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Discover Barbados: English antiquity and Caribbean sun

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
An idyllic setting of coconut trees, fine sand and turquoise water, it's no wonder that Barbados continues to be one of the most visited destinations in the Caribbean. 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, Barbados can be discovered from East to West and North to South, taking in beautiful coasts, luxurious countryside, old colonial homes and grottos connected by underground rivers.

Travel guide

Welcome to the Caribbean

Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic, about 62 miles east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea and about 250 miles north-east of Trinidad and Tobago.

Capital fever

The capital city of Bridgetown is home to charming colonial houses, while its centre and garrison are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. But explore further outside the capital and you'll find even more charm, from the villages of Holetown, Saint-Peter and Saint-James, with their luxury and charming hotels, to the fishing villages of Oistins, Saint- Joseph, Crane, Sainte-Lucy and Saint-Philip.

Beach life

If you want to relax a little, head to Acrra Beach - one of the best beaches on the island. Full of soft white sand, this is the perfect place to unwind. The boardwalk allows you to walk more than 3km to Hastings.

Get active

Besides the beautiful sun, sea and sand, Barbados is brimming with activities for every interest! In fact, Barbados boasts more attractions per square mile than any other Caribbean island. Experience the great Barbados horse races at the historic Garrison Savannah. With over 25 races per year, there's a very good chance you'll be able to enjoy them with spectators, jockeys, and champions from all over the world!

Do you have green fingers? Head to the botanical gardens of Andromeda. The most prestigious collection of tropical flowers and plants of all the Caribbean is found there! And that's not all: Flower Forest and Orchid World are Botanic Garden as they say, high class!

Located in the tranquil St. Philip countryside, the Sunbury Great House allows you to discover mahogany antiques, old prints, a unique collection of horse-drawn carriages and other items used in domestic plantation life.

Party time

Barbados is also a famous destination for partying. Its nightlife is one of the highlights of the island, which is dotted with bars and restaurants right on the beach. You'll find plenty of parties all over the island, but even more on the south coast. Bajan orchestras, jazzy rhythms, enigmatic Caribbean dances, beach parties and open-air discos thump with the sound of reggae.

Language

The official Barbados language is British English, due to the long British heritage, and inheritance of the British educational system. English is used in formal setting and written communication; however, in informal settings you are likely to hear the local Bajan dialect spoken. This Barbados language is a combination of British English and various West African languages.

More and more Barbadians (especially those working in tourism jobs such as hotels, restaurants, attractions etc.), are becoming multilingual. French and Spanish are the two most common languages taught in school.

Our Editorial team's advice

In terms of weather the best months to visit Barbados are January through to April, as they are the driest and least humid, and usually a couple of degrees Centigrade cooler than other times of year. Barbados weather is usually warm and sunny with occasional cool winds. It rains in summer which is much needed, but the rain is quickly followed by sunny skies and everything is dry within minutes. Tropical rainstorms sometimes occur in the hurricane season which runs from June to October. Hurricanes are not common in Barbados - the last occasion Barbados suffered a direct hit from a major hurricane was in 1955.

The Natural Wonders of Barbados Tour allows you to discover the truly breathtaking landscapes and scenic views of Barbados. Including a trip to Harrison's Cave, Bathsheba, East Coast Cattlewash, Barbados Wildlife Reserve, Earthworks Pottery & the Batik Studio and Flower Forest - the world will never look the same again! The price (around £80) includes a guided tour, entrance fees, lunch, as well as hotel pickup and drop off.

When travelling to Barbados, it is best to take sterling from the UK as you can receive a much better exchange rate in Barbados. You can exchange money at any of the several commercial banks on the island. They all have the same rates as set out by the Central Bank of Barbados. However, if you run out of money you are also never too far away from an ATM.

A tip for jazz fans - if you come in January you can attend the Barbados Jazz Festival in the capital Bridgetown. Debuting in 1993 this festival celebrates the best in international and local jazz talent.

While Barbados is one of the safer Caribbean islands, you should still be wary when on an isolated beach, and avoid walking on a beach or unlit street after dark. Also, due to a recent spate of robberies in Bridgetown and other tourist areas, police are advising tourists as well as locals against wearing visible gold jewellery.

There is a well established public transportation system in Barbados as well as private buses and vans, making your holiday more enjoyable and stress-free! The Barbados Transport Board buses travel through most of the island and have 3 terminals - 2 in the capital city of Bridgetown (at Fairchild Street and Princess Alice Highway) and 1 in the northern town of Speightstown. These buses will take you across the island stopping by popular visitor sites such as Farley Hill National Park, Bathsheba, Harrison's Cave, Gun Hill Signal Station and Oistins.

There are also many privately run transport options to help you find your way around Barbados. Minibuses and ZR vans are available, often travelling on shorter routes and in the more populated areas.

pros

  • +A variety of beautiful coastline and beaches
  • +The sunshine!
  • +A small island, but a world apart.
  • +The peace and quiet

cons

  • -The tourist sites are somewhat 'overdone'
  • -Too much emphasis placed on shopping means the island feels like one big shopping arcade in some places.

Traditions

Barbados traditions are drawn from the West African and British cultures that shaped the island. The majority of the population is of African origin however the island was a colony of the British Empire for over 300 years so the English influence is very strong. Houses with impeccable gardens, schoolchildren in uniform, and the inevitable tea-time in the large hotels form part of daily life. For dinner, certain establishments require a jacket and tie for the men.

Attend the many cricket competitions, polo, horse racing or golf! Barbados has a strong cricketing tradition dating back to the 1800's when the game was played by British soldiers stationed on the island and by the plantation owners and members of the aristocracy. Barbados has produced some of the world's finest cricketers including Sir Garfield Sobers, the 3 Ws (Worrell, Walcott and Weekes) and the legendary opening pair Greenidge and Haynes. International matches are held regularly at Kensington Oval.

Food

Barbados offers a considerable variety of seafood. The most common fish to eat is the flying fish, a national emblem of Barbados. It can be found in both fine gourmet restaurants and in sandwiches at beach bars. Add yam, plantain and sweet potato, and you will get a traditional dish.

Made from corn meal and okras, cou-cou is also a national dish of Barbados. It is similar to polenta or grits but more creamy. It is traditionally served with steamed flying fish in a tomato-based sauce but may also be served with salt fish, red herring or stew.

"Pepperpot" is a spicy stew consisting of vegetables served with rice and red beans cooked in coconut milk. Local specialties also include lamb chops with roasted pine nuts and suckling pig.

Another popular dish, especially for Saturday lunch, is "pudding and souse". Pudding is steamed sweet potato. Souse is pickled pork. Souse was traditionally made from the scrap parts of the pig (ears, trotters, tongue, etc) but today is often made from lean pork meat.

For a sweet refreshing treat a snow-cone is a must have!

Ideal Weather Search

Find weekly weather forecasts for Barbados . Different criteria make it possible to predict with precision the best time of year to go to Barbados . A comprehensive weather score, made up of temperature indicators, bad weather predictions, sunshine levels and wind speeds, will allow you to choose the activities best suited to the weather conditions and therefore make the most of your holiday in Barbados .

Reviewed hotels

Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin

Our journalists' reviews for you 40 hotels Barbados . Take a look at our hotels, their facilities or their value-for-money score according to your departure dates so that we can find the best offer to suit you Barbados . Book a hotel Barbados it's never been so simple !

Souvenirs

Watchmaker's shops, jeweller's shops, imitation jewellery shops, cosmetics, telephones... Most of the famous makes are represented in the island's duty-free shops. To buy net of tax, you need to show your passport and return ticket. The shops open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM from Monday to Friday and to noon on Saturday. Supermarkets close at 6:00 PM in Bridgetown, and Broad Street is attractive for its elegant shops installed in colonial houses. Cheapside Market is a large public market where local produce is sold. Pelican Village offers art and craft shops. Think of Barbados rum.

Package holidays in Barbados

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