Barbados Travel Guide
Soaked in rum, sophisticated by Caribbean comparisom, and mad about cricket mon, Barbados is often referred to as ‘Little England‘, and it’s easy to see why. Reminders of the long British colonization of the island are everywhere, but the culture here is definitely Caribbean. Extremely friendly and fun-loving locals fill the busy cities, and beautiful beaches, amazing coral reefs, stunning scenery and great parties combine to make Barbados a great holiday destination. The west coast is heavily developed but retains its natural charm. Conversely, the east coast is very raw with a multitude of undeveloped coves and inlets to explore.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: The miniature Trafalgar Square in Bridgetown, admiring the amazing view from St John’s Parish Church, cruising along the East Coast Road, looking at the beautiful flora and fauna in Flower Forest, stumbling and sipping your way around the tour of the Mount Gay Rum factory.
What’s Not: Fighting off millions of mosquitoes at night, burning in the relentless sunshine, getting scammed by friendly but devious Bajans, being offered drugs, forgetting just how hot the yellow sauce on the flying fish is and nearly choking to death.
When to Go
Barbados is tropical and hot. The constant sea breeze helps a great deal, but it’s still roasting most of the time. The dry season is from December to June and this is definitely the best time to go. The wet season runs from July to November, but as it only rains gently and sporadically, this is a good time to go too. Watch out for occasional tropical storms that can brew during the wet season.
Health & Safety
Barbados is pretty safe although recently there has been an increase in the amount of scamming and fraud on the island. Be careful and don’t accept any dodgy sounding offers and you’ll be fine. The sun is extremely hot so make sure you stock up on sunscreen or bring an umbrella to shade yourself and stay hydrated at all times. Watch out for people trying to sell you illegal substances; drug use is heavily frowned upon by the local authorities and punishments are accordingly harsh.
Food & Hospitality
Fish is usually the order of the day in Barbados. The national specialty consists of a lightly battered and fried flying fish smothered with ludicrously hot yellow sauce. Beware – this sauce is HOT. The weekly Friday night fish fry in Oistins on the south coast is a definite highlight not just for the fish, but for the all night party that follows. Barbados is reputed to have the purest water in the world so take a sip and see how it compares. Mount Gay Rum, made on the island, is a quality tipple, as is the locally brewed Banks beer.
Two weeks in Barbados is plenty of time to see the sights.
Stroll around and soak up the unique and interesting atmosphere and architecture of Bridgetown.
Head to St John’s Parish Church and check out the magnificent view.
The south coast is a charming string of villages and there’s lots of fun to be had here, particularly in St Lawrence.
Hire a car and enjoy the sweeping and scenic drive of a lifetime on the East Coast Road.
Holetown is the oldest town on the island and it has a nice little beach.
Check out the funky monkeys and opulent orchids in the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.
Top up your tan and rub shoulders with the well-to-do on the beautiful beaches of the Platinum Coast.
Bridgetown: rich in colonial history, this modern and busy city is well worth a look, pretending to almost be a city.
Holetown: is the site of the first settlement on the island and is home to the impressive St James Church and a hopping annual festival.
South Coast: this strip of villages offers the best drinking and partying opportunities in Barbados.
East Coast Road: watch the Atlantic crash against the coast on this magnificent drive.
Platinum Coast: lounge around, swim and relax in style on the beautiful white-sand beaches.
Scuba diving: the island is surrounded by coral reefs with all sorts of interesting and colorful creatures living within. Don your mask and air tank and get down there.
Golfing: Barbados is home to some challenging and picturesque courses including Royal Westmoreland and the Barbados Golf Club.
Fishing: charter a boat and head out into the glorious waters to catch your dinner.
Partying: head to the villages on the south coast and drink Mount Gay Rum and listen to reggae till you drop.
Cheering: share the island’s obsession for cricket at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.
Festivals & Events
Barbados has a clutch of unique and high quality festivals that really capture the flavor of the island.
January: see some of the hottest jazz talent in the world at the annual Barbados Jazz Festival.
February: celebrate the anniversary of the first settlement on the island in Holetown.
April: held in Oistins on the south coast, the annual Fish Festival celebrates the inevitably sterling contribution of the island’s fishing community; the fish boning competition is an understandable highlight.
May: the heavily religious aspect of Barbados come to the fore in a festival of music and color.
November: celebrates the island’s independence from the British on the 30th, wit plenty of rum punch and hangovers.