Exploring Carlisle Bay and the Under Water World Around Barbados

Big boulders on the eastern shore of Barbados.Barbados is the eastern most island in the Caribbean. It is so far east that technically it’s the Atlantic, which is why the waters surrounding Barbados are so interesting.

The eastern shore is rugged and somewhat treacherous, having endured the pounding waves of the Atlantic for its entire existence.

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The blowing wind is a constant and when you stand on the beach looking east at Bathsheba, it’s 3,000 miles before you see another spec of land. But it’s here on this boulder-strewn beach that some say we breathe the freshest, purest air on the planet, cleansed of all pollutants on its journey across the vast ocean.

This images shows the rocky craggy shore of eastern Barbados.

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George Washington Slept in Barbados

This image is a yellow home where George Washington and his brother stayed in Bridgetown Barbados in 1751.

I don’t know about that, but I do know that, in 1751, when George Washington’s brother was sick, the future first president traveled here with his brother to recover. Maybe it was the fresh air. It’s the only country our first president ever visited outside of the U.S. So the George Washington House is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a top attraction in Bridgetown.

Where to Stay when Visiting Barbados

The pool deck at the Hilton BarbadosOn our last visit to Barbados, we stayed at the Hilton on Pebbles Beach, which is on the Caribbean side of the island. It’s a lovely property and an ideal location for several reasons, including what happens in the water here at sunrise each morning. The beach is a short distance from Garrison Savannah, the oldest horse racing track in the Americas. I’m not a fan of horse racing, but I love the beautiful horses, and I love what happens at sunrise.

This image shows a trainer leading a horse to the ocean for its morning swim in Barbados.

That’s when the trainers bring the animals in their care to the beach for a swim. In the early morning light, before tourists lounge on this beautiful sand, these magnificent horses trot along, eager for their morning swim. They splash and play with their trainers, who brush them and can be heard singing to them.

It’s such a joyful experience to watch the affectionate interaction between human and animal.

A trainer splashes water on a horse as they swim in Carlisle Bay Barbados.

Horse and Trainer in the water together in Barbados 

Their play time lasts about a half an hour, so don’t miss it, nor the goat that follows his horse friend for a swim.

Scuba Diving in Barbados’ Carlisle Bay

This image shows the bracelets and shirts of Barbados Blue, the premiere dive shop in Barbados.Another reason the Hilton is a great location is because that’s the home of Barbados Blue, the island’s premiere scuba diving outfitter. The company owner, Andre Miller, a marine biologist and master diver, accompanied us on an underwater tour of the Carlisle Bay Marine Park. He was a part of the team that lobbied for the creation and conservation of this marine park. Learn more about Andre in this video from Barbados Blue.

There are basically six wrecks that make up Carlisle Bay Marine Park and we snorkeled around three of them. I was fascinated to learn about the Berwyn, a French tug boat that was scuttled by its own crew here in the final days of World War I. You don’t think of WWI when you think of the Caribbean, but yes, it was a world war after all. It sits about 10 feet below water and with my little Nikon Coolpix, I was able to grab a few decent shots of how it looks today.

This is an underwater image of the WWI french tugboat that sank in Carlisle Bay Barbados.

World War II also came to Carlisle Bay. On September 11, 1942, German U-boats targeted two ships anchored in Carlisle Bay. Despite a torpedo net, six torpedoes made it through – one just sliding unexploded all of way up on the beach. Still unexploded, it’s on display at the Barbados History Museum in Bridgetown. But the last one hit the Cornwallis, a Canadian steamship, that now rests on the bottom of Carlisle Bay.

This underwater photo shows growth on a ship at the bottom of Carlisle Bay in Barbados.

The third boat we saw was the Bajun Queen, just an old party barge that was sunk here to help protect reefs in Carlisle Bay, considered among the best in the Caribbean.

This image shows a hawkbill sea turtle in carlisle bay barbados.

I was hoping to have more interaction with sea turtles, my underwater loves, but the few we saw were down near the bottom feeding on sea grass. We did see an octopus, thousands of colorful fish and so much beauty that I was unable to capture with my little camera (I really need to read the instruction manual).

This is a water level image of people snorkeling in Barbados' Carlisle BaySnorkeling and scuba diving is not something everyone is comfortable doing. I wish I was more relaxed as a diver, but I love seeing and attempting to understand this beautiful, fragile world that seems so far from what most of people only know on land. And it’s worth seeing and learning about. Like our buddy Andre Miller said

“If we don’t know what’s there, we’re not going to protect it.”


If you’re planning a Barbados vacation, or a vacation in any of the world’s oceans, please consider a sunscreen that does not damage the coral reefs and other marine life, such as:


Tip: Sandals® has a resort location near St. Lawrence Gap on the western side of Barbados.