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Barbados travel guide - Travel S helper

Barbados

travel guide

Barbados is a sovereign island nation located in the Americas’ Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometers (21 miles) long and up to 23 kilometers (14 miles) wide, encompassing an area of 432 kilometers square (167 sq mi). It is located in the western North Atlantic, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; it is approximately 168 kilometers (104 miles) east of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is located outside the main storm belt of the Atlantic Ocean. Bridgetown serves as the capital. Barbados is located about 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers) southeast of Miami.

Barbados has been inhabited by the Kalinago people since the 13th century, and by other Amerindians before to that. In the late 15th century, Spanish navigators arrived and claimed the island for the Spanish Crown. It originally appears on a 1511 Spanish map. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536 but left it unclaimed, leaving only wild pigs to provide a steady supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The Olive Blossom, an English ship, landed in Barbados in 1625 and was seized by her crew in the name of King James I. The first permanent inhabitants arrived from England in 1627, and the colony became an English colony, and subsequently a British colony.

Barbados gained independence and Commonwealth realm status in 1966, with the British Monarch (now Queen Elizabeth II) serving as hereditary head of state. It has a population of 280,121 people, the majority of whom are of African ancestry. Barbados, although being an Atlantic island, is regarded to be a part of the Caribbean, where it is a popular tourist destination. 40% of tourists come from the United Kingdom, with the United States and Canada following closely after. Barbados was rated joint second in the Americas (after Canada and equal with the United States) and joint 17th worldwide in 2014 by Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (after Belgium and Japan, equal with the U.S., Hong Kong and Ireland).

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Barbados - Info Card

Population

287,025

Currency

Barbadian dollar ($) (BBD)

Time zone

UTC−4 (AST)

Area

439 km2 (169 sq mi)

Calling code

+1 -246

Official language

English

Barbados | Introduction

Weather & Climate in Barbados

The country generally experiences two seasons, one of which contains significantly more rainfall. This period is known as the “rainy season” and lasts from June to November. In contrast, the “dry season” lasts from December to May. Annual rainfall ranges from 1,000 to 2,300 mm (40 to 90 inches). From December to May, average temperatures range from 21 to 31°C, while from June to November they range from 23 to 31°C.

On the Köppen climate classification scale, most of Barbados is classified as having a tropical monsoon climate (Am). However, light breezes of 12 to 16 km/h (7 to 10 mph) prevail throughout the year, giving Barbados a temperate tropical climate.

Unusual natural hazards include earthquakes, landslides and hurricanes. Barbados is often spared the tropical storms and hurricanes of the region during the rainy season. Due to its location in the southeast of the Caribbean, the country lies just outside the main hurricane strike zone. On average, a major hurricane strikes about every 26 years. The last time a hurricane caused significant damage in Barbados was Hurricane Janet in 1955. In 2010, the island was hit by Hurricane Tomas, but it caused only minor damage throughout the country.

Geography Of Barbados

Barbados is located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the other islands of the West Indies. Barbados is the easternmost island of the Lesser Antilles. It is flat compared to its western island neighbours, the Windward Islands. The island rises gently to the central highlands. The nation’s highest point is Mount Hillaby in the Scotland Geological District at 340 m above sea level.

The capital and main town of Barbados, Bridgetown, is located in the parish of Saint Michael. Other major towns scattered around the island are Holetown in the parish of Saint James, Oistins in the parish of Christ Church and Speightstown in the parish of Saint Peter.

Geology

Barbados lies at the boundary between the South American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. Subduction of the South American Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate scrapes sediments from the South American Plate and deposits them above the subduction zone, forming an accretionary prism. The rate of this material deposition causes Barbados to rise at a rate of about 25 mm (1 in) per 1000 years. As a result of this subduction, geologically the island consists of coral about 90 m thick where reefs have formed over the sediment. The land slopes down in a series of “terraces” to the west and merges into a slope to the east. Much of the island is surrounded by coral reefs.

Erosion of the limestone in the north-east of the island in the Scotland District has led to the formation of various caves and gullies, some of which have become popular tourist attractions, such as Harrison’s Cave and Welchman Hall Gully. On the eastern Atlantic coast of the island, coastal landscapes, including chimneys, have been formed due to the limestone nature of the area.

Demographic Of Barbados

The 2010 census, conducted by the Barbados Statistical Service, showed a resident population of 277,821, of which 133,018 were male and 144,803 female.

Ethnic groups

Almost 90 % of Barbadians (colloquially referred to as “Bajans”) are of Afro-Caribbean origin (“Afro-Bajans”) or mixed. The rest of the population includes groups of Europeans (“Anglo-Bajans” / “Euro-Bajans”) mainly from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Asians, mainly Chinese and Indians (Hindus and Muslims). Other groups represented in Barbados include people from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Barbadians returning to the United States after years of residence and US-born children of Bajan parents are referred to as “Bajan Yankees”, a term considered derogatory by some.

The largest communities outside the Afro-Caribbean community are:

  • Indo-Guyanese, an important part of the economy due to the increase in immigrants from the partner country Guyana. There are reports of a growing Indo-Bajan diaspora from Guyana and India since about 1990. Mainly from South India and the Hindu States, they are growing in numbers but are smaller than the corresponding communities in Trinidad and Guyana.
  • Euro-Bajans (4% of the population) have settled in Barbados since the 17th century, coming from England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1643, there were 37,200 whites in Barbados (86 % of the population). They are popularly known as “White Bajans”. The Euro-Bajans introduced folk music, such as Irish and Highland music, and certain place names, such as “Scotland”, a mountainous region. Among white Barbadians, there is a sub-category known as Redlegs; these are mainly descendants of Irish indentured labourers and prisoners who were imported to the island. Many of them later became the first settlers of what is now North Carolina and South Carolina in the United States.
  • Barbadians of Chinese descent represent only a small part of the Asian population in Barbados. Most, if not all, arrived in the 1940s, during the Second World War. Many Chinese-Bajans have the surnames Chin, Chynn or Lee, although other surnames are prevalent in some parts of the island. Chinese food and culture are increasingly becoming part of the everyday culture of Bajans.
  • Lebanese and Syrians make up the Arab Barbadian community on the island, which is predominantly Arab Christian. The Arab Muslim minority among Arab Barbadians represents only a small percentage of the total Muslim minority population of Barbados. The majority of Lebanese and Syrians came to Barbados through trade opportunities. Their numbers are declining due to migration to other countries.
  • Jews arrived in Barbados shortly after the first settlers in 1627. Bridgetown is home to the Nidhe Israel Synagogue, the oldest Jewish synagogue in America, dating back to 1654, although the current building was constructed in 1833 to replace the synagogue destroyed by the hurricane of 1831. The gravestones in the nearby cemetery date from the 1630s. The site, now maintained by the Barbados National Trust, was abandoned in 1929 but was saved and restored by the Jewish community from 1986.
  • Muslim Barbadians of Indian origin are largely of Gujarati descent. Many small businesses in Barbados are run and operated by Muslim Bajans of Indian origin.

Religion

Most Barbadians of African and European descent are Christians (95 per cent), the largest denomination being Anglicanism (40 per cent). Other Christian denominations with significant followings in Barbados are the Catholic Church (administered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgetown), Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventist Church and Spiritual Baptists. The Church of England was the official religion of the state until it was legally dissolved by the Parliament of Barbados after independence.

Other religions represented in Barbados are Hinduism, Islam, Baha’i, Judaism and Wicca.

Language In Barbados

The official language of Barbados is English. Bajan (sometimes called Barbadian Creole or Barbadian dialect) is a creole language based on Irish and English spoken by the locals. Bajan uses a mixture of West African idioms and expressions, such as Igbo, as well as British English and Irish to produce a vocabulary and mode of expression unique to Barbados and the Caribbean. A few African words are interspersed in the dialect. Communication will not be a problem for any English speaker, and Barbados has one of the highest literacy rates in the Western Hemisphere. Many Irish prisoners of war were sent to the island as indentured servants after the English Civil War. Some of their descendants are found in St John and St Phillip and are known as Poor Whites or Redlegs, another term that can be seen as racist.

Economy Of Barbados

Barbados is the 53rd richest country in the world by GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. It has a well-developed mixed economy and a moderately high standard of living. According to the World Bank, Barbados is one of the 66 highest income economies in the world. A 2012 self-assessment conducted in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank found that 20 per cent of Barbadians live in poverty and almost 10 per cent cannot meet their basic daily food needs.

Historically, Barbados’ economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but since the late 1970s and early 1980s it has diversified into manufacturing and tourism. Offshore financial and information services have become important foreign exchange earners, and the light manufacturing sector is healthy. Since the 1990s, the Barbados government has been considered business-friendly and economically sound. The island has experienced a construction boom, with the development and redevelopment of hotels, office complexes and flats. This boom slowed down during the economic crisis of 2008.

Recent governments have continued their efforts to reduce unemployment, encourage foreign direct investment and privatise the remaining state-owned enterprises. Unemployment was reduced to 10.7 % in 2003. Since then, however, it has risen to 11.9 % in the second quarter of 2015.

The economy contracted in 2001 and 2002 due to a slowdown in tourism, consumer spending and the impact of the 9/11 attacks, but recovered in 2003 and has been growing again since 2004. Traditional trading partners include Canada, the Caribbean Community (especially Trinidad and Tobago), the United Kingdom and the United States.

Trade relations and investment flows have become substantial: in 2003, the island received C$25 billion in investment from Canada, making it one of the top five destinations for Canadian foreign direct investment (FDI). Businessman Eugene Melnyk of Toronto, Canada, is said to be one of Barbados’ richest permanent residents.

It was reported that 2006 was the busiest year for building construction in Barbados as the island’s building boom entered the final stages of several multi-million dollar commercial projects.

The European Union is supporting Barbados with a €10 million programme to modernise the country’s financial services and international business sectors.

Barbados has the third largest stock exchange in the Caribbean region. In 2009, stock exchange officials explored the possibility of adding an international securities market (ISM) to the local exchange.

Entry Requirements For Barbados

Visa & Passport for Barbados

Citizens of the following countries do not require a visa to enter Barbados: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia, Moldova, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Two passport photos must be attached to the visa application. The visa costs B$50 for a single entry and B$60 for multiple entries. You can get your visa at a Barbados embassy or consulate.

How To Travel To Barbados

Get In - By air

Sir Grantley Adams International Airport (IATA: BGI) is a major international airport for the size of Barbados, offering dozens of flights in high season from the UK and Canada, as well as the US. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have numerous flights to Barbados, while American Airlines is the dominant carrier from the US (Dallas, Miami and New York). Air Canada and Westjet offer flights from Canada. The airport is located 13 km (8 mi) east of Bridgetown. Buses and minibuses leave from a stop opposite the airport and travel up the coast to Bridgetown, Holetown and Speightstown for B$2 per person, but a taxi is the most convenient way to get to your hotel on arrival.

Get In - With the boat

Many cruise ships dock at Bridgetown’s deep-water port, which was recently expanded to accommodate even more ships. The terminal is served by an army of taxis, as well as shuttle buses to/from downtown Bridgetown for B$2 per person.

Private moorings are available around the island. Please note that dropping anchor in the coral reefs carries heavy penalties.

How To Travel Around Barbados

Driving is on the left-hand side. The bus system is extensive, cheap and fast if you are travelling anywhere on the main route, but a car (or mini-mobile) is the only way to see many of the more remote sights. Many drivers will book you a bus when they see you are coming from out of town, reflecting the typical welcoming atmosphere. Buses are operated by the Barbados Transport Board (blue) and are quiet. Private operators include yellow buses, which play loud music, and private minibuses (white), which tend to be cramped and crowded. Both types of private transport are often driven very fast and recklessly. All charge the same fare (B$2). Yellow buses and minivans give change and even accept US dollars. BTB buses accept Barbados dollars and do not give change.

There are also more than enough taxis to take you anywhere on the island at reasonable prices. They do not use meters and it is best to negotiate the price before you get in. However, most taxi drivers are honest and you are unlikely to be overcharged. Ask the hotel management or friendly locals for the price of a taxi ride to your destination.

Renting a car is expensive. If you are travelling by car, be aware that the island’s roads are generally quite narrow, with the exception of the ABC Highway, where extensive works are being carried out on several long sections to the west coast to widen the road and create additional lanes. Extreme caution is advised as many of the roads on the island have sharp curves and steep inclines and are generally quite bumpy, although most are paved.

Many of these “highways” have no pavements, allowing pedestrians to share the roadway. Many bus stops are also on the side of the road where there are no pavements. Also beware of improvised passing lanes, as slow drivers on two-lane roads are often overtaken by drivers behind them. Road signs can be quite confusing (they often show the two nearest towns/villages in reverse order – i.e. starting with the furthest one), so be prepared to get lost: just ask for directions as people are always willing to help you.

With most local car rental companies, comprehensive insurance is automatically included in the rental price, except for damage to the car’s tyres, reflecting the poor condition of the back roads and the tendency of foreign drivers to misjudge the lanes and drive into curbs.

It is also possible to rent mopeds and bicycles to explore places that are difficult to access by car. However, this is not recommended due to the poor condition of many side and service roads. With the exception of the main road, all other roads are dangerous for cyclists due to the lack of pavements, frequent potholes, sharp bends and the speed of local buses.

Another fun way to get around is to rent a moke (open car/buggy), which is available at many local car rental agencies.

Destinations in Barbados

Regions in Barbados

There are eleven parishes on the island of Barbados, which can be usefully divided into four regions:

  • Bridgetown The capital of Barbados and its surroundings in the parish of Saint Michael.
  • East Central Barbados The parishes of Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint John, Saint Joseph and Saint Thomas. The east coast is the rugged Atlantic side of the island.
  • Western Barbados The quiet part of the island, washed by the Caribbean Sea, comprises the parishes of St James, St Peter and St Lucy. Holetown and Speightstown are the two main towns.
  • Southern Barbados Christ Church and St Thomas’ parishes. These include St Lawrence Gap, a lively area full of bars and restaurants, Oistins and Grantley Adams International Airport.

Accommodation & Hotels in Barbados

Barbados offers everything from cheap bed and breakfast guesthouses starting at less than $40 per day for a single person in summer to luxury accommodation in some of the world’s best hotels for $1,600 in high season.

Flats and flat hotels in Barbados offer the comfort of a hotel room and the convenience of your own kitchen. Most are located on or near the beach and are particularly suitable for families.

There is a wide selection of luxury villas and cottages for rent in Barbados. Many of these villas and cottages are located on or near the beach.

Private holiday accommodation is often rented at much lower rates than hotel rooms or resorts. There is a wide selection of these holiday properties throughout Barbados and many are located on or near the beach. The holiday properties range from beach houses to condominiums and flats.

In general, the most expensive resorts are located on the west coast, north of Bridgetown, while simpler guesthouses are available along the south coast, with few accommodation options in Bridgetown itself.

Things To See in Barbados

The west coast has many luxury resorts, and it and the inland highlands have many historic sites with scenic views.

  • Botanical Garden. Inside is a beautiful botanical garden with more information about wildlife than most similar places in the world.
  • Cricket, Kensington Oval, Bridgetown. Check if there is a match to discover West Indies cricket.
  • Mount Gay Rum Distillery Ltd. Spring Garden Highway, Bridgetown, Saint Michael, +1 246 425-8757. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and includes a rum tasting. There is a bar in a veranda. There are also more expensive tours (B$75) with lunch that include transport and food. B$16 for the basic tour.

Things To Do in Barbados

World-class water sports, including surfing at the Soup Bowl on the east coast and various breaks along the west coast when the swell is strong. The south coast offers great waves and a spot on the World Windsurfing Championship at Silver Sands.

Drive inland and visit various plantation houses where meals and exhibitions are held. Visit the Animal Flower Cave or the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.

  • Diving. There are also many dive tour operators for all levels of experience exploring coral reefs as well as sunken ships. The waters around Barbados are some of the clearest in the Caribbean.
  • Nightclubbing. in beach bars like Harbour Lights and Boat Yard and the St. Lawrence Gap (a strip of bars, restaurants and hotels). The two most famous nightclubs on the island are Priva, in Holetown, and Sugar Ultra Lounge, the largest nightclub in St. Lawrence Gap.
  • Catamaran Cruises, +1 246-429-8967, fax: +1 246-418-0002, email: [email protected]. Daily. A catamaran cruise with the opportunity to snorkel with sea turtles and over shipwrecks. The excursion includes transport to and from the port, all drinks (including alcohol) and a buffet lunch. A cheaper version of the tour is available without the buffet lunch. Turtle and snorkelling excursions are also available.B$150 per adult, credit cards accepted with a 4% fee.
  • Atlantis Submarine Tours, +1 246-4368929. Dive almost 50 metres below sea level in a real submarine. For those who don’t dare to dive, this is a comfortable way to view marine life, coral and sunken ships up close. Morning tours are recommended as later tours may be cancelled due to difficult ground conditions. Minibuses from the centre also pass by, but only from the northern (market) bus terminal, so it is better to take a taxi. US$180/pair.

Food & Drinks in Barbados

Food in Barbados

  • The flying fish, the symbol of the islands, can be seen on coins, banknotes and menus. The flying fish is usually served lightly breaded and fried, with a yellow sauce. Be aware that this yellow sauce is made from very hot scotch bonnet peppers and onions in a mustard sauce.
  • Coo-coo and flying fish – often considered the national dish. Coo-coo (or cou-cou) is a cornmeal and okra porridge similar to polenta. Coo-coo goes perfectly with flying fish, which is either steamed with lime juice, spices and vegetables or fried and served with a spicy sauce. The Flying Fish Restaurant, overlooking St Lawrence Bay, claims to be the birthplace of Barbadia’s national dish.
  • Pepperpot, a must, a dish with a long tradition and great pride among Bajans, a pork stew in a spicy brown sauce.
  • Try the cutters, a local sandwich made with salted bread (not regular sandwich bread). Varieties include flying fish cutters, ham cutters and the popular bread and two.
  • Visitors looking for fast food are likely to be disappointed; burger chains from the US failed miserably when introduced to Barbados (Bajans hardly eat beef). However, chicken and fish sandwiches are very popular, so KFC and Chefette are ubiquitous.
  • Bajan cuisine is a strange mix of spicy, hearty food and traditional English dishes. So be prepared for meals of fiery stews and beans on toast.
  • Every Friday night, the town of Oistins (on the south coast) is the place to be for a fish fry. This is a market where you can buy fresh fish cooked according to local recipes. The locals stay late and dance until the early hours of the morning. It is now the second most popular tourist attraction on the island after Harrison’s Cave.
  • The island has many good restaurants, the two main ones being The Cliff (on the west coast) and The Restaurant at South Sea (on the south coast). Both are quite expensive, but serve wonderful food and an exceptional dining experience overlooking the sea. Nevertheless, you can find many hidden gems if you look hard enough.
  • The many street vendors offer fish cakes, grilled pork tails, fresh coconuts and roasted peanuts.
  • Sandy Lane, a luxury hotel on the west coast, serves an extensive Mediterranean-style buffet for dinner.

Drinks in Barbados

Barbados has some of the purest water in the world, which can be drunk straight from the tap. Cruise ships are often seen docked on the island.

Rum and rum drinks can be found in every bar. Perhaps the best known national brand is Mount Gay Rum, which is very tasty. During the week, low-cost tours of the distillery are offered. They offer samples of all their rums, which are also sold at good prices.

Small establishments called rum shops can be found all over Barbados. This is where local citizens (95% male) gather to catch up on local news. Drop in and you can easily strike up a conversation with a real Barbadian.

Beer and wine are also easy to find. Banks beer is the beer of Barbados and it is very good. There are also tours of the Banks Brewery. Although the tour itself is very hot and only moderately interesting, there is unlimited beer for those who wait for the tour to begin. Try to arrive a few hours early and get a very good price. There are also tours of the three rum refineries, which are very informative.

10 Saints is the first craft beer to be brewed in Barbados. This unique lager is aged for 90 days in Mount Gay “Special Reserve” rum barrels and combines the island’s rum heritage with a refreshing lager to produce a truly Bajan beer. It is available in bars and shops all over the island.

Money & Shopping in Barbados

The national currency is the Bajan dollar, but US dollars are accepted in almost all shops and restaurants. The exchange rate is fixed at 2 Bajan dollars for one US dollar. Remember that hotel money changers may insist on charging an additional percentage for the exchange (usually 5%).

There are many duty-free shops for visitors. Bridgetown’s main street has many jewellers, such as Colombian Emeralds and Diamonds International. The Cave Shepherd department stores’ offers a wide range of mercantile products, while Harrison’s offers gifts, leather goods and high-end cosmetics. There are also some fairly large supermarkets on the island outside Bridgetown. Smaller shops offer almost anything a visitor or resident might need. A small shopping centre on the harbour also offers decent prices and a good selection (for British rum and spirits), but Barbados products can be a little more expensive there than elsewhere on the island.

Barbados has a well-deserved reputation for producing excellent rum, for example Mount Gay. Rum distilleries are usually open for tours and usually offer samples and products for sale at prices that often match the best found elsewhere. (See also “Drinks” below)

Barbados has a wide variety of street vendors. Haggle aggressively. Do not stop until you have reached about a third of the original price.

The fine arts flourish in Barbados and many galleries and studios have weekly changing exhibitions throughout the year.

Taxes excluded

Shops selling to visitors can honestly claim to offer duty-free prices. In fact, they pay duty on imported goods before they offer them for sale. But when they sell something to you as a visitor, they ask you to sign a form that allows them to get back the duty paid. The government is working on a law that will allow sellers to get goods for visitors without paying duty.

Opening hours: In the past, almost everything was closed at weekends and visitors had to make arrangements in advance, especially if they were owners. This is no longer the case. Clothing and gift shops are open until about 4pm on Saturdays (the shops in the Sheraton Mall until 9pm); few are open on Sundays. Many of the supermarkets on the island are also open on Saturday and Sunday.

On public holidays (such as Christmas, New Year, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday) most, if not all, shops, banks and business houses are closed. However, the shops attached to the petrol stations carry basic items in limited quantities, and the shops in the deep-water port are open when cruise ships visit. There are a few small, family-run grocery shops on the island that open on holidays (or have a side door open) to serve their community.

Festivals & Holidays in Barbados

Date English name Comments
1 January New Year’s Day
21 January Errol Barrow Day A day of tribute to Errol Barrow, the Father of the Nation.
2 April Good Friday Friday, the date varies
5 April Easter Monday Monday, the date varies
28 April National Heroes’ Day
1 May Labour Day 1st Monday in May, date varies
Whit Monday Monday, the date varies
1 August Emancipation Day Date on which slavery was abolished on the island.
Kadooment Day 1st Monday in August, date variable
30 November Independence Day The anniversary of the national independence of Barbados, which broke away from the United Kingdom in 1966.
December 25 Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day

Traditions & Customs in Barbados

Despite or perhaps because of the tropical climate, Bajans tend to dress conservatively when they are not at the beach. A bikini is not welcome in town and certainly not in church.

Bajans are particularly sensitive to good manners and saying “hello” to people, even strangers, earns their respect.

If you meet a Bajan, try not to discuss politics or racial issues. It is also important to speak loudly as Barbadians speak quite fast when speaking in Creole (or Bajan as it is called).

Using the “N” word is taboo, but when talking to friends, words like “B” (short for “bro”) and “dawg” are used to describe or refer to a friend. These words should only be used if you know the person well.

Most Bajans are fun-loving and like to go out and have fun, as evidenced by the large number of young people in the clubs and on the south coast of the island. Try not to stare at people for no reason. If you bump into someone in a club, apologise to them immediately.

Remember that Bajans are very protective of their family and insults against their family are taken very seriously. This also applies to their views on issues such as homosexuality. Most Bajans do not agree with this practice.

Culture Of Barbados

Barbados has produced several great cricketers, including Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell.

The citizens are officially called Barbadians. The term “Bajan” (pronounced BAY-jun) may be derived from a local pronunciation of the word “Barbadian”, which sometimes sounds like “Bar-bajan”.

The biggest carnival cultural event on the island is the Crop Over Festival. As in many other Caribbean and Latin American countries, the Crop Over is an important event for many islanders as well as the thousands of tourists who flock to the island to participate in the annual events. The festival includes musical competitions and other traditional activities and showcases most of the calypso and soca music produced on the island throughout the year. The Barbadian men and women who have harvested the most sugar cane are crowned King and Queen of the Crop. The Crop Over begins in early July and culminates in the Kadooment Day costume parade, which takes place on the first Monday in August.

Music in Barbados

In music, eight-time Grammy Award winner Robyn Rihanna Fenty (born in Saint Michael) is one of Barbados’ best-known artists and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with 200 million records sold worldwide. In 2009, she was appointed Honorary Ambassador for Youth and Culture of Barbados by the late Prime Minister David Thompson.

Also from Barbados are singer-songwriter Shontelle, the band Cover Drive, musician Rupee and Mark Morrison, lead singer of the Top 10 hit “Return of the Mack”. Grandmaster Flash (born Joseph Saddler in Bridgetown in 1958) is a highly influential musician of Barbadian descent who pioneered the djing, cutting and mixing of hip-hop in New York in the 1970s. The Merrymen is a well-known calypso band from Barbados that performed from the 1960s to the 2010s.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Barbados

Stay Safe in Barbados

Although it is generally a safe place to travel, crime has increased. Tourists should avoid certain high-risk activities, such as walking on secluded beaches, by day and by night, walking in unfamiliar residential areas or walking in remote areas away from main roads. Tourists, especially women, should always stay in groups.

The most common crimes against tourists are taxi fraud, theft and embezzlement, but rape and assault are also increasingly common. Most Bajans are friendly by nature, especially at the beginning of the tourist season (November and December).

Drugs are a particular problem for visitors to Barbados. The country’s strict anti-drug policy is made clear to visitors when they pass through customs. In practice, however, Europeans and Americans in Barbados are often offered marijuana and even cocaine. Vendors often roam the beaches selling aloe vera or other harmless products to start a conversation about “ganja”, “smoking” or “bad habits”. As a result, many hotels and resorts now ban the use of aloe vera on the grounds that it “stains the towels”.

Regardless of a person’s propensity to use drugs, it is not advisable to accept these offers. Marijuana is considered bad and is not accepted by the Bajan police. Although the Bajan police are not often encountered, they readily prosecute drug offences.

Caution is also advised when you go into the sea. Many people underestimate the strong currents and rip tides in many areas, especially on the east side of the island. They have claimed many lives over the years. Look out for warning flags and swim where you see others – a good safety indicator. Do not venture into deep water (beyond the possibility of touching the seabed) unless you are a good swimmer. The west coast has calmer waters than even the south coast of Christ Church, and the beaches get progressively rougher as you go east from Oistins.

Homosexual acts between consenting adults are punishable by life imprisonment in Barbados.

Camouflage clothing is not permitted for non-military personnel in Barbados.

Stay Healthy in Barbados

Beware of the sun, Barbados is only 13 degrees from the equator and you can very easily get sunburnt. Drink plenty of water and bring an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun.

After dark, it is advisable to use mosquito spray, as mosquitoes are a nuisance for anyone who spends a long time outdoors. This also happens when eating in outdoor restaurants.

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