Folkestone Marine Park Review

Folkestone Marine Park is just a short drive from Villa Sunnyside in Holetown. The park is known for its marine life, and stunning scenery.

Established to preserve the island’s marine biodiversity, Folkestone Marine Park protects an array of marine species but also provides visitors with the opportunity to snorkel with them and explore underwater.

Folkestone Marine Reserve Entrance Sign with coral and fish

History and Development of Folkestone Marine Park

Folkestone Marine Park was officially established in 1981, born out of a vision to protect Barbados’ valuable marine ecosystems and to foster a deeper public appreciation of the island’s marine biodiversity. This initiative was driven by the recognition of the coastal region’s ecological and economic importance to the local community and the wider environmental landscape.

The park’s most notable feature is the deliberately sunken shipwreck of the SS Stavronikita. Located just off the coast, this shipwreck was sunk in 1978 and has since transformed into a thriving artificial reef. It attracts divers from around the world and is one of the best scuba diving spots in Barbados, serving as a home to a diverse range of coral species.

Over the years, the park has expanded its facilities. There is now a visitor’s center that offers educational displays, aquariums, and interactive exhibits.

Folkestone marine park beach, lifeguard huts, tree and view to the south and holetown

What to Do at Folkestone Marine Park

Artificial Reef

  • The artificial reef created by the shipwreck of the SS Stavronikita is off shore about 120 feet underwater, the wreck is now encrusted with colorful corals and sponges, hosting a diverse array of marine life including tropical fish, sea turtles, and barracudas.

Inshore Reef

  • Closer to shore, the inshore reef provides a shallow, more accessible snorkeling experience. The reef begins just a few yards off the beach, making it perfect for beginners. Here, snorkelers can find an abundance of reef fish, sea fans, and coral formations in waters ranging from 5 to 30 feet deep. This area is an excellent spot for underwater photography, thanks to the clear waters.

Visitor’s Center

  • The Visitor’s Center at Folkestone Marine Park features a variety of exhibits, including marine displays, aquariums, and a well-documented history of the local marine ecology. Interactive sessions and guided tours are often available to enhance the educational experience.

Picnic and Recreational Areas

  • The park offers well-maintained picnic areas complete with tables and benches under the shade of tropical trees. There’s also a playground for children.

Marine Research and Conservation Facilities

  • The park is also a center for marine research and conservation efforts. Various programs aimed at coral restoration, species protection, and habitat preservation are conducted here. Visitors can sometimes participate in these programs, gaining hands-on experience in marine conservation practices.

Eat and Drink

  • Enjoy casual dining at a hut on the beach, where you can get cheap affordable local snacks like burgers and fish cakes. This place is cash only, so be prepared before you visit.
Food and drink hut at folkestone, umbrellas and white chairs

Enjoy the Beach

  • Relax on the secluded cove that borders Folkestone Marine Park. This lovely beach area is perfect for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or simply enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Where to Park at Folkestone Marine Park

During peak times the area becomes particularly busy, so it’s not always easy to park. The park offers a dedicated car park near the main entrance, which is ideally situated for easy access to everything, including the visitor’s center, picnic areas, and the beach. However that this car park tends to fill up quickly, especially on weekends when the park attracts a large number of tourists and locals.

If the dedicated car park is full, there are additional parking options available. One alternative is to park along the road outside a nearby church. This option is generally less congested and is short walk to the park. Another possibility is parking out on the Coast Road. Although this is a longer walk to the park.

Our Trip to Folkestone Marine Park

We’ve visited Folkestone Marine Park in Barbados many times. We absolutely love it, nice scenery and plenty to do – even some shade with all the trees behind the beach (not easy to find on Holetown beach). The park has a small beach that actually has a lifeguard hut (again – rare!) so it feels safe for family outings when the kids are in tow.

Next to the park there is a boardwalk to the right, leading to a larger beach flanked by a couple of big resorts. We’ve always preferred the quieter marine park beach. It feels less busy and commercial.

We like snorkeling in the inshore areas of the park, the kids do a bit of that and then end up building sand castles or climbing on the rocks further down the beach.

We always stop at the little hut on the beach for refreshments. We usually grab a few bottles of Banks and some fishcakes. The hut serves food daily starting from noon, and it’s cash only. It’s not a high-end place but cheap and cheerful.

On weekends, Folkestone Marine Park becomes very busy as locals gather for family meals in the park opposite the church. It’s amazing, everything is cooked out in the open and entire families are out together having fun. All in all, Folkston Marine Park is a really special place for us and one of our favourite things to do in Holetown, and it’s just a 5 minute drive from Villa Sunnyside.

Waves crashing against the rocks at folkstone marine reserve

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I love to travel with my family. Over the years, we’ve found ourselves coming back to the magic of Sunset Crest. So much so, that we finally decided to take the plunge and buy Villa Sunnyside in 2022!