There are so many things to know before traveling to Barbados. First, it’s an island country in the Caribbean region of North America. Additionally, its capital is Bridgetown and it’s outside the principal Atlantic belt. Without a doubt, it has always been a dream travel or vacation destination by many because of its amazing beaches. In fact, it has been ranked as the leading tourist destination in the Caribbean.
Moreover, this island got its name from the Portuguese term Os Barbados or its Spanish equivalent Los Barbados which both mean “the bearded ones.” On the other hand, to which the “bearded refers to is still a topic of debate up to this day. Some say that it pertains to the long, hanging roots of a bearded fig-tree which is indigenous to the island. Then again, others say that it refers to the supposedly bearded Caribs who once inhabited the island. At the same time, there are also some who believe that it pertains to the beard formed by the sea foam that sprays over the outlying reefs.
Where is it Located?
Obviously, one of the first things to know before traveling to Barbados is its location. This island is situated in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies. Also, it is east of the countries of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Additionally, it is southeast of Martinique and northeast of Trinidad and Tobago.
A Teeny, Tiny Bit of History
Learning a small amount of its history is also one of the things to know before traveling to Barbados. Back to the past, it was visited by Spanish navigators around the end of the 15th century while it was already been inhabited by Kalinago and Amerindians people. These Spaniards claimed the island and then was later claimed by the Portuguese empire. A lot of things happened after that as time passed by such as it became an English and British colony too. But in the end, it became an independent state.
How’s the Climate There?
Whether if you’re going to tick another travel escapade or to have a good vacation, it’s just logical that the climate there should be one of the things to know before traveling to Barbados. That way, you’ll know if the situation there will be applicable for the activities that you already planned ahead. If there’s something you can’t control during traveling, it’s the weather.
Barbados experiences two seasons. The wet season happens from around June to December while the dry season starts from December and ends at May. Generally, on the climate classification scale, the island is categorized as having a tropical monsoon climate. Then again, it’s still regarded as having only a moderately tropical climate because of the breezes that it encounters throughout the year.
Assuming that you’re going to Barbados because of the beaches, because it’s always almost the reason tourists flock there, then you may want to consider going there around December to May. Also, it’s said that during the hotter days, prices are lower there. Then it’s really a win-win for you!
The People of Barbados
A travel etiquette that is usually neglected by travelers is getting to know the people of the place they’re going into. Indeed, it’s one of the things to know before traveling to Barbados or to any country in general. When you know the people’s culture, you’ll do things appropriately there and you won’t risk disrespecting the locals through one way or another.
The Barbadians, as they’re called, are of Afro-Caribbean as well as mixed descent. The rest of the population is composed of Europeans who are mostly from United Kingdom and Ireland, and Asians who are mostly from China and India. At the same time, they have Bajan which is their English-based creole language. They use it in everyday life or during informal settings. But in general, Barbados is an English speaking island, so you won’t really have a hard time socializing with the people.
Traveling Within Barbados
Another one of the important things to know before traveling to Barbados is the transportation system there. You’ll surely want to have a good and smooth trip, so you have to bear this one in your mind.
The transportation in Barbados, if you don’t have a private car, is mainly more convenient through Zadars or the route taxis. Additionally, there are the yellow minibuses which are privately owned and said to often blast reggae and soca music from its home-built stereo system. Also, there are blue Transport Board buses which are government-operated. The Zedars and the yellow minibuses can give change while the blue one can only give receipts, so make sure that if you’re opting for the latter, you have an exact fare. At the same time, and fortunately, there are some hotel accommodations which do offer their visitors with shuttle services for a tour to Barbados’ tourism hotspots. So you’re certainly lucky if your hotel has that perk for you once you get there.
Where to Stay in Barbados?
Another one of the things to know before traveling to Barbados, is of course, the place where you will stay. Now, there are so many places to stay in while you’re savoring the majesty of the island. One of the options that travelers opt for is looking for vacation houses. There are many people who rent out their house for travelers. Also, there are those who have a space which they really rent out for tourists. It’s way much cheaper than hotels. On the other hand, if you don’t have any acquaintances in Barbados, the only left option for you is to book a hotel room.
Here are some of the hotels in Barbados that have good ratings from visitors, as per the data of TripAdvisor. Furthermore, each one got an overall good rating in terms of the following criteria: location, cleanliness, service, and value. Also, they all offer the essentials in a hotel accommodation together with their own unique perks for visitors.
- The Crane Resort
This resort is located on the South East coast of Barbados and is also overlooking the view of one of the best beaches in the Caribbean which is the Crane Beach. This resort provides ultra-spacious one and two-bedroom suites and three bedroom penthouses with magnificent gardens, private pools, as well as rooftop terraces. Also, this is near to many restaurants such as the Zen Restaurant, Cutters of Barbados, and Marco Polo Bar & Grill.
- Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados
This resort is located in the Carlisle Bay Beach in Barbados. Also, it has two oceanfront bars, oceanfront fitness center and pool, as well as a restaurant. It is near to the favorite eateries in the area such as the Jamaica Grill Kitchen, Sahara Arabic Grill and Falafel, Cuz’s Fish Stand, and Tiki Pies.
- Infinity on the Beach
This hotel is in the heart of St. Lawrence Gap. Additionally, it is close to some historical sites such as the George Washington House, Garrison Savannah-Barbados Turf Club, and the Gun Signal Station. Moreover, it’s also near to the Happy Days Café, Bliss Café, My Friends Place, and Jan and Franks Cocktail Bar.
- Coral Mist Beach Hotel
This hotel which is situated in Worthing, Barbados is near the Rockley or Accra beach. Also, it’s near to Champers Restaurant, Chicken George & Yankee Joe’s Beach Bar, Oasis Beach Bar, and The Chopping Board Kitchen at MOJO.
Beaches in Barbados
- Crane Beach
This wide sandy beach with a pinkish hue has stepping stone rocks on its northern end. Also, it has a backdrop of coconut palms.
- Carlisle Bay Beach
This is located in the southwest of Barbados. Bridgetown, the capital of the island, is in this bay! Carlisle Bay Beach has been a marine park where scuba diving is very popular as well as the sightseeing of relics such as anchors and cannonballs on the ocean floor. At the same time, Barbados’ historic Needham’s Point Lighthouse is here.
- Dover Beach
This is situated on the south coast of Barbados which is the island’s liveliest coast with its tons of activities to offer to tourists and locals. The available tours and the water sports activities here are countless which just makes it so busy all the time. Also, there are indeed a lot of restaurants, food and drink outlets, and other accommodations here. Clearly, these are usually booming at night which is the reason why “the nightlife” in the south coast of Barbados is known as a thing.
- Accra Beach
This beach which sits in a perfect arch around a small bay is also known as the Rockley Beach. Even though the sea is shallow for some distance which makes it children-friendly, it’s also great for body boarding because of its good waves.
This “rugged” beach on the East Coast is located next to a small fishing village called Bathsheba. It isn’t safe for swimming, but is very popular with the surfers. Also, there are natural pools carved out of the inshore coral where the water swirls around like a giant whirlpool bath.
- Bath Beach
Another beast on the East Coast but there is no undertow here which makes it unsafe for swimming, unlike the Bathsheba beach.
- Brownes Beach
This is one of Barbados’ largest beaches. It’s perfect for divers and snorkelers because of an abundance of fish as well as turquoise. At the same time, it’s overlooking the Carlisle Bay.
- Miami Beach
This central South Coast beach also known as the Enterprise Beach is near the famous fishing town of Oistin. Also, the town is famous for its weekly Friday Fish Fry.
- Silver Sands Beach
This is considered as one of the world’s top watersports location because of the perfect way that the winds hit the stretch of the coast, making it a real treat of fun and enjoyment for kite surfers and windsurfers.
- Gibbes Beach
This beach is a hidden gem of Barbados. It isn’t that commercialized, thus you can only see the sand, sea, and the palm trees around. For that reason, it’s perfect if you want a sea experience that is tranquil.
- Mullins Beach
Another must-visit beach is this one. It’s a neighbor of Gibbes but much more full of people. It’s jam-packed with bar, watersports rentals, and all that which makes it popular among people.
- Archers Bay Beach
Again, another hidden gem of Barbados is this one. On the other hand, this is much more kept than Gibbes. It’s said that there are no signposts, lifeguards, and facilities there. All you have is the nature speaking for itself with its breathtaking views of the cliffs where the Archers Bay is situated between.
Where are the Best Places to Eat?
Now, traveling won’t be fun if you don’t get to taste the local foods in Barbados! Certainly, knowing where to go to have the best food trip experience is one of the things to know before traveling to Barbados.
- The Lone Star
Also known as “the Ivy of the Caribbean,” this 1950s-chic eatery and boutique hotel is situated on the west coast of Barbados. Its menu is a combination of Italian fare and their own classics in which one is their homemade shepherd’s pie that is certainly a favorite among diners! For lunchtime, they offer pizzas made from their woodfire ovens as well as a variety of salads. Their Sunday lunch is still a buzz too! Additionally, their menu is vegetarian-friendly! For drinks, on the other hand, they have a cocktail lounge where you can relax and savor your glass of champagne.
- The Cliff
This is open for six days a week from December to May and from June to November. Their cuisine consists of Caribbean, Seafood, International, and European. Moreover, their menu is vegetarian-friendly!
- The Tides Restaurant
This is located on the water’s edge of the West Coast of Barbados. It takes pride on its backdrop which was a seaside Barbadian home built after the 2nd World War. Its menu encompasses cuisine for lunch and dinner. At the same time, kids have a menu for themselves too, in case they want delicious snacks. For drinks, they have a wine and cocktail list.
Furthermore, this restaurant has an art and photo gallery where you can go muse upon amazing works. If you’re an artsy person who landed in Barbados, then this is the best place to eat for you!
- The Fish Pot
This is situated within the old Fort and right directly on the water’s edge. You can have a good breakfast, lunch, or dinner in this restaurant that offers an uninterrupted view of the Caribbean Sea with its open-air covered terrace. At the same time, its informal dining rooms feature large picture windows facing the horizon.
- Oistins Fish Fry
They offer Caribbean, Seafood, and Barbecue cuisine.
- Scarlet’s Restaurant
This restaurant is a retro bistro with its bright red building, moody interior with the low-level lighting, as well as the portraits of Hollywood greats on the walls. Additionally, they offer Caribbean classics with their own unique twist too.
- Fusion Rooftop
This restaurant that is located on the top floor of the Limegrove Lifestyle complex is known for its penthouse dining under the stars! It also takes pride on its interior design which is influenced by feng shui and the four natural elements. Additionally, it offers a high class yet informal dining style to its customers. Its menu, on the other hand, spans from international, sushi, Asian, contemporary, and fusion cuisines and there are special menus for vegetarians as well.
This is the sister of Daphne’s London and both establishments are known for their vibrance and style. Its menu consisting of Italian favorites is also an assortment of island-inspired seasonal dishes. Additionally, it’s also vegetarian-friendly. On the other hand, for the beverages, you can choose among tis Italian, New World, and French wines.
- The Cliff Beach Club
This offers a laidback luxury of a food trip experience together with a wonderful view. Moreover, it offers French, Caribbean, and Seafood cuisines.
- Lobster Alive
This restaurant has been a hit with international critics, restaurant guide books, and tourists and customers in general. If you love crustacean cuisine, then this is the go-to place for you to eat in Barbados.
Festivals in Barbados
If in case you won’t go there for the beaches only, but to also have fun in the most intense implication of that word, then try to go to the island when a festival is being held. You surely won’t forget experiencing one there! Indeed, festivals are one of the things to know before traveling to Barbados.
- The Holetown Festival
This festival started back from the 1970s. It was held to commemorate the 350th Anniversary of the first English settlement in the island of Barbados. From then on, this festival has evolved and then transformed into this unique Holetown brand.
What to expect when you celebrate this festival with the locals? There are the Opening Gala and Steel Band Concert too. Moreover, there are the street fair and parade, the Holetown Dooflicky and Bajan Carnival, the Vintage and Classic Car parade, as well as the Road Walk and Run tradition. Also, you can enjoy a night variety concert at the Seaside Theatre or compete in a Karaoke battle.
- Crop Over Festival
This one is arguably Barbados’ most popular and colorful festival of all. Its past can be traced as far back to the 1780s when the island was the world’s biggest producer of sugar. This festival was always been held to celebrate the abundance of the sugar cane harvest for the year. On the other hand, when Barbados was no longer the biggest sugar producer, this celebration stopped. But then again, it was revived in the 1970s where other elements were added as new facets of the festival.
What to expect when you celebrate this festival with the locals? You get to witness the Opening Gala and the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes. There is also the ceremonial crowning of the King and Queen who are the most productive cane cutters of the season. At the same time, there are folk concerts and photographic exhibitions that you may indeed enjoy!
Furthermore, there is the Grand Kadooment which is a carnival parade featuring large bands with members dressed in elaborate costumes. For the said attires, the best designer will win an award. Then the rest of the festival will be all about dancing to the rhythm of calypso music.
- Barbados Food and Rum Festival
Aside from being the top tourist destination of the Caribbean, the island of Barbados is also referred to as its Culinary Capital. This festival brings all the amazing chefs and mixologists together in a world class culinary and beverage experience in the famed island. For this reason, if you like foods or you like drinking, then book your trip to Barbados at the same time that this spectacular festival is happening.
Souvenirs from Barbados
Another one of the things to know before traveling to Barbados is where to shop for souvenirs. Of course you’ll want to have something to remind you of your stay in the Caribbean’s top tourist destination. You absolutely want a proof that you went to the most amazing beaches in the world which resulted into your pretty tan. At the same time, you may want to bring something back for your loved ones and friends who may be left behind.
- Chattel Village Shop
This shop is located in the heart of Holetown in St. James, on the west coast of the island of Barbados. If you find a quaint shop with character and charm in the area, without a doubt, that’s the gift shop!
- Quayside Centre Shop
Located on the south coast of the island of Barbados is a shop that’s near to the Accra or Rockley beach. So if you suddenly get tired of the waves, you can go see what charming souvenirs are being sold in this shop, and vice versa.
- Southern Palms Shop
This shop is situated on the center of the famed St. Lawrence Gap, so it’s also always full of customers too!
- Bridgetown Cruise Terminal Shop
Another shop to visit and try is this one which is open to visitors coming to the island of Barbados by cruise ship. If you think about it, it’s more convenient for you to shop here. Why? As soon as you landed in Barbados, you can already buy the souvenirs you’re going to take home. It just means that once your tour or vacation is over, you can just pack things up easily. No need for you to stop over and pick stuff that you think your sister or brother will like. Also, just think about leaving a place like Barbados. You will surely have a separation anxiety when you are about to leave the top Caribbean destination. If you already bought your souvenirs beforehand, you can just focus on calming yourself and saying goodbye to the majestic island.
Additional Things to Know Before Traveling to Barbados
This extra list of the things to know before traveling to Barbados is composed of some do’s and don’ts, as well as some warnings:
- Wearing camouflage is a no-no in the island. Also, there is no exception to this rule, even children. Authorities also favor, not just your clothes, but as well as everything you carry to not be made of that material. They want that only the Barbados Defense Force will wear camouflage.
- Be observant when you are in the beach. Sea urchins are everywhere, so if you are careless, you may find yourself in a really painful situation, literally and figuratively.
- In the island of Barbados, the water from taps is 100% potable. For this reason, you can drink as much as you want directly from the tap. Rest assure that you are safe.
- There are trees called Machineel trees which can cause severe blistering to you when you go near them when it’s raining. These trees are usually found in beaches and they can really be a lot of help as a shade when the weather is sunny and particularly warm. Conversely, if it’s raining, stand up and go away from there. These trees are often labeled with a red band, so everyone will know that they should be avoided.
- Speaking of trees, don’t sit under a ripe coconut tree. Obviously, this is a no-brainer. You may really have a serious head injury if you are not careful.
- It’s preferred that you just use your beach wear when you’re actually on the beach or pool. If not, then dress with something else.
- Public nudity isn’t allowed in Barbados, even if you are in the beach.
- Don’t get too close with green monkeys or just any form of wildlife in general. Just give them their space and let them be.
- The rum in the island of Barbados is so much stronger than you think. You have to bear in mind that the island is the birthplace of rum, so what rum you think you can handle, you may actually not if you are taking a rum shot in the island. For this reason, watch out for your drinks because you don’t want to end up being a mess in a foreign place.
- Even though Barbados is screaming romance with its majestic beaches, you shouldn’t opt for strolling beaches at nighttime because you may still encounter bad people. Yes, even in this safe island.
- When driving, you have to keep on the left lane. Even if some cars have their steering wheels on the right, they still drive on the left. Now, don’t worry with this one. All you have to do is follow the car in front of you. Additionally, if the locals realize that you are a tourist, they won’t get mad at you but rather be totally understanding.
So there you go! That’s all things to know before traveling to Barbados. Indeed, the island is a priceless gem of the Caribbean and of North America. It has always been in people’s list of dream destinations and it isn’t hard to understand why. Barbados, as time pass by, still preserves its natural exotic beauty. It still reflects the mysteries of nature. Out of all the swimming destinations in the world, and even as generations after generations pass along, the beaches in the island are still labeled as the most exquisite. Maybe what they say is really true then: some things never change.
From the island’s location, culturally-diverse history, two-season climate, diverse people, modes of transportation, countless hotel and restaurant accommodations, spectacular beaches, fun festivals, and charming souvenir shops, you realize that going to a certain place does require you to plan great. Obviously, planning great will make you have the best out of your travel escapade and at the same time save you from troubles of any kind. Moreover, knowing the basic do’s and don’ts will save you from being jailed about something very small that you didn’t know is a thing in the locality.
If you already went to Barbados, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. If, on the other hand, you were yet to go there but this blog post just made up your mind to do so, then congratulations! Obviously, you are definitely in for one of the best moments of your life! Take note of everything that is mentioned here in All Things to Know Before Traveling to Barbados, plan your trip, and don’t forget everything you learned. Go to all the beaches as much as possible and by the time you come back, feel free to share your story too.