Barbados Revisited: Coconut Court, Flower Forest and Wildlife Reserve

view from Flower Forest, Barbados

Our most recent trip to Barbados was in July 2019. I was on leave in February when I spotted a great seat sale and a hotel bargain, so I convinced my husband David that a return visit was in order.  We decided to go thrifty rather than all-inclusive so chose a hotel with a microwave and refrigerator.

Coconut Court

We stayed at Coconut Court Beach Hotel, the same place we had stayed when we had won a trip to Barbados in 2001. When we arrived the room to which we were assigned had an old rusty fridge and no microwave so we were switched to another room on a top floor (no elevators) with microwave and small fridge but no sink for dishes. Sometimes a bargain isn’t really a bargain. Similar to our trip in 2018, the wifi was spotty. We managed fine since we weren’t in paradise to check our phones.

balcony view

As with our previous stay at The Club, the rooms were given a makeover just a couple of months later. The cost has increased about $30 a night year over year, but based on online photos, the quality of the bathrooms and décor seems to have increased a lot more. For quiet, I’d recommend paying more for ocean side. The noise from boogie vans on the nearby road was quite loud at times.

On the bright side, the beach was still beautiful and the rooms large.  The hotel did include a complimentary shuttle to the hotel which we appreciated. Again, we experienced the island welcome at the Court. What I love most about Barbados is the friendliness of the people.

Cost wise, our trip was one day longer and about half the cost of the all-inclusive we stayed at the year before. We took a boogie van about 15 minutes to the closest grocery store, the Trimart Supermaket whose motto is “Good Value Great Choice”.  Our box of Honey Bunches of Oats which I recently bought on sale in Canada for $3.79 cdn cost about $11 cdn. 2 litres of milk (about $2.25 here) was about $9.50 cdn. You get the point. Despite the sticker shock, we managed food for breakfasts and most lunches for the week for about $100 total. We got take out some nights and enjoyed some lovely dinners in the hotel restaurant.

Flower Forest

This visit we also pre-booked a tour, this time through RCR Tours. The half-day tour included Earthworks, a pottery studio and acrylic a Batik art-gallery, a self-guided walk around Flower Forest, a visit to St John Parish Church, a photo stop at Bathsheba, lunch at a rum shop and a self-guided walk around The Wildlife Reserve

Many varieties of heliconia were blooming during our visit to Flower Forest and there were options for more and less strenuous paths through the gardens. There is also a beautiful lookout area and scenic places to sit and enjoy the gardens. Here some of the pathways were fashioned out of broken pottery that we had seen been made earlier in the day at Earthworks. We had also recognized the lovely patterns in the sea wall by our hotel.

According to an article on Go Barbados, few of the flowers are native to Barbados. Many made their way there via ships from other tropical areas.

We also saw some flowers that are common in Canada such as begonias. Unlike the local gardens, these begonias continue to grow large without the threat of snow.

WildLife Reserve

Our final tour stop was The Barbados Wildlife Reserve in Grenade Hall Forest, St Peter’s Parish. Etablished in 1985 by a Canadian primatologist, it is set in a mahogany forest planted about 250 years ago. There are a number of videos online that showcase the wildlife. I like this short video by Michael Bernard shot back in 2010. We found few changes in 2019.

Barbados Wildlife Reserve by Michael Bernard, 2010

Visitors share paths with the slow-moving tortoises and peacocks. Green vervet monkeys, originally brought as pets from Africa, are free to come in and out of the enclosure. Many were around at feeding time and many had babies. Other wildlife in the Reserve include reptiles such as iguana and caiman; mara (a large rodent); deer and enclosures with snakes and birds as well as ponds with tilapia fish. Trees that line the paths include gully balsam, dogwood, candlewood, whitewood, silk cotton tree and manchineel/poison tree.

We found the tour to be topnotch. We also found visiting late June/early July was great as there were fewer tourists and the weather was still great.

I was reminded of the the flora last week in the tropical room of a greenhouse I visited. They even have a Pride of Barbados flower in their collection! Looking forward to sharing some photos and insights on that wonderful greenhouse visit next week.

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