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Barbados

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Barbados

The land of the flying fish

With glorious sunshine, turquoise seas edged with pink and white sand beaches, Barbados is the perfect location to relax with a rum punch in hand after a day exploring the island or indulging in the many watersports. Barbados is characterised by its Britishness which remains one of its many attractions

Overview

Barbados is the most eastern island of the Caribbean, lying northeast of Venezuela and located close to the equator. The island is perfect for travellers of any budget with most people coming to soak up the sun or indulge in the many watersports on offer.

Barbados is graced with many historical homes that give it much of its character together with its beautiful beaches. The east coast of the island is the rugged Atlantic side and the western side is home to the calmer Caribbean waters. For this reason, the capital, Bridgetown, is a popular stopping-off point for many cruise ships.

Top Cities Bridgetown (capital), Speightstown, Oistins, Bathsheba, Holetown. Languages English is the official language although Bajan dialects are also spoken. Currency Barbados (Bajan) dollar although US dollars are widely accepted. The Bajan dollar is fixed to USD at 2:1. Time Zone Time zone is (GMT-4 hours), making Barbados 4 hours behind London during the winter (GMT) and 5 hours behind London during British Summer Time. Drinks Imported beer: £3.25/$4.00 Domestic beer: £1.65/$2.00 Water: £0.98/$1.20

Meals Inexpensive restaurant: £5.00/$6.00 Meal for 2, mid-range, 3-course: £28.00/$34.00 Hostels Hostels cost from approximately £48.00/$58.40 Hotels There is a wide range of accommodation in Barbados: from B&B or guesthouses to luxury hotels and villas. The more budget-friendly accommodation is on the south coast and luxury hotels are mostly based north of Bridgetown on the Gold Coast. Hotels cost about £82.00/$100.00 for 2 stars all the way up to £822.00/$1,000 for super-luxury resorts. Tipping Service charges of 10-15% are usually added to restaurant and hotel bills. For good service, add 10%; the same for taxis. For hotel housekeeping, a tip of a few dollars is always welcome.

Taxi Taxis are in plentiful supply but they are not metered so you must agree on the fare beforehand. Public transport Buses are cheap at just £1.40/$1.70 per ride and are the best way to get around using public transport. There are public buses (these are blue and require the exact fare) and private buses (yellow or white and change will be given). Bus stops are marked ‘To City’ and ‘From City’ i.e. Bridgetown so it is easy to understand which direction you need. Note that if hiring a car, driving is on the left. Highlights Bridgetown is perfect for strolling around with street markets, shops and historic sites to explore. See Nelson’s statue in former Trafalgar Square (now called National Heroes Square), visit the Bridgetown Jewish Synagogue, St Michael’s Cathedral and Parliament buildings. Take a tour of the Mount Gay rum distillery just north of Bridgetown. Discover the history of the world’s oldest rum distillery and then head to the tasting room! Try a sunset cruise on one of the many party boats that leave Bridgetown or walk the plank on the pirate-themed “Jolly Roger”. The Andromeda Botanic Gardens make the perfect antidote to the busy, bustling city where you can wander around and marvel at the various tropical plants. Speightstown is another town that is perfect for exploring and includes Arlington House, an 18th-century building with tales of pirates. Visit the Fisherman’s Pub for steel bands and fresh fish. Don’t miss Harrison’s Cave where a small train takes you through 2.3km of tunnels and open areas with magnificent stalactites, stalagmites, deep pools and flowing streams. For a surfing fix, head to Bathsheba beach or, for diving and snorkelling, there are many sites on the west coast where you can get close to the resident leatherback and hawksbill turtles. If visiting at the end of July/early August, look out for the “crop over” carnival with costumes, street food and music all around the island.

Interesting Facts

The name ‘Barbados’ is derived from the bearded fig tree which was once found all over the island.

Barbados gained independence from the British in 1966 and is now part of the Commonwealth.

The parliament of Barbados is the third oldest in the world, dating back to 1639.

It is possible to drive around the entire island in just 3 hours and it is one of the 20 smallest countries in the world. However, it is the most densely populated country in the Caribbean and the 18th most densely populated country in the world.

There are many underground lakes in Barbados but no surface lakes.

Due to its British ties, the national sport is cricket and afternoon tea remains popular.

The national dish is cou-cou and flying fish (cou-cou is a cornmeal stew with okra). The flying fish is also one of the national symbols of the island.

There is a Concorde at the airport at the Barbados Concorde Experience museum.