If you are one who can tear yourself away from the beach, a road trip in Barbados is something to dedicate the day to. Because we you Barbardos unbound from your resort you see a whole different side of the island.
As I laid in the sun for three days straight, I decided I would take advantage of a grey cloud rolling into the island the next day and take myself on a road trip. Considering it is only two and a half times the size of Washington D.C., I was tempted to fit in a drive around the whole island checking off all the stops I had researched about.
Wavered by the fact I was a ‘somewhat’ young solo female driving around the island by myself and with no cellular service, I drove out of my hotel and onto the less than perfect, pot hole heavy streets of Barbados.
First order of business, I was on a mission to make my way all the way to the top of the island to visit the Animal Flower Cave and more importantly, North Point, the most northerly point of Barbados and home of a very Instagram-worthy signpost. You know the ones that tell you how far all the other countries are. The Animal Flower Cave itself was quite interesting, though the same couldn’t be said for my guide. You walk down 27 steps to a naturally carved out cave by water, but I wasn’t entirely sure why it was called Animal Flower Cave – I only saw two small underwater plants that hide away when you put your finger in. I can see this being a pretty beautiful place to swim with a friend, but unfortunately I felt like I was holding up my guide if I suddenly decided to take a dip in the pool, so it was back in the car and on to the next.
The west coast is where all the high-end resorts are. The tree-lined streets are very well looked after with small boutiques on one side and large gated resorts on the other. At one point I drove through a part that looked like a replica of Rodeo Drive in LA. The rest of the residential parts of the island vary in level of establishment.
Next stop was Cherry Tree Hill, a long road ironically covered with Mahogany trees that subsequently led down to St Nicholas Abbey, a sugarcane plantation house and even more ironically, not a church. While quite difficult to find, the long windy road was very beautiful and extravagant and felt very different to the rest of the island.
At each lookout, locals set up small stalls selling various local gifts such as conch shells, paintings, and jewelry, but it’s not so much the commodities that make the visit, but the conversation or some would say flirtatious way of the friendly salesmen’s. My favorite local was Sam at Bottom Bay, not to mention the water there was turquoise blue. He told me how he swims out to the breakers and free dives collecting conch shells. It takes over two hours to swim out and even longer with a net full of shells.
If you can’t get around the whole island, Bathsheba is worth a trip, known for its great surf beaches. I would also take the time to find Anderson, the local self-proclaimed ambassador of the area. He hangs out at the bus stop with his pet monkey Sheba and she is partial to a good belly rub. I just made sure to sanitize once I got back in the car.
After leaving Bathsheba, I passed a group of four young men climbing trees cutting the coconuts to sell on the streets. They waved me down which at first unnerved me as I knew deep down my mother would kill me if I stopped. So I drove past slowly glancing back in the rear view mirror. But, something told me I should stop. Maybe it was the photo opportunity; maybe it was their friendly faces, maybe it was the heat. Maybe I was little insane, but quickly realized I was wrong to judge. They were very kind and fascinated by me being fascinated with the tree-climbing contraption. They gave me a parting gift of a coconut and I was on my way, feeling happy I had trusted my gut and had that experience.
The thing I noticed most as I traveled around the island, there were vast areas with many, many homes, but very little infrastructure. The Bajan’s live very modest lives and in the small parishes, spend their days at a much slower pace. They are also some of the most friendliest people I have met on the road, something I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend as deeply if I hadn’t ventured around the island on my own.
Herstory is a weekly column on women and travel by Steph Ridhalgh. Steph is a Sydney born; New York based television producer and travel blogger. Not one for being quiet for too long she simply loves talking about travel and lifestyle.
Steph is the founder of STEP(h) ABROAD, a travel and lifestyle resource for those who love to be in the know and know how.