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                                                                                                                        Paradise In Barbados       

Above: Chatty Bartender, Allamanda Beach Hotel

One of Six Observation Posts on the Island

The Funky Mojo Bar: A hangout for the locals, Worthing

Exotic Blooms at "Orchid World"

Dancer at seaport in Bridgetown

Garrison dating to the 1700's
 

Bathsheba Beach seen below

Elegant Alamanda Beach Hotel

Local, Award Winning  Artist, Pauline Davis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You get a good sense of history of the island when you check out the small, but comprehensive Barbados Museum.  Exhibits and artifacts silently recount Barbados’ checkered past- from the Arawak Indian settlements in the 1200’s to the rum and sugar industries of the 1800’s.  One of the intriguing stories you’ll learn is that our own George Washington in 1751 at age 19 brought his ailing half-brother here for rejuvenation.  (Even at that time Barbados had a reputation for its desirable tropical climate and pure, naturally filtered water.)  Had it not been for an incident that happened here, Washington would never have been the first president of the United States.  The house in which he resided is soon to open as a museum of this American/Barbados connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incredible Water Purification System                 Francia Plantation

Effervescent Tour Guide: Mt. Gay Rum

 

 

 

 

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Breathtaking Vista, Atlantic Ocean

Bathsheba on the East Coast        Text by John Sherman Mills     Photography by Thomas I. Petersen

Nowhere else on earth could I feel as carefree as this! I’m whizzing down a windswept coastal road along an
endless coral beach. Groves of graceful palms flutter off to my right- a frothy surf tumbles shoreward to my left. 
I’m commander-in-chief of my rented Moke (the Barbadian variation of a high-octane dune buggy). 
Barefoot and shirtless, I defiantly press its sandy accelerator to the floor.  Rumbling over the roadway’s
ruts and bumps is nothing less than hilarious, bone-rattling fun. 

Daily Bartering: A typical seaside fish market

And having a good time is exactly why  Brenda and I are here in Barbados for a week’s vacation. 
Snorkeling, surfing and serious partying just start the list of fun-in-the-sun things to do ion this wild
Caribbean paradise.  The quandary upon arriving is not what to do, but how to squeeze it all in.

Bridgetown is the gateway city of Barbados and is quickly reached by non-stop jet service from Miami.  
Home to 260,000 residents, Bridgetown and the cozy, rustic towns nearby comprise a convenient hub
where most visitors prefer to stay.  This corner of Barbados is close to all the attractions and beaches. 
Since the island is only twenty-one miles long and fourteen miles wide, you can drive to anywhere on t
he island in less than a couple of hours.

“B-town,” as the islanders call it, is a haven for people lovers who want to immerse themselves in its
sparkling nightlife. Just on the southern outskirts of B-town are the beachside areas of Worthing,
Christchurch and St. Lawrence Gap.  Here you’ll find a mishmash of funky bars, seaside restaurants,
handful of upscale resorts and affordable accommodations, like the Allamanda Beach Hotel and Shells
Guest House.

The shoreline between Bridgetown and St. Lawrence Gap is dotted with romantic places for
intimate dining right at the water’s edge.  Brenda and I winked acknowledgements to many
other same-sex couples as we awed at the evening sunsets during dinner.  Barbados is renown
for its world-class chefs.  Seafood is always the specialty at most fine restaurants.  Be prepared
for delicacies like the fresh filet of Atlantic salmon, stuffed with crab, sautéed, roasted, and served
with a mango-guava sauce.   Or indulge yourself with the steamed Caribbean lobster tail wrapped
in proscuitto and smothered in passion fruit Hollandaise. Even the fast food places feature fish,
listing the “flying fish burger” (without the wings, of course) at the top of their menus.

Barbados has a long, colorful history of being a notorious playground- from the early days three
centuries ago, when rum was first invented, to the opulent era of steamship travel. Sir Edward Cunard,
the owner of the company that launched the ill-fated “Titanic,” is accredited with being instrumental
in land marking Barbados as an international Mecca for celebrities and royalty from around the world.

"Miami" Beach, just south of Bridgetown

Unquestionably Barbados’ immense popularity is due to its geological uniqueness as the only
Caribbean island that’s actually an ancient coral atoll.  As a result, its entire coastline is awash
with silky, vanilla-colored sand.  Favored beaches for naturalists include Long Bay Beach
(South Coast), Cattlewash Beach (East Coast) and Batts Rock Beach (West Coast).

Bathsheba Beach on the Atlantic side, however, is internationally famous for surfing.  Gigantic,
powerful waves hammer relentlessly toward shore.  As the surfers hang ten, other thrill seekers
dive from the contorted rock formations that jut 100 feet above the grumbling surf below.  Nearby
is the treacherous “Soup Bowl,” where daredevils tackle waves with crests reaching over
15 feet high. The “Bowl” is considered one of the top ten surfing beaches in the world.  Brenda
and I get a bird’s eye view of all this aquatic frenzy from the terraces of the Atlantis Hotel.  Perched
on a craggy outcropping, the bar and restaurant at the Atlantis is a great place to people watch,
partake of an icy afternoon libation, and perhaps make a new friend or two. 

Whether by bike or car, spend a day following Hiway 1 (a two lane road) that twists alongside the
coast from Bridgetown north to Speightstown.  This section of the western coast is characterized by
lush vegetation, postcard perfect vistas and the spectacular gardens of the luxury hotels clustered
here. For the most part, the restaurants and impeccably manicured grounds of these pricy resorts,
such as Sandy Lane, Glitter Bay and Coconut Creek, are open to the public.  Brenda and I just enjoy
the opportunity to admire the tranquil landscapes of these park-like settings. 

Several stretches of the beaches along Hiway 1 are public and are marked with access signs. 
Frequently you’ll pass an artist capturing his or her interpretation of the area’s natural beauty. 
We chatted with a painter, Pauline Davis, as she put the final watercolor strokes onto her seascape. 
Her melodious Welsh accent immediately clued me that she had ventured here from abroad. 
“I tumbled instantly in love with Barbados,” she confessed. “The azure skies, the rocking sailboats, the
crimson sunsets… I just had to stay here forever and paint them.”  Davis’ works are showcased in many
boutiques throughout the island and in nearby Holetown, a quaint little village half way along the route. 
Holetown’s charming character draws on its restored historic buildings and scenic setting. 
A weathered obelisk and row of rusty black cannons commemorates the site as the first English
settlement in 1627.

Secluded Resorts hug Barbados' Calm Western Coast

Heading back Bridgetown, Brenda and I are jazzed to take the “Atlantis Submarine Adventure.”  
The “Atlantis” stretches sixty-five feet in length and weighs over 80 tons. The tour departs every
90 minutes from its berth adjacent to where the cruise liners tie up.  Propelled by battery powered thrusters,
the “Atlantis” slips silently amongst delicate coral reefs and sponge gardens lying about two miles off shore. 
The submarine’s fifty circular windows become massive kaleidoscopes swizzling images of hundreds
of magical marine life.  A leatherback turtle suddenly presses his dark brown nose against the glass
and peers in with a comically dubious expression.  He seems as curious about us as we are about him.
The underwater excursion climaxes as we plunge 130 feet below the surface to snoop around the eerie,
encrusted edges of a spooky, crumpled shipwreck.

The "Atlantis" Prepares to Submerge

We return dockside just in time to catch the “Bajan Queen” as it chugs along the harbor. 
This clunky, three-story vessel strangely resembles a riverboat.  The forty-foot waterslides
on both its port and starboard sides, however, are a dead give-away of the naughty nautical
intentions of its rowdy passengers.  Rumor has it the Bajan Queen carries more barrels of rum,
than it does fuel.  As a zesty musical mix of Latin Salsa and Caribbean dance proclaims it’s party
time.  This fun-filled cruise putts its way around Carlisle Bay for the entirety of a sun-drenched afternoon. 
The “Jolly Roger,” an amusing replica of a pirate ship, claims a similarly zany agenda, setting sail at noon
and 8 PM seven days a week.

 

Barbados’ natural wonders are hardly limited to the waters that surround it.  A must-see is
Flower Forest and Orchid World.  The Flower Forest is a botanical garden covering over 50
acres in the verdant highlands just a few miles east of Bridgetown on Hiway 2.  Once the
Richmond Sugar Plantation, the hillside is now covered with thousands of exotic flowering
plants and trees. Heliconias, torch gingers, antheriums, birds of paradise and philodendrons
are everywhere.  Throughout the park you’ll suddenly find yourself enveloped by mysterious
mixtures of subtle fragrances like jasmine and gardenia, plumeria and lavender.   You can set
the pace of your activity by choosing one of the gentle, meandering pathways or any of the
strenuous hiking trails.   Thoughtfully placed vantage points throughout the property offer
panoramic vistas of the rolling mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  Your
admission ticket is also good for entry to the nearby Orchid World.  More than 20,000 orchids,
their sprays bursting with thousands of vibrant colors, adorn dozens of formal and natural
garden settings. 

Even more natural wonders are to be found underground inside the incomparable Harrison Cave. 
Amazingly, this labyrinth of caverns was known only in native folklore until 1970.  Barbados’
natural treasures also include those of the furry, cuddly kind.  The Wildlife Reserve of Barbados
is located in a natural mahogany grove just off Hiway 2.  Once inside its protected environment
you can get surprisingly close to the both the graceful brocket deer and the adorable Barbados
Green Monkeys.  The monkeys are fed daily at 4 P. M., an ideal time to catch all their sidesplitting
antics.

Harrison Caves

 

Sunbury Plantation

A tour of Barbados just wouldn’t be complete without experiencing at least one of the island’s
“great houses.”  The Barbados National Trust offers an Open-House program, a neat way to
glimpse backwards into the days of the expansive sugar plantations.  Their extensive registry
contains architectural treasures such as the Tyrol Cot Heritage Village, Wildey House, Gun Hill
Station and the Hutson Sugar Factory. The Morgan Lewis Sugarcane Plantation (1750) has a fully
restored mill, one of only two in working condition in the Caribbean. 

Barbados also boasts several great homes preserved by private foundations, such as the
Sunbury Plantation House overlooking the southeastern corner of the island.  The mansion
is a grand, 300 year old home, featuring exquisite European furniture, marble fireplaces, rare
Caribbean collectables and a sweeping balustrade.  The walls of the house are two and a half
feet thick, created with ballast stones carried by empty sailing ships coming from England to be
loaded with barrels of rum.  Be sure to plan some time for a delicious light lunch served in the
home’s sunny, trellised courtyard.

Unquestionably, the stateliest of the great houses is the owner’s residence of the Francia Plantation.  
One of the first plantation homes in the Caribbean, the Francia had absolutely no expenses spared in
its construction.  The interior walls of the main floor are paneled in rich Brazilian hardwoods.  Every
room is lavishly appointed with Barbadian antique furniture and fine European paintings.  The parlor
is decorated with a collection of framed nautical maps sketched in1522.  Multi-paned French doors
from the living room and library open onto stone terraces leading off to expansive lawns and manicured
classical gardens.  As Brenda and I leave the grounds, we take a closer look at the colossal fig trees
that line its gravel driveway.  Sure enough, every limb has massive rows of fuzzy, dangling roots,
some as long as 15 feet.  It was this quirky feature of the figs that inspired the first explorer,
Pedro a Campos, to name the island “the bearded ones” or “Los Barbados” in Portuguese.

Another name you’ll encounter over and over in Barbados is “Mt. Gay Rum.” Advertisements for
M.G.R. appear everywhere in the Caribbean.  This internationally famous libation has a visitors’
center right in Bridgetown.  Indeed, it’s the oldest rum factory in Barbados, and for that matter,
in the world. Its three hundred year anniversary will be celebrated in 2003. A presentation about
the company’s history and the distilling process is part of the tour at the center.  At the tour’s
conclusion you’ll most likely find your fingers wrapped around a frosty, complementary drink. 

Pulling away from the parking lot, all at once Brenda and I discover ourselves looking at each
other.  We both realize there’s still time for some duty free shopping down on Broad Street. 
“I’m sure I must have some extra room in my flight bag,” Brenda leads suggestively.  “I think I
do too” was my response.  In a heartbeat my foot bears down on that Moke’s accelerator yet
one more time. 


Surfside at the Allamanda Beach Hotel

 

Accommodations:

Allamanda Beach Hotel (Ask for Room 27)   Hastings

Tel (246) 435-6693   Fax (246) 435 9211

Email: reservations@allamandabeach.com
 

Mango Bay 2nd Street Holetown, St. James
 

Restaurants

Joes’ at the Bayshore, Bridgetown

Shak Shak  Hastings

Champers Hastings

Pieces (St. Lawrence Gap)

Carambola St. James