I sit out at the top of the break alone. It’s early, on a nearly windless morning. Eventually one guy paddles out, then a few others.
“Hey, you’re here! When ’d youget in?” one asks. “Good to see you,” says another. “You brought the swell, thanks mate!” says yet another, half joking I thought, until I heard the same line from five more people throughout the day.
I’m the only visitor at this break. The rest are locals, but they have a knack for remembering you if you’ve surfed with them before. I’m on an island with a population of 250,000. Only 300 of them are surfers. The break is called Soup Bowl and it’s surfable about 350 days a year.
Welcome to Barbados.
Barbados wave Barbados Wave 1
Barbados has its share of visiting surfers. A lot of east coast surfers have it figured it out, but most surfers assume the Caribbean is flat, except for big hurricane swell. Not so here.
Sitting toward the bottom of the Caribbean island chain, Barbados sits the farthest out into the Atlantic Ocean of any the islands, exposing it to any manner of swell—South east tropical waves, north east storms, and the constant, oh so constant, trade wind swells. When there aren’t waves, it’s usually dead calm and tranquil in its own way. But, that’s ok because sometimes you need a break to snorkel and fish under the spot you’ve surfed practically every day.
Barbados, like so many
Caribbean islands, relies on tourism to drive a large part of its economy. But surf tourism isn’t really the mainstay. Wealthy Europeans (many from the UK, as this was once a British colony) make their way here to the expensive resorts on one side of the island. Surfing is more of an afterthought, if anything, and that’s ok with the locals.
Kelly Slater comes here, this is one of Timmy Curran’s favorite places in the world, and Reef has held professional contests here, but it still stays off the radar screen. That’s good news for me. And could be for you.
Check out two of Scott’s Videos from Past Surf Trips to Barbados featuring Bathsheba and Soup Bowl
PS: that’s Snake (aka Edison Hedley, one of Barbados’ first ever surfers) grilling fresh shark with Bajan spices for dinner. The peppers are “bonnies”–scotch bonnet peppers–that make habaneros seem like milk duds. Or M&Ms.
Phase One Surf Editor’s Note:
Scott Valor is a very knowledgeable and experienced surf traveler. We are stoked to share his stories of surf travel and adventure. We will be posting Scott’s adventures to this BLOG as he travels the Globe from his home base in Manhattan Beach to wherever the surf is calling…
Scott is also the author of the best surf guide available for Mainland Mexico The Surfers Guide to Mainland Mexico: Colima & Michoacan