St James is one of the eleven parishes (or districts) of Barbados, the gorgeous Caribbean holiday island. It’s home to the famous ‘Platinum Coast’, which is as celebrated for its stunning Robinson Crusoe-style beaches as it is for the number of beachfront mansions owned by the rich and famous. Beautiful St James is not just for the wealthy, though: many of its fantastic hotels offer great value all-inclusive options. Its main town, Holetown, was the first settlement on the island, and is now full of shops, restaurants, cafés and bars. There are lots of pretty villages to explore, including seafront Fitts Village. You’ll also find the fantastic Folkestone Marine Park and Museum, with calm, tranquil waters that are ideal for snorkelling and paddle boarding.
Most popular hotels in St James
The Fairmont Royal Pavilion
At a glance
- Language: English
- Time Zone: GMT +-4
- Average flight time: 8h 55m
When to go
(°C) Avg. High Temp
St James is one of the most beautiful regions of Barbados, with stunning beaches like Holetown Beach and Sandy Lane, and the chic town of Holetown. Holetown is a delight to explore on foot, with a gorgeous boardwalk shaded by palm trees, a handsome 19th-century church, and lots of designer shops and enticing bars and cafés. You could also browse through the craftshops and gift stores of Chattel Village, which is set in lovely botanical gardens. The calm waters of the Folkestone Marine Park are perfect for snorkelling, and are home to myriad, multi-coloured fish, and experienced divers might want to explore the Stavronikita. If you’re in the mood for some city life, take a day trip to historic Bridgetown, the vibrant island capital.
Wine and Dine
St James offers a dazzling array of restaurants serving every possible cuisine for all budgets, whether you want a gourmet meal at an award-winning restaurant, or prefer a relaxed beachfront bistro. You’ll find plenty of places serving the delicious Bajan cuisine, a fusion of African, British, Creole and Indian influences. The Barbadian national dish is cou cou with fried flying fish, which is served with a spicy gravy. Other local delicacies that you might want to try include ‘pudding and souse’ (sweet potato formed into a ‘sausage’ served with pickled pork), a range of tasty curries, or pepperpot, a slow-cooked beef and vegetable stew. Rum, famously, is the island’s signature drink, but you could also enjoy one of the excellent Barbadian beers.
The fabulous Caribbean beaches have endless appeal for kids. From the fine white sand to the calm, crystal clear waters, they are perfect for young children. Older kids and teens will be thrilled by the range of water sports, which range from paddle boarding and body-surfing to water-skiing and para-sailing. The snorkelling and diving are also fantastic. The Folkestone Marine Park and Museum is fantastic for kids: the marine park has an artificial reef formed by a wreck which ensures that the sea remains constantly calm, perfect for snorkelling and paddle-boarding, and there’s an interesting museum with exhibits on local marine life.
Action and Adventure
St James offers every imaginable water sport, whether you’re in the mood for a quiet snorkel or want to head out for some deep-sea fishing. The beaches on the west coast of Barbados are known for their calm waters, perfect for paddle-boarding and water-skiing. If you’re in the mood for speed, rent a jet-ski or a motor boat and skim across the ocean. The snorkelling and diving are exceptionally good in Barbados, and you’ll find several superb dive sites, include some demanding wreck dives for the experienced diver, plus plenty of suppliers that rent equipment and arrange excursions. Inland, you can go on Jeep safaris, hike and mountain-bike in the stunningly unspoilt terrain.
Life's a Beach
Some of the most beautiful beaches are found in St James, endless swathes of white sand shaded by palm trees, sloping into crystal-clear, turquoise waters. The main beach in Holetown is well equipped with sunbeds and thatched parasols, and you can rent kayaks or jet-skis, go snorkelling or water-skiing. Follow the boardwalk north to reach the Folkestone Marine Park, with sheltered, calm waters and more great snorkelling and diving. Sandy Lane Beach, backed by huge mahogany trees, is one of the most exclusive beaches on the island, overlooked by enormous mansions. Other fantastic beaches here include Paynes Bay, which is one of the largest and best-equipped, and smaller, more secluded Aleynes Bay and Weston Beach. Colony Club Beach (also known as Heron Beach) is another exclusive beach, which is also a nesting site for sea turtles.
You’ll find a host of things to do in the evenings in St James. Most of the nightlife is found in the region’s main town, Holetown, which has a clutch of bars and clubs. There are fancy cocktail bars, where you can dress up and rub shoulders with the rich and famous, and laid-back beach bars where you can kick back with a drink and listen to some live music. Much of the town's nightlife is located on and around First and Second avenues, which have plenty of enticing watering holes. If you want to do something special, you could go for a dinner show, or head out on a catamaran for a sunset cruise.
Barbados embodies the Caribbean dream, with its blissful beaches of dazzling white sand and turquoise seas. No wonder it’s such a popular wedding and honeymoon destination. In St James, you can laze on the heavenly beaches, have a couples' massage at one of the chic spas, enjoy a range of water sports, and stroll around the charming streets of Holetown. There are lots of things to do in the evenings, whether you’d like to dress up and dance the night away, or laze barefoot by the beach, cocktail in hand. You could even rent a sailboat for a magical cruise for two out on the beautiful Caribbean waters.
Holetown was the first British settlement on Barbados, and there is a monument that commemorates the first British landing in 1625. It was originally called Jamestown, for King James I, but got its current moniker from the narrow sea channel where ships were unloaded and cleaned. Although few historic buildings survive, the town does have a fine church that dates back to 1847, and contains a 17th-century bell inscribed with the words ‘God bless King William, 1696’. The island capital of Bridgetown is only 15 minutes away by car, and is packed with museums, galleries and other cultural attractions. Much of the city, including the historic garrison, has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.