Barbados is a hot spot for tourism. It is located in the Eastern Caribbean and is known and loved for its rich culture and opportunities to explore ancient architecture, 17th century plantation houses, captivating botanical gardens, stunning beaches, and more.
If you’re on this page, you’ve probably already made the decision to visit Barbados, which is considered one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. In addition to the earlier mentioned attractions, Harrison’s Cave can also be found in Barbados. The site, considered "a natural wonder of the Caribbean”, draws thousands of tourists to the island every year.
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
The history of Harrison’s Cave
How to get around the Cave
Where's the Cave located?
How much does a tour cost?
How can I get there?
How long is the tour?
What will I see at Harrison’s cave?
How was Harrison’s Cave formed?
How big is Harrison’s Cave?
Picture: Downtown Bridgewater promenade.
Barbados is different from most of the islands in the Caribbean, in that the island is made up of about 80 percent coral limestone, much unlike neighbouring islands of volcanic origin. Understanding this makes it easy to appreciate the intricacy of sites like Harrison’s Cave, an underground cave system formed by water erosion, through the limestone rock. The capital of Barbados is Bridgetown, and the Caribbean island is known particularly for being the home of international music sensation Rihanna.
Harrison’s Cave is alive. At least, it is considered that way since you can find water in its one-mile long cave system, and also a geological system that grows year after year.
Best described as “world class with unmatched beauty” and a “must see location”, the popular tourist attraction in Barbados attracts thousands of people from all over the world every year. Harrison’s Cave consists of an underground cave system. What makes it even more magical is the way visitors are able to explore the cave by tram, leaving most of the most vulnerable areas still untouched, even once explorers have had a chance to trek through the cave’s interior. Inside the active cave system, you’ll find caverns and crystallized formations, that are as unique as the island of Barbados itself.
You won’t find another location like Harrison’s Cave in the Caribbean, and that is one of the reasons it is hugely popular with visitors. Tour companies like Island Routes offer interactive tours of Harrison’s Cave, where you’ll be able to take in the beauty and splendour of it by tram car. After that you’ll go even deeper, literally underground, to explore the cave’s natural features. The fun doesn’t stop there. There’s a wildlife reserve at this location where you may get to see animals like the famous Barbados Green Monkey, alligators, and others. A trip to the Wildlife Reserve gives you an opportunity to see the animals in their natural habitat, and it is the perfect experience for nature lovers.
Picture: A Barbados Green monkey.
Harrison’s Cave Barbados is one of those places that is most fun if you go with people who embrace their curiosity, and aren’t afraid to explore the unconventional. This is one of the reasons families tend to have the most fun here, with everything from the exploration of one of the coolest underground cave systems in the world, to close up interactions with the animals at the wildlife reserve. Harrison’s Cave makes a great family tour, both for the young, and the young at heart!
Even the best tours would fall flat without the right guides. Fortunately, this is far from the case at Harrison’s Cave, where on the regular, you will find well informed and humorous tour guides, who keep health and safety at the forefront of their minds during every tour. As such, you will be required to wear either hair nets or helmets, or maybe both. Their vigilance surely does not go unnoticed; neither do all the small things that are part of this tour that add to its authenticity.
Picture: Harrison cave stalactites.
Harrison’s Cave can be found in the central uplands of Barbados, about 14.7 Km (9.13 Miles) from the national airport, and 8.4 Km (5.22 Miles) from capital Bridgetown.
Tip: Island Routes offers a comprehensive tour of Harrison’s Cave which is a must do while in Barbados!
Whether or not you planned on shopping while in Barbados, you may find it hard to say no to some of the cool Caribbean themed souvenirs you’re sure to encounter while there. There’s no better place to pick up souvenirs then at major attractions, and at some locations, like Harrison’s Cave, you’ll be able to pick up souvenirs that specifically speak to your experience. Don’t go crazy, but also, don’t leave empty handed. You’ll be grateful when you get home with some neat mementos to share with friends or family.
Seen by some as one of the grandest natural attractions in the Caribbean, Harrison’s Cave Barbados was created over hundreds of thousands of years. The earliest records say the site was discovered in 1796, but it was also reportedly discovered all over again in 1970, by engineer Ole Sorenson of Denmark and Anthony Mason of Barbados.
There were a few exploration attempts in the 18th and 19th centuries, but these didn’t bear much fruit due to difficulties finding an access point that could be navigated with ease. There were also other issues that were not solved until the year 1970. In 1974, development work began, and the cave was mapped out. The government stepped in to boost development work and later started promoting the site as a tourist attraction. Even from the beginning, the complex plan had been to incorporate trams into the natural cave system, and that is exactly the experience that is presented to visitors today.
It was quite a complicated process to turn Harrison’s Cave into a show cave. The process included making accommodations for drainage, lighting, and other elements, and ensuring that overall, the cave system remained as authentic as possible, and largely, a nature based and environmentally friendly tourist attraction.
Thanks to precise development, the cave has retained its essence. It was officially opened in 1981. Today, if you embark on the tour, you’ll find yourself going through a tunnel to get to the entrance of the cave. Fittingly, the tunnel (Boyce Tunnel) is named after Noel Boyce, an equipment operator who is the man behind the opening of the cave’s underground route. He is credited with breaking ground in order to meet this objective.
You won’t need to worry about exploring the cave by foot; you can easily hop onto an electrical tram which adds to the excitement of the tour. There’s a driver and a guide on each tram, and they’ll point out the interesting sights along the way including underwater streams, waterfalls, and pools. It’ll be quite a spectacle because in most places the walls are covered by flowstone, which causes them to glimmer in the surrounding lights and that of the tram. Along the way you’ll witness columns where still growing stalactites and stalagmites have joined, and you’ll also get to hop off the tram at various points to see everything up close!
It’s not hard to find Harrison’s Cave while in Barbados. It is located smack center of the island in the Parish of St. Thomas. You’ll find it near the southern end of Welchman Hall Gully. The National Conservation Commission in Barbados is responsible for managing the site.
A tour of Harrison’s Cave starts at around $30 BDS, though it can cost as much as $90 BDS, depending on the specifics of your tour.
There are numerous ways to get to Harrison’s Cave while in Barbados. It is located in the parish of St Thomas near the community of Allen View. You can get there easily from Bridgetown, Oistins, Holetown, and Warrens through various means:
If you choose to get there by bus, there are two routes you can take. The first requires that you go to Bridgetown, and then take the Route 4 Shorey Village Bus. Most buses leave Bridgetown every 30 minutes, so you’ll need to plan this carefully. The bus fare will be about $2.00 BDS.
A second way to get there is by traveling to Bridgetown and then taking the Route 4 Chalky Mount Bus. These buses are a little trickier as they leave the city center every two hours, sometimes more. You’ll pay about $2.00 BDS to get to your location.
By far the easiest way to get to get there is by taxi or hired car. You’ll spend a few more bucks but you’ll avoid getting lost. Getting to Harrison’s Cave from Bridgetown takes about 30 minutes by car, while it’s about a 20 minute ride from Holetown and also from Warrens. You can expect to spend anywhere from $35.00 BDS to $55.00 BDS for your taxi fare, depending on your starting point.
The tour of Harrison’s Cave will take about 3 hours in total. Thirty minutes to one hour of that time is spent underground.
Exploring caves is a great way to spark or build on an already existing interest in science and nature. Some of the things you can expect to see inside Harrison’s Cave are stalactites, stalagmites and unique rock and mineral formations. Believe it or not, there are underwater streams and other pools of water that you will encounter, as well as plenty of other natural features. As part of the tour of Harrison’s Cave, you can also expect to see videos breaking down the geology of the cave and how it was formed, exhibits and other displays for both adults and children, and even a few animals at the Wildlife Reserve.
Picture: Calcium rich pools seen throughout the cave.
The process of erosion played a significant part in the formation of Harrison’s Cave. Water eroding the limestone rock in the area where the caves are today led to their formation. Inside the cave, calcium rich water can be found, which is largely responsible for the formation of the type of stalactite and stalagmite formations that can be found here.
The underground system that is Harrison’s Cave measures about 1.5 -mile (2.3 km), and the largest cavern, measures 15 metres high.
A great location requires the accommodation to match in order to make your stay worthwhile. While there are many hotels and resorts to choose from in Barbados, one of the most popular is Sandals Royal Barbados, an all-inclusive resort. These couples resorts, like its sister resort Sandals Barbados, are best for people who like having all the little details of their vacation dealt with in advance. Guests at Sandals feel free to kick back and enjoy their vacation once they get there. Wherever you decide to stay, you’re bound to have an amazing time in Barbados!