Barbados is an interesting and exciting vacation spot, with options for everyone, fun activities, crazy adventures, romance and relaxation.
IMPORTANT ISLAND INFORMATION
BANKING INFORMATION Banks open from 8:00am to 3:00pm Monday – Thursday, 8:00am to 5:00pm on Friday and are closed on all National Holidays. Conversely you can easily use your credit card at most businesses island wide or withdraw up to $500 USD per day at hundreds of ATM Machines. ATM machines can be found island wide outside banks or at most 24hr gas stations.
Exchange Rates The US dollar typically has an exchange rate of $1.00 US — $1.98 US dollars. (Roughly two to 1)
Major credit cards and US dollars are accepted island wide. Traveler’s checks in U.S., U.K. and Canadian funds can also be used at many outlets.
The island has amassed countless beaches for you to enjoy and explore but note:
- On the East Coast of the island large waves and strong currents can make swimming dangerous.
- On the west Coast the sea is typically calm and relaxing but be sure to look out for red flags as they indicate strong currents, rough waters and bigger waves on that day.
- Carry along your sun block to protect your skin.
- Be mindful of Manchineel trees sometimes found on the beach (usually marked with red paint) they carry a small fruit similar to a crab apple – DO NOT touch/eat this fruit! it is poisonous! In fact even standing under this tree during the rain can be hazardous as dripping rain from the tree can blister the skin and eyes.
See Barbados Beaches
Monday to Friday businesses and stores in Barbados are normally open either from 8:30/9am and close at roughly 4:30/ 5:00pm Monday to Friday.
Saturdays are shopping days in Barbados however stores typically close between 1pm and 2pm in Bridgetown, but shopping malls and supermarkets open till 9:00pm. On Sundays, some large grocery stores such as super centre will open until 7pm while the small grocery stores will close between 12 noon and 2pm. Notably Cave Shepherd, a popular store in Hastings is also open until this time.
CAPITAL The capital of Barbados is Bridgetown and it is located in the parish of St. Michael. Bridgetown is the most popular shopping location on island and Broad Street is the main shopping avenue there. There are four other major towns on the island, Holetown, in the parish of Saint James; Oistins, in the parish of Christ Church; and Speightstown, in the parish of Saint Peter.
With this warm weather pack your sundress, shorts, swim wear, tropical shirts and slippers for the day but at night most restaurants and clubs require you to be elegantly casual. You can’t go wrong if you remember the following:
1. It’s illegal to wear camouflage gear of any kind.
2. No bare feet or bare backs in most stores.
3. Sneakers are frowned upon at some clubs & restaurants
4. Try elegantly casual for fine dining – Call before hand if you need to be sure.
5. Shorts of a reasonable length are mostly acceptable in this cool climate but if again if in doubt call ahead.
The island’s water supply is clean, tasty and perfectly safe to drink straight from the tap. The coral formation of the island acts as a natural filter for the island water and ensure that it is amongst the purest in the world.
DRIVING IN BARBADOS
Driving in Barbados can be a pleasant experience and a great way to see the island. Simply remember to drive on the left and obtain a valid Barbados license for $5 US, by carrying your valid national or international license to a police station or authorized car-rental company (Ask when booking is they can manage this for you before you arrive).
According to UNESCO Barbados’ education level is ranked within the top 5 countries in the world partially because the literacy rate which is estimated to be very close to 100%. A Large part of the island’s GDP is spent on education and all children under the age of 16 must attend Primary and Secondary Schools. Notably a large percentage of the population also attends one of four Tertiary Level Intuitions on island.
The voltage is 110 volts, 50Hz cycle. Consider bringing your converter if necessary (Especially Asian & European visitors) or ask your travel agent if your hotel provides one as many of them do.
|FMH Emergency Medical Clinic
|Sandy Crest Medical
||T: 246 – 419-4911(Open 24 hours)
|Sparman Medical Center
||T: 246 – 624-3278(Open 24 hours)
||T: 246 – 436-6450(Open 24 hours)
Located just outside of the Caribbean Island Chain to the East is Barbados. It is a 166 square mile island (21 x 14 at its longest point) which is divided into 11 parishes with only two of these parishes St. George & St. Thomas not touching the ocean. The island is typically described as flat though its highest point Mount Hillaby, in the Scotland District rises 340 metres (1,120 ft) above sea level.
The islands unique geography was created by both the rough Atlantic Ocean to the east and the gentle Caribbean Sea to the west as a result of this sea bathing is quite different on both sides of the island.
Barbados was once an island under British rule and as a result the island’s government and governmental practices are a result of our former British rule, in fact the island is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, modeled on the British Westminster system.
In 1966 Barbados gained its independence from Britain and today the island maintains a Prime Minister and 2 parliamentary houses – The House of Assembly (30 ministers) and The Senate, with Elizabeth II, as the head of state but she is represented locally by the island’s Governor General. Barbados, notably, has the third oldest parliament in existence.
HEALTH & SAFETY While you may be on vacation safe guard your health as you would at home, remembering to wash hands, and be sure to protect yourself from mosquito bites by using Insect Repellent. This will help to avoid itchy insect bites & wails and provide protection from the possibility of dengue fever.
While Barbados is relatively safe, it is always wise to take precautions when traversing the island, don’t leave your valuables unattended, lock your car and hotel room doors and stay within the areas that are well lit or are heavily trafficked.
Having an Illegal drug in Barbados is a serious offence and the penalties can be severe. In fact a person caught with even marijuana can be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison.
The language of Barbados is British English, however Bajans have a tendency to speak quickly in a heavy dialect affectionately called ‘Bajan’. At times this may sound quite foreign however its simply ENGLISH island style with the flavour of generations of dialect mixed in.
The population of Barbados is roughly 285,000 with an ethnic mix as follows:
- 90% African Descent
- 4% European Descent
- 6% Asian & Mixed/Other
POSTAL SYSTEM You can easily obtain stamps from the hotel front desk or hotel boutique, however the General Post Office is located in Cheapside, Bridgetown and there are 17 other district post offices islandwide.
TAXES & GRATUITIES
VAT — Value Added Tax (VAT)-17.5% is charged on most items
Tax on your hotel or accommodation is 8.5% and at some locations another 10% is added for service charge.
Gratuities are normally 10% — 15% and at some locations this may be automatically added to your bill.
Want to check in with your family or the office at home? Make a Direct Call to:
- North American /Canada territories-Dial: 1, the area code, and the telephone number.
- United Kingdom – Dial: 011 44, the area code (Omit the usual 0 before the area code), and the telephone number.
Local Calls: Feel free to rent a cell phone locally or utilise your “unlocked” international cell phone by purchasing a LIME Smart Card /Digicel SIM card from marked retail outlets’ island wide.
From The hotel/Accommodation – Check to see if any fee is attached to this before you dial.
Barbados is GMT
I.e. From The UK
4 hrs behind in Winter
5 hrs behind in Summer
From the US – Winter to Fall 1hr ahead of EST
EST during Daylight Savings Time in the Summer
WHEN TO VISIT
With a consistent average temperature of 80 — 87 degrees F, (27 – 30 C) it means that any time of year is perfect to visit the island of Barbados. In fact just imagine the Caribbean and that is the weather in Barbados, its warm, sunny and beautiful all year round with cool island breezes and clear blue skies. Note however that the island does have a rainy season between June and November, where brief scattered showers or bad weather may be experienced. Current Weather in Barbados
Article © Caribbean Dreams Magazine
Photo #1 originally from Barbados Tourism Authority — UK
Photos #2 & 3 originally from shutterstock.com
Photo #4 originally from purebeachresort.com
Photo #5 originally from barbados-guide.info
Photo #6 © Caribbean Dreams Magazine