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Cattlewash, on the eastern edge of St. Joseph just north of Bathsheba, is a world away from the more popular Barbados beaches that lure locals, tourists and postcard photographers. Rather than the inviting blue waters of Caribbean sea, this raw and rugged coast has the mighty Atlantic pounding its shores. Instead of a steady stream of hotels, restaurants, houses and towns, this region is devoid of development. If you want amenities like lounge chairs, umbrellas, water sport action and cocktail service, you won’t find those creature comforts here. And therein lies its appeal.
Those that make the journey to the other side of the island are treated to an unspoiled expanse of sand and sea as far as the eye can see. Stare out at the ocean and marvel that the nearest landfall beyond the horizon is Africa. Mounds of lush green hills and jagged limestone cliffs face-off against the constant rush of turbulent surf. A constant breeze of salty spray will coat your sunglasses and give your hair a distinctive windswept ‘doo. But don’t worry, there’s hardly ever anyone there to notice. Cattlewash is where you escape to when you want to feel like you have the island to yourself. The one exception is the shady picnic area around Barclay’s Park which can draw a local crowd on weekends and public holidays. It has parking, restroom facilities and a small snack shop if you’re in need of a cold drink.
So what’s there to do on this relatively wild and deserted coast? Well, here’s what you don’t do – swim. This is not a swimming beach. Despite any bodysurfing temptations, the crashing waves and serious undertow make these unforgiving waters. Go ahead and wade your toes in the froth of shoreline bubbles, but don’t go all in. Low tide exposes some shallow pools in the reef and rock which are safe for kids to splash in or for grownups to soak in. Other than that, this beach is made for walking – it goes on for miles. Just take in the breathtaking beauty, get hypnotized by the rolling white caps and snap some amazing photos that won’t do it justice. Come to Cattlewash to just “be”, not “do”.
When you’ve had enough beach zen, the nearby village of Bathsheba is just down the road and has a tad more bustle. There you can watch the expert surfers in the world-class waves of the Soup Bowl. Try to decipher animal shapes in the enormous boulders studded along the shoreline. These rock formations make some of the best photo-ops in Barbados. Have a bite to eat at the historic Roundhouse Inn, a drink at Dina’s Bar or treat yourself to a splurge on the terrace at the Atlantis Hotel. You can also visit the Andromeda Botanical Garden there.
The west may be renowned as the Platinum Coast, but don’t miss this east coast gem. Just don’t tell too many people about it.