Thursday, August 23, 2012

Exploring Barbados’ East Coast by Car

After ringing in 2011 on Barbados, we found ourselves lazing around on the beautiful beaches this friendly, amazing island offers. Halfway through our 10-day vacation, we rented a small car to explore the beaches on Barbados’ rugged, eastern coast.

We reserved a car in advance with Stoutes Car Rental.  A representative from Stoutes met us at the Accra Beach Hotel and sent us quickly on our way.  In Barbados, the steering wheel is on the passenger side and the driving lane is on the left-hand side of the road, the exact opposite of what we're used to in the U.S.!  Note to folks renting a car on Barbados:  It is very hot here!  Rent a car with air conditioning! 

Following a map, we drove north to Cattlewash Beach, an amazing stretch of beach sprinkled with sea glass, shells and other treasures.  The beach, which is several miles long, was completely deserted and quiet, except for the large, pounding waves.  We could have walked for miles here, as we love long walks combing the beach.  There were no hotels or buildings along the beach - just vegetation and the Atlantic ocean.

Next stop: Bathsheba.  We parked near several tour buses and walked along the beach to explore the huge rock formations, including Mushroom Rock (see photo below), in the ocean. The surf was very rough but there were small, shallow pools of water carved out of the flat coral reef, where people can safely cool off.  This beach is known worldwide for its Soup Bowl, popular among surfers and considered one of the best surfing spots in the world.

The tiny village of Bathsheba had a great "local" feel and hosted a handful of eateries, gift shops and small guest houses.  On our next trip to Barbados, we agreed that we’d like to spend a couple of quiet nights here. As we headed out of Bathsheba, we were awarded us with some amazing views of the beach and village.

As the air temperature increased, we felt the need for a swim!   Next stop was Bath Beach, which offered safe, calm water for swimming, lots of shade from the casuarina trees, a parking lot and bathroom facilities.  The water was warm and amazing.  We tried snorkeling but the small waves clouded up the visibility. We read after-the-fact of a small waterfall located north of the beach and wish we had checked it out. 

Thanks for reading!  To learn more about Barbados, click here.  To read my full trip report on my time in Barbados, click here.

I have to end this post with a few pictures of my FAVORITE beach on Barbados, Bottom Bay (considered south coast, not east coast).  Surrounded by tall coral cliffs, with its picturesque palm trees and sparkling turquoise water, this beach took our breath away!  The surf was too strong to swim but we would have LOVED to jump in here and spend a whole day.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Don’t Miss Pinel Island off St. Martin!

If you find yourself on St. Martin, I highly recommend an excursion to Pinel Island on St. Martin’s east end.  Very small, very laid back and very pretty! Pinel Island is called Isle Pinel, or in French Ilet Pinel or Ile de Pinel. 

We parked our jeep in the village of Cul-de-Sac, located just past the spectacular Orient Bay, and mingled with the friendly wild donkeys roaming around in the parking lot.  

We caught the small boat to the island around noon – I wish we had caught the first boat so we could have spent a full day!  The shuttle boat leaves every 30 minutes from 10am to 5pm and the ride costs $7. The ride takes about five minutes and the water is very calm. 

Once on the island, paradise!  We checked out our surroundings on this tiny little island lined with sandy beaches; the calm, crystal clear, sparking water was absolutely stunning!  

The view of St. Martin in the distance, with its hills, was just amazing.   

 We brought our own snorkel gear and explored the reefs along the snorkel trail.

We found a trail and took a small hike to the other side of Pinel Island, which offered sea grape trees and a completed deserted beach and enjoyed the tranquil silence and scenery.

The island offers three little restaurants, Le Karabuni, the Yellow Beach restaurant and Up on the Key, as well as a small gift shop.  Since we had already had lunch, we didn’t try any food but Pinel Island sparked my never-ending love for pina coladas.

We bought a couple rounds and drank them on the beach, savoring the tasty treats topped with just enough delicious ground nutmeg.  After a couple drinks, we relaxed in the shade of some umbrellas on the beach. To this day, I have never tasted a pina colada as tasty as the ones I drank on Pinel Island. 

Around 5pm, we reluctantly caught the last boat back to the mainland with the rest of the stragglers on the island.  Seems we were not the only folks who wanted to spend more time there – the boat back to St. Martin was packed!  

To learn more about Pinel Island, click here.  A few more pictures - enjoy!