When it comes to the best things to do in Barbados, St. Nicholas Abbey is up there as one of my favourite places to visit.
This is an old plantation that dates back to 1658 and it is in one of the most beautiful settings on the island. Today, it is home to a museum, a little railway, and this being Barbados they even have their own rum distillery too. And do you know what? It’s delicious.
The History of St. Nicholas Abbey
The history of St. Nicholas Abbey is a sad one. From the moment it was built St Nicholas Abbey was a sugarcane plantation and a rum distillery. This meant slaves worked the land often in harsh, extreme conditions, an uncomfortable truth throughout Barbados.
Even though slavery was abolished in 1833, there are still records of ‘free men’ working here for a pittance. For me though, walking around the museum and learning about a working plantation was sobering but fascinating. It really highlighted the hardships the locals had to go through under colonial rule to get to where we are today. Thankfully, the museum doesn’t skirt around the truth and really highlights what life was like here in the 18th and 19th century.
St. Nicholas Abbey Surroundings
There’s no denying how beautiful the building is though. Tucked away in the north of the island, the mansion of St. Nicholas Abbey is a place of quiet solitude making it the perfect place for lunch in the afternoon.
Out at the back of St. Nicholas Abbey is a quaint veranda on the edge of the forest. Here you can kick back with a sandwich and listen to the sounds of Barbados all around you. And obviously you have to have an ice-cold glass of their homemade rum punch!
One thing I’d really recommend is going for a walk into the forest after lunch. Even though you’re only metres from the café, once you’re in the heart of the forest it feels like you’re a million miles away from anywhere else and it’s so peaceful too.
St. Nicholas Abbey Rum
Barbados is the home and birthplace of rum. No matter where you are on the island, you’re never far from a distillery – sometimes that’s the locals making their own rum (beware: it’s lethal)!
Even though Mount Gay Rum is the most famous distillery in Barbados, I am firmly flying the flag for St. Nicholas Abbey Rum.
This is a much smaller distillery but I think it produces more full-bodied rum with caramel hues and flavours of vanilla and spice. Basically, I think it’s a lot tastier so make sure you give it a try while you’re there.
One of the best things you can do at St. Nicholas Abbey is to go on a tour of the distillery and learn all about how they make rum here. And yes, there’s even a little tasting session in there for you too.
The St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway
The latest attraction to the property is the St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway.
Opened in November 2018, this is a little railway that takes you on a journey through the plantation’s grounds on a beautiful steam train.
This train tour takes you past the historic St. Nicholas Abbey Great House, around the lake, and through the mahogany woodlands. For me, this is such an amazing way of learning all about St. Nicholas Abbey while taking in some gorgeous views along the way.
Cherry Tree Hill
Just around the corner from St. Nicholas Abbey is Cherry Tree Hill. This is my favourite viewpoint in Barbados and offers the most gorgeous views of the east coast of the island. The east coast is much more raw and rugged, the complete opposite to the beautiful golden beaches you find on the west coast.
If you’re heading to St. Nicholas Abbey then make sure you pop here for 10 minutes for some photos. Honestly, they’re some of my favourite photos I took while I was in Barbados so make sure you bring your camera.
Further information about St. Nicholas Abbey
St. Nicholas Abbey is open six days a week, Sunday to Friday, from 10am till 4:30pm. It’s recommended you spend around 2 to 3 hours exploring the property and all it has to offer.
Tickets for St. Nicholas Abbey include a guided tour of the property with a little rum tasting session at the end of it.
About the author
Macca Sherifi is an award-winning travel blogger at An Adventurous World looking at capturing the world one place at a time. Follow his blog and see where his adventures take you!