Holetown, situated in the parish of St. James, is the place where Captain John Powell landed in the ship "Olive" on May 14, 1625 and laid claim to the island in the name of England. Today, Holetown is a busy area of trendy bars, exquisite restaurants and elite hotels, luxurious private residences and villa developments, as well as stylish malls, boutiques carrying many of the world's leading retail brands, successful Barbadian brands and luxury goods. In the 1950's many of Britain's aristocracy built homes along the West Coast where they could enjoy near perfect swimming conditions year round in the calm blue Caribbean Sea that laps the white sand beaches. These palatial holiday homes and the building of the five diamond Sandy Lane Hotel by Ronald Tree which opened in 1961 contributed to the West Coast's exclusive title of "Platinum Coast".
Accommodation on the West Coast ranges from small intimate hotels and modest apartments to chic boutique hotels, all-inclusive family resorts, some of the most luxurious five star hotels, sumptuous private villas and award-winning opulent condos. In recent years, the Platinum Coast has witnessed the development of several magnificent world-class residential communities: the beachfront St. Peter's Bay; The Limegrove Residential Garden Community, The Grove, in Holetown; and the elite, outstanding sports lifestyle community, Apes Hill Club, which is situated on 470 acres of some of the most beautiful land in Barbados.
With four world-class, PGA-standard golf courses on this coast, Barbados can now be considered a genuine 'golf destination'. The richness of golf courses is incredible! Two 18-hole Tom-Fazio designed championship courses and the 9-hole Old Nine are located at Sandy Lane. Royal Westmoreland is an impressive 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. creation and last but not least, the ultra-exclusive, top-quality Apes Hill championship golf course - "an absolute gem of a course that can excite the pros, challenge top amateurs and yet still delight the high handicapper".
The West Coast can now also boast of its strong polo scene with exciting annual tournaments being played at four splendid locations. These world-class venues all have excellent hospitality facilities - Holders, the home of the Barbados Polo Club, Lion Castle, Clifton and the magnificent Apes Hill, which played host to Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho at the launch of the Sentebale Polo Cup in 2010. Please refer to Events for details of the fixtures.
In Holetown, there is no shortage of places to dine which cater for all tastes: elegant, casual, beachfront, al fresco, air-conditioned...you name it! The Tides Restaurant, Sandpiper Hotel and Spago Restaurant at Settlers Beach Hotel and The Beach House are particularly good, as is Patisserie Flindt, for a tasty lunch and tempting sweet dessert creations. The charming new boardwalk along the beachfront of Holetown is perfect for a walk while watching the sun set on the sea. Be sure to look out for the green flash!
After the sun goes down is when Barbados really heats up. If you feel for a night out on the town, First and Second Streets, a horseshoe shaped configuration of streets in Holetown is lined with a wonderful selection of restaurants and bars offering a variety of cuisines. Friday and Saturday nights are particularly lively when The Mews Restaurant and Lexy Piano Bar offer live entertainment and the locals gather in Elbow Room to unwind to the DJ's hits.
The West Coast offers magnificent stretches of beach with calm, glassy turquoise water perfect for glass bottom boat tours, snorkeling, diving, swimming with sea turtles, relaxing on one of the many catamarans that offer coastal sailing cruises, or simply floating under the sun on an inflatable on the sea. Batts Rock and Prospect make up a superb beach for swimming and snorkeling with a public access and parking area. Here you usually see a few catamarans floating near the shore and swimmers in the crystal clear water feeding turtles and schools of fish. Perfect for a family picnic, there are lots of shady trees, a small children's playground, picnic tables and shower and changing facilities.
There are some lovely expanses of beach along the waterfront in the Holetown area between Discovery Bay Hotel, all the way down to Sandy Lane Hotel. Other noteworthy beaches to visit along this coast are: pretty Paynes Bay in St. James which is a favourite with families and cruise ship passengers; busy and beautiful Mullins as well as quiet Gibbes and Reed's Bay in St. Peter. Public access, refreshments and chairs for rent are available at some of these beaches and for a delicious lunch try Mullin's Beach Bar & Restaurant. Fun for both children & adults, Folkstone Marine Museum & Visitors' Centre, located on the beach side of St. James, is an underwater park & marine sanctuary with an outdoor playpark. The Marine Reserve offers the opportunity to snorkel with equipment available for rent at the Visitor's Centre.
Further North, Speightstown, 12 miles north of Bridgetown, was once a thriving port when shipping was the life line of the island with several British military forts. Named after William Speight, it was once known as Little Bristol because of trade with that British port. Presently, it is a relatively quiet and charming little town and more of a fishing port with several businesses supplying the needs of the northern parishes. Arlington House, a fairly new state of the art interactive museum about the history of Speightstown and Barbados sugar industry, is definitely worth a visit! Art-lovers and collectors should keep an eye out for the charming Gallery of Caribbean Art in the Northern Business Centre. A wonderful collection of works from Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean can be viewed. Visit Reefer's and Wrecker's Dive Shop where you can be taught how to scuba dive in a day! The quaint Casareep Cafe and Orange Street Grocer serves delicious lunches, snacks and coffee and the Fisherman's Pub offers tasty Bajan specialties to satisfy a hearty appetite.
North of Speightstown is a number of splendid beaches with excellent swimming and snorkelling conditions and now, thanks to a newly constructed walkway, it is possible to walk south from Speightstown to Cobblers Cove Hotel.
Along the the coastal road that leads to the North is the peaceful Port St. Charles Marina with its exclusive community of attractive and luxurious waterfront homes. Port Ferdinand is Port St. Charles’ sister marina and is being constructed right next door to it in Six Men’s Bay. This multi-million dollar private marina development will consist of 120 berths and 96 three-bedroom luxury apartments and has attracted a phenomenal amount of interest worldwide.
Half Moon Fort, Shermans and Six Men's Bay are three quaint little fishing villages which hug the northern West Coast. These fishing villages have produced some of Barbados' most skilled boat builders. The Fish Pot at Little Good Harbour is an ideal restaurant for a tasty and romantic dinner by the sea and drinks at sunset or if you are looking for an informal local experience, try one of the several fish fries along the coastal strip for the unique experience of a bite to eat, sometimes coupled with karaoke singing!