Barbados

BARBADOS TRAVEL GUIDE

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The easternmost island in the Caribbean, Barbados juggles two different cultures to create a distinctly Bajan personality. Even after gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1966, this island still holds tight to British traditions like afternoon tea, cricket and horse races. Trademarks of the Caribbean and West Africa are still evident, however, in the island's sugar cane fields, rum distilleries and lush landscapes. And then there are the many beaches.

 

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BARBADOS QUICK FACTS

  • Capital: Bridgetown

  • Currency: Barbadian dollar (BBD) / US dollars are widely accepted

  • Area: 431km²

  • Population: 286 641 (2018)

  • Language: English

  • Religion: Protestant 67% (Anglican 40%, Pentecostal 8%, Methodist 7%, other 12%), Roman Catholic 4%, none 17%, other 12%

  • Electricity: 115V, 50Hz (North American plug)

 

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BARBADOS PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

  • 21 January, Errol Barrow Day
  • 28 April, Heroes’ Day
  • 1 August, Emancipation Day
  • 1st Monday in August, Kadooment Day
  • 30 November, Independence Day
  • 26 December, Boxing Day

Also, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Whit Monday (the Monday after Pentecost).

 

FESTIVALS IN BARBADOS

  • Oistins Fish Festival - (during Easter week) This popular event takes place in the town of Oistins, in the southern part of the island. Having started in 1977, this street fair celebrates the signing of the Charter of Barbados and honours fisherman. Visitors will be able sample a huge range of local delicacies, as well as enjoy music and dance performances.
  • Crop Over Festival - (from the end June into August) This island-wide celebration is probably the biggest and most-loved on Barbados. The origins date back to the 1780s, when sugar cane harvest was celebrated. The highlight is the carnival and spectacular Kadooment Parade.
Barbados
 

BEST TIME TO VISIT BARBADOS

Located in the windward part of the Caribbean’s archipelago, Barbados enjoys a tropical, oceanic climate with hot and humid conditions that persist year-round. The country enjoys an average temperature of 26.8°C, with no drastic changes in either seasonal or daily temperatures. Weather seasons can be classified as either wet or dry, with the wet season coinciding with the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November.

 

The best time to visit Barbados is between July and November. Though these months fall within the Caribbean's hurricane season, hurricanes rarely hit the island, and you could attend one of the lively Crop Over Festival activities if you vacation during this time of year. Temperatures stay in the mid to high 20C's all year round, so there's little reason to travel during the peak season, which occurs from late December to mid-April.

 

BARBADOS WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Located in the windward part of the Caribbean’s archipelago, Barbados enjoys a tropical, oceanic climate with hot and humid conditions that persist year-round. The country enjoys an average temperature of 26.8°C, with no drastic changes in either seasonal or daily temperatures. Weather seasons can be classified as either wet or dry, with the wet season coinciding with the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Monthly average rainfall ranges from a peak of approximately 168.4mm (6.63in) during the wet season, to a low of approximately 39 mm (1.53 in), during the dry season. Barbados’s climate is heavily influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The El Niño phenomena bring hotter and drier conditions during the months of June to August while La Niña brings colder and wetter conditions to the region. These phenomena have been historically the main determinants of the severity of weather events in the country.

Barbados

BARBADOS TOURIST SEASONS

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

JANUARY

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FEBRUARY

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MARCH

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APRIL

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MAY

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JUNE

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JULY

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AUGUST

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SEPTEMBER

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OCTOBER

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NOVEMBER

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DECEMBER

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SPORT & ACTIVITIES

SNOW SPORT IN BARBADOS

HIKING & CYCLING IN BARBADOS

The best months for outdoor activities in Barbados, are December to May when it's driest and least humid. From June to November, the rain usually falls in brief, very heavy showers with the peak of the hurricane season from August to October.

BEACH OPTIONS IN BARBADOS

Barbados enjoys a hot, tropical climate suitable for beach-going all year round. The driest and least humid months are typically from December to May, so these are best for enjoying the beaches. From June to November, the rain usually falls in brief, very heavy showers with the peak of the hurricane season from August to October.

SURFING IN BARBADOS

The best months for surfing in Barbados is from October to March when you can get a solid groundswell along the North and West coasts of the island.

KITESURF IN BARBADOS

Barbados is also one of the windiest islands in the Eastern Caribbean, making it a paradise for Kite Surfing. The best conditions for kitesurfing are from November to June or even July. Almost all kiters here ride wave boards. There is only one beach you can kite on flatter water but this only works with specific wind directions, so if you are more of a freestyle kiter, perhaps this is not your best spot!

For more details on kite surfing in Barbados expand this section!

 
 

HEALTH RISKS IN BARBADOS

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Barbados

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

For the latest travel health notices and recommended precautions click

BARBADOS TRAVEL COSTS

The Caribbean is not cheap, but there are ways to get the most bang for your buck with a little forward planning and some savvy choices

 

  • Budget less than US$150 Room away from the beach: under US$100, Meal at a locally popular restaurant: US$10, Ride local buses: US$3

  • Midrange US$150–300 Double room in the action: US$200, Visit parks and beaches that are free, rent bikes or snorkel for US$10 per day Rental car for exploring: US$40 to US$60 a day.

  • Top end over US$300 - Beautiful rooms at the best resorts in high season: US$400 and over, Activities in beautiful places: US$100 and up, World-renowned meals: US$100 per person and more.

 

Here are some of the best ways to save money:

  • Travel in groups Bring your friends and other couples along with you and rent a villa.

  • Book far in advance For high season deals.

  • Book at the last minute For incredible deals as hotels dump empty rooms.

  • Follow the divers They demand great value near beautiful waters.

  • Ride buses and ferries You meet folks and may have an adventure.

  • Live like a local Save money while having a more authentic visit.

  • Travel in low season Prices can drop 40% or more.

 

BARBADOS TRAVEL TIPS

GETTING AROUND:

The best way to get around Barbados is in a car – preferably one you've rented and not a taxi. Just keep to the left and keep your wits about you for the twists and turns. The aforementioned taxis are an expensive option, but at least the fare is set by the government – it'll cost between 13 and 83 Barbadian dollars (US$ 6.50 - 41.50) to get from Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) to various parts of the island.

 

Compared to some Caribbean destinations, Barbados' roads are easy to navigate and renting a car can add convenience for making the most of exploring Barbados. That said, roads can be winding and narrow and the traffic is frustrating (by any country's standards). Still, this is the most efficient means of getting around. If you want to give it a try, you'll need a temporary permit from the rental agency (you can buy a two-month permit for about 10 Barbadian dollars, or about US$ 5).

 

Although taking a taxi is certainly a hassle-free way to get around you'll pay a steep price for the convenience, with rather hefty fares that are set by the government. Anticipate paying anywhere between 31 and 46 Barbadian dollars (or US$ 15.50 - 23) for a one-way trip from the airport to the hotels of Bridgetown or St. Lawrence Gap.

 

The government-operated buses are a cheap way to get around town and to popular sights like Harrison's Cove and Bathsheba Beach. (They're easy-to-spot – blue with yellow stripes – and their final destinations are clearly visible on the front). Most hotels sit along bus routes, making them a viable option for tourists. However, less populated areas are harder to navigate by bus. Bus passengers are also charged per ride, which includes route transfers. Bajan buses cost 3.50 Barbadian dollars (around $1.75) one-way and you'll need exact change. No foreign currency is accepted for payment.

 

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF BARBADOS

With plenty of golf courses, historic homes and sporting events, Barbados is an ideal vacation spot for active travellers. Avid surfers flock to Bathsheba Beach on the east coast while swimmers looking for calmer waters head to the south coast's Dover Beach. Carlisle Bay near Bridgetown (Barbados' capital) is another popular shoreline, thanks in part to the various shipwrecks and abundant wildlife that await scuba divers and snorkelers. Inland explorers must not pass up an opportunity to visit the lush Hunte's Gardens or Harrison's Cave, a famous Barbadian cave system that is more than a mile long. And a trip to Barbados wouldn't be complete without sampling some of the country's world-famous rum.

 

Wandering bustling Bridgetown with its many sights and old colonial buildings can easily occupy a day. There is good shopping, especially along Broad St and on pedestrian-only Swan St, which buzzes with the rhythms of local culture. The entire downtown area and south to the Garrison was recognized by UNESCO in 2012 for its historical significance.

 

The South Coast is the island’s midrange tourism epicentre. This virtually uninterrupted stretch of development – and beach – runs from the outskirts of Bridge-town all the way to the airport. Hastings and Rockley are home to some attractive, popular beaches. Commercialism rules, although there’s an attractive new boardwalk on the waterfront east of Hastings. Worthing is a good base if you’re on a tight budget but still want to be near the action. Along the stretch between St Lawrence Gap and Dover beach there is good nigh-time strolling. At the southernmost tip of the island, between Oistins and the airport, is the breezy, kitesurfing-mecca of Silver Sands.

 

Barbados’ West Coast has lovely tranquil beaches that are largely hidden by the majority of the island’s luxury hotels and walled estates. In colonial times, the area was a popular holiday retreat for the upper crust of British society. These days, the villas that haven’t been converted to resorts are owned by the wealthy and famous. That’s on the water side of course. On the other side of Hwy 1 are modest huts and simple vacation retreats. Although the beaches are in theory all public, the near constant development means that you only get a few coastal glimpses.

 

Download map waypoints for Barbados here: KML / GPX

 

 

 

(Loads more location information and points of interest are available in the above map)

 

WEST COAST

Barbados’ West Coast has lovely tranquil beaches that are largely hidden by the majority of the island’s luxury hotels and walled estates. In colonial times, the area was a popular holiday retreat for the upper crust of British society. These days, the villas that haven’t been converted to resorts are owned by the wealthy and famous. That’s on the water side of course. On the other side of Hwy 1 are modest huts and simple vacation retreats. Although the beaches are in theory all public, the near constant development means that you only get a few coastal glimpses.

 

CENTRAL BARBADOS

Several roads cross the rolling green hills of the island’s interior. There’s a wealth of historic and natural sights here and you can spend days winding around small roads far from the crowds. Following the road into the hills east of Speightstown, Hwy 2, you will steadily climbs through historic sugarcane fields with ruins of old mills dotting the landscape. At Portland, turn off Hwy 2 and follow a narrow road winding under a cathedral of huge mahogany trees arching overhead to St Nicholas Abbey, a Jacobean-style mansion that is one of the oldest plantation houses in the Caribbean and a must-see stop on any island itinerary. About 700m southeast of the abbey, the road passes Cherry Tree Hill, which has grand views right across the Atlantic coast. Re-join Hwy 2 and head toward the coast. You will pass through the little town of Belleplaine and along the rugged coast through low sand dunes - the road here is one of the great ocean drives - right until you reach Bathsheba.

 

EASTERN BARBADOS

The wild Atlantic waters of the east coast are far removed from the rest of the island. The population is small, the coast craggy and the waves incessant. Bathsheba is prime surfing country. It’s also good for long beach walks as you contemplate feeling you’ve reached the end of the world. It’s an idyllic image of sand, sea and palm trees.

WHAT TO PACK FOR BARBADOS

The Caribbean islands are casual, so bring light, comfy clothes: a bathing suit, T-shirt and shorts will be your wardrobe. Add long pants or a dress for nights out. 

  • Sun hat Buying at home ensures a better fit.

  • Quick-dry towel A small one, for when the whim to swim hits.

  • Flashlight For night-time reading, blackouts.

  • Resealable bags / Drybags Essential for keeping things (cameras, air tickets, passports) dry on boat trips.

  • Snorkelling mask with corrective lenses Suddenly, reefs are in focus!

 
Barbados

WHAT TO EAT IN BARBADOS

An array of Caribbean and international cuisine, with African, Indian and British influences can be found in Barbados, though the island's fresh seafood is the focal point of many restaurant menus. Bridgetown is the best place to enjoy genuine local food and genuine local prices.

 

Look out for:

  • Flying fish - Served fried in delicious sandwiches all over the country. It’s a mild white fish that is great sautéed or deep-fried.
  • Conkies - A mixture of cornmeal, coconut, pumpkin, sweet potato, raisins and spices, steamed in a plantain leaf.
  • Fish cakes - There are myriad Bajan recipes, made from salt cod and deep-fried. Look for them being sold from food trucks.
  • Cutters - Meat or fish sandwiches in a salt-bread roll. Best absolutely fresh and dripping with juice and a dash of hot sauce.
  • Jug-jug - A mixture of cornmeal, green peas and salted meat.

 

The following dishes can be found across the Caribbean:

  • Callaloo - A creamy thick soup or stew blending a variety of vegetables (eg spinach, kale, onions, carrots, eggplant, garlic, okra) with coconut milk and sometimes crab or ham. The base can be spinach-like.
  • Roti - Fiery chutney sets off the curried chicken, beef, conch or vegetable fillings in these burrito-like flat-bread wraps.
  • Conch - Look for farm-raised versions as conch in the wild are endangered. This large pink mollusc is cooked with onion and spices in a stew, fried up as fritters, or sliced raw and served with a lime marinade.

 

Take time to meet the locals by doing what they do – you’ll enjoy a more affordable and authentic experience.

  • Eat at lunch wagons or stalls. The local fare is cheap and often incredibly good.
  • Drop by a local bar – often the de facto community center. Besides a drink, you’ll get all sorts of useful – or wonderfully frivolous – advice.
  • Look for community fish fries or barbecues in the Eastern Caribbean.
 

LGBTQ IN BARBADOS

 
Barbados
 

WHERE TO STAY IN BARBADOS

The south coast generally has smaller and more affordable beach resorts. The west coast is where you’ll find the big money. There is every kind of accommodations across the island. Most hotels add a 7.5% government tax plus a 10% service charge, and many have a minimum stay in high season.

 

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