Barbados is a small Island of only 166 square miles, but each coast is very different from the other. The centre of the Island is lush and green with acres of sugar cane fields and accounts for one reason why Barbados has been endearingly nick-named “Little England”.
Where to stay.
The South Coast is where the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet and mix making the water “wavier” in some areas. The South Coast also enjoys fresh breezes and beautiful white sandy beaches. The South is especially ideal for those who enjoy a vibrant area with an eclectic mixture of Caribbean architecture and modern facilities. There is a wide range of hotels, villas and condominiums available, from the simple to the luxurious. A wide variety of restaurants and bars, shops and activities are available and, of course, surfing. Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and offers a wide selection of Duty Free shopping along with numerous Historic buildings to view and sights to see while strolling around to include the Careenage with its bobbing boats and yachts, and Nelsons Column, dedicated to Lord Horatio Nelson, which was erected prior to London’s Trafalgar Square version.
The West Coast, also called the Platinum or Gold Coast, is famous for its stunning white sandy beaches lapped by the calmer Caribbean Sea. The West features elegant, sophisticated resort hotels, villas and condominium developments. A large selection of restaurants and bars are dotted along the coast, several of which have gained worldwide acclaim for their culinary excellence. Holetown is in the heart of the West Coast and offers Duty Free shopping in the new Lime Grove Lifestyle Center and is known for its trendy, chic restaurants and bars, as well as a lively nightlife, boutique shops and state-of-the-art cinema.
The East Coast is rugged and relatively unspoiled by development. The Atlantic Ocean rolls against the long stretches of golden sandy beach. The coastline is protected by a reef which offers paddling pools and a multitude of flotsam and jetsam of shells and coconuts which have probably travelled from Africa, the next most Easterly land mass. The hills, which tower above the East Coast, are known as the Scotland District and can be shrouded in sea mist and appear almost magical in the early morning sunrise. There are a few holiday homes here either nestled in the hillside or directly on the beach. Bathsheba, with its Soup Bowl, is a globally popular surfing destination and is found here. Swimming on the East is dangerous and should be abstained by all except the few locals who intimately know the currents and undertows which will pull an unwary bather into danger.
The North Coast is a relatively unpopulated area with a few rocky outcrops offering incredible ocean views of the pounding Atlantic Ocean beating against the cliffs of the North Coast. Moon Town is the “jewel” of the North and is located just past Speightstown. This tiny town is the liveliest one on the Island that doesn’t even have a car park but offers nightly entertainment to locals and visitors alike. Moon Town offers a ‘back in time’ peek into the original Barbados of yesteryear.
Inland is still very agricultural with fields of sugar cane, sweet potatoes, eddoes and more. As the Island originally rose up out of the Ocean floor millions of years ago, the center of the Island is higher and speckled with outcrops, gullies and coral ridges which are teaming with wildlife, such as our Green Monkey and Mongoose. Inland holiday retreats are treasured for their quiet, tranquil locations while still only minutes from lovely beaches and all the amenities the coasts have to offer.
When to stay.
Barbados is a tropical Island just over 13 degrees above the equator so the weather is warm and sunny almost all year round. The prevailing northeast tradewinds blow steadily so that although it is bright and sunny, it is not unbearably hot. There are seasonal changes of only a few degrees from the standard 28 -30C or 80-85F, but the humidity and likelihood of rain varies according to the time of year. Evenings are usually cooler with Bajans complaining they are “cold” in January when evening temperatures can drop to 25C or 75F.
Most accommodations in Barbados are priced differently according to the season. Winter is usually more expensive than summer and the Christmas/New Year Holiday Season (December 20th to January 10th) can be the most expensive time to visit the Island.
December 15th to April 14th is called our winter. This time of year is usually dryer and cooler.
April 15th to December 14th is called summer or the rainy season. This time of year can experience more showers and occasionally a tropical storm with lots of rain. Hurricane season is June to October but hurricanes rarely directly hit the Island with, historically, one visiting every 50 years. The last major weather event was Tropical Storm Tomas, which went on to become Hurricane Tomas, in 2010.
What you need to Travel to Barbados
1. Passport valid for at least 6 months and a valid return ticket.
2. Citizens of some countries require a Visa. Most citizens of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom do not require a Visa.
3. Stays of 30 days are usually immediately granted for most holiday makers. UK visitors may be permitted permission for stays of up to 6 months. When a stay is required for longer than the period granted, permission must be sought from the Immigration Department in Bridgetown.
4. A second form of Photo ID is useful to have for use on the Island but not essential.
5. A Drivers License if you intend to hire a car during your stay.
6. Barbados uses 110 volt electricity with a USA style plug so you may need an adapter to operate your personal electrical equipment, if traveling from Europe.
7. Currency. Barbados has its own currency, the Barbados Dollar (BBD$). The exchange rate is approximately 1US$ = 2BBD$. US$ are accepted Island wide or Banks will exchange your money into Barbados Dollars at the current prevailing rate. Credit cards are accepted in most establishments although some will only accept cash.
What to do in Barbados
Aside from relaxing on the beach or by the side of a pool with a cocktail in hand, there is a lot you can do on our tiny Island.
Whether you want to take a tour of the Island, visit Museums, admire our natural beauty, see our wildlife in natural surroundings, relax and rejuvenate in one of our spas, partake of our local cuisine or enjoy duty-free shopping, the choices are numerous and varied for your holiday enjoyment.
Hire a car.
Car hire is simple but you will need to possess a valid driver’s license and purchase a local driving permit. Your car hire company will help you with these things and then you can explore the Island. Remember, driving is on the LEFT side of the road.
Take a bus or taxi.
Besides the taxi, you will find 3 types of public transport available – 1) big blue buses with a yellow stripe, 2) smaller yellow buses with a blue stripe and 3) white vans with a maroon stripe called “Zed-R” vans as the ZR prefix starts their number plate. Travel on a bus cost BBD$2.00 for as far as the bus goes. The buses are usually quick but beware that the ZR vans can be a little cramped.
Taxi prices are Government controlled and there are no meters in the vehicles so be sure to check the price of your trip before you travel and ensure you know the currency in which you are being quoted.
Well known for its sports tourism, Barbados is home to enthusiastic sports people who have a passion for a wide variety of sporting activities which include swimming, Scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, paddle boarding, water skiing, jet skis, aerial zip-lining, cricket, tennis, squash, golf, fishing, cycling, horse racing, polo and more.
Key Island Sports Attractions Are:
CRICKET – Barbados has a history of producing legendary cricketers and this is reflected in the love of the sport across the Island. In addition to the superb modern cricket stadium, Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, you will find smaller cricket grounds dotted across every corner of the Island.
GOLF – Barbados has five 18-hole courses and two 9-hole courses. The Sandy Lane, Apes Hill and Royal Westmoreland courses are the most prestigious, while the Barbados Golf Club and Rockley Resort Golf Club on the South Coast are favored by the locals.
HORSERACING – Barbados has been involved in Horseracing for over 200 years. The Garrison Savannah Racetrack is situated just east of Bridgetown and races are held alternate Saturdays during the racing seasons and is a popular recreation for locals and visitors alike.
POLO – Although it has been played on the Island since the late 1800s, Barbados Polo has experienced a renaissance since the 1990’s and now flourishes with top quality polo ponies being brought into the Island. There are now 5 polo fields on the Island with the season running from the end of December to May.
MOTORSPORT – There a two major motorsport annual events in Barbados with over 400 racing licenses being issued annually to keen racers across the Island. Bushy Park, in St. Philip, is the home of the Barbados Rally Club where much of the racing action takes place. Sol Rally Barbados takes place in early June with many overseas competitors joining the 2 day tarmac rally run on closed public roads and attracting roughly 20,000 spectators.
SAILING – Of course sailing is a year round sport, especially with Barbados’ fresh trade winds and wonderful weather. The Barbados Yacht Club and the Barbados Cruising Club next door are the main bases for competitive racing with the J24 races especially attracting a lot of enthusiastic support. The highlights of the racing season are the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race held in January and the Mount Gay Regatta held in May. Racing mainly takes place at weekends and is predominantly in the Carlisle Bay and South Coast area close to the Clubs, however some races continue up the West Coast.
Unfortunately there are not very many sidewalks or foot paths along the roads in Barbados so be careful where you walk. Bajans are, generally, very friendly people who will stop traffic so you can cross the road safely and would be happy to give you directions to where you want to go. There are several popular walking groups, such as Hike Barbados, which organize regular hikes for Bajans and visitors to enjoy.