No matter where in the world you are from- Barbados is one of the “must see” places when travelling to the Caribbean. Located in the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is surrounded by the islands of Trinidad and Tobago and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Compared to its rival, Jamaica, Barbados might not be the most popular but it is the definitely the most developed of the Caribbean countries.
With over eight major towns, one is able to enjoy activities including but are not limited to, shopping, scuba diving, snorkeling and sight-seeing. Bridgetown being the country’s capital is also the largest of its cities. There are many historical sites which add to the uniqueness of this Caribbean island.
Unlike countries such as the United States of America or Canada which normally experience four different seasons of weather, Barbados’ weather can be classified into two main seasons. First, a “wet season” which normally contains more showers and then there is the “dry season.” The wet season is generally between June to November while the dry season runs from December to May.
Regardless of when you visit, the temperatures mostly range between the mid 70s and mid 80s throughout the entire year. However, I would suggest that the best time to visit is during the “dry season” so you can enjoy the beautiful sun and make the most of the picturesque island. This season is the busiest time of the year for the country as they normally celebrate three major events during the months of January-April. These are Barbados Jazz Festival (January), Holetown Festival (February) and Holders Season (March-Early April). There is also Gospelfestwhich is held in May. While the weather is all sunny during the dry season, the hotel prices might not be so budget friendly, hence, that is something to factor into consideration.
In the event you’re not able to travel during the dry season, you can still have just as much fun between the months of June and November. Forget about the sun, let your hair down and enjoy the islands most rousing parties. Some of which are Crop Over Festival (July), Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival (November) and Independence Pro Classic Surfing Championship (November). As an added bonus, hotels prices normally drop down by 50 percent. That’s right! Your pocket will thank you later and this allows you to shop for as much souvenirs as you like.
As a major precaution for a visit during the wet season,you will have threats of hurricanes, humidity and extensive rainfall.
Food & Beverage
A vacation is incomplete unless you’ve tried new mouth-watering sumptuous food and there is no better place for you to do this than in Barbados. Though its cuisine is not as popular as that which is known in Jamaica, the country offers a unique blend of dishes inspired by its rich cultural heritage. Unless you are allergic to seafood, one simply does not vacation in Barbados without indulging in flying fish. Whether it is fried, steamed, grilled, roasted or served with coucou, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. After all, it is no secret that Barbados is "The Land of Flying Fish." Hence, why this food is also their national dish.
In addition to flying fish, I would recommend the macaroni pie. This is normally served as a side to flying fish as well as other dishes. One may wonder, how different could this be from the one I am accustomed to at home? The answer is simple- Barbados has incorporated various herbs and spices to ensure this pie is nothing like you have ever had. Sometimes, meat is also incorporated and there is no need to add ketchup or mustard because they have already been baked into it.
As an option for breakfast, ask for fish cakes. These are little ball fritters fried and stuffed with salt fish and Bajan herbs and spices. Generally, they are served with hot pepper sauce but if the sauce is too spicy for you, be sure to opt out. You can enjoy them naked or sandwiched by salt bread- another traditional Bajan food.
As you enjoy the food in Barbados, it will need to be accompanied by the right drinks. As an all-time favorite rum punch is a must! You will find yourself singing its popular tagline before you leave "One of sour [lime], two of sweet [simple syrup], three of strong [rum], four of weak [water]." Be cautioned though, this drink is strictly for adults who are able to “handle” the Mount Gay Rum used in it. Bajan rum punch should not be underestimated as its hangover is not as friendly as the ones you might be usually accustomed to in your country.
Another drink which can be enjoyed anytime of the day and by anyone, is the Mauby drink. This drink is mostly made from the bark of a tree and brewed with spices like mauby bark (of course), cinnamon, and nutmeg.Just so you are not taken by surprise, this drink has an associated bitterness which is usually acquired after a few sips.
Popular Vacation Spots
Whether you are a fan of water sports, nature, long walks or you just want to shop until you drop, there is something in Barbados for you to do. Below you will find a list of the top – activities you will like.
Carlisle Bay - Vacationing in Barbados without going for a swim or walking along the beautiful beach at Carlisle Bay is something that just does not happen. If you don’t get to do anything else, this is something you must do and while you are at it, be careful to avoid nudity. You also want to avoid the beach at night and bring your mosquito repellant if you’re visiting during the dry season. Carlisle bay is in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Shopping - No matter where in Barbados you are, you will find local tourist shops from which you can purchase, t-shirts, décor or other souvenirs.
Mount Gay Rum Factory Tour - Located in Bridgetown, Barbados, you are able to experience excellent rum at great prices. Your tour will be a relatively short one which begins with a rum punch then ends with four shots of different Mount Gay rum. The staff is wonderful and there is also a gift shop from which you can purchase rums of your choice.
Flower Forest - This is a botanical paradise located in St. Joseph, Barbados. Here you can enjoy nature at its best. Without exaggerating, the word “beautiful” comes short of describing the awesomeness of the view and for what it’s worth, all proceeds from this site goes to a great cause.
Windsurfing and Kitesurfing - Barbados is one of the most amazing places for surfing of whatever kind but the most popular two are windsurfing and kitesurfing. There are many local companies which will teach and guide you.
Scuba diving and Snorkeling - If this is your thing, go for it. You are guaranteed a great time. Whilst these activities can be done throughout all the parishes, Bridgetown and the Christ Town Parish seems to be the most popular choices. As a heads up- please do not go snorkeling without a marker. It can be very dangerous.
Barbados has its own currency known as Barbadian or Bajan dollar which is represented by the symbol $. The most frequently used coins are: $1, 1, 5, 10 and 25. As for banknotes, you will mostly see or use $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
“When planning your Barbados vacation remember that the Barbados Dollar is converted at the rate of $1.98 BDS to $1.00 U.S.
The Barbados Dollar is fixed to the U.S Dollar and does not fluctuate. Its rate to other currencies fluctuates daily based on their fluctuations relative to the U.S. Dollar.” As such, if you are not traveling from the U.S.,I advise that you frequently check to see what the conversion rate is to your currency so you can have a better idea of how much money you will need while you are on vacation.
Maybe walking around with cash is not your preference, you don’t have to worry, payment cards are widely accepted throughout the country.
Though there are no subways or train stations, Barbados does have public buses operating in each town. You are also conveniently able to charter route taxis to your destination. Drivers are very helpful with directions and ensuring your safety while on the road.
If you do rent a car, you will need to be mindful that driver’s in Barbados- as with many other Caribbean countries- drive on the left. Also, when walking on the streets, the traffic will not flow on each side in only one direction and not all streets will have pedestrian light crossing so you will have to carefully look left and right or request assistance from a local.
Finally, while staying in Barbados do not become complacent about your safety. Stay alert and bear the following emergency numbers in mind:
Police: 211 (only emergency); Fire: 311; and Ambulance: 511.