Five Things First Time Travellers To Barbados Should Know
- The official currency used is the Barbados Dollar. However, US dollars are widely accepted across the island. You also don't need to carry a lot of cash with you as most restaurants and stores accept major credit cards.
- Bring a reusable water bottle. The tap water in Barbados is safe to drink. Save money on buying bottled water and top up reusable water bottle as you go.
- The official language on the island is English. Communication won't be a problem, and the locals will be able to help with any questions you might have.
- There is free WiFi coverage on the south and west coasts. The government is working to cover the whole island eventually, but you'll be able to get online at your hotel without a problem.
- At most hotels and restaurants you don't need to worry about tipping. A 10% to 15% service charge is automatically added to your bill. If you want to tip over and above this, it's always appreciated.
Best Time To Visit Barbados
The most popular time of year to visit Barbados is from December to April. Hurricane season has ended and the tourists start returning to the island in droves. As it is winter, temperatures are also more bearable, and humidity levels are lowered.
Expect hotel rates to double and expensive airfares. Another thing to keep in mind is that some hotels will require guests to buy a meal plan during this high season.
Barbados's shoulder season is from May to June. Temperatures are warm, and prices start to drop once the winter crowds return home. The plus side to visiting during this time is that hurricane season hasn't begun yet, and you'll have most of the attractions all to yourself.
Hurricane season is from July to November. However, the storms rarely hit the island which makes it a great time to visit if you're a budget traveller. Prices will be at their lowest, and if you time your visit right, you can attend the Crop Over Festival. Crowds will also be minimal, and there will be great airfare deals during the summer season as well.
Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and the largest city. It's one of the most visited places in the West Indies and boasts UNESCO World Heritage status. Its historical and cultural buildings are a major drawcard for anyone passing through the region.
Be sure to spend some time wandering the streets and visiting the many museums and art galleries along the way.
Located in the north of Barbados, Speightstown is a small town that was once the commercial centre of the island. It's where many of the first settlers originated from and as a result is full of old colonial buildings.
While it has fallen into disrepair over the years, it's slowly being revived. It's a great spot to spend half days to enjoy a simpler side of Barbados or to grab some lunch at the beachfront restaurants.
Holetown is flanked by stunning coastal cliffs and beautiful ocean inlets. Located in the St. James parish, its scenery has turned the town into a must-visit destination. It's where you'll find many of the luxury resorts and restaurants in Barbados as well as interesting attractions like the Animal Flower Cave.
While staying here is not for the budget traveller, its natural beauty is worth stopping by for a day trip.
Top Attractions in Barbados
Folkestone Marine Park & Museum
The Folkestone Marine Park is an artificial reef. It was created in 1976 when a 360-foot freighter ship was sunk 120 feet underwater.
Today, the ship is covered with corals and is home to a variety of marine life. Due to the depth of the Stavronikita, only experienced divers can explore the wreck.
But there's plenty to see closer to the surface. Tourists can hire snorkelling gear and swim around the underwater trail.
For those that want to learn more about Barbados's natural wonders, there is a small on-site museum. Visitors can learn about the reef's ecosystem as well as all the different species found in the ocean's depths.
Bathsheba is one of Barbados's biggest tourist attractions. Its beach, known as the Soup Bowl, is famous for its rock formations. Once part of an ancient coral reef, the rocks jut out of the surf to create a dramatic landscape.
The area plays host to many international surfing competitions, but it's not recommended to go swimming. The waters around the beach have strong undercurrents which could see you dragged out to sea.
But there's more than enough to do in the surrounding area. Relax in the Bathsheba Pools, visit the small fishing village and the Andromeda Botanical Gardens.
St. Nicholas Abbey
St. Nicholas Abbey is one of the oldest plantation houses in the Caribbean. Built over 300 years ago, its unique Jacobean-style is one of three remaining in the Western Hemisphere.
The grounds of the sugar cane plantation include the Great House which is full of period furniture made from mahogany. Other sights include the well-kept gardens and ruins of nearby farm buildings.
As Barbados is considered to be the birthplace of rum, the true star of St. Nicholas Abbey is its traditional rum distillery. Made from an 1890 steam mill, it's some of the best you're likely to taste on the island.
The Parliament Buildings are the oldest in the entire Commonwealth. Constructed in 1870 out of coral limestone, their neo-Gothic style has earned them UNESCO World Heritage status.
Keep an eye out for the stained glass windows depicting the British monarchs and spend some time at the onsite museum. You'll be able to learn about the island's early settlement days as well as how it gained independence in 1966.
If you can, plan your visit around one of the guided tours. Your ticket will give you entry to the Clock Tower, museum, the parliament buildings and political debates.
Since opening its doors to the public in 1981, The Harrison Caves have become one of the most popular attractions in Barbados. Its limestone caverns are full of massive stalactites and stalagmites and underground pools and waterfalls.
The tours start at the visitor's centre with a short education film. From there you'll explore the caves via an electric tram for an hour. You'll also get the chance to get out and explore the area near a plunging waterfall.
Tours run daily and cost BBD 60.00 per person.
Major International Airports in Barbados
- Grantley Adams International Airport