Barbados Golden Sands

Exploring the Other Coast

But isn’t there more to Barbados than beaches and bling dinners? Yes, but not too much. Enough to kill a rainy afternoon, but not such a lot that you should feel guilty if you get good weather. Speightstown, once Barbados’s biggest port and known as ‘little Bristol’, is the perfect pint-sized pitstop. Vegetable traders still sell knuckly cassava, vivid green okra fingers, hairy yams and juicy tomatoes as their great-great-grannies would have done in the 1800s, and all right by one of the loveliest beaches in Barbados.

Sidewalk Market in Speightstown – Barbados

Even its Arlington House Museum – an elegant white eighteenth-century chandler’s mansion – seems sympathetic to the lure of the sunlounger for tourists. You can whizz round its three air-conditioned storeys in less than an hour and still get an understanding of Barbados, from colonial times to contemporary. From here, pootle to St Nicholas Abbey, a forensically well-preserved Jacobean mansion and rum distillery among romantic, lush gardens. The drinks on arrival should be just enough to awaken you for the obligatory historic film reel.

Arlington House Museum

Next? Cherry Tree Hill. You’ll approach this elevated viewpoint from beneath a canopy of majestic mahogany trees that suddenly drops away, like a theatre curtain, to reveal the untamed, wind-ravaged east coast and its main town, Bathsheba. It looks more like Scotland than the Caribbean of brochure pictures, and you won’t believe that holidaymakers are quaffing rosé-grape and picking at shrimp salads only a few kilometres away.

View from Cherry Tree Hill

By now it’s time to head back to the beaches and resorts, but not before you sit back and enjoy a drive through parted seas of sugar cane, past colourful clapboard ‘chattel’ houses and cute hand-painted signs to ‘Dover’, ‘Worthing’ and ‘Hastings’. Hiring a driver for the day is affordable in Barbados so let somebody else take the wheel.

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