Chelsea Tuach: “Get in the water – that’s the first thing anyone should do”

Chelsea Tuach, the youngest ever champion surfer from Barbados, shares her favourite spots for riding the waves, meeting her friends

  • Photograph courtesy the Barbados Tourism Authority
  • Photograph by Mike Toy
  • Photograph courtesy Harbour Lights
  • Chelsea Tuach surfs the Soup Bowl. Photograph by Mark Harris

Aged just seventeen, Chelsea Tuach is Barbados’s top female surfer. She started surfing at eight, at ten she became the youngest surfer ever to represent Barbados internationally, and at thirteen she won both the Barbados Ladies’ Open and the Caribbean Ladies’ Championship.

She spent four months in California in 2012, and will be there for at least the first six months of 2013, surfing. And when she gets back home? Here, in her own words, is how she’ll celebrate being back in Chelsea’s Barbados.

In the water

“The first thing I do when I come back to Barbados is get in the water as soon as I can — and that’s the first thing anyone should do. The water in California is so cold, you have to wear a wetsuit. We are so spoiled in Barbados. [The famous surfing spot] Soup Bowl is my favourite place in the world. Salt Ash in St Lawrence Gap is a great place to learn to surf. I used to train with Barry [Banfield, proprietor of Barry’s Surf School]. Brandon’s Beach, by Drill Hall, by the Garrison Savannah, is very good for surfing too.”

On the beach

“If I’m not surfing, I’ll go to Yacht Club or Accra Beach and try to keep my tan. I really like Tropicana Beach, too. Miami Beach is really nice for family picnics. The sunset is great there. And you have beautiful waves to surf at South Point. And you can even learn at Freights Bay! Miami Beach has everything, really. Our beaches are Barbados’s top attraction.”

Three square meals

“The second thing I do is try to eat as much flying fish as I can. My mum’s home cooking is the greatest, but the best place for flying fish is Cuz’s food hut on Pebbles Beach. I dream about those fish cutters when I’m away! There’s always a line, but everyone waits, because they’re so good.

“I’d definitely take a visitor to the fish fry at Oistins on a Friday night. There’s plenty of choice, and I’ve never had bad service. I haven’t been to Brown Sugar in forever, but I think that would be the best place for good Bajan cooking. If you can get a reservation for Fisher Pond on a Sunday, it’s expensive, but it’s worth it.

“If you can wake up early enough on a Saturday, like from 6 am to 10 am, you should definitely go to Brighton Market for breakfast. It’s a really nice location and the service is really good.

“Instead of trying to pick out Christmas presents for one another — that’s so stressful — me and my friends had dinner at Tapas. They have two great dining-rooms, upstairs and downstairs, overlooking the South Coast Boardwalk. I got into eating sushi in California, and now I know a bit about it. When I came home, I went to Naru and couldn’t believe how good it was! I also like Blakey’s for pizza. It’s a lovely atmosphere, right on the boardwalk. I kinda choose my restaurants that way: first, it has to be by the sea, then we check how good the food is.”

Get the party started

“I go to Harbour Lights and I like to party in the Gap, too [St Lawrence Gap, the south coast entertainment strip] — Cafe Sol or Reggae Lounge or somewhere. You have to be sixteen to go to the Gap. I like Elbow Room in Second Street, Holetown, too, but I haven’t gone too much because it’s so far away. That twenty-minute drive, jeez! Actually, in California, I have to drive four hours sometimes to get the good waves. So I shouldn’t be complaining about a twenty-minute drive in Barbados.”

Big screen

“I like going to the movies and in Barbados I go a lot, because I live close to Olympus Cinemas. If you want to see an action movie, though, go to the Globe drive-in. I love how people start beeping their horns when they like a part of a movie. The last movie I saw there was The Dark Knight Rises and, oh my goodness, it was non-stop horn-blowing. You can never fall asleep in the car. It can’t be as much fun for the people who live on South Ridge [immediately above the drive-in], though.”

See the sights

“Barbados is genuinely historic, but I don’t visit the places the Tourist Board puts forward, like Speightstown and whatnot. I’ll drive up the East Coast and just ask questions of people I meet, about the place. Find out for myself firsthand.”

Retail therapy

“The shopping in Barbados has gotten a lot better. I can go to Sheraton Mall, Limegrove, Lanterns, or Swan Street in Bridgetown, and find what I want. If I wanted something Bajan to take back, I’d probably go to Bridgetown or maybe in the Gap. I like shopping in Barbados. In the US, there are too many shops and malls, and you get confused.”