Eager to experience tropical flora and wildlife? Feast your eyes on lush gardens and gullies home to indigenous wildlife and more in Barbados. Boasting a diverse range of sanctuaries across the island, your visit would be incomplete without indulging in at least one of these rich natural locations. Barbados is keen on preserving its flora and fauna recognising the impact the climate crisis has on indigenous creatures. Key places to visit include; The Marizayra Sanctuary, Animal Flower Cave, Barbados Wildlife Reserve, Hunte’s Gardens and Andromeda Botanical Gardens.
The Marizayra Sanctuary
Nestled in Harrismith road well-house St. Philip, owner Ryan extended his personal property to house indigenous and exotic animals. Originally started as a sanctuary for rescued animals, it has grown into a tourist attraction welcoming both locals and visitors. This sanctuary is not for the light-hearted, so practice caution! Ryan has snakes including a caiman at this location! Snakes include the bald python variety and extend up to six feet.
Marizayra is also home to many different species of bird, iguana, the red-toed tortoise and of course the indigenous green monkey. Less well known are the cane toads, introduced to kill the cane beetle which destroyed the sugarcane crop in Barbados’ early history. They are now an endangered species and exude a poisonous substance when threatened. The animals have plenty of room to move around, and the sanctuary is geared towards educating locals and tourists of the wildlife and fauna in Barbados and the Caribbean region. Popular tour seasons are usually January to April while locals tend to visit during the summer as around that time children are not in school.
Animal Flower Cave
The Animal Flower Cave is perched on the northern tip of the island for those not worried about long drives. Seven acres of land above an open-air cliff-top allow visitors to enjoy its lush experience in comfort and safety. The location boasts stunning views from its lookout where reports of humpback whales are noted from February to April. Tours of the facility are brief, 15-20 minutes led by a tour guide down a staircase into natural openings with windows and miniature pools. Views of crashing waves and sea spray will leave an imprint on your memory.
The Barbados Wildlife Reserve
The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is a natural habitat for several animals, free to roam its four acres. Located in northern St. Peter just across from Farley Hill, the reserve is situated in a mahogany wood. Visitors are allowed to observe the animals as they engage in their natural home. Unlike a zoo, the habitat uses few cages. Look out for the Barbados green monkey, deer, peacocks, the mara, iguana and snake. The green monkey tends to be quite friendly, however, if seen outside of the sanctuary ensure not to throw anything at them as they may throw things back! Unfortunately, the green monkey is not treated as kindly outside of reserves and are viewed as pests. The reserve is one of the few places where they are in complete safety. With golden-apple green fur and light-coloured hands and feet, it is easy to see where the animal gets its name!
The mara is family to guinea pigs and can most accurately be described as a long-legged rabbit. With their chubby bellies and brown fur, they are one of the cuter animals on the reserve. Our personal favourite, the peacock ( actually referred to as the peafowl) carries an intricate fan with quills extended to illustrate its dazzling emerald patterns. Two o’clock is feeding time, and the best time to catch a view of these creatures!
When asked ‘So what did you do in Barbados?’ a visit to Hunte’s Gardens remains at the top of the list. Referred to as the ‘most enchanting place in Barbados’ Hunte’s Gardens is littered with miniature gardens along an easy to follow the path. Located in the heart of St. Joseph, it is accessible from multiple locations. Highly recommended by photographers the lush greenery and dazzling colours will transform your camera and holiday experience. Its tropical colours wash you in a calming breeze as you traverse the garden among a variety of textured plants and trees. You may also discover (once observant!) over eighty-four species of flora and fauna in this garden founded by Anthony Hunte.
Andromeda Botanic Gardens
Also in St. Joseph is the Andromeda Botanic Gardens of Bathsheba village. As a botanical garden, it is meant to promote education and research, not merely pleasure. Partner Garden to the United Kingdom’s Royal Horticultural society, it is unique to Barbados and the Caribbean region as a whole, receiving in October 2019 the Botanical treasure award from the Biological Education and Research programme for its biological diversity. Named after the gorgeous Greek myth princess of Ethiopia, Andromeda, the garden is undoubtedly reflective of its name. It is home to over five hundred various species of plants, and as of 2018, the Palm Garden hosted over fifty different species of palms and one hundred different species of tree. With its over ninety plant families, Andromeda Gardens is not only one of the most diverse in the Caribbean, but in the world. The garden was founded by Iris Bannochie in 1954 on generational land owned from colonial times. She has shown her treasures multiple times at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) flower show in London, which led to a partnership with the RHS in 2016. With vibrant colours and intricate geometry weaved into each species of flower, a trip to Andromeda Botanic Gardens is a visual and educational delight.
If you are looking to escape the smoke, concrete and exhaust of the city, or the confines of your home, a trip to Barbados plunges you into vast, tropical greenery, delicate and vibrant colours and, for the more adventurous, exciting wildlife. Home to the most diverse gardens and wildlife in the world, engaging with the flora and Fauna of Barbados is a holiday treasure, an escape and an educational experience.