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First Barbados Boardwalk by The Sea – Update 2020 Then & Now

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It’s been many years since the Barbados Boardwalk was erected on the South Coast in Hastings. The original story at https://barbados.org/boardwalk/boardwalk.html#boardwalk-top has now been imported for this update. Along with new images it show the changes that have taken place over a decade of history following the construction. Vegetation has grown and the beaches have been built up as a result of the groynes and promenades built out into the ocean.

The adjoining landmarks have changed. Some have gone, some are waiting to be rebuilt and some are brand-new buildings. Vacant lots along the boardwalk are now seaside cafes and restaurants. It’s all documented here and it is still a work in progress.

This page is a speed walk of the Barbados Boardwalk. It goes back in time to 2008 through history of the now famous landmark. The original images and descriptions are preserved. New images and updates follow the original images and descriptions. The narrative takes you from the Northern end to Accra- There is a fun video at the end of speed walking the boardwalk from Accra. Much has changed and much is changing still.

Pools at the western entrance to the boardwalk.
As it was in 2008 – see 2020 below

Northern Start of Boardwalk, 2020

At the western entrance, the coconut-lined shores turn to soft white sand, leading to lovely shallow pools, which are popular with families as both the old and young can splash in the calm waters. Benches overlooking these pools invite you to relax and watch the sun set. Here you’ll also find Camelot – an original home much refurbished by a leading architect in his unique design, with finishes inspired by the Barbados Chattel House.

Shrubs and Plants, 2008

Much of the boardwalk is lined with tropical plants and shrubs. Hardy shrubs are intermingled with flowering plants, adding to the overall beauty.

They were small and shabby plants in 2008; now in full-colour bloom in 2020.

Abundant Vegetation, 2020

Private Homes, 2008

homes along the boardwalk

Past the South Ocean Villas are a couple of private homes. Most are owner-occupied and they too had misgivings and some still worry about the crowds.

Few can fault the work and the construction. The boardwalk has enhanced many a property with more beaches and greater water access.
Stay in a vacation condo at South Ocean Villas to enjoy stunning ocean views and direct access to the boardwalk.

The buildings look much the same but they are now dressed in bright green foliage and sparkling red, white and yellow Caribbean flowers.

Private Homes, 2020 – Set in a Floral Landscape

Heritage House, 2008

A heritage house sits behind this wall. The old wall still stands, protecting the heritage home – a sculpture in coral stone, brick, concrete and mortar, aged by nature and dressed in flora moss and things that grow on walls, sand and seaside soil.

It is a fresco of subtle creams and greys, textured and patched with pink and green. Many hands have made this piece of art. It cannot be replaced with a more modern structure. It is protected by the Barbados National Trust and must be repaired in keeping with its look and heritage – a mixed bag of brick, coral stone, granite, mortar and cement. Painted and bare, eroded and rustic – an original!

Heritage House, 2020

Iron Bars on Holding Pen, 2018

Historic slave holding area along the Barbados boardwalk

Iron bars set in thick stone, 2008. Is it a secure shed under a bougainvillea roof, perhaps a pantry? Not so! During an infamous time in its varied history, this was a slave-holding area. In 2020, it is camouflaged with flora.

Iron Bars – a Hidden History in 2020

It’s now overgrown – a hidden history
land for development - some major hotel may build right here - its 3 plots of land waiting fora buyer
Open Lot for Sale – between the stairway and the derelict Carib Beach Hotel
The old Carib beach for sale- An eye soar but a wonder all the same

The boardwalk stretches 1.6 km between Camelot and the famous Barbados Accra Beach. It takes you past history, wind, sand, sea and salt. Past restaurants, hotels, beach bars and places to sit and stare. You will enjoy the waves, wind and chatter, humming as you go. People smile and share.

Just before the Bandstand, there is now Blakey’s, a restaurant that plays live music several times a week.

2020 – Blakey’s Restaurant with Live Entertainment

Blakey's on the Boardwalk - Barbados. Lunch, Dinne

The Rocks Bandstand, 2018

walking along the south coast boardwalk

The Rocks Bandstand, 2020

Walking on, we pass jetties built into the sea – places that are cool and invigorating in a strong wind.

Past new sandy beaches leading to the old police bandstand at the Hastings Rocks. The Royal Barbados Police Force Band, which has published several excellent CDs, still plays music here on occasions. Hastings Rocks is also a favourite venue for fairs and get-togethers.

Massive concrete blocks hold the hardwood walkway together. Below them and under the sand, granite boulders from Canada secure the footing. Built to withstand a hurricane, this walkway is meant to last.

Police Band in Action, 2020

Flora, Beach, Rocks & Sea

past boardwalk trees and planters

Walking on, you pass trees preserved and some added, planters made with coral stone and filled with earth, edging sand. Past beaches, sea and inshore reefs. Past tidal pools in the low tide. Past school children skipping rocks in their seaside playground.

In 2020, there are secret coves and swim spots along the path, now hidden by lush flora! In a decade of growth, nature adorns the landscape.

Past places to stop, to sit and stare, to feel the cool sea spray like a tonic on your face.

lots of spots to site and stair

2020 – New Beach Restaurants Before Tapas

Several Beach Restaurants have sprung up between the Beach Facility and Tapas. The empty lots are now being rented by entrepreneurs who trucked in containers and set up their beachfront kitchens – Chill Bar & Grill, Lord of the Wings and Oasis.

Chill Bar and grill by the boardwalk beach facility

Fine Dining – Tapas

fine dining on the boardwalk

Tapas Restaurant faces directly onto the boardwalk with tables set permanently on the patio – the European style of pavement dining.

2020 – Path to Tapas

Past Tapas is the new Baby Doll Restaurant, followed by the long-standing KFC.

babby doll on the barbados boardwalk
Tapas and Baby Doll

2020 – New Beach Restaurant Before KFC

Baby Doll on a stormy day

Rain and Clouds

On the boardwalk, you will experience all kinds of weather. Rain, clouds, storms and raging seas create another world of effect and feeling. In the distance behind, dark rain clouds hide the sun as it gleams through and lights up the sea with a magical effect.

Fishing in the Rain

net fisherman off the boardwalk
A fisherman is about to cast his net. His dog digs for crabs in the sand.

They fish in all weather – rain or sun.

The weather changes quickly in Barbados. Here there are scattered showers as storm clouds from the Atlantic move overhead. Soon they will be gone and it will be sunny again – see a sunny day picture.

Rock Wood & Ocean Sparkle

Rock and wood gleam in the mottled light. In the distance are the South Ocean Condos.

The main Boardwalk Promenade juts out 100 feet to the sea. It is landscaped with palms and crazy stones with many places to sit. They were tiny plants here in 2008 but, as you will see in the video below, it has flourished and the palms and almonds are mature trees now.

It’s right in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken, which tempts all to pick up a snack box and eat by the sea.

The Playground, 2008

Previously on the edge of an inshore reef, KFC now has a playground at its door and an endless tide of people stopping by.

Boys pose for a family who thinks they are brothers. People are friendly and relaxed.

A pram brigade passes KFC. These mums walk quickly and do several laps on the boardwalk. They passed me several times, while I move slowly with a camera. Excuses! I’m going to get in shape soon!

Inshore Reefs & Tide Pools, 2008

Along the boardwalk, there are many inshore pools and reefs, as well as man-made reefs and groynes. There are shady beaches and places to dip, swim and relax.

Remnants of inshore reef systems are bolstered with new groynes to build up beaches. At low tide, tide pools trap fish and sea creatures. Sea cats (a small octopus) hide here and are much sought after by local fishermen. Walk early to catch the action!

You will see local fishing boats going out to sea in the morning and returning in the late afternoon. Local boats are not allowed to fish in the inside reef so some will drop nets outside of the reef and encircle fish. It’s a old-fashioned way – men jump into the water and herd the fish into the nets, then jump back in to pull in the net and fish.

Gardeners at Work, 2008

Gardeners take care of the new planting on the promenades. It’s hard to believe that the grass is growing where the sea was a while ago!

From the main jetty in front of KFC, one can see right to Accra Beach at the end of the boardwalk.

The big news in 2020 was the cleanup of Sargassum. It’s a periodic event that plays havoc with the beaches – See more here >>>

Heavy Duty Cleanup, 2020

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Teams of workers have removed the Sargassum seaweed along the Boardwalk beach. The ocean is sparkling clear today and the Sargassum is piled off the boardwalk and ready to go to the processing plants and landfill. It seemed like an impossible task just a few days ago but teams of workers with shovels, rakes and wheel barrows have won the day. Sargassum is a floating seaweed that has tiny bags of air among its thick yellow-brown foliage. It looked like a carpet of yellow on the surface of the ocean but thanks to changing tides and wind, it’s blown away today – floating still but out of sight. It gathers and blooms in the middle of the North Atlantic in an area of about 2 million square miles, known as the Sargasso Sea. It is an environmental nuisance for tourism. However it is an important ecological species, creating a refuge for a variety marine life. The excessive blooms are a worry as it can smother corals and seagrasses as well as impact tourism if it ends up on beaches. Global warming, deforestation and fertilizers are suspected to be driving the current of excessive blooms. Barbados is tackling the issue with manpower and new machinery for harvesting it at sea. A number of entrepreneurs are harvesting it for fertilizers and medical uses. According to indigo-herbs.co.uk, It is a vital source of iodine and is rich in a nutrients. “It has a long history of traditional use and has been used in Asian traditional medicine systems for thousands of years.” See more about Barbados Tourism revival in spite of all the obstacles. ▶️https:\\barbados.org\blog\tourismrevival\ #sargassum #barbados #boardwalk #tapas

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Harlequin – Mirror, Mirror Gone

Harlequin Resorts are in the process of refurbishing the old Allamanda Beach Hotel, which boasts an amazing location right on the boardwalk. Update, 2020 – its boarded up now and awaiting a buyer.

The mirror before this restaurant is actually a window in the Pearl dining room! Before you adjust your apparel and apparatus, be warned – you may be being watched! Diners apparently enjoy the show.

The mirror has gone. It is now Naru, an open restaurant that once hid behind the reflection.

Past Naru is commercial centre. It is on the roadside, behind Almond Bay. Here you can get Jamaican Jerk Chicken that is as good as it is in Jamaica. That’s because the owners are Jamaican! Bistro Monet, a small bistro serving tasty fare, is now called Salt.

Commercial Centre

almond trees on the boardwalk

The boardwalk to Accra travels close to established buildings, restaurants and hotels.

Spider lily and sea cabbage bloom here in perfusion. In this video, you can also see the spot where the mirror was.

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This lovely plant grows abundantly along the Barbados boardwalk. This dense crop video can be seen along Almond Catering near to the Blue Pinnaple. It is a spectacular floral feature in may gardens. All parts of the plant are, however, poisonous if ingested. in some cases exposure to the sap may cause skin irritation. In Japan they are planted routinely around the edges of rice paddies where they are thought to repel insects and rodents. In this video you will also find a few sea cabbages growing amongst the Spider lLilies. They are the leafy succulent plants with white bead like fruit. I’ll add a mother post about them shortly as they are interesting in many ways. More beach flora see igtv https://www.instagram.com/tv/B9pDt-eA1Et/ #barbados #beaches #flora #giantspiderlilly #spiderlilly #beachflora poisonflowers #beatifulpoison

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Blue Pineapple Restaurant

This was a hopping spot before the COVID-19 lockdown. It is not open yet but the Baby Doll, owned by the same people, is. We expect it will open shortly.

Blue Pineapple

Magic Isle Apartments

magic isle on the barbados boardwalk

The first property at the start of the boardwalk and next to Accra Beach Hotel is Magic Isle Apartments. It offers one and two-bedroom apartments at rates of under US $200 for four people in the two-bedroom.

In 2020, beach flora has overtaken much of the side areas, creating more privacy for hotels and homes along the way.

Accra Beach, 2008

On the walk with the sun behind you, the horizon is clear and the sea a deep blue. There is usually some wave action at Accra, which makes it good for body surfing. Swimming at Accra is excellent. The large offshore reef, about 100 yards out to sea, is a habitat to many varieties of fish. Bring along your goggles!

Wherever you start, Accra Beach will be a port of call. Accra is one of Barbados’ most popular beaches, deep and long with good shade and a lot of activity.

In 2020, it is lusher and the beach is deeper.

Accra Beach, 2020

Accra Beach Hotel

accra beach hotel and spa

Accra Beach Hotel is close to the boardwalk on the north of the beach. It has a sunken swimming pool and a swim-up bar. It’s a popular 4-star hotel with several restaurants and conference facilities. Prices are reasonable. Book and save with Accra Beach Hotel.

At the southern end of the beach, a few hundred yards from the boardwalk, is Champers. Considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in Barbados, Champers also has an excellent art gallery showcasing colourful Caribbean Art. It is a lovely space with an excellent view and 5-star dining.

Walking the Boardwalk – The Story

Start at either the western (Camelot) or eastern (Accra) end… or anywhere in between!

If you are an early morning walker, walking from Accra will mean having the sun at your back and that will be best for taking pictures on the first leg but not on the return.

For a sunset view, walk from Camelot and you will return looking at the sunset rather than returning in the dark. Time it so you start before 5pm, walk briskly and return leisurely to the setting sun. Sunsets are about 6pm in winter and approximately 30 minutes later in summer.

Walking fast will take about 11 minutes one way. Expect to take 20 minutes for a stroll.

Walking from Camelot is also best for seeing the sunrise, as you will be walking into the sunrise and returning with the sun at your back. Just right for picture-taking and avoiding the sun in your eyes.

barbados boardwalk map

Speedy Walking The Boardwalk Video – Accra to Camalot

History – Built For Sustainability

The Boardwalk was built to provide safe access to beaches and preserve the sand from constant erosion. The engineering behind it is massive. Tons of granite rock were shipped in from Canada to bolster the walkways and stabilize construction. Rocks were dug deep into the sand – at least 6 feet deep and up to 20 feet in some places. The footing is solid and built to withstand hurricane-force winds and waves.

From 2002, the Barbados Coastal Conservation Unit has “built headlands, breakwaters, retaining walls, and walkways and revetments to stabilize its shoreline and control beach erosion on the south and west coasts.” Source: IADB

Sea tides, waves and currents constantly erode the shore and remove sand, beaches and shorelines. Building groynes, artificial reefs and bulkheads create an infrastructure that traps and anchors the sand. Of course, it cannot be done haphazardly and much research is needed to understand the shifting tides and position the structures accordingly.

When positioned correctly, the groynes and promenades create a barrier and trap the sand, causing it to back fill the beaches. By 2013, just 5 years after construction, the sand had built up to over 26,000 cubic metres, an increase in average beach width of 20 metres.

The natural buildup continues. In some places, mounds of sand tower some 4 feet high above the boardwalk. The boardwalk maintenance crew is constantly at work to sweep and clear the walkway that would otherwise be buried in sand.

building up beaches
Sandy beaches where was once just rock

Brazilian Walnut Wood Paves the Way

Brazilian Walnut (IPE wood) is native to South and Central America. It is one of the densest hardwoods with ratings compared to steel and concrete. It is so dense that it does not float. This is a nice feature if you are building on sand. It has lasted in place for 12 years now, with little wear and tear, through storms and heavy foot traffic.

brazillian walnut hardwood that is solid as a rock

Some work was done in 2020 around the Bandstand at the Rocks. For the most part, the wood has weathered well. Nails and screws will break loose over time and loose boards need attention. But for the most part, maintenance has been trouble-free, with the biggest problem now being too much sand. That is an excellent problem to have for a tourism island!


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