A travel journal
to Barbados by Ben the Grate
Quote: Barbados is a charming island that attracts a very international crowd. Thankfully it's less commercial than many Caribbean destinations. Its southeastern coast is virtually ignored by tourists, yet boasts fabulous beaches, many of which I consider to be the most beautiful in the Caribbean!
The architecture at the Edgewater is unique, and immediately behind the hotel is the island's only patch of rainforest, Joe's River rainforest. The hotel has an extensive set of balconies and terraces that extend many levels into the rainforest. It's a lovely place to relax in the afternoon or evening, lulled to sleep by the sound of the waterfalls deep in the canyon below. The rooms are basic and spartan, but typical of budget Caribbean accommodations. DO NOT EXPECT resort-style rooms! There is no a/c in most rooms, just fans and windows. Don't expect hot water, though sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised. What you should expect is family-friendly accommodations, to be welcomed and cared for LIKE family from the locals, to have great food and drinks in the restaurant, to have great views from your room (ask for #218, with one of the best views in the Caribbean!), and to be located smack dab in the center of the most picturesque coastline on one of the most beautiful islands in this region. The area is sleepy, with no major development. (Which means no real restaurants except at the Edgewater and a few other hotels in the area, so stock up on food at a grocery store!)
Rates vary from $69 for a double in summer, to $170 for a double in winter. Yes, I know, I don't consider these "budget" rates, either, but for Barbados, they're about the best you can get! The rates for each room vary, because some are nicer than others. 218 is the best, and 212 and 221 are also very nice. Everything else is pretty basic, and consequently cheaper. The resort has a pool, and there is a path down the cliff to the beach, a 5-minute walk.
The Edgewater is the most charming property I've discovered on Barbados. Despite being spartan, it has been voted "Best Small Hotel in the Caribbean" in 2001 and 2002 by Caribbean Travel and Life magazine. It's definitely a place you'll come back to.
Hint: Bathsheba is remote, by Barbados standards. Unless you're JUST coming to sit on the beach for a weekend, you'll want wheels of your own, so rent a car, and get GOOD directions and a good map from your rental agency. It can take an hour to get there from the airport, though it's only about 20 miles.
Editor's Note:The Edgewater Inn came under new management in June 2004, and has been completely refurbished to include air-conditioned rooms and more. It's now called the New Edgewater, and their website has also changed: check it out by clicking here. Photos for this entry do not necessarily reflect its current appearance.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 23, 2004
Bathsheba, St. Joseph
There are no facilities at Bottom Bay. And it can be quite hard to find! From the main island road headed east from the airport area, you'll pass the turnoff for Sam Lord's castle, a mile or so later the road will jog left around a telephone pole, and a faded sign will point left to Bottom Bay. Ask a local if you get lost. The road ends at a parking area next to Bottom Bay House, a private estate. Park on the road and follow the old stone steps down the cliff to the beach. Palm trees invite a hammock, which you should not come to Barbados without.
This beach is never crowded, and I usually have it all to myself. On weekends, however, there may be some locals there. There's a nice interesting sea cave in the cliffs at the back of the beach.
WARNING! The water here isn't very safe for swimming! The sand pitches off steeply just inside the water line, and there is a strong undertow! This is a beach for snoozing and musing. I challenge you to find a more perfect beach in all the Caribbean that isn't crawling with hotels and tourists!
It is possible to get to this area by bus. Ask the drivers at the bus terminal in Bridgetown which bus is going to Sam Lord's Castle. Take the bus past the Castle (actually a Marriott hotel) and tell the driver you're going to Bottom Bay. He'll let you off in the village of Bottom Bay and you can walk downhill to the beach.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2004
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 23, 2004
Carefully explore the old mansion! The boards which were the floor have long since rotted away.
A grand set of stone steps leads to the beach below, which is a bit rocky and rough for swimming. But it is long and sprinkled with coconut palms, and the cliffs are fun to explore. The water here seems warmer than it does at Bottom Bay, and the far right side of the beach is great for wading, as it is shallow and very sandy.
Foul Bay is better for swimming than most southeast coast beaches, but the surf is still very rough. Lots of locals keep their boats on the left side of the bay. The fishing is great here, and you can watch them haul in their catch toward the end of the afternoon.
Foul Bay is so massive that I don't believe it could ever be crowded. I hear that weekends bring lots of locals, but the beach is well over two miles long and at least a quarter of a mile from water to cliffs, so there's plenty of room for everyone. There were signs of camping in the trees near the cliffs, and I can't imagine a more perfect beach for camping. Just make sure you know what a manchineel tree looks like, and don't camp under it, or the poisonous sap will have you itching for weeks!
The college is still active, but now exclusively prepares its students for ordination as priests, instead of providing the full spectrum of academic studies it used to.
You can wander the ancient grounds, enjoy the lovely old buildings, or the reflecting ponds filled with water lilies. Attempt to determine the time using the college's ancient sundial. Or, if classes or mass are not in session, ring the old bell.
This is a supremely relaxing and meditative spot, and the impossibly green lawn between the church and the cliffs to the ocean provides one of the best views I've seen in the Caribbean.
You really need a car to access the college, which is located on the road from Sam Lord's castle to Bath. Admission to the site is free, but there is a donation box present. Please enjoy the grounds to your heart's desire, but keep in mind that it is a seminary, and be respectful of any religious ceremonies that may be happening in the church.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 23, 2004
Barbados, Caribbean BB20062
Ben the Grate