The perfect mix of adventure, panoramic beauty and nature await you right here in Barbados. While enjoying your stay on the beautiful island, take your exploration a bit further with an invigorating hike or a less strenuous stroll along the sloping trails of the countryside. It is a perfect way to experience the natural beauty of the island while also finding out more about its storied past and eclectic culture. Go beyond the white sandy beaches and modern-day trappings and see the tropical forested areas, some of which have been untouched since the first settlers came to Barbados. Or take in scenes of the rugged cliffs on the eastern coasts where water fiercely meets rock - It is more breathtaking than you can ever imagine. These hiking views are simply incomparable and must be seen and experienced.
There are some well-established hiking trails that have varying levels of difficulty ranging from basic to intermediate. On the more strenuous hikes, you will have the experience of climbing a steep hill or rocky formation or finding your way through a dense tropical forest. These trails can be found predominantly around the East Coast of Barbados where the parishes of St Andrew, St. Joseph, St. Philip and St. John have some of the best hiking conditions and natural backdrops which create a worthwhile experience.
How to get walking
The best way to fully maximise your hiking experience is to join one of the guided tours. As you may suspect, there are several groups, formal and otherwise, that engage in hiking and exploring Barbados by foot. You may even decide to put on your shoes, grab your backpack and take on the terrain alone. However, the two groups are well established and very popular among locals and visitors alike. Not only because of their high level of organisation but also due to their tremendous experience and knowledge.
Hike Barbados is one of these groups which is sponsored by the Barbados National Trust (BNT). The trust is a nongovernmental organisation charged with a mandate of preserving the natural and artistic heritage of Barbados and increasing public awareness of the island's historical and cultural treasures. Hike Barbados hosts weekly walks which are suited for every fitness level. There are morning walks which start at 6 am, and the others begin at 3.30 pm. The Moonlight is not wasted either as there are the popular moonlight hikes. On the walks you may choose to go with a group that fits your fancy, from the Stop and Stare, Medium, Brisk and Medium and Grin 'n' Bare. The names aptly describe the experience, so there is no guessing about what to expect. Although the hikes are free, donations are always welcomed to keep the program up and running. Get a glimpse of what the experience may be like from the many photographs and comments from participants and find their schedule can be on their Facebook page.
Xtreme Hikers Barbados is the other organisation that provides a day or night hiking experience as well as outdoor camping. The group comprises current and former Barbados Defense force soldiers and police officers and offers personalised, informative hikes. Taking you to various spots on the island, the well-trained group customises the trek to your level and desired difficulty. Their information can also be found on the social media platform, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/XtremeHikersBarbados/.
We've only named two, but several companies also offer excellent hiking experiences all across Barbados. Some of the popular trails are:
Railway Hike to Bathsheba
Barbados, even with its small size, once used a train as a means of transportation. This occurred from the late 1800s until its closure in the 1930s. What has remained however is the route travelled by train along the east coast. This route has now become very popular and is a well-established hiking trail that takes you along the breathtaking views of incredible rock formations and hidden bays. This hike is approximately five kilometres, starts in Bath St John and will take you to the surfer's paradise of Bathsheba.
Bath Circular Waterfall Hike
This hike takes you through the rustic villages of Barbados and gives you a first-hand experience of country life on the island. Along this hike, you will encounter natural springs and waterfalls as well as some of the forested areas. The six-mile journey will also take you past one of the oldest churches on the island, the St. John Parish church.
Bathsheba to Tent Bay Circular
Your eyes alone aren’t enough to capture the natural magnificence that will be presented to you along this trail, so it is recommended that you have your mobile or camera charged and ready. From the coastal rock formations to the majestic trees then into the tropical forest, you will be in awe. The eight-mile hike starts in the striking Bathsheba in St. Joseph and takes you through the parish of St. John. One of the highlights of this hike is a visit to the elevated area called Hackelton's Cliff. This landmark has a view that no words can justly describe. Not even a camera can capture its true panoramic glory.
Great Train Hike
If you are lucky enough to be in Barbados in early February, then the Great Train Hike is an exciting activity to add to your list of things to do. As the name suggests, the hike takes you along the route of the old railway. It starts in Bridgetown and twenty-four miles later ends in St. Andrew. If you are daring enough, you can attempt the entire journey, or you may join from varying pickup points which were once actual train stops.
These are just a few of the trails awaiting your footsteps. Alone or with a group, hiking in Barbados will not let you down. Not only will you be in amazement at the natural splendour of the island but you will also take a historical journey into the past of Barbados as you explore the old train lines, the fishing villages and the country life. At any level, at any pace, hiking in Barbados is sure to be fascinating.