The Parish of Saint James on Barbados
Saint James has earned a reputation as the playground of the world’s rich and famous. Celebrities, business magnates, and billionaires have been flocking to the Platinum Coast of Barbados for decades to enjoy the sun, surf, and luxurious amenities this stretch of golden paradise offers. Saint James, located squarely on the western coast of Barbados, makes up the lion’s share of what used to be referred to as Barbados’s Gold Coast. With miles of beautiful white sandy beaches it’s no wonder why so much money and influence landed in St. James.
However, St. James played an important historical part in the birth of Barbados as well. It was here that the first English colonists landed in 1625 and here that they formed the first stable community on the island. Jamestown (named for King James) sat where modern day Holetown does and represents the first official British settlement on the island.
As you might expect, most of St. James (especially along the coast) is filled with glitzy beach front mansions and luxury hotels and condominiums surrounded by shopping and fine dining restaurants. It is, overall, very tourist oriented but it’s not all high-end entertainment. You can still find quaint little villages (such as Fitts Village) tucked away where life continues on at the slow island pace Bajans have enjoyed for centuries.
Sightseeing in The Parish of Saint James on Barbados
The Beaches of St. James
It’s no secret that the beaches are the real draw here. Travelers from all over the world flock to Barbados to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf along the island’s west coast. With calm seas, calm tides, and clear waters these beaches offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy various watersports including swimming, snorkeling, and diving as well as relaxing days sunbathing next to the rich and famous. Though you have miles of sand in which to stake your personal claim, there are a few standout beaches including Sandy Lane Bay, Paynes Bay, and Crystal Cove.
Golf in St. James on Barbados
While not an official pastime, golf certainly has set it roots deep in the tourist-friendly heart of Barbados. There are a number of excellent courses on the west coast including: The Country Club, The Green Monkey Course (exclusive to guests of the Sandy Lane Resort), and The Old Nine.
Portvale Sugar Factory
Unlike many of the historic sugar factories throughout the Caribbean, the Portvale Sugar Factory is a very modern facility complete with automation, electric power, and massive machinery. However, the Sir Frank Hutson Museum sits directly in front of the factory itself and offers a historic peak into how sugar cane was processed in simpler times (18th and 19th centuries). If you come in cane season (around January) you can actually see the process as it happens and sample some of the products made from this Barbadian cash crop.
St. James Parish Church
This is one of the oldest surviving churches on Barbados. Originally constructed in 1847, the building features gorgeous murals and stained glass on the inside. From the outside it is far less ostentatious than some of the other Gothic Parish churches. In fact, the rounded towers and domed roofs make it seem quaint in comparison—something one might see in a tiny village in Britain. The church is still in operation today and is home to bright and vibrant Anglican community.
Folkestone Marine Park
This marine park is an excellent place to swim, snorkel, and scuba. The in shore reef offers amateurs enthusiasts the chance to see colorful tropical fish and living coral up close and personal while the artificial coral reef (created when the Stavronikita was scuttled in 120 feet of water) is better for experienced divers. The Marine Park is also home to the Folkestone Museum which features an aquarium and an educational photographic exhibit of Barbadian marine life.
This colorful collection of boutiques shops offers a tropical shopping experience unlike any other. These brightly painted boutiques are modelled after traditional Barbadian cottages and offer something for everyone. From gourmet foods and native foodstuffs to “touristy” souvenirs and tee shirts you’re sure to find something that catches your eye. There are also a couple of venues at which you can enjoy lunch and refreshing beverages while browsing through the wares.
West Coast Boardwalk
This boardwalk stretches along the western coast of Barbados from Beachlands in the south to Heron Bay in the north. It’s not as developed as the South Coast Boardwalk and there are really only two restaurants at which to stop and enjoy a bite to eat. However, the boardwalk does offer a lovely view of some of the most spectacular beaches on Barbados.