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Hiking trails and hidden bays: Why it's time to look again at Barbados

Travelling
Long read

Daphne Ewing Chow

11 June 2017

As one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated hubs of luxury, Barbados has never defined itself as an eco-destination. The southern Caribbean isle has traditionally held a much tighter grip on its colonial past than its neighbours, sticking to the old formula of luxury shopping, exclusive hotels and fine dining, with the tropical bells and whistles of sea, sand and sunshine.

But times they are a’changing. Over the last couple of years there has been a renewed consciousness trickling through the island, giving birth to refreshingly innovative eco-friendly businesses and never before seen tourist trails.

Barbadians have increasingly begun to embrace the strengths of their natural habitat, choosing to work with it, rather than deconstruct it. While the majority of visitors are still flocking to their fly and flop spots, those in the know are discovering a greener side to this iconic island. Here’s how you can join them.

Head out on a farm hike

Local farms are critical to Barbados’ future. The small island currently imports the majority of its foodstuffs and due to the overemphasis on tourism as a revenue generator, agriculture has been largely overlooked. However, Cocoa Hill Farm and PEG Farm are fully sustainable and organic nature reserves. Located in St. Joseph, they boast dramatic cliffs, breathtaking views and picturesque hiking trails.

With its bamboo caves and natural nooks, the untouched forest at Cocoa Hill Farm is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and creatives seeking inspiration. Owner, Mahmoud Patel is very passionate about the food crisis in Barbados and has a long term goal of growing as many varieties of local produce and herbs on the property as possible. He is also the owner of Ocean Spray Apartments, a local eco-resort on the south coast which is one of the primary beneficiaries of the fruits, vegetables and herbs grown at Coco Hills. Patel encourages hotel guests to visit the farm to collect ingredients for their meals at the restaurant.

Discover Barbados eco side

Daphne Ewing-Chow tests out one of the camping spots at PEG farm

PEG Farm and Nature Reserve is the only biodynamic farm in Barbados and grows a wide variety of medicinal plants and herbs. Owner, Paul Bourne, believes in the energetic influence of the planets on the health of the vegetation and animals and is highly committed to a cruelty-free and self-sustaining infrastructure. Free range chickens, pigs and cows are strategically placed around the property. Shady forest areas and Barbados’ only suspended tent campground make PEG a truly special natural spot. You can join in one of the two hour daily tours or come spend a night.

Discover off the beaten track beaches, bays and baths

While most visitors are on set tour routes, Barbados has so much more to offer than the highlights in a tourist map.

The colourful merger between the tropical forests and the range of blues and greens of the dramatic and untouched Atlantic coast is arguably one of the most stunning sights in the entire Caribbean. Get yourself over to the south east of the island for one of the most idyllic panoramas, on the edge of East Point in St. Philip. The East Point Grille, which is located right on the precipice of the cliff, is an ideal spot to have a drink and feel inspired.

Eco Barbados Pebble Magazine5

There's more to Barbados than beaches but there are plenty of sandy spots to find away from the resorts

For water lovers, there are a few natural coral springs also around the south east, including Pothouse Spring and Three Houses Spring, where Rastafarians can typically be seen enjoying a bath.

Further north are the limestone pools and fierce Atlantic currents of Bathsheba and Cattlewash. Both beaches are perfect for picnics and exploration. Little Bay and Cove Bay are two of the less-frequented spots on the north east coast. Little Bay’s shallow reef and cove is perfect for little swimmers and both coves share stunning views. Just a few minutes away is the Animal Flower cave in St. Lucy, where visitors can explore a spectacular cave and enjoy farm to table dining on the edge of a dramatic coral stone cliff.

Taste the real island

The Green Lime vegan restaurant, located in St. James, offers a truly authentic gastronomic experience. Owner, Shawn Forde, lives and breathes his commitment to the environment, from the adjacent greenhouse and herb garden where he sources his produce, to the recycled wooden poles that he has used to construct outdoor tables and benches.

On the more upscale side is Open Kitchen, with its extensive farm to table menu and delicious greens from Archer’s Organics, a locally based aquaponic farm. The Mews in Holetown is also on the fancier side and offers farm to table meal options and ‘meatless Mondays’.

Open Kitchen restaurant in Barbados does amazing farm to table food

Don't miss a taste of the island's bounty at Open Kitchen

It’s not a holiday without visiting a farmers’ markets, and Barbados is no exception. Head to the Artsplash Farmers Market in Hastings, which takes place every Wednesday and Saturday morning. The Artsplash Centre is also home to an art gallery, children’s outdoor play area and a delicious eco-themed vegetarian restaurant.

Santosha hotel in Barbados is a slice of eco-friendly heaven

Who needs five star when this is moments from the beach?

Stay away from the celeb resorts

Eco-friendly accommodation exists on Barbados if you know where to look. Head for the stunning Santosha hotel, located across the street from Cattlewash absolutely tops the list. Balinese inspired rooms are surrounded by rustic chic grounds that have been cut into the surrounding East Coast mountains and are accompanied by an enticing salt water pool.