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Barbados

Barbados

Great Destination:

4

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Appeals mostly to Mid-and Centric-Authentics, and true Authentics

Did You Know…?

  • More than half of Barbados’ arable land is used to grow sugar.
  • George Washington slept here, the only foreign country he ever visited.
  • Ferdinand Paleologus, last claimant to the Byzantine throne, is buried on Barbados.
  • Barbados is entirely made of coral.
  • Bridgetown was first called Indian Bridge or Indian-Bridge Town.

Where fish ‘fly’

Barbados enjoyed an exceptionally long connection with a single colonial power, England. That is apparent in ways that please visitors and allow them to differentiate this destination from other Caribbean islands.

The nation distinguishes itself in quirkier ways, too, with a potpourri of features, including the descriptively named blackbelly sheep, chattel houses (portable timber houses of ex-slaves), cou-cou (polenta), flying fish (leaping fish, in reality), mauby (cold beverage made from tree bark), road tennis (a kind of tennis played on the road), salt breads (which underpin several local food specialties) and tuk bands (classic folkloric bands).

Barbados is more than just a pretty place with seductive pink and white beaches, comfortable resorts and near-perfect weather. It is an island that has incorporated much of its colonial heritage into its West Indies culture to create a unique sun destination that appeals to fans of things English. Cricket is the favorite sport of Barbadians; traffic moves on the left, and the language is English. Also, while casual dress (T-shirts, shorts, wrap dresses) is fine during the day, the tourist office recommends elegantly casual dress for evenings, and swimwear is meant for the beach.

The Caribbean part of this mix revolves around sugar: Early settlers’ lives centered on the sugar plantations, and several great houses remain and are open to tourists.

As to sand ‘n’ sun weather, this beach destination is not overly hot: It is cooled by constant northeast trade winds. The average daytime temperature ranges between 84 and 88 F, and summer temperatures rarely rise above 90.

Sunbathe and swim on the west coast, where the waters are balmy, but for a quieter experience, the Atlantic side is less densely developed. On that coast, the pounding ocean surf affords great views, but the water is cold.

The island has plenty to offer the visitor who drives around for a look, including its plantations, churches, army outposts or monuments of interest. Hotel prices decline quite a bit in the off-peak summer season, which means budget-minded tourists can take advantage of relatively temperate summers in Barbados.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Sail on a racing yacht, the Athina or Martella. After a training session, you can take up any one of a number of positions on your racing vessel.
  • Eat fried flying fish, the national dish of Barbados. It is served with cou-cou, which is loosely based on couscous.
  • Go scuba diving and see why Barbados is dubbed the shipwreck capital of the Caribbean. You can see wrecks by snorkeling, too.
  • Take lessons in making rum. Tour a rum factory.
  • Try windsurfing at Silver Sands Beach, or choose jet skiing. Or, if a daring surfer, take on the big Atlantic Ocean waves on the island’s northeastern shores.
  • Take a guided island tour by horseback or mountain bike.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Snorkel over shallow reefs and see exotic fish, Barbados’ corals and the wreck of the Berwyn, all in historic Carlisle Bay. Or snorkel with sea turtles; you may have a chance to feed them, too.
  • Walk through a supersonic jet. One of British Airways’ retired Concordes resides in a purpose-built hangar in Barbados. It is part of an attraction called the Barbados Concorde Experience.  The facility has an interactive flight school, a departure lounge, an observation deck and an in-flight experience multimedia presentation.
  • Tour the brewery where Banks beer is made. Or, tour a sugar cane factory plus one of the large sugar estates.
  • Have lunch or drinks at the Palmers Plantation, one of the island’s historic great houses. Or, see the castle of the infamous Sam Lord who, legend says, lured unwary ships onto the rocks below for plunder. It is a hotel now but open for public inspection.
  • Take a self-guided hike. The journey can include a walking tour of Speightstown, a port town and largest market for Barbadians in the north, plus small fishing villages along the northern shoreline.  Or, walk inland to the Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill and see the only working windmill left on an island that once had 500.
  • Sample traditional breads and pastries, including local salt breads (rounded white rolls) and the so-called bakes, a fried bread. Or try coconut turnovers and jam puffs (jam-filled puff pastry).

Things to do for Authentics

  • Attend a game of cricket or take in a rugby match. Or, for another very British choice, see a polo match.
  • Attend the live theater show in the courtyard of the Barbados Museum. The museum itself was once the British Detention Barracks, and many of its galleries are renovated prison cells.  Or, attend the island’s Jazz Festival, or Gospelfest, or any of a number of other festive events.
  • Visit the home where George Washington and his ailing brother stayed for six weeks.
  • Take a guided tour of Bridgetown, the capital. Note how the city’s public buildings reflect Barbados’ long association with England.  For more of the island’s history, include the Heritage Village at Tyrol Cot; it features six replicas of some of the best surviving chattel houses on the island.
  • Visit the  Jewish Synagogue in Bridgetown, which was built in 1654.
  • Reserve a place aboard the 48-passenger Atlantis Submarine for an underwater safari viewing the island’s reefs, marine life and a sunken shipwreck 115 to 150 feet below the water’s surface.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Barbados Tourism Marketing at www.visitbarbados.org