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Skeetes Bay Fishing Village

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This rugged Skeetes Bay Fishing Village on the Barbados East Coast offers a breathtaking view of Ragged Point Lighthouse to the south. It is a picturesque working fishing village tucked into an open bay on the Atlantic Ocean.

Ragged Point Lighthouse

You have to walk up an incline to see the Ragged Point Lighthouse, but it is spectacular and worth the climb. To the north is Conset Bay, with the world’s steepest railway incline. This dates back several hundred years to the days of vintage rail and steam engines. The old train had to make a hair-raising switchback turn on a 80-foot gradient. It was the steepest gradient ever built on any railway at the time.

The once thriving fish market looks somewhat forgotten amid the COVID-19 pandemic but fishermen still fish by boat and off the rocks and jetty. The market is the focal point for the community and the fishermen.

Skeetes Bay Fishing Village – Fish Market

Skeetes Bay Fishing Village and fish market

The bigger boats are out now, leaving only a dingy pulled up off the beach. Much loved but short of care, it can ferry men out to boats that might be moored in the bay awaiting a fishing trip. It fun for foraging around the bay and casting a line to catch a meal for the family. The market serves as a community center and port for the ice boats and day boats. It is most active in summer and in the flying fish season.

The Jetty at Skeetes Bay

the jetty at Skeetes Bay Fishing Village

The day boats, as the name implies, stay at sea for an entire day at times. Ice boats are bigger and equipped for longer trips. They will drift overnight on the ocean current to catch deep sea fish which they store on ice.

A Fishing Community

Skeetes Bay is a community of fisherfolk. Almost every man, woman and child is touched by fishing. If they are not fishing professionally, they may well be fishing to live. While many fish for the love of it, it helps if they also bring home the dinner. They may fish by boat, stand on the jetty or sit on a rock. Some walk the beach and cast a line.

They fish with hook, line and sinker with rods, nets and by hand. The hard work extends beyond fishing. Boats have to be maintained, pulled ashore and launched again. Boats, engines, nets, lines, fish-pots, heavy machinery, equipment and technology are always in need of upgrade and repair.

Fish must be distributed, marketed and sold. Some may be cleaned, processed and cooked for local consumption. Fishing is a way of life that includes all.

Top Caribbean Fish Species

The deep sea fishing ice-boats hunt for popular species like Blue and White Marlin, Wahoo, Sailfish, Tunas, Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) and Barracuda.

Day boats will catch some of these, especially Barracuda and Mahi Mahi. They may also catch Grouper and bigger fish. Closer to shore they will catch reef fish like the Jacks and the popular Red Snapper.

Shoreline fishers catch reef fish. The may also dive for reef fish and are encouraged to catch the pervasive Lion Fish. It is a major predictor that endangers the reef and other fish. It is also a delicacy and is, luckily. in demand at many restaurants. Eels, Sea Cats, Sea Urchines, Crayfish, Lobster and Conch are also delicacies.

The fishing industry is a valuable resource for the island and for tourism. However it is a fragile ecosystem under threat from over-fishing, climate change and environmental issues. The popular restaurant “Lobster Alive” has to gets live lobster from islands in the Grenadines. The owner, Art Taylor, flies his own plane to gather the prize lobsters for his dinners.

Some fishermen I talked to said that reef fish are being decimated by the big boats that are trawling inside the reef. It is actually illegal for the these boats to fish inside the reef. It is aggressive over-fishing and guy with a rod and reel just cannot compete.

Barbados Reef fish species
Amazon Guide by Franko

Boats at Bay On a Tranquil Day

The bay is relatively sheltered and is often calmer that other ports along the coast. On this filming day, the waves are breaking on top of each other and swinging sharply around the south bend. It is not a good day for a swim.

Dingy pulled up onshore with high winds warning
Dingy pulled up onshore with high winds warning

In fact, it’s best not to swim along the East Coast as the Atlantic Ocean hits this shore with its unpredictable temperament, massive waves and dangerous currents and tides. It is beautiful to watch from a safe distance.

Dangerous Swimming

The Atlantic swells travel thousands of miles uninhibited by land to reach this tiny rock called Barbados. The video below, taken on September 20 2020, was shot in the middle of the hurricane season with its unusual swells and tides. No one is even thinking of swimming here today!

Dancing Waves Video

Video of Waves at Play on a Stormy Day – Rolling waves cascading to the sound of Beethoven’s sonata.

Although the bay is one of the more sheltered and calmer that many others along the East Coast, I would not want to swim here today. In fact I would not want to navigating my way back over the reefs and waves at any time.

The local fishermen know the waters like the back of their hand, but it takes skill and nerve to motor to the jetty at times like this.

Fishing a Way of Life in Barbados

Several thousands Bajan people work in the fishing business and fishing villages dot the shoreline all around the coast. Coastal communities are a big part of tourism and Skeetes Bay is no exception. It is a lifestyle that has existed for centuries. It is a mainstay of tourism, which relies on fresh tropical fish for the gourmet dining offered at Barbados’ world-class ocean view restaurants. See more of the Barbados fisher folks.

There are several places to stay in the area and a new development, the “Beach Houses”, is in the works.

Beach Houses

The Beach Houses development is a project of the Crane Hotel. Is overlooks Skeetes Bay and the Culpepper Island, which can be reached with a paddle at low tide. It’s not advisable to try this as the tides change quickly and are dangerous.

beach houses at Skeetes Bay Fishing Village
Beach Houses Website
beach houses property tours

Attractions Near Skeetes Bay

Other Barbados attractions and points of interest within 2 miles of Skeetes Bay

Bath Beach  [map]
Codrington College  [map]
Conset Bay  [map]
Culpepper Island  [map]
Ragged Point  [map]
Stewart’s Hill  [map]
Three Houses Park  [map]
Bushy Park Racing Circuit  [map]

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