About Barbados

Barbados, in the eastern Caribbean, is an independent island nation within the British Commonwealth. Bridgetown, the capital, is a cruise-ship stop with shopping, colonial buildings and one of the Western Hemisphere’s oldest synagogues. Barbadian traditions range from afternoon tea and cricket (the national sport) to pursuits such as scuba diving at Dottins Reef and golfing on designer oceanside courses.

Barbados is known for being the most re-visited destination of the Caribbean. Once you come here, you are sure to return. Every visit introduces you to one of the many facets of the island, a true awakening of the senses. With a wonderful year round climate and a constant warm breeze, this is a choice destination for couples of all ages, families and singles.
The sun drenched beaches of the calm Caribbean waters and coral beaches call out to sunbathers and swimmers, whereas the rugged Atlantic coastline is ideal for surfers and sailors. For the more active tourist, there is never a dull moment with so many historical and natural attractions, a diverse cultural calendar and several sporting activities. Barbados offers a wide range of accommodations for every budget, incredible dining experiences, excellent duty-free shopping and a lively nightlife.

Capital :
Bridgetown Currency : Barbados dollar Driver's License : International license recommended. Must be 25 years old and have a credit card. A visitor's permit of BDS $10 must be purchased when the vehicle is delivered. Electricity : 110V, 50Hz Entry Requirements : A valid passport is required. Return or onward ticket required. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the country’s Embassy for up-to-date information. GMT Time : -4hr. Daylight savings time is not applied Government : Independant parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Land size : 431 km2 Language : English, Bajan dialect National Airlines : Barbados is an international gateway for both LIAT and BWIA Population : 284,589 approx Religion : Anglican 50%, Protestant 32%, Roman Catholic 6% Required Vaccines : None Tourist Season : November through May

Bajan cuisine is eclectic mix of Caribbean, English, African and Indian influences. Fresh seafood from both Atlantic and Caribbean seas is abundant. The catch of the day usually includes flying fish, swordfish, tuna, snapper, dorado, lobster and shrimp.

Traditional dishes include roti, cottage pie, black pudding, souse and Yorkshire pudding. Grilled black-bellied lamb chops, crusted with pine nuts and served with golden apple salsa, and the spicy pepperpot stew are also favourites. But the most popular fare is the national dish of flying fish and Cou-Cou, made of cornmeal and okra.

The many desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth, such as carrot cake, pineapple upside down cake, cassava pone, cheese cake, rice pudding, bread pudding, sweet breads and exotic of ice creams like pineapple and coconut.

Culture Barbadians (also known as Bajans) are warm and hospitable people. Their roots are mostly found in West Africa and the United Kingdom, both of which have greatly influenced today's culture and the arts.

Many traditional rythms can be heard on the island. Tuk music named for the sound of the log drum. Calypso can be heard at most parties and festivals. Soca is a blend of Soul and Calypso, while Spouge combines Reggae and Calypso. Bajans are great dancers as well.

Filled with artistic talent, Bajans best express their creativity through pottery, craft, fashion design, abstract art, music and poetry. Famous artists include Janice Sylvia Brock, Irvin Burgie, Des'ree and George Lamming.

Geography Part of the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is the easternmost island of the Caribbean. It measures 34 km in length, 22 km in width and a coastline of 97 km. Barbados has been divided into 11 parishes.

The west and south coasts, along the Caribbean Sea, are calm with gentle waves. The east coast, along the Atlantic Ocean, is much more rugged with high cliffs and crashing waves. The land itself is relatively flat and rises gently through a series of coral terraces. The highest point is Mount Hillaby at 340 m above sea level.

History Archaeological discoveries indicate that the first indigenous people were the Arawaks from Venezuela and later the cannibalistic Caribs. The island was discovered by the Spanish in 1492. The Portuguese followed in 1537 and named the island Los Barbados, meaning the bearded ones. Although neither group colonized the island, the Spanish and Portuguese imposed slavery on the Caribs which soon lead to their extermination.

The first settlers to colonize were the English in 1627. The country's economy was based on the sugar, tobacco and cotton plantations, worked by African slaves. The Barbadians dominated the Caribbean sugar industry in these early years. Slavery was abolished in 1834. The island gained full independence in 1966, remaining within the Commonwealth.

Nature Unfortunately most of the natural vegetation has been cleared for cultivation but the maintained parklands and mangrove swamps are lush and varied. One of the few endemic trees is the Bajan ebony tree (shak-shak). Most plants have been introduced to the islands: the Mahogany tree of Honduras, the Tamarind from Indonesia and the Causarina from Australia. Many fruit and spice trees are grown here as well, like the Barbadian Cherry tree that is chock full of vitamin C. Other fruit bearing trees should be avoided thought, like the Machineel tree, that bears poisonous fruit. Some plant species have their own folkloric tales, such as the Silk Cotton tree, native to the island, which is said to walk at night.

Barbados is home to some of the most exotic flowers in the world, like orchids of all types, century plant (maypole) and the rare cacti flowers which last a single day. The Pride of Barbados, the national flower, is a deep red colour framed in yellow.

The wildlife of Barbados is very limited and includes monkeys, hares, tree frogs and mongooses. The few birds found here are the dove, hummingbird, sparrow, egret, and yellow breast. About 150 migratory birds make a stop in Barbados. Flying fish, sprat, green dolphin, kingfish, barracuda, mackerel, and parrot fish make up most of the marine life. Coral reefs fringe the Barbados shoreline, providing excellent snorkeling and Scuba Diving.

Sports Many sports and activities can be practised on this island. Popular land sports include hiking and walking on the many nature and park trails, horseback riding and mountain biking. Many hotels offer wonderful tennis courts, some are lit for evening play.

For those who enjoy water sports, you can go waterskiing, parasailing, surfing, windsurfing, yachting and kayaking. Barbados has several diving and snorkelling sites, such as the shore at Mount Standfast where you may spot a few green turtles.

There are several golf courses on the island, including the 18-hole Barbados Golf Club, Sandy Lane (3 courses: Sandy Lane Old Nine, the 18-hole Country Club and the 18-hole Green Monkey), the Royal Westmoreland Golf & Country Club offering an 18-hole championship golf course, and Club Rockley and Almond Beach Village both featuring 9-hole courses.

Barbadians are crazy about Cricket and Polo. Competitions are held at various times throughout the year. The country will host the 2007 Cricket World Cup Final. Field hockey and horseracing are also very popular.

Banks & Money
The legal tender is the Barbados dollar. Although prices are listed with the national currency, $US and Canadian dollars are readily acceptable in hotels, stores, or restaurants.

Money can be exchanged in the many banks and change offices. There are also numerous ATM machines across the island. Traveller's cheques and most major credit cards are accepted everywhere.

Climate The island enjoys a warm tropical climate tempered by a constant cool breeze from the trade winds. The rainy season is from June to October. The average annual temperature is of 29° C during the day and 23° C during night time. The water temperature oscillates around 25° C.

For monthly average temperatures please refer to your destination of choice.

Communication Barbados offer modern telecommunications services including direct dialling. The country code for Barbados is 246.

Internet and e-mail is available in most hotels or Internet cafes. There are two daily newspapers; the Barbados Advocate and the Daily Nation. Cable TV is available in most hotels.

Health Barbados' water is among the purest in the world and can be enjoyed straight from the tap.

There are no required vaccines to enter the country, unless you are arriving from a yellow fever affected destination. The following vaccines are recommended for any tropical destination: hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever. Mosquitoes and flies can be bothersome during the odd rain shower.

Official Holidays January 1 - New Year's Day January 21 - Errol Barrow Day March/April - Good Friday, Easter Monday April 28 - Heroes' Day May 1 - Labour Day May/June - Whit Monday (Pentecost) August - Kadooment Day, Emancipation Day November 30 - Independence Day December 25 - Christmas Day December 26 - Boxing Day

Safety Barbados is considered relatively safe and enjoys a low crime rate. However as a tourist you are more likely to be a target of petty crime.

Use good judgement, take advantage of the safety deposit boxes provided by the hotels, do not leave valuables unattended in public and carry your wallet and camera discreetly. Also make sure to lock your hotel room and rental car.

Selling goods to tourists on the beach is a regulated practice in Barbados. Vendors are not permitted to roam the beach and set up shop out of a carrying case.

Shopping Shops, open-air markets and souvenir shanties are great places to purchase crafts and local products. Island craft fairs are also held several times a year. Crafts include pottery, baskets, leather work, batiks, jewellery, shell craft, beachwear and mahogany pieces. Edible souvenirs are great to bring home, like rum, spicy Bajan hot sauce, condiments and chutney, Barbadian made sugar and rum cake.

Duty-free shopping is available in certain shops with prices 30 to 50% less on many luxury goods. To make such a purchase you will need to present your passport and airline ticket at the cash register. Some purchases (alcohol and tobacco products, video sets, video games and all electronics) must be delivered to the airport for pick-up before boarding.

Taxes & Tips The departure tax of around BDS $25, per person, is payable at the airport when leaving the country.

Hotels add 7.5% in tax and 10% in service fees. All shops, restaurants and services add a 15% government tax. The only exception is duty-free goods. Restaurants usually include a 10% service charge on the bill, make sure to inquire first. Taxi drivers may be tipped 10% to 15%, porters should receive $1 per bag.

Transportation All flights arrive at the Grantley Adams International Airport, the only airport on the island. Short flights between other islands are easy and affordable with small charter companies.

Barbadians drive on the LEFT side. Car, moped and bicycle rentals are readily available. To rent a car you must purchase a temporary driver's permit (BDS $10), which is valid for one year. Taxis charge fixed rates set by the government. Buses run frequently along the coastal and interior routes and are inexpensive.

Choose from 25 resorts on the stunning shores of Barbados, including 12 family-oriented properties and 3 that are exclusively for adults. With captivating history museums, a wildlife reserve, lovely botanical gardens, underground waterfalls and secret beaches, there are plenty of activities for all ages.

If you’re lured in by food, nightlife and entertainment, Barbados is known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean boasting several acclaimed restaurants, and it's home to vibrant festivals and nightclubs that will have you dancing until sunrise.

With daily non-stop flights from Toronto, it’s easy to plan your dream winter getaway! Book your February or March vacation to Barbados and get 50% OFF your second package, plus 8 FREE days of airport parking.

Updated and comprehensive on the 100 best things to do in Barbados. You can find it here:

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