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 Islands Information

Place: Barbados

Barbados: Coast to Coast
by: Joan Wingert

The capitol of Bridgetown serves as the dividing point between the West coast and the South coast. Nearly every hotel and resort on the island will be located on or near one of these two coasts. What is the difference? Are there advantages to one or the other for a visitor to the island?

The prevailing easterly trade winds affect the most distinctive natural differences between the two. Because the wind invariably blows from East to West, the eastern coast has heavy surf—the primary reason there are no hotels on the East. There are some very nice beaches but they are not suitable for swimming or watersports activities.

This Easterly wind also bends around the south coast, creating a bit of wind and surf there as well for those beaches. It is not surprising that this is where the best windsurfing is located (and there are some world-class locals). These beaches are generally suitable for swimming; only during bad weather will the red “no swimming” flag be posted.

The West coast is on the leeward side of the island (the wind is blowing offshore not onshore). These bays and beaches are much calmer with very light surf. Snorkeling and nearly all day trips aboard private boats is perfect here along the calm West Coast.

The resorts, shops, restaurants, and other business establishments of each coast also exhibit a decidedly different “personality.”

The resorts along the South Coast will range from 2 to 4 stars. Prices for accommodations on the South coast tend to be relatively modest and reasonable.

The central locale of the South coast is St Lawrence Gap. Without a doubt, this is THE local hotspot, featuring a cobblestone walkway with gas lighting, and lined with one interesting restaurant or bistro after another. Barbados is known for its many wonderful (let me say it again—wonderful) restaurants, and several are located here in the “Gap.”

Between the Gap and Bridgetown, the area is busy with a variety of establishments including banks, gas stations, KFC, Chefette (the local fast food outlet featuring rotis to go), etc. strung along the South coast highway. Old and run-down buildings sit side-by-side with brand new buildings—evidence that many old structures are being replaced with new.

The West coast is sometimes referred to as the “Gold coast” or the “Platinum coast,” and is less intensive in its development. Some of the coast is the preserve of the rich and famous, whose stunning villas will occupy some of the beach area.

The center of the West coast is Holetown, the original English settlement which dates to the early 17th century. This has a delightful shopping area, including a series of “chattel house” shops. Outstanding restaurants are dotted here and there along the coast.

The West coast features mostly 4 and 5 star resorts. The accommodation costs for staying on the West coast will generally be higher than on the South coast of this lovely island, Barbados.

About The Author
Joan Wingert is editor for Caribbean dot Travel (www.caribbean.travel), a recently-launched website specializing in information for travelers to the Caribbean. Our site includes an interactive library (www.caribbean.travel/articles/index.php) which hosts articles on any and all things related to the Caribbean as well as travel in and around the islands.