Barbados’ Most Fascinating Hiking Trails

Royal Westmoreland

One of the best ways to discover our small but fascinating island is to put on your walking shoes and set off on foot. And there is much to explore once you start hiking, we have a beautiful landscape with dense tropical forests, perfect sandy beaches, rugged seascapes and plenty of places offering amazing panoramas to take stunning photographs.

The most popular place for hiking is on the east coast, away from the tourist areas. Here you’ll find the routes more exhilarating, though not necessarily more demanding, and nature at its most dramatic. Here are some of the most fascinating hiking trails we think you’ll enjoy.

Abandoned railway hike to Bathsheba

This three-hour walk will take you along an abandoned railway line that follows the spectacular east coast of the island. Starting at Bath in St. John’s Parish, you’ll trek northwards for around five kilometres until you reach Bathsheba in neighbouring St. Joseph’s.

As you walk along the line, originally built to transport sugar cane from the plantations, you’ll pass through tree and vine tunnels and be shaded by the palms and casuarina trees which line the path.   To your east, you’ll see the Atlantic coast where the powerful wind and waves have created a majestically rugged coastline. Your hike will take you past rocky promontories and sandy beaches strewn with fascinating boulder formations. The ocean, itself, pounds the shore with incredible barrel waves, so large that they attract the world’s best surfers.

Bath circular waterfall hike

Bath is also the starting point for the six-mile waterfall hike. Your journey begins at the wonderful Bath Beach taking you through the villages of Welch and Cliff Cottage and on to the island’s biggest waterfall.

Following this, the guided tour takes you past St. John Parish Church. This towering Gothic structure was erected in 1846 to replace the previous church which was destroyed by the Great Hurricane of 1831. From here, you’ll have a panoramic cliff-edge view of the beautiful east coast beneath. The churchyard is the resting place of Ferdinando Paleologus, a descendant of the Emperor Constantine the Great, who fled the Turkish invasion of Constantinople and died on the island in 1678. 

The hike then descends into the jungle where you may see species such as hummingbirds and green monkeys before you arrive at the fishing village of Martin’s Bay with its breath-taking rock formations. From here, the tour heads back to Bath beach, passing through Congor Bay along the same disused railway mentioned above.

Bathsheba to Tent Bay circular

This four-hour, eight-mile walk gives plenty of opportunities to explore the unique range of landscapes along the east coast of the island. Starting at Bathsheba, in St. Joseph Parish, the route takes you along the rugged coastline passing through Tent Bay, Martin’s Bay and onto Congor Rocks. As you walk, you’ll see the giant waves of the Atlantic and be able to take plenty of memorable photographs of the awe-inspiring rock formations.

Once you reach Congor Rocks, the hike takes you inland and into the dense jungle where the sandbox and almond trees, ancient mahoganies and giant macaw palms create an otherworldly atmosphere while providing plenty of shade. This part of the hike takes you up Hackleton’s Cliff where you’ll need to scramble through the Monkey-Jump Crevice on your way. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent photo opportunity of the vista facing you.

The final leg of the hike passes through rural farmlands and villages before descending once more into the jungle, where you’ll see the primitive dwellings of the island’s bushmen, before heading back to Bathsheba. Once there, you’ll be able to find a good meal and a refreshing drink to replenish yourself after your hike.

Going hiking in Barbados

The main hiking tours in Barbados are run weekly by Hike Barbados, which is sponsored by the Barbados National Trust. The National Trust also runs a series of one-off tours with the National Hiking Association. All the tours are free but donations to the National Trust are welcome.

Because of the hot weather, tours usually start early in the morning, around 6 am or later in the afternoon, around 3.30 pm, so that you are not walking during the hottest part of the day. There are various routes available, some specially designed for those who are not used to taxing walks while others, the ‘Grin and Bear’ routes, which can be up to 20km, are more challenging and require at least some prior experience.

Summing up

For those that enjoy exploring on foot, there are plenty of opportunities to go hiking in Barbados. Whether you set off alone or as part of one of the guided tours we have mentioned here, there are fascinating landscapes, lush tropical gardens, heritage routes and heaven made seascapes to discover.

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