Tips for Visitors
Here is some useful information we hope will help you make the most out of your visit to St. Nicholas Abbey. We look forward to welcoming you soon!
We recommend that you plan to spend a minimum of 2-3 hours touring the plantation. Guided tours of the great house showcase a wealth of tradition including antiques and artifacts spanning the home's 350-year history.
Visitors can also explore the steam driven sryup factory boiling house, rum bond and surrounding gardens, orchards and gullies. We encourage you to stay as long as you like to experience the tranquil and natural beauty of the plantation.
You can also enjoy lunch, tea and coffee or other light refreshments served by our Terrace Café, overlooking the plantation’s beautiful gully.
Please come early to experience as much of the property as possible. We open at 10.00 a.m., with hourly scheduled tours; our last tour of the day at 3.30 p.m. The Abbey closes at 5.00 p.m.
We Are Not A Religious Institution
St. Nicholas Abbey is not a religious institution. Built in 1660 as a private home, the plantation has remained a family residence throughout its 350+ year history. The name can be credited to a tradition of changing the property's name with ownership.
The current name was created by Charles and Sarah Cave, who took ownership of the property in 1834. It is believed they combined the existing name ‘Nicholas Plantation’, ‘St. Nicholas Parish’ (where Sarah's family lived in England), and ‘Bath Abbey’ (where the couple married) to create the name ‘St. Nicholas Abbey’.
Peak Visitation Periods
The high season runs from November through March; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings tend to be the busiest times at St. Nicholas Abbey. Sunday is typically the quietest day; however please note that the syrup factory and distillery may not be in operation on the weekend.
What to Wear
We recommend walking shoes and comfortable clothing. Please keep in mind that our tropical climate can get humid. Average temperatures range from 21-22°C (69-72°F) to 28-31°C (82-88°F) during the course of the year, with July and August being the warmer months.
We allow bottled water on the grounds, but please leave other beverages and food outside the gates. Large bags, backpacks and similar accessories are strongly discouraged. Please be considerate and dispose of all litter properly.
St. Nicholas Abbey welcomes visitors with special needs. We recommend you speak with one our tour guides at the front of the Great House for personalised advice on how to make the most of your visit to the plantation.
Where possible within the context of preservation and authenticity and due to limitations of space, ramps and pathways have been installed for accessibility. The front entrance to the great house and first floor of the home are wheelchair and walker-accessible; our guides will be happy to assist you within the great house and museum. Motorized scooters are not permitted within the Great House; wheelchair access is allowed through the central corridor of the house only, but is not possible through the entirety of the ground floor of the residence.
The doorway at the back of the great house and the entrance to the chapel where the historic movie is shown each has three (3) steps; there is a ramp entrance at the rear of the distillery.
Please be advised that the grounds may be uneven as they consist of gravel, dirt and cobblestones; the plantation's gullies include some steep walkways.
Staff will be on-hand to assist wherever possible; please contact us in advance to ensure assistance.
Don’t forget your camera - amateur photography is permitted and encouraged throughout the plantation. We ask you to use discretion when using flash photography.
Professional and group photography must be approved in advance. We do not allow professional equipment inside the house or any equipment that would generate heat or sparks near our rum production and storage areas. The electrical outlets cannot be used; the wiring is old and it may pose a fire hazard. Please contact our reception for details.
The First Floor of the Great House
St. Nicholas Abbey has served as a family home for much of its 350+ year history. To preserve this integrity, as well as to ensure its preservation, we have restricted access to the upper floors, where the bedrooms are located and would have traditionally been kept private to visitors. Photographs of the upstairs bedrooms are featured in the hallway by the staircase.
The Syrup Factory, Rum Distillery & Sugar Mill
Don’t forget to set aside time to visit the St. Nicholas Abbey Distillery and Sugar Mill. Entrance is included in your general admission.
During the sugar cane harvest, the plantation reaps and grinds sugar cane in the syrup factory from January to May; please view our Special Events section for specific days and hours of operation.
You will want to save a few moments of your visit to enjoy the beautiful views from Cherry Tree Hill, a majestic avenue of Mahogany Trees overlooking the East Coast of Barbados. It is an unparalleled view of one of the island’s most beautiful coastlines, and provides a scenic interlude during a tour around the island.
Cherry Tree Hill is not intended to be a long stay facility or park for picnics, as we do not give permission for such activities on St Nicholas Abbey land. It is our aim to maintain the pristine charm of this scenic setting, providing an unspoiled natural gateway to our National Park on the East Coast of Barbados.
In addition to the facilities available to paid visitors of St. Nicholas Abbey, Diamond Corner and Shorey Village, both located five minutes away from the Cherry Tree Hill vantage point, offer refreshments and a taste of local cuisine. Approved vendors offer local crafts and other souvenirs for sale at Cherry Tree Hill.
St. Nicholas Abbey is often visited by Barbadian wildlife, including a variety of birds and the iconic Green Monkeys. The plantation is also home to a flock of Guinea Fowl birds and our resident Moluccan (or Salmon Crested) Cocktatoos, Lance and Baby, as well as a pair of Macaws gifted by Sir Martyn and Lady Arbib.
We ask that you refrain from feeding any animals on our property, wild or otherwise.
Your personal pets are not permitted on the property, with the exception of service animals.
Food & Beverages
St. Nicholas Abbey has a small café located on the back terrace, where lunch, teas and coffees and other light refreshments are available during our opening hours. During the high season, the café can be quite busy and does not accept reservations, so please plan accordingly.
Generally, the Terrace Café is only accessible to visitors who have paid the entrance fee; direct access is not available. During the summer season, however, reservations may be made without entrance fee, subject to conditions. Please contact us for details.
Picnics and outside food and beverages, except for water, are not allowed on the estate. Food and drink purchased in the café are not allowed within the great house.
Please do not chew or dispose of gum on the plantation grounds.
Children are welcomed and encouraged to visit St. Nicholas Abbey when accompanied by an adult chaperone. Strollers are not permitted within the great house, but are allowed throughout the grounds, museum and café.
St. Nicholas Abbey encourages school children to visit the historic site; there must be a supervisor for every 10 children. School visits are subject to prior approval and arrangements must be made in advance. Please contact us for details.
Smoking is not Permitted
St. Nicholas Abbey is a National Heritage Attraction, and by law, smoking is not permitted on the property. This is especially critical in our rum bond, Gully Terrace and Great House.