The crisp scent of salt carried in the air. The roar of waves crashing on their first obstacle for 3,000 miles. The long stretch of blue meeting blue along the horizon. The powdery-soft sand sinking between toes. The pungent aroma of seaweed so strong you can almost taste it.
Bathsheba is a small fishing village on the east coast of Barbados, a pleasurable assault on the senses and one of my favourite places on the island. About an hour by bus from either Bridgetown or Speightstown on the west coast (buses run to and from on the hour), the first sight of the stunning landscape from the road up in the hills is something to behold.
Down on the beach, known as the Soup Bowl, ancient rock formations stand proud like the playthings of giants, battered by the foaming waves of the Atlantic Ocean as it rolls in from the west coast of Africa. That makes it an unsuitable beach for lounging and swimming — the riptides and strong undertow make swimming dangerous — but an excellent venue for surfing competitions and fishermen.
Its rugged nature deters many of the beach-lounging package holiday tourists and on any given day there are few people to be seen along the shore, if you dodge the coach groups.
It’s also the perfect backdrop for an impromptu photo shoot amid the crevices and the mysterious ruin of a pink house randomly perched on top of a rock.
After a walk along the beach, scrambling over the rocks and seeking out hidden caves, the place to enjoy stunning views is the century-old Round House Inn, situated uphill along the coastal road.
The restaurant has outdoor and indoor seating, a chilled-out vibe and the requisite local cuisine-inspired food and cocktail menu. Time it right and you’ll catch live music in the afternoon, poetry readings and art exhibitions.
For the vegan and gluten free, options are marked on the menu — mostly salads and sides. Nothing exceptional, but this place is all about the view, and I’m perfectly content with a bowl of breadfruit chips drizzled in hot pepper sauce. The tables in the corner of the balcony and the sofa across the way are perfect spots for whiling away the afternoon while taking in the spectacular view and a rum punch.
The inn has four rooms — one single, two queen and one king — each with views over the stunning coastline and access to a sundeck with a small pool. Rates vary depending on the season, and there are often special rates for locals.
Alternatively, there are a number of guesthouses, apartments and cottages for rent along the road. And over in Tent Bay, the charming and historic Atlantis Hotel offers a well-known Sunday buffet with an ocean view, while Eco Lifestyle Lodge is nestled in lush tropical gardens and focuses on plant-based cuisine.
Further down the road on the beach is Dina’s, a casual outdoor venue. Seating is by the roadside rather than beachside so the view is partly obstructed. The menu is classic Bajan fare and it’s a good spot to stop for a drink.
Dina’s is conveniently located next to the stop for buses heading back to Bridgetown and Speightstown, so those visitors that haven’t hired a car do well to hang out there to wait for the scenic return journey.