As far as off the beaten-track experiences go, it doesn’t get more unique than a tour of Cole’s Cave. If you’ve never heard of it that’s not surprising because unlike popular tourist attractions, Harrison’s Cave or the Animal Flower Cave, Cole’s Cave is completely undeveloped and done by private tour only.
The BT Travel crew met up with our amazing tour guide, Grantley Trebble of Good Time Tours, at Jack-In-The-Box Gully, in St. Thomas. Cole’s Cave might be a mystery to some but Grantley knows it like the back of his hands. We were handed our head flashlights and proceeded into the gully where we descended a steep slope by rope to the mouth of the cave. A good pair of sneakers and a dose of courage are definitely a must have for this trek, which may seem a bit overwhelming but Grantley does a great job of quelling all fears and getting us to the cave’s narrow opening. The last bits of natural light disappeared as we made our way inside, where without those lights on our heads we would have gotten nowhere! The tour can take anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours depending on the fitness level of the group. “Watch your head,” or “there’s a drop coming up,” Grantley’s voice echoed as we climbed and crawled our way deeper inside of Cole’s Cave which is more than 100 feet underground. Throughout, the walls are covered in clay; and along with the stalagmites and stalactites, we encountered insects and an area filled with sleeping bats. While the water levels of the rivers were lower than normal due to the prevailing drought, there were still a number of fresh-water pools we were able to submerge ourselves in and take some time to meditate with everyone’s lights off and experience pure darkness. At the halfway point we looked up and saw a tiny stream of light coming through the cave, we were under the roots of a Bearded Fig Tree, just one of the multiple points along the trek that can be used as an exit if it was necessary.
As we made our way back to the caves opening everything seemed a lot easier to navigate. Grantley was on top of his game the entire time, expertly leading the way and giving us some interesting facts and folklore about Cole’s Cave. “Cole’s Cave was used by the Barbados Water Authority at one point as one of the nation’s water resources. But it has also been said that back in the days of slavery, the cave was used by slaves who were trying to run away from Mount Wilton Plantation, which was the island’s largest plantations.” The tour of Cole’s Cave is a favorite among adventure seekers, so much so that a couple was scheduled to be married in the cave this year, but due to the pandemic it was canceled. For Grantley, doing these tours is something he loves to do, “I really enjoy orienting people with the best parts of nature.”
He started exploring the cave and other out of the way parts of Barbados when he was a student at the University of the West Indies and wanted to show his friends from overseas a different side of the island. “It was definitely a way to share the nature vibe and show Barbados from another perspective.” After UWI, Grantley toured the world for 3 three years and went to places like Ethiopia, Australia and Canada to name a few and he ended up visiting with many of the people he met when he was doing the eco-tours. On his return to Barbados, he started Good Times Tours. Along with Cole’s Cave, they offer private guided eco-tours to Hackleton’s Cliff, The East Coast road between Bath and Bathsheba, Culpepper Island, and others.
Our adventure ended with us using a rope to climb back up to level ground. The tour definitely takes you out of your comfort zone, but it was well worth it to get a view of Barbados’s beauty that lies beneath the surface. Good Times Tours certainly lived up to its name!