barbados)
is one of those great Caribbean destinations that gives you plenty of bang for your buck. While the northern end of the island leans towards upscale luxury resorts, the southern shores in the parish of Christ Church
offer a noticeably more relaxed and affordable scene.
The parish of Christ Church itself has little in the way of cultural entertainment, but it feels a world away from the noisy busy capital Bridgetown
, and that's all that matters. There are a couple of museums, historic plantation houses and other attractions in the parish, and of course, the capital is just a short drive across the island when you feel the need for more action.
The beaches around Christ Church, like Dover Beach and Rockley Beach, are superb and known for their snorkeling, surfing and beautiful sand. Also nearby is the St. Lawrence Gap village, undoubtedly the most buzzing scene for drinks and entertainment on the island. Head inland and you will be rewarded with fewer tourists and some amazingly lush hills and plantations to explore. Here, the parishes still feel timeless and don't suffer as much from the trappings of tourism along the coast.
Ten things you must do in Christ Church
- Sometimes it is easy to forget that Barbados has a working side as well. Perhaps that's why the Oistins Fish Market at Christ Church is such an appealing place to visit when the fishermen return to unload their daily catch. Such is the colourful scene that it is something of a tourist attraction. Visit on a Friday or Saturday evening and you can enjoy the weekly fish fry with the locals and groove to some live Caribbean music.
- A great way to spend an evening is watching traditional dance and music of Barbados at the Bajan Roots and Rhythm show, the island's most popular dinner theatre extravaganza. The Plantation Garden Theatre in St. Lawrence Gap hosts this extravaganza every night as performers put on elaborate costumes and create a really fun performance while guests enjoy dinner.
- Play a round of golf at some of the most scenic courses you will ever see. Both the Rockley Golf and Country Club and the Barbados Golf Club are superb venues, challenging and well as beautiful. Green fees here are a bit expensive, but few golfers walk off the 18th green disappointed with their investment.
- St. Lawrence Gap is the hottest stretch of sand on Barbados. Known simply as 'The Gap', this mile-long strip of coastline along Highway 7 is lined with fantastic bars, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and little shops. This is where the locals come to play, and so it is the ideal spot to mingle over drinks.
- One of the most impressive botanic attractions on the island can be found just east of Christ Church parish, along the coast near Bathsheba. Clinging to a rugged cliff overlooking the sea, the Andromeda Botanic Gardens are set on 7 acres / 3 hectares of boulders that create a marvellous rock garden. Hundreds of palms, orchids, hibiscus and other plants provide shelter for the occasional wildlife visitor.
- Take a tour of a local rum distillery. Whether you prefer Malibu or Mount Gay rum, both have an interesting tour that ends with a rum tasting and well-stoked gift shop. The folks at Malibu even have a beach club onsite adding an extra dimension to their 17th-century distillery that's still cranking out the rum.
- Get a sense of what life was like during the 17th-century sugar cane plantation era on Barbados at the St. Nicholas Abbey. Built around 1650, this historic plantation is still producing sugar cane on 200 acres / 81 hectares. Visitors can tour the wonderfully restored house and other buildings, although it is wise to call ahead to make sure that the owners are available.
- For many visitors, Harrison's Cave at Allen View (roughly 25 minutes to the north-west of Christ Church) is the highlight of any trip to Barbados. Sitting comfortably in an electric trolley, you get ferried through the surreal limestone underworld of the island. Pools, cascades and little streams flow through this very impressive cave littered with stalactites and stalagmites. At one point, you have some time to get off the tram and get a closer look at the Cascade Pool and the Rotunda Room, two natural marvels.
- After visiting Harrison's Cave, pop over to the Flower Forest, a retired plantation that has been transformed into a wonderful botanical garden. Set up in the rolling highlands, this is one of the island's most scenic areas and the gardens merely accentuate the natural beauty with hundreds of orchids, flowering plants and other wonders. A nifty little handicraft shop is also onsite.
- Learn about the interesting heritage of the island at the Barbados Museum in Bridgetown (around 15 minutes to the west of Christ Church), which does a decent job portraying the natural and human history of Barbados. From the Amerindians to the colonial plantation era, there is a collection of relics, maps and exhibits covering the spectrum.