Getting to Know Barbados: Charming Speightstown
Situated on the west coast of Barbados is the delightful Speightstown. Brimming with colonial charm, the island’s second largest town has been an important port since 1630 and its rich history can be seen today in the architecture of its many historic buildings. One of the most popular destinations for visitors, it also boasts a modern marina, sublime beaches and excellent places to eat. Here are just a few of the tempting things for visitors to enjoy.
Arlington House Museum
Once the home of a wealthy merchant, this beautifully preserved, 18th Century building is now the home of one of the island’s most popular museums. With galleries over three separate floors, you can discover all about the history of Speightstown and the sugar plantations whose produce was so essential to the prosperity of the town. Great for children, the museum has a number of interactive displays and audio-visual features which help them learn about the island’s rich heritage.
Gallery of Caribbean Art, the Frangipani Art Gallery and the Speightstown Mural
If you are an art lover, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the wonderful paintings and sculptures on display at the Gallery of Caribbean Art. Capturing the colourful life on Barbados, there are some sensational artworks on display. If you are a collector, you can even purchase items to take home.
Another must visit gallery is the Frangipani, run by Marilda Weatherhead, a Venezuelan artist who has lived on the island since the 1960s. Aside from her own oil, pastel and acrylic paintings, you’ll find works from other local artists, such as the ceramicist, Bill Grace.
The most spectacular artwork on display in the town has to be the Speightstown Mural, or to give it its proper title, ‘The Bridge of Tides’. Measuring 80 feet wide and 20 feet high, it was painted by John Pugh, a Californian artist internationally renowned for creating highly realistic optical illusions that look three dimensional but are actually painted on a flat surface.
Three beautiful beaches
No visit to Speightstown could be complete without spending some time soaking up the sun on the fabulous local beaches. At the north end of the town, you’ll find the popular Haywards Beach, great for those who enjoy people watching while chilling out on the sand.
To the south of the town is Gibbs Beach. Ideal for those wanting somewhere relatively tourist-free, Gibbs Beach is the quietest beach in the town and located near to some of the most prestigious private homes on the island. With smooth sands and surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation it is the perfect getaway.
The nearby Mullins Beach is one of the best beaches on the whole island. With calm, aquamarine waters and soft, white sand, it’s ideal for snorkelling and sunbathing alike. There are roped off swimming areas, plenty of trees to shade under and some great places to get a cool drink or a bite to eat.
For a small town, Speightstown offers a varied selection of culinary delights, featuring Bajan, Caribbean, French, Italian, American and Asian dishes. And with much of the food grown locally or caught by the local fishermen, you can be sure the ingredients are fresh and tasty. Juma’s restaurant is perfect for those wanting traditional Bajan as well as Thai or French dishes, whereas Bombas Beach Bar, Camelot and the Fisherman’s Pub are great for dishes from across the wider Caribbean area. Vegetarians are well catered for at Island Plates and those wanting American delights, like ribeye steaks, will find them at the La Salsa and Mullins Beach restaurants. If you have children who aren’t tempted by the wide array of dishes on offer, there’s always the KFC.
The calm waters on the west coast of Barbados make it an excellent place to take part in water sports and Speightstown offers plenty of opportunities for those who want to experience the fun and thrills these have to offer. For a chance to participate, head over to Radical Watersports at the Cobblers Cove Hotel. Here you’ll be able to book yourself water skiing lessons and sessions, a ride on an inflatable or a place on a turtle tour. If you prefer to go under the water, check out Reefers and Wreckers Dive Shop who can provide you with diving lessons and take you out to look at the stunning, nearby coral reefs and fascinating shipwrecks.
It tells you something about an island when its second biggest town has fewer than 4,000 residents. Yet this quaint little town and its friendly people have a lot to offer: centuries of history, colonial charm, fascinating artworks, great food, stunning beaches and offshore action, it’s a must for anyone visiting Barbados.
If Speightstown is somewhere you’d like to explore, why not stay at one of the luxury villas and apartments here at the Royal Westmoreland? We’re just a stone’s throw away.