Full format photos – link: Barbados Photo Gallery
We booked an independent shore excursion with Carson’s Taxi – completely customized to suit the interests of ourselves and new cruise friends, Gayle & Barry (of whom we met on our Cruise Critic Roll Call). “Skinny Carson” lived up to his reputation of “excellence”. He was very professional and delivered A++ customer service throughout our day with him. His time management is impeccable, his knowledge of the island is endless, and we just had a brilliant time with him. We would highly recommend him as a private taxi & tour service in Barbados.
To begin our trip, Carson also made a special stop for Anthony who 40 years ago stayed at the “Pieces of Eight” Motel. 20 years ago (1998), Anthony & I found it when we visited Barbados and with a bit of detective work, Carson found the relic hotel within Hastings (Christ Church Parish) again in 2018. Now named the “Regency Cove Hotel”, it is apparently under renovation and is scheduled for a comeback, but unlikely to its former glory of 40 years ago. The receptionist would not permit any photos to be taken within.Our first planned stop was Hunte’s Gardens, but en route we had several photo stops and history lessons along the way, including the historical architecture of chattel houses. These small wooden houses date back to Emancipation when former slaves were permitted to build a house on a piece of plantation land. As they did not own the land, the house was not permanently fixed (i.e., on a foundation); instead they were built upon stone blocks in the event the house needed to be relocated (hence the name, chattel, a moveable possession). Some of the original homes have evolved with brightly coloured concrete sides that have been passed down from generation to generation.
We also drove through Parris Hill [St. Joseph] where we were able to view the work of local artist, Christopher Chandler (chrischandlerart.com). Photos below are from his work entitled “PROCESSION.2002. A Primal Revolution” which is a collection of sculpted animals from within a limestone cliff and then painted in oil.
Address: Castle Grant, St Joseph
Contact: 001 246 433 3333; huntesgardensbarbados.com
Opening times: daily, 9am-4pm
Admission: US$15 – cash only
Greeted by a happy Buddha, flowers, foliage, and a one-hundred year old weigh station; I gushed with delight upon stepping foot onto the property belonging to the engaging horticulturist, Anthony Hunte. Created in the 1950s by Mr. Hunte, the lush Caribbean and international infused botanical gardens can be found in the parish of St. Joseph within a large sink-hole gully.
We were one of the first guests to arrive at the gardens and were instructed to “ring a bell” to enter Mr. Hunte’s private, but publicly accessible botanical masterpiece.
We were greeted by Mr. Anthony Hunte who casually accepted our cash offerings of an entrance fee (30 Bajan or 15 USD per person) to enter his sanctuary of lush foliage, flowers, and pathways that were thoughtfully and creatively prepared.
Mr. Hunte instructed as to descend down into the gully where a large instructional sign was available to assist us in identifying his private collection of plants. Afterwards, we were invited into his home for beverages (note: available for purchase, not complimentary as mentioned on other (older) review sites).
We slowly descended the foliage laden pathways into the the original sinkhole that has been transformed into an open air greenhouse. The pathways were creative and had several “off track” options where you could have a seat amongst the ferns, palms, or to the enjoyment of a water feature. These small thoughtful touches along the way, further enhanced the overall experience of Hunte’s gardens.In the distance you could hear classical music from Mr. Hunte’s private home that was only drowned out by the chirps and shrills of the Bananaquits, Antillean Bullfinches, Hummingbirds, and Carib grackles that were abundant within the gardens.
In addition to the plethora of eclectic seating opportunities, the pathways were adorned with a variety of statues & sculptures.
After our relaxing self-paced tour, we finished with a lemon-ginger drink ($2.50 USD) on the verandah of Anthony’s lovely home.
It truly was a lovely experience and of the finer gardens that I have ever visited. Feeling blessed and grateful for the opportunity to visit this gem, away from the beaches, in beautiful Barbados.
Scenic Photo Stops
From Hunte’s gardens we proceeded to our next request, Andromeda Botanic Gardens. Along the way, Carson stopped the van for lovely scenic photo ops!
Andromeda Botanic Gardens
Address: Bathsheba, St Joseph
Contact: 001 246 433 9384; new.barbadosnationaltrust.org
Opening times: daily 9am-4pm
Admission: BDS$30 ($15 USD), children free
A short distance away from the Bathsheba coast is the iconic, Andromeda Botanic Gardens. Established as a private family garden in 1954 by horticulturist, Iris Bannochie (1914-1988), it has since been bequeathed to the Barbados National Trust and now managed by Passiflora Ltd. Mrs. Bannochie collected specimens from around the world during her travels and created the unique garden from scratch. The gardens also feature a small cafe and gift shop. Cash and/or VISA is accepted.
Upon entry, the staff asks how much time you have to spend in the gardens and then suggests trails that would suit your visit. As we were on a shore excursion and had approximately one hour (ish) for this garden, a path of trails was suggested and a hand out given to explain what we would see along that particular path. This made identifying what we were observing quite easy and the description for each marker was excellent (see below for an example).
Although not as dramatic as descending into a sinkhole gully such as Hunte’s Gardens, the pathways were still quite pretty, clean, easy to navigate, and peaceful.
The management seemed to take a more natural (and notably organic) approach to this garden as compared to Hunte’s. The difference (or comparison) between the two is noted, but one does not take away from the other. We enjoyed each just as much for different reasons. I particularly enjoyed the “themed” walk throughs, such as this “Palm” path that was infused with a large variety of palms from around the world.
Thoughtful structures such as this small bridge were presented throughout the walk.
As an environmental student and passionate conservationist, what impressed me is that the management of Andromeda Botanic Gardens (ABG) has taken an organic approach to managing the 6-acre parcel of land. As noted on their web site, “Farmyard and green manures are used extensively in the garden. We only use neem as an insecticide if all other forms of organic control have failed”. ABG is also a member of Botanic Gardens Conservation International which is a worldwide network of 500 botanic gardens in more than 100 countries that are concerned with conservation. Their aim is to “collect, conserve, characterise and cultivate samples from all of the world’s plants as an insurance policy against their extinction in the wild and as a source of plant material for human innovation, adaptation and resilience.” Yeah! that definitely hit a note with me (H).
In summary, I would highly recommend a visit to either or both gardens during your stay in Barbados, or as like we did, as a great cruise ship shore excursion. They are both beautiful and significant in their own right and I would love to come back to Barbados to further explore and enjoy either or both of them. My only *regret* is not having just a tiny bit more time at Andromeda to explore the 6-acres as I’m sure there were lovely treasures that were missed. However, I guess we will just have to come back another time to visit this beautiful place! Top of my list, for sure!
Scenic Photo Stops
From Andromeda Botanical gardens we proceeded back to the port with more thoughtful stops from Carson and historical notes from our great guide/driver!
One of our scenic/historical stops was within the parish of St. Andrew where we could visibly see tectonic plates emerging from the ocean. Barbados unlike many of the other Caribbean islands is *not* the result of volcanic activity, but is in fact the result of tectonic plate impact that occurred when the Atlantic plate pushed under the Caribbean plate, which ultimately forced Barbados to surface.As we continued our drive through St. Andrew’s parish, we drove through “Cherry Tree Hill” which at one point was thought to have been covered in Cherry trees, but now the road is lined with incredible Mahogany trees that were introduced to Barbados after the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Cherry Tree Hill is part of the historic St. Nicholas Abbey (1658) plantation.
Also in the northern parish of St. Andrew is the only intact sugar mill in Barbados that features the last remaining operational windmill, Morgan Lewis, that overlooks the eastern coastline of the island. We stopped for a short photo op of the historic and well preserved windmill.
After being dropped back off at the port by our amazing guide/driver, “Skinny Carson”; Anthony & I went to the post office to inquire about collectible stamps for my personal collection. It was the best purchase (for me) from our trip! the first day covers couldn’t have been more perfect for our very special day in Barbados.
Until next time, Beautiful Barbados!