Once the setting of a Billy Ocean music video, Animal Flower Cave is one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Barbados.
At the foot of the northern cliffs of Barbados, a rocky cave boasts dazzling ocean views and mysterious natural pools. Huge waves crash against the cliffs where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea, filling the pools at the cave’s edge. Some are deep enough to swim in, and some are home to colorful sea anemones.
These anemones are the creatures that give the cave its name. Called “animal flowers” by Bajans, these plant-like creatures sit in the shallower pools. Although they resemble flowers, they are actually classified as marine animals. Visitors to Animal Flower cave can observe them retracting their coral-shaped tentacles into their trunks when predators approach.
Inside the cave, the process of copper and iron oxidation has colored the walls in varying shades of green, yellow, and brown. Rock formations give the cavern walls a mysterious look, and some visitors have described seeing figures of animals and people within the stony surfaces.
History of Animal Flower Cave
The only accessible sea cave on the island of Barbados, Animal Flower Cave was discovered in 1750 by the Reverend Griffith Hughes, a Welsh naturalist, explorer, and author. In 1912, coral steps were built at the cave’s opening to allow easy access. However, these steps are a bit steep and can be slippery.
According to the German Geographical Institute, the coral floor of the cave is estimated to be 400,000 to 500,000 years old. The younger coral segment above the floor is an estimated 126,000 years old. Although it was formed at sea level, the cave now sits at about 6 feet above the high tide water mark.
Interestingly, Animal Flower Cave was once the site of dance parties in the early 1900s. You can still see braces in the ceiling where lanterns once hung.
Although the cave isn’t nearly as popular as Harrison’s Cave, it still attracts plenty of visitors each year. In addition, it has been featured in several movies and music videos, including Billy Ocean’s “The Colour of Love”.
What to Know Before You Go
It may be a long drive to the cave, but the views are worth it. Although the best way to reach it is by car, you can also catch buses from Bridgetown and Speightstown.
In the winter, you may be able to see humpback whales swimming in the deep waters outside the cave. Sea turtles also frequent the area during certain seasons.
There’s a cliff top bar and restaurant located nearby, as well as a children’s play area, restrooms, and a gift shop. The cave is open every day from 9 am to 4:30 pm, and tours operate every 10 to 15 minutes. Access to the cave costs about 10 dollars per person, and swimming inside is optional.
If you don’t want to take the tour inside the cave, you can still see it for free from the nearby parking lot. Some visitors take a picnic lunch and eat it cliffside. Trails in the area are free to walk on.
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