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Northern Barbados

Speightstown, the north’s commercial center and once a thriving port city, now boasts appealing local shops and informal restaurants. Many of Speightstown’s 19th-century buildings, with traditional overhanging balconies, have been restored. The island’s northernmost reaches, St. Peter and St. Lucy parishes, have a varied topography and are lovely to explore. Between the tiny fishing towns along the northwestern coast and the sweeping views out over the Atlantic to the east are forest and farm, moor and mountain. Most guides include a loop through this area on a daylong island tour—it’s a beautiful drive.

POINTS OF INTEREST

MORGAN LEWIS SUGAR MILL

Built in 1727, the mill was operational until 1945. Today it’s the only remaining windmill in Barbados with its wheelhouse and sails intact. No longer used to grind sugarcane, except for occasional demonstrations during crop season, the mill was donated to the Barbados National Trust in 1962 and eventually restored to original working specifications in 1998 by millwrights from the United Kingdom. Surrounding acres are used for dairy farming.

ANIMAL FLOWER CAVE

Small sea anemones, or sea worms, resemble flowers when they open their tiny tentacles. They live in small pools in this sea cave at the island’s very northern tip. The cave itself, discovered in 1780, has a coral floor that ranges from 126,000 to 500,000 years old, according to geological estimates. Coral steps lead through an opening in the “roof” into the cave. Bring your bathing suit. Depending on that day’s sea swells, you can swim in the naturally formed pool, and the view of breaking waves from inside the cave is magnificent. Steep stairs, uneven surfaces, and rocks make this an unwise choice for anyone with walking difficulties.

BARBADOS WILDLIFE RESERVE

This reserve at the top of Farley Hill is the habitat of herons, innumerable land turtles, screeching peacocks, shy deer, elusive green monkeys, brilliantly colored parrots (in a large walk-in aviary), snakes, and a caiman. Except for the snakes and the caiman, the animals run or fly freely—so step carefully and keep your hands to yourself. Late afternoon is your best chance to catch a glimpse of a green monkey.

FARLEY HILL NATIONAL PARK

At this national park in northern St. Peter, across from the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, gardens and lawns—along with an avenue of towering palms and gigantic mahogany, whitewood, and casuarina trees—surround the imposing ruins of a plantation great house built by Sir Graham Briggs in 1861 to entertain royal visitors from England. Partially rebuilt for the filming of Island in the Sun, the classic 1957 film starring Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, the structure was destroyed by fire in 1965. Behind the estate is a sweeping view of the region called Scotland for its rugged landscape. The park is also the site of festivals and musical events.