Photography by Don Jordan.   Story by Nicola Wilson.

The wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, the sweet salty scent of the sea… most Barbadians are all too familiar with the sensations this picture invokes, it comes with the territory of living in such close proximity to the ocean and all of its therapeutic power.

No other place can quite capture this feeling like the East coast of Barbados, sequestered below the hills of the Scotland District beyond acres of sugar cane fields and trees full of wild monkeys, here it’s a whole other world.  

Whichever direction you approach from, the view that greets you as you crest over the rolling hills of this rugged landscape is rivaled by no other place on earth. The majestic jaws of the Atlantic Ocean sweep out before you with sunlight sparkling off the whitecaps, its salty fresh scent so sweet you want to bottle it and carry it home. The natural and un-spoilt beauty of the “Scotland District” lies within three of the parishes along the East coast and includes Martin’s Bay St. John, the international surfing Mecca of ‘Soup Bowl’ Bathsheba and onto Cattlewash in St. Joseph.

Martin’s Bay is a little piece of old Barbadiana. This particular stretch of coastline evokes a sense of peace with its quaint, pretty bungalows and the sweet country folk who inhabit this sleepy little hamlet. The view from the shore is absolutely breathtaking…gentle waves slowly press into shore and a feeling of calm arrests your soul.

A recommended “must” when visiting this part of the island is Bay Tavern, Martin’s Bay, be sure to stop and grab a tasty lunch from this rum shop cum restaurant. Local fishermen supply the Tavern with fresh catch daily and is then fried or grilled to perfection and served with a choice of local dishes including macaroni pie, breadfruit or peas and rice. Bajans in-the-know flock here on Thursdays for the Seafood Special and on Saturday night karaoke stirs up this sometimes sleepy village and is a good opportunity to get to know the friendly folk who live in this neck of the woods. Excellent service and friendly smiles are guaranteed, here the beauty of the people echo the environment they inhabit.

Enjoy a nice leisurely drive along the coast drinking in the un-spoilt raw beauty of this lush coastline. Government law prohibits further development on the East coast so the landscape remains as pristine and natural as possible. Many of the old homes, rum shops and beautiful country churches you pass along the way have changed very little over the years, almost as though time has stood still.

Andromeda Gardens is a botanical haven overlooking Bathsheba and whose name is derived from the Greek Goddess because it is ‘chained’ to the coral rock of the East coast. This veritable garden of Eden is home to over 600 species of plants including ginger lilies, Vanda orchids, bearded fig trees and the unusual jade vine to name a few. The gardens were started by Iris Bannochie in the early 1950’s, a self taught horticulturalist who travelled the globe collecting plants and who, upon her passing, bequeathed Andromeda to the Barbados National Trust.

At the entrance to the gardens in a colourful chattel house is the Hibiscus Gift Shop and Café. Here you can purchase admission tickets to the garden, light refreshments as well as little trinkets and souvenirs. A guide can take you on a tour or you can opt to travel the paths on your own following the beautifully hand-painted signs as you meander through. The beauty of the plants and flowers is mesmerizing and the air is cool and fragrant with the perfume of the many different species of flowers.

The main surf break on the island can be found in Bathsheba, referred to fondly by the locals as “Soup Bowl” because a wave can travel nearly three thousand miles in the open ocean undisturbed by sandbars, reefs or land before it breaks here in a foamy soup creating almost perfect conditions for surfers year round. World Champion Kelly Slater surfs here regularly and has deemed Bathsheba to be one of his favorite spots to surf in the world. Soup Bowl has helped hone the skills of many a local surfer boy, one of which is Dane Mackie. Dane is the current Surfer of the Year Champion 2012 in the Open Mens Division, Under 21, Under 18 and Under 16 Divisions.  He is also the Barbados Olympic Association Junior Male Athlete of the Year 2012. We are proud of our local surfers who continue to make a name for themselves and for Barbados around the world!

Bathsheba looks as if it was once the playground of mythical creatures — enormous limestone boulders are casually strewn in the shallows, as though giants were playing catch and paused for a break. The wind barrels in relentlessly off the Atlantic. It’s a coastline carved by centuries of wind blowing from thousands of miles away, great gusts of salty air like tempests heaved by the gods. One can sit watching the swells curl into massive walls of water and when it’s breaking ‘clean’ people come here and stand on the beach to watch…it’s pure magic!

Surfing is not the only attraction these shores have to offer. After a quick respite of yummy flying fish and a sweet cocktail at the Round House you can take a stroll through the local and very colorful craft market where you can purchase some local arts and crafts or, if you are lucky, have your photo taken with a baby green monkey. Further along the coast you encounter the Cattlewash experience. A traditional summer retreat, this amazing stretch of coastline is dotted with beach cottages and is home to the famous ‘Barbados Pool’, a tidal pool in the shape of our island home.            

The recently built Santosha is an apartment hotel which offers guests a relaxing stay nestled against the hills and overlooking the rolling Atlantic Ocean. A large pool and Jacuzzi deck area is available to rent for private functions, weddings and yoga retreats.

The name Santosha comes from the Sanskrit word for ‘contentment’ and perfectly describes these luxury one bedroom and studio apartments boasting wide verandahs opening onto the panoramic views of the beach. They offer a generous 15% discount on bookings to locals and Caricom nationals only on three nights or longer during the summer months, offer valid from April 15th to Dec 14th, 2013.

Perhaps it’s the element of ruggedness that lends itself to this particular strip of coastline which fares so positively with locals and visitors alike; that feeling of being completely cut off from the hustle and bustle of daily life, immersing oneself in nature and escaping from it all. It is that quest for inner peace that beckons us to its shores all year round, for a slice of serenity in a mad and crazy world.

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