Simon Cowell, Rihanna, Tiger Woods, the Royal Family… they are just a few of the jetset who call the posh west side of Barbados home when on vacation. Luxurious hotels line the coast, all with a distinct British air. The English feel the area exudes is remarkable considering Barbados has been independent since 1966. Most hotels even serve high tea! Tables set with the finest silverwear and china, sheets freshly pressed, sandy beaches raked of ocean debris, it is pristine.
While desirable in the most indulgent way, it lacks barefoot-Barbardos charm. This isn’t “the real” Barbados. For those seeking a true slice of tropical life, head east.
Overlooking the east coast is a land with fertile soil and rich in lush greenery, grazed by cows and bulls that unnervingly stare you down as you walk the vibrant hills. These bluffs offer endless views of the longest stretch of sand below, with the wind blowing wild, and blowing out the waves below into a froth of white. The area’s name?
They call her Bathsheba.
This isn’t your prototypical sleepy Caribbean cove with fishermen mending their nets. No wooden fishing boats, either. Exposed to the open Atlantic Ocean, this is as far east as you can go in the Caribbean. This is expansive, rugged and wild terrain, a beach with a shape and style similar to beaches in Canada or the US. Only, heated up and stripped of crowds.
Down the rolling hills and onto the beach to reach Bathsheba. At its entrance, deep blue waves roar. A sign warns of the power of the water and the imminent threat of drowning if you dare venture in. Dwarfing it all are enormous boulders, precariously balanced on grains of sand. You swear you could push them right over. This majestic welcome is a sure sign of good things to come.
Further down the road, no high rises, no luxury buildings, nothing ostentatious. Leave your starchy shirts and sportjackets back on the west coast. This is the land of wooden cottages, hammocks, swaying palms and plenty of surfboards.
Bathsheba’s jewel is its “Soup Bowl,” a surfing mecca.
As its name suggests, this particular part of the beach is foamy and hot, producing world-class waves. Even on a relatively flat summer day, at least a dozen surfers bob in the line up (hardly “crowded” compared to Hawaii and California, of course). Waist-high in July, one of the quieter times of the year, it’s evidence that the swell is consistent and big enough to be fun year-round.
When the swell does pick up, typically in the winter months, surfers follow in numbers. Even 11x world champion, Kelly Slater will fly in for a session. He was spotted surfing 10-15′ faces here last winter.
With the best surf in Barbados, if you’re a surfer, or merely a spectator (perhaps with a wistful ambition to one day wax down a board and jump in!), Barbados’ east coast is where you want to be.
If you’re planning a Barbados trip, but aren’t ready to tackle the Soup Bowl, head to Surfer’s Point at the south end of Barbados. Two terrific schools, Zed’s Surfing Adventures and Bodie’s School of Surf, are located here. Nice and easy, friendly instructors bring you to a quiet spot where the waves are no higher than a couple of feet and roll like trains. “Even your grandma will get up,” Bodie reassures you. And, it’s true.