Hunte's Gardens - Is it really the Most Enchanting Place on Earth?
My younger self hates me for saying this, but I love gardens. My mom’s Mother Day request was always Boerner Botanical Gardens back home and let me tell you, that place is packed with moms and their kids, spouses, parents, and siblings. Enjoying a warm spring day surrounded by chirping birds and new blooms, basking in the warm sun after months of hibernation is atop nearly all mom’s list of Mother's Day destinations. I never minded visiting the gardens, but I didn’t love it. It was pretty and nice, sure, but my mom was really into it, just sitting and relaxing on a bench surrounded by flowers. As a kid, that's boring and kinda weird. As an adult, is there anything more relaxing?!
Why visit Hunte's Gardens?
It took nearly 30 years to really cultivate the same enthusiasm as my mom, but it’s arrived and Hunte’s Gardens brought that love to the surface. Proclaiming itself as 'the most enchanting place on Earth', I put this to the test. I’ve traveled a good amount, visiting other intoxicating places like Hagia Sophia, marrying Lopez at sunset on the beach in Key West, and the Augustiner Beer Gardens in Salzburg (hey, that was the height of enchanting for my 20-year-old self). Maybe it’s because I’m a mom, and moms just love gardens, or maybe it’s because the gardens were that beautiful, but I believe that Hunte’s Garden is in fact one of the most enchanting places on earth.
(For those of you who haven't allowed gardens to make their to-do list, US News, TripAdvisor, and other travel blogs all agree, ranking them #5, #1 (Garden), and #3 things to do in Barbados overall. That's saying a lot given the beach situation here.
A few items to note prior to arrival
Before I get to the details of such an enchanting place, let me tell you some boring but important items regarding Hunte’s. First, there are actually signs that point you towards your destination. Major Score. Second, there’s no real parking (that I saw). We pulled up to the sign and made a parking space for ourselves, which is a common occurrence here in Barbados. (Seriously, you can just make up parking spots wherever you are, even if that means pulling onto the curb or a slab of grass near where you need to be). Upon entering, you may think it’s closed because you hear nothing, but eventually someone will notice your arrival and greet you. Here’s where you’ll pay $30 coconuts per adult (that’s $15 USD; also we refer to Barbados dollars as coconuts because we were tired of clarifying prices in US or Barbados dollars), while your kids are FREE. They only take cash too, so bring that. They’re open 10-4 every day, including Sundays and bank holidays. FYI – we called ahead to verify that they would in fact be open the following day, our intended day of arrival because Barbados websites have fooled me one too many times. Also please note, any guests not comfortable with stairs may struggle getting around. The total time exploring depends entirely on how long you plan to rush, meditate, or lollygag through the beauty, but we were there about an hour and a half. Last but not least, you'll want to rent a car or a driver to bring you there. Also, a huge shoutout to all of our friends for graciously driving us around the island to explore the places the ZR can't easily reach (that means you Lili, Joanna and Jack, Marie-Laure and Nicolas, Molly and Paz, and Jennifer).
Inside the Garden
Once you get past the greeter, you’ll come upon the first of many sitting areas in the gardens. This one should be occupied by a lounging cat, which we confirmed is friendly. He’s even listed on the sign of things to look out for at Hunte’s. This sign is at the bottom of the gardens, and you can access it by heading left or right when you pass this first relaxation station. The guide suggested we go right, but the kids took us left and we found the sign regardless at the bottom of the garden. The sign gives you a list of lookout items and aligns with the piece of paper that's given to you upon your arrival (which I, of course, have since lost). Along with the cat, the owner, hummingbirds, other birds, monkeys, and all the flowers and plants, you're surrounded by gems to look out for.
The beauty of the gardens is breathtaking as you take in the whole scene. Under a canopy of the tallest palm trees one may see, you're surrounded in all directions by vibrant colors, layered with both blooming flowers and stunning shrubs and bushes. Both left and right take you down to the center of the garden as if the entire thing is wrapped in a bubble, protected from the less beautiful outside world.
The path carries you through the garden and offers multiples places to relax and absorb the beauty around you. Some are made of chairs, some benches, some patio loungers and even a large dining table laid out for picnickers or simply a glass of lemonade. The table/area was occupied by ladies enjoying lunch while we were there but it was alluring nonetheless. The weather was hot and moist as usual (shocking, I know) but the breeze helped keep us alive. One of the seating areas even comes with a ceiling fan!
The sounds of the garden include relaxing classical music along fountains bubbling and flowing to contribute to the serenity of the garden. In the beginning, there was also the sound of a trimmer, which lasted probably the first half of our tour. It wasn't as relaxing as the former sounds, but it did remind me of summer in Wisconsin which always provides me inner contentment.
Not only was I immersed in a stunning landscape and calming sounds, I was impressed with the variety of plant life found at Hunte's. At home in Wisconsin, sure we have beautiful blooms for a few months, but at Hunte's the most vivid and multi-colored shrubs and bushes abounded. My favorite consists of large green leaves with pink popping out of the middle - one of my favorite color combinations. I've seen these bushes elsewhere on the island and am drawn to their color combination and simplicity. I love the tropical colors here in Barbados, envious of the bright oranges, pinks and purples that are enjoyed year round.
Andromeda Botanic Gardens is next on my list but we selected Hunte's as Joanna had never before been (whereas she's been to Andromeda, and I'd been to neither). I've heard that Andromeda focuses more on the information of the plants, whereas Hunte's is your go to for utter tranquility in nature (except for all the kids... but us parents can easily tune that out). I'll be sure to post details after our next fieldtrip to let you know.
In the meantime, grab your mask and sanitizer and head to Hunte's. Even if the kids won't appreciate the garden itself, they'll enjoy the winding paths while searching for snails, lizards and hummingbirds 'just like at home!'
PS - I'm no photographer, so if you're still not convinced on whether to make the trip, just check out the pictures on TripAdvisor (4238 reviews + 5 stars = magnificent pictures) :)