The Secret Places of Barbados
Many of our previous posts have touched upon the more well-known and popular places on the island. In this article, we’re taking a look at some of Barbados’ secret treasures; places you wouldn’t normally see on the tourist trail but which we think are worth a visit. If you are a regular traveller here and have thought you’d seen everything, then these unusual locations might just be a refreshing change.
While the picturesque eastern coastline and rolling waves of Bathsheba have made it a well-known surfers’ paradise, few visitors have heard of the Bathsheba pools. Found at each end of Bathsheba beach, north of the village, these natural pools have been hollowed out of the coral reef by the constant bombardment of the elements and make a great place to cool off – especially as the sea itself is too dangerous here to enter.
The best time to take a dip is during low tide when the sea is further out. Here, you can bask in the cool water, sip cold drinks from the nearby Round House restaurant and watch the intrepid surfers ride the barrel waves of the world-famous Soup Bowl.
If you’re lucky, you may even find some sea urchins, known locally as sea eggs, in the pools. These beautiful and bizarre creatures are a protected species on the island and after years of over-harvesting (they are considered a delicacy by Bajans) their numbers are just starting to recover.
On the northeast coast, you’ll find River Bay. The riverbank here is a perfect place for a quiet picnic where you can sit at benches under the shade of the local pines and watch the river amble slowly towards the sea, a stone’s throw away.
Visit at the weekend and you’ll find this is a popular place for Bajans who pack traditional dishes like flying fish, macaroni pie and fried chicken to feast on. Midweek, you pretty much have the place to yourself.
After your picnic, take the short stroll to the cliff tops and watch as the blue azure and the white surf of the Atlantic fill the horizon. Below, you’ll be able to see the powerful waves smash into the cliff face and the spectacular jets of water spurt high in the air.
The Big Gun at Project HARP
If you can imagine one of the hidden bases run by a James Bond villain to house a secret weapon, then you can have some idea of what Project HARP was. Back in the ’60s, this was the testing site for the High-Altitude Research Project – a US-Canadian venture to develop a way to shoot satellites into orbit without the need for a rocket. Although the project never came to fruition, its culmination was a former naval gun with a 130 feet long barrel capable of blasting objects almost 60 miles into space – a feat which was a world record in 1963.
Today the gun still exists and it’s an obscure tourist attraction for those who like to get off the beaten track – literally. Although it’s only a 10-minute drive from Barbados Airport, the site is not the easiest to get to and many recommend travelling in a 4 x 4 or going on foot for the latter part of the journey. The gun, itself, is perched on the cliffs close to the south coast road, not far from the Red Rum shop.
While the gigantic gun is still there, it is no longer taken care of, so part of it is covered in overgrown foliage and rust has begun to have its effects. Still, it’s an unusual relic from the cold war - space race days and offers, perhaps, a once in a lifetime chance for taking selfies next to something that looks like its straight out of the Thunderbirds.
Standing Stones of Paradise Beach
The UK has Stonehenge, Easter Island has its stone head Moai statues and Barbados has the Standing Stones. While the first two of these are world famous, the latter is little known – perhaps because they are much newer in comparison. Indeed, the artist who made these amazing rock sculptures, Philip King, is still creating them.
Although they are abstract sculptures, King’s pieces have strangely human forms that create an immediate impact on those who see them. Made from placing uniquely shaped, freestanding limestone rocks on top of one and other, some find them beautiful, others scary and there are even some that consider they are inhabited by the ghosts of cholera victims that lay buried in the nearby cemetery.
As is the nature of freestanding rock sculptures on the shoreline, individual pieces are ephemeral, being slowly washed away by the waves. When this happens, new ones are created either by nature, itself, or by the artist.
You can find these unique sculptures on the secluded Paradise Beach near Bridgetown.
For those who like to leave the tourist trail behind and want to find the hidden gems that Barbados has to offer, these secret places are well worth a visit. They aren’t the easiest places to get to - but that makes the journey more exciting and the experience much more personal. We hope you enjoy them.
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