St. John's Church

St. John's Church and its tiny cemetery offer views on the rugged, wild and unspoiled East Coast of Barbados. (Bob Downing, MCT)

A cemetery and an Anglican church may seem like unusual tourist destinations. But St. John's Church and its tiny cemetery offer views to die for on the rugged, wild and unspoiled east coast of Barbados, the pretty and very British Caribbean island. It is one of the southernmost of the West Indies, a flowery place where flying fish is the national dish and where the water is described as Barbados blue.

The Gothic church sits at the edge of Hackleton's Cliff, about 825 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. It offers a commanding view of the surf and beach between Bathsheba and the East Point Lighthouse.

The limestone church itself was rebuilt in 1836 after a hurricane. It features a pulpit made of six types of wood.

There are high-backed pews and a double cedar staircase to the organ gallery.

There has been a church on the site since 1660.

The tree-shaded cemetery includes the graves of Ferndinand Paleologus, a descendant of Byzantine Emperor Constantine VIII, who was murdered in 1453. Paleologus lived on the island for 20 years before his death in 1678.

The cemetery houses frangipani trees that produce the showy blossoms made famous in Hawaii with its leis.

The trees - up to 40 feet tall and up to 20 feet wide - lose their leaves in the winter and were bare and skeleton-looking. They stood out among the island's greenery and blooming flowers.

The sweet-smelling white, yellow, pink, red and multicolored pastel frangipani flowers would not bloom until later in the year.

St. John's Church and cemetery are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

THE PEAR-SHAPED ISLAND - 21 by 14 miles - is very civilized, although it is still largely rural. Cricket is the big sport. Afternoon tea is popular. Barbados is a bit more formal than other Caribbean islands. It is nicknamed Little England.

Islanders - called Bajans, all 250,000 of them - love their calypso music. It is an island with a West Indian flair.


streak: Bathsheba and its surfers.

Bathsheba on the East Coast is a collection of brightly colored houses and hotels that cling to the hillsides above the wildly crashing surf. Its signature landmark is giant coral rocks right off the beach.

The big attraction is the Soup Bowl, a world-famous spot where swells combine 30 yards offshore to create waves 3 to 25 feet high.

It has been home to international surfing competitions every November for the last 20 years.

There are easier surfing options for beginners, and several outfitters offer surfing lessons and equipment rental.

The best eastern surfing in Barbados is from September through December. The best western surfing is from November through March.