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Barbados A – Z

Location: The easternmost Caribbean island; part of the Lesser Antilles.
Northeast of Venezuela.
Size: 21 miles long by 14 miles wide (166 square miles).
Parishes: 11
Climate: Tropical year-round, with average temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees F. A gentle sea breeze alleviates even the hottest days.
Topography: Barbados is a pear-shaped coral island. The Caribbean West and South Coasts are calm and palm-fringed with gently lapping waves, whereas the Atlantic East Coast has a rugged beauty, featuring limestone cliffs and rolling waves. The highest point on the island is Mount Hillaby (1,089 feet).
Language: English.
Population: 275, 000 approx.
Capital: Bridgetown.
Currency: The Barbados dollar is tied to the US dollar at a rate of BDS $2.00 to $US1.00. Most establishments accept either Barbados or US dollars.
Electricity: 110 volts/50 cycles (hotels have adapters/transformers).
Government: Barbados is an independent country within the British Commonwealth and has a democratic parliamentary system of government. The Queen of England also serves as Queen of Barbados and is represented by the Governor General. The bicameral legislature consists of the House of Assembly and the Senate. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the Assembly’s majority party.
Airport Service
Charge: Formerly known as the “Departure Tax”, the “Airport Service Charge” is automatically billed into the cost of any ticket out of Barbados, therefore money is no longer collected at the airport.
Baggage Tipping: Suggested fee of US $1.00 per bag.
Religion: Predominantly Anglican, with 100 other denominations represented.
Accommodation: 6,800 guestrooms, ranging from all-inclusive properties and luxury resorts, to villas and budget accommodations to suit all budgets
Water: Barbados’ water can be enjoyed straight from the tap.
Banks: Banks open from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and on Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The Barbados National Bank at Sir Grantley Adams International Airport is open from 8:00 a.m. until the last plane departs or arrives, seven days a week. There are also numerous ATM machines across the island.
Credit Cards: Most hotels and restaurants accept major credit cards, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa.
Post Office: Post Office Building, Cheapside
Tel: 246-436-4800
8:15 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Duty Free: Duty-free shopping is available in various well-respected boutiques. Visitors need only produce their passport or other travel documents and airline ticket for the duty-free transaction to be completed. Certain categories of goods can be collected at the point of purchase; others are delivered to the airport for pick-up before boarding. Goods that cannot be bought over the counter duty-free are spirits, wines, tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, video sets, video games, videotapes, car stereos, televisions and home computers.

Airlines From UK: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer daily direct flights
Flight Time: 8 hours from London and Manchester
Getting Around: Rental cars, public buses, bicycles, and motor scooters are available and make exploring the island hassle-free. Taxi tours are also available. A visitor’s driving permit (essential when renting a car) costs only BDS$10.00 and is available at any police station, through the car rental company, or at the airport when renting a car from the agency located there upon presentation of a valid driver’s license.
Requirements: Not required if one is in possession of a British passport. Citizens of the United States and Canada are required to be in possession of a valid passport to enter Barbados. Passports must be valid for the entire time that they are travelling. Cruise ship passengers considered to be “in-transit,” continuing on with cruises, are not subject to immigration control and, therefore, are not required to carry a valid passport. “In-transit” cruise ship visitors are permitted to go ashore and return to their ship without any hindrance, using their ship’s magnetic identification card. Cruise ship passengers with trips beginning and ending in Barbados or who are “in-transit” to join flights at the Grantley Adams International Airport, are required to possess a valid passport. Visas are required for citizens from Eastern European countries, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Pakistan, the non-Commonwealth countries of Africa and all South American countries except Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.
Time Difference: Barbados is 4 hours behind GMT in the winter and 5 hours in the summer
Do and don’ts: It is illegal to wear camouflaged clothing in Barbados. As of 1 October 2010 it will be illegal to smoke in a public enclosed area.

Oistins Fish Market: Visit the Oistins Fish Market on a Friday or Saturday night and enjoy the excitement and buzz of Barbados’ most popular market place. Enjoy rubbing shoulders and partying with locals to the sweet strains of Calypso music coming from the dance hall in the middle of the markets. Bajans dance arm in arm to music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Of course all that dancing builds up an appetite, so head for the food and beverage stalls and enjoy traditional Bajan fare such as fish cakes, fried fish and chips, all washed down with a cool Banks Beer. Local arts and crafts can also be found in abundance as local craftsmen take the opportunity to display their wares.
Mount Gay Rum Tour: Enjoy one or more cocktails with expert shakers at the Mount Gay Rum Barbados distillery, and discover the colourful history of Mount Gay Rum. Learn how the world’s finest rum is made and enjoy tasty Bajan cuisine in the Verandah restaurant overlooking the sea. Watch as the Distiller shows you how to create this precious spirit, and become a rum expert yourself as you explore the subtleties of flavors that will tickle your palate. Visitors can also choose from over 1,600 Rum shops dotted across the island to experience the local delicacy and it’s also possible to learn more about rum production at Malibu Visitor Centre via a video presentation and a tour through the distillery and restaurant.
Island Safari Tour: Visit the highest cliff on the island where Jim Hackleton, devastated by unrequited love, rode his horse off the edge and crashed into the sea below killing himself and his horse. Professional guides take tours through the gullies, forests, remote bays and road with coastal views exposing the hidden secrets of Barbados. Embrace the nature, history, culture and folklore of Barbados at captivating places of interest, usually inaccessible to ordinary vehicles, posing no challenge to the fleet of 4×4 Land Rovers.
Harrison’s Cave: The Caves are located near the geographical centre of Barbados, in the parish of St. Thomas and are a natural phenomenon in the tropical world. In 1981, Harrison’s Cave opened to the public as a “show” cave, providing visitors an opportunity to view a variety of natural features unique to the geography of Barbados. Electric- powered carts take guests through the caves and commentary provides an amusing background to the different halls in the Caves. With an abundance of stalactites, stalagmites, streams, lakes and waterfalls, leading speleologists consider the Crystal Room Cave to be among the finest showcases of its type in the world. First mentioned in historical documents in 1795, the caves were virtually forgotten for nearly 200 years, until Barbadian Tony Mason and Danish speleologist Ole Sorensen rediscovered them in 1976
Natural Wonders: There are spectacular tropical flowers throughout Barbados, but Andromeda Gardens, the Flower Forest and Orchid World best showcase the island’s rich botanical blossoms. These tropical gardens open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., are perfect for a leisurely stroll and are an idyllic setting for a wedding ceremony. Hike up the Arbib Heritage and Nature Trail, an outstanding trail that received Islands magazine’s 1999 Ecotourism Award, to discover the gullies and environs of Speightstown, Barbados’ second town. Walks must be pre-booked through the Barbados National Trust. Wander through Welchman Hall Gully, a national park that features incredible vegetation and a nature trail, and is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. Visit early or late to meet the chattering vervet monkeys that abound on the grounds. Take in the view of the East Coast from the top of Cherry Tree Hill. It’s breathtaking. The best approach is from the west — go up the hill, stop on the crest, and simply drink in the sight. For another great view, this time of the Southern half of the island, make your way to the top of the Gun Hill Signal Station. Sit on the cliffs near Harrismith or Bottom Bay just to appreciate the pure rugged beauty of the Southeast Coast of Barbados. You won’t see another soul for miles around. Take an “off-the-beaten” path Island Safari tour, which takes visitors all over Barbados to spots that aren’t on regular tours, in a unique jeep convoy. Ask for Andrew – he will keep you hanging on to the seats all day.
The Nidhe Israel Synagogue: This 350-year-old synagogue in Bridgetown was built in the 17th century (1654), was destroyed by a hurricane in 1831, rebuilt, but fell into disrepair and was later sold in 1929. In 1983, it was bought back by the local Jewish community and is now restored, complete with beautiful Gothic arches. The synagogue is now a Barbados National Trust protected building and an active place of worship that is open year round.
St. Nicholas Abbey and Sunbury House: St. Nicholas Abbey, located in the parish of St. Peter, was built in 1660 and is one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere. A video shown hourly in the old stables, features unique footage about the history of the family and the early days of St. Nicholas Abbey. Sunbury Plantation House is more than 300 years old. The House is steeped in history, featuring mahogany antiques, old prints and a unique collection of horse-drawn carriages. Both are working plantation houses, beautifully restored; each demonstrating the history of Sugar Cane, how it was grown, harvested and eventually turned in to sugar.
Open House Program: The Barbados National Trust’s Open House program enables the public and visitors alike to visit Barbadian private homes, ranging from historic treasures and amusing abodes, to lap-of-luxury mansions. Open House takes place every Wednesday afternoon from 2:30 to 5:30, beginning in January and lasting through early April. Tours are similar to an English garden party, as the National Trust staff circulates about the house, anxious to exchange tid-bits about its history and unique features. This offers tour guests a fascinating way to see magnificent architecture normally un-accessible to the public.
Crop Over: Crop Over, a five-week summer festival, is Barbados’ most popular and colorful festival. Its origins can be traced back to the 1780’s, a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar. At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of yet another successful sugar cane harvest – the Crop Over celebration. The festival begins with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the crowning of the King and Queen of the Festival – the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season.
Beaches: Because Barbados lies partially on the Atlantic Ocean and partially on the Caribbean Sea, the coastlines of the island are diverse, varying from gentle beaches to rugged cliffs. The western side of Barbados, where many of the island’s hotels are located, boasts some of the most idyllic shores for swimmers and sunbathers, such as Mullins Beach, Church Point, and Paynes Bay. East Coast beaches, including Bathsheba/Cattlewash, are popular among surfers and experienced windsurfers. South Coast beaches such as Carlisle Bay, Accra Beach, Sandy Beach, Casuarina Beach and Silver Sands are popular for body surfing (medium waves) while Needham’s Point and Dover Beach are among the best for snorkeling and swimming. Bathsheba on the East Coast features miles of untouched beach along the island’s most rugged, hilly and beautiful stretches of coast. Excellent surfing can be had here. For a classic beach that’s a favourite of many visitors, visit Crane Beach, with cliffs, dunes, pink sands and beautiful waters. It was named by “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” as one of the best beaches in the world, however sea bathing is not advisable here due to the strong currents.
Surf Bathsheba: Kelly Slater, world-renowned Surfing champ, has declared The Soup Bowl in Bathsheba on the North East Atlantic coast as having some of the best surfing in the Caribbean. The Soup Bowl comes alive when the swells arrive from the North or North East, and break over a shallow reef, producing the perfect barrel or “tube” that surfers relish so much. Surfers from the United States, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Trinidad, and the US Virgin Islands “match their lefts and rights” each year with top local surfing talent competing for a prize of USD $10,000.
Washington House: Visit the only house that young George Washington lived in outside of the United States. George Washington and his sick half-brother Lawrence resided in this historic plantation house, also known as Bush Hill House, for two months in 1751. Barbados was the only country outside of the U.S. ever visited by the future “First Father” of the USA. This visit is a little known but very important chapter in the life of the then unknown 19-year-old man, who would go on to become, as later described by Light-Horse Harry Lee, “first in war, first in peace, first in hearts of his countrymen.” The Barbados National Trust is restoring the house and outlying buildings, creating a heritage site on the historic Garrison, celebrating the visit and the role that Barbados played in the settlement of America.
The Barbados Jazz Festival: Each year a number of luminaries from the international Jazz scene arrive in Barbados to perform in the annual Jazz Festival. This week-long festival provides visitors and locals alike with the smooth sounds of contemporary and traditional Jazz. Past headliners have included Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu and Anita Baker, among others.
Cuisine: Offering some of the finest cuisine in the Caribbean, the island was the first and remains the only one to be Zagat rated and has over 100 restaurants from coast to coast – from 5* restaurants to local establishments. Barbados’ eclectic mix of American, European and Asian influences are all featured in the unique style of Bajan cooking. Fresh seafood is abundant, with local delicacies including Flying Fish, Swordfish, Tuna, Lobster and Shrimp. Barbados’ national dish is Cou-Cou with flying fish – a combination worth trying during a visit! Barbadian restaurants range from informal beach eateries, found all over the island, to sophisticated fine dining establishments. Other Bajan delicacies include Pepperpot (a spicy stew) and Jug-Jug (a mixture of guinea corn and green peas). Barbados also has an abundance of restaurants offering continental cuisine and fresh seafood.

Art & Culture: Pelican Village is an attractive, spacious shopping village offering the very best of local handicrafts, and providing the opportunity to see Barbados’ craftsmen at work. Located on the outskirts of the capital city of Bridgetown, Pelican Village is the first stop for cruise visitors as they disembark at the Harbour.
Art can also be viewed and purchased at a number of galleries, such as The Verandah Art Gallery, Carriage Art Gallery and the Barbados Gallery of Art.
Shopping: Broad Street is the main shopping avenue of Bridgetown where visitors enjoy tax-free shopping by presenting a passport and departing air ticket. Stores include: Cave Shepherd, the island’s largest department store, as well as Harrison’s, Broad Street’s tax-free treasure. “Madison’s Duty-Free Inc. is located at West Coast Mall, Sunset Crest. It is a wonderful boutique with everything from linen outfits to cocktail dresses and evening gowns, shoes, handbags, hats, jewelry and other accessories from American and European designers. Owned and operated by Anne Riley-Fox. For exquisite handcrafted jewelry and precious gifts designed by master goldsmiths from the Caribbean and abroad, visit Heather Harrington Jones in Holetown, St. James. A wide selection of top quality gold, platinum and sterling silver pieces are presented in a relaxed setting. Don’t come back from a visit without at least one piece of Earthworks Pottery. Goldie Spieler’s vivid blue and green designs reflect a tropical feel, with the collection featuring both decorative and functional pieces. Visit the studio, nestled in the hillside of St. Thomas, free of charge.
Nightlife: After sunset, entertainment options abound, whether it’s savoring Bajan cuisine in one of the many fine restaurants, sailing aboard the MVP Harbour Master (a party boat), or exploring Baxter Road — “the street that never sleeps.” Music, dancing, steel bands and cabaret shows are offered in most hotels and popular nightclubs/bars include: Harbour Lights; Taboo at The Boatyard in Bridgetown; Ship Inn and The Muse Bar, which is the former home of actress of Minnie Driver. An impressive dinner/cabaret show on Wednesday and Friday is the “Bajan Roots & Rhythms,” located at the Plantation Garden Theatre in St. Lawrence, Christ Church. Barbados has many talented theatre and dance groups. Shows are held throughout the year at various venues such as the Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre and the modern Frank Collymore Hall in Bridgetown and The Cane Pit Amphitheatre. Bajan floorshows and exciting nightclubs are filled with the hypnotic rhythms of Caribbean music. Oistin’s Fish Fry sizzles from 6:00 p.m. until midnight every Friday with music and dancing, and the aroma of fried fish and other sumptuous Bajan delicacies. Visitors looking for an elegant evening can sway to the tunes of steel band or string quartets under Caribbean skies on Sandy Lane’s Starlight Terrace or enjoy the sounds of saxophone and guitar at Cobblers Cove. Champers in Christ Church and Amaryllis Beach Resort’s 39 Steps Wine Bar in Hastings each offer ideal settings to sip fine vintages.

Cruising: The Harbour Master provides party cruising with an authentic Bajan lunch or dinner included. A number of charter cruises provide cruise facilities on a daily basis; these can be organized from the Careenage in Bridgetown.

Golf There are several courses on the island, including the Barbados Golf Club, the island’s first public course, located on the South Coast. Sandy Lane Hotel has three courses: the Sandy Lane Old Nine; the 18-hole Country Club; and the exclusive 18-hole Green Monkey, which has been named by golf aficionados as one of the best courses in the Caribbean. Royal Westmoreland Golf & Country Club offers an 18-hole championship golf course, and Club Rockley and Almond Beach Village feature nine-hole courses.
Tennis Many hotels offer high-standard courts and some are floodlit for evening play. Advance bookings are recommended.
Cricket Cricket is played at all levels throughout the island, with top regional matches held from January through March. Test Matches provide a great atmosphere for enjoying this popular sport and are held from March to May every year. Following on from its hosting of the 2007 Cricket World Cup Finals, earlier this year Barbados again played host to the Finals of the Word ICC Twenty20 West Indies Tournament.
Horseracing The Garrison Savannah, Barbados’ home for horse-racing, is steeped with history from the time when the British Regiment Officers were stationed there in 1845, the colonial days.
An excursion to the races is set against the backdrop of an almost festival like atmosphere, providing an opportunity for persons to interact and socialise, enjoy music, patronise street vendors, sample local cuisine. This makes it an ideal event for families who want a refreshing and relaxing evening outdoors. The highlight of the Barbados racing calendar is the Sandy Lane Gold Cup held in March of each year.
Windsurfing Barbados offers the best windsurfing in the Caribbean. Both beginners and experienced windsurfers will find conditions to suit their skills.
Diving Since Barbados is a flat coral island, unlike its steep-sided volcanic neighbours, it offers a unique underwater landscape for scuba diving. The extensive system of fringing reefs, patch reefs and unusual bank reef are unrivaled in the Caribbean. There are a number of dive operators, plus facilities for equipment service and a decompression chamber and PADI five-star centres offering introductory courses for beginners and daily trips for the experienced. Divers from around the world come for the island’s famous wreck dives (The Stavronikita, Berwyn and the Friars Craig). Game fishing enthusiasts will also find their niche on Barbados’ charter boats, such as Blue Jay and Honey Bea III, to cruise in pursuit of marlin, tuna, dolphin and kingfish.
Yachting The West and South coasts offer excellent yachting conditions. All forms of racing are conducted in Barbados, including dinghy regattas, inshore races in Carlisle Bay and offshore races. In addition, several local racing boats regularly participate in overseas regattas in the Caribbean islands of Bequia, Carriacou, Grenada, St. Martin and Tobago. Local dinghy sailors also compete in regional and international regattas.
The Barbados Yacht Club is the venue for sail training courses offered by the Barbados Sailing Association and Barbados Optimist Dinghy Association.
Water sports Many hotels offer water sports activities including water-skiing, windsurfing, snorkeling, sailing and parasailing. The West Coast is ideal for snorkeling and water-skiing, while the South Coast is known as one of the world’s best for windsurfing. A must-do is a catamaran cruise aboard Excellence or Tiami, including a delicious Bajan lunch, and snorkelling with the turtles.

Watch our own Rihanna show you the best of Barbados on this DVD.


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