If you think that Barbados is all lazy beach time and leisurely strolls in the sunset, think again. This island has a wild side, and it's gorgeous.
My aunt happened to be free one day to take me around to some of the less-seen places in the interior and east coast of the island. She gets her fair share of visitors every year and so she knows where all the really interesting places are, as well as shortcuts through cane-fields to get there.
This is, unsurprisingly, the northernmost point of Barbados. It's here that you can sometimes see crazy crashing waves coming in from the Atlantic; on the day we went it was relatively calm and the tide was out. Nevertheless the deep hued blues washing over the the ragged, rugged cliffs made for an incredible scene.
We walked along the newly-built pathway that twists along the cliff edges for a few hundred meters, then kept walking a bit further where we found some places the water had eroded holes in the cliffs and created water-spouts.
Further down the coast is a spot called "Little Bay" where the coast has been whittled and worn into interesting formations. The waves crash into the holes and the whole place vibrates with the spray of the ocean. There are so many water spouts that when a big wave comes in, they go off one after the other like giant underwater canons.
A short drive down from Little Bay is Cove Bay - a white-cliff exposure with coconut groves.
While driving I was surprised to see cows grazing in the mid-morning heat; they sought shade under coral formations next to cliffs that my auntie says used to be the old coastline of Barbados, meaning the ocean has subsided an incredible amount since ancient ancient days.
St Nicholas Abbey
Neither named after a real saint, nor an abbey in the religious sense, this is simply one of three genuine Jacobeon mansions in the western hemisphere. So you know. No big deal.
We stopped here for lunch and a rum punch (comes free with your admission!). In the cellar of the mansion is a small visitor's centre with a film made from old footage of Barbados when it was functioning as a colonial port in the early 20th century. The grounds are fun to walk around; there's a big storage barn with rum-making equipment including cane crushers, fermenters, and all kinds of dangerous looking forged steel instruments. Rum is still made from the plantation fields and you can both sample and buy the premium rum, which is bottled on site.
Cherry Tree Hill
I know you're thinking: what more could have possibly been squeezed into this day? But we're only just halfway through... After driving under the mahogany trees and through more plantation land, we stopped at one of the prettiest views on the east side that's not strictly just glorious ocean; Cherry Tree Hill. From there we descended again to the coast, past the Morgan Lewis Windmill (windmills were used to crush cane) and down towards Bathsheba.
Bathsheba, Cattlewash & The Soup Bowl
Along a good third of the eastern coast is a long, long, long stretch of beach with unbroken waves that attracts surfers aplenty. For less adventurous types like myself, you can easily appreciate the power and fury of the water that breaks on the beach; it's travelled thousands of kilometres through uninterrupted open sea just to be in my pictures.
In coming nearly to the end of the day, we stopped at Ragged Point in St. Philips Parish where my Aunty lives. The land has been in her husband's family for so long, it's marked as 'Pooler Land' in the very first maps of Barbados.
Winner of being incredibly awesome: Bottom Bay
Our very very last stop of the day was this hidden gem, Bottom Bay. Improbably tall, skinny palm trunks hold up the bushy fronds above; the arrangement of the drunken, half falling over trees contrast strongly with the pure, white beach below.
The sun set rapidly after these last shots, and we took a much deserved dinner at Chefette - a Barbados fast food staple with fantastic milkshakes. Me and my pizza retired to the balcony at home for a much needed rest to get up strength for the next day's adventures...