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A couple of kilometres further north lies Holetown the island's third-largest town and the place where English settlers first landed in 1625. It's a busy, modern hub for the local tourist industry, if somewhat lacking in character. All west-coast buses run through it, and the main highway is lined with fast-food restaurants, souvenir shops, banks and grocery stores. The reproduction chattel houses in the chattel house village (on the east side of the highway) and the nearby West Coast Mall offer some good spending opportunities. On the northern edge of town, 1st and 2nd streets, lined with trendy restaurants, lead down to the sea.
Ten minutes' walk north of the centre of Holetown, to the left of the main road, St James' Parish Church (daily 9am–5pm; free) is one of the most attractive on the island and is surrounded by frangipani, casuarina and mahogany trees. The church is also the oldest religious site in Barbados since Europeans arrived – the initial wooden structure was erected in 1628; the original font and church bell, both built later in the century, have survived. The graceful building with its thick pale coral stone walls has a pleasant airy countenance. Of particular interest is the modern stained-glass window in the organ apse, representing the many hues of a tropical garden, which was designed by renowned local artist Bill Grace.
The entrance to Folkestone Marine Park (Mon– Fri 9am–5pm; free beach access, B$1.15 for the visitor centre) lies just beyond the church. Most come for the snorkelling on the decent patches of coral reef within the protected area and on a wreck just beyond it (look for the boats). The cordon of buoys that marks the zone is a real plus in peak holiday season, ensuring that you won't be run over by jet-skis – a very real hazard elsewhere on the west coast. In addition, the park provides lifeguards, plenty of shady picnic tables and snorkel equipment rental (B$20).
A couple of kilometres inland from Holetown you can find the Sir Frank Hutson Sugar Museum (daily 8am–4pm; B$10 museum; B$25 museum and factory tour; Tel:426-2421). Signposted off Highway 2A just north of the main roundabout, the small museum has suffered a similar decline to that of the sugar industry itself. It was the brainchild of Frank Hutson, a former sugar worker who rescued a load of rusting sugar-mill machinery, cleaned it up and incorporated it into the museum, adding captions, maps and photos explaining the role of sugar on the island since its introduction in the 1640s. Many of the displays are faded and much of the machinery could do with a cleaning. It's only worth popping in between February and June when you can tour the adjacent sugar factory and view the full production process. At the end of the tour you'll be presented with a bag of sugar made at the factory.
Planning to shop for yourself or a lucky friend? Then, this chic boutique is a "must" when you visit Holetown on the west coast. You will find top quality, branded ladies apparel and ...
Chef Larry Rodgers and wife Michelle opened La Terra to introduce a new high-end Bajan restaurant experience. Orchids complement each beautifully set table and jazz music serenades the patrons. A ...