At once organic and sophisticated, Barbados mixes all that is natural about the Caribbean island with every modern convenience a tourist could ask for. This destination is so well-loved, in fact, that in 2014 USA Today ranked it at number seven in a list of the Top Ten Caribbean Islands.
|Currency||The Barbados dollar (BD$) is the currency of Barbados, and is fixed to U.S. currency at a rate of $2(BD) = $1(USD).|
|Electricity||The electrical system is the same 110-volt AC system used in the U.S.; visitors from countries with different voltages should bring converters.|
|GDP Per Capita||The annual income per household in Barbados is $18,900(USD).|
|Island Size||The island is about 166.4 square miles in size, making it one of the smaller Caribbean islands.|
|Language||English is the official language of Barbados, but is spoken with a British accent and a local lilt.|
|Population||Barbados has 285,653 native residents, and the island sees about 507,100 visitors annually.|
|Entry Requirements||All persons entering Barbados are required to present a valid passport and a valid return ticket. All though those from Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. are not required to present visas upon entry, many other countries are.|
Located in the North Atlantic Ocean just east of the Caribbean Sea, Barbados is the easternmost island of the Lesser Antilles. The island is said to be shaped like a leg of mutton, with a total area of 166 square miles. Barbados' topography consists of lowlands separated by rolling hills that run parallel to the coast line.
If you were to dig down below the surface, you would find that 85 percent of the island consists of limestone. Sugarcane is still found on the island, although it is diminishinging in importance as tourisim has grown. At one time 80 percent of the island was planted with sugarcane. The island's highest point of elevation is Mount Hillaby at 1120 feet above sea level.
The people of Barbados maintain the British traditions introduced to the country during colonization; Bajans speak British English with a gorgeous combination of an island lilt and British accent that makes otherwise "ordinary" English sound absolutely charming. Tea time is strictly maintained on the island, so don't be surprised if shop owners, business people, and even cab drivers take a break in the afternoon to enjoy their tea.
One of the more amazing things about Bajan culture is the modern attitude of the city despite a traditional culture. There is as much development on the island as there is preservation of natural beauty, which leads to an interesting blend of attitudes among locals. Further, the country is not as densely crowded as other Caribbean islands, creating a more casual, less rushed atmosphere that is reflected in the behavior of the Bajan people.
Because Barbados lies within the tropics, warm temperatures can be expected throughout the entire year. Temperatures range from an average 75 to 82 degrees annually, with humidity levels between 71 and 76 percent. Northeast trade winds help to keep the island relatively cool, in the face of hot humid days. July through December sees most of the island's rain, while January through June is known as the dry season. For more information about weather in Barbados, click here.
Most Caribbean vacationers head towards the islands for the world-famous beaches, and Barbados does not disappoint. Barbados offers over 70 square miles of beach property, the waters of which are perfect for swimming, sailing, snorkeling, and scuba-diving . Wind surfing is especially popular in Barbados, especially between the months of November and April when the wind conditions create excellent swells. Check out Silver Sands for the best wind surfing location. From there, Barbados' guests tend to split two ways. One group likes to stay close to all the action, while the other is looking for something a little more on the quiet side.
The first group most likely feels more comfortable on the southern and western coasts of the island, which are the most populated areas of Barbados. Bridgetown, the capitol of Barbados is one such city. Bridgetown has a population of 80 thousand people, is the commercial center of the island, and is a great place for dining and nightlife. There are over 25 attractions within a half a mile of Bridgetown, including the Parliament Building and National Heroes Square. Many visitors say that the best duty free shopping in Barbados can be found in Bridgetown, where shops featuring handmade goods, locally distilled rum, and discounted designer duds line the streets.
Meanwhile, tourists can find lesser populated areas along the east coast. Here, the waters are nearly always unsafe for swimming, and the terrain is more green and lush than sandy. Locals call this area quiet and lacking in much to do, but for visitors who prefer seclusion and time to explore the rugged beauty of Barbados, this is the perfect place to stay. Attractions on the east coast include the Barbados Wildlife Preserve and Flower Forest. Goods take on an earthy tone here, where shoppers will find hand crafted pottery, mugs, and vases.
Wind surfing is especially popular...
Whatever side of the island you feel most comfortable on, there are some sites across the island that just can't be missed. Several museums and historic buildings, such as the Barbados Museum, Sunbury Plantation House and Museum, Tyrol Cot Cottage Village, and St. Nicholas Abby allow visitors to learn more about Barbados and view preciously preserved artifacts. Americans will be particular interested to know that President George Washington visited the island with his brother, who was hoping to cure his tuberculous. The building they stayed at is now called the George Washington House, and features a museum on the top floor. A more modern cultural attraction of interest is the Concord Experience, an exhibit of the British Airlines Concorde G-BOAE.
After long days spent on the beaches, shopping, or exploring the island, there is nothing better than sitting down for a hearty meal. This is the perfect time to sample some of Barbados' local cuisine. The national dish of Barbados is Cou Cou (a cornmeal and okra dish) and Flying Fish (Barbados' most commonly caught fish usually served steamed or fried), so this meal would be a great place to begin sampling regional dishes. Some other local favorites include fried plantains, Bajan Macaroni Pie and Flying Fish, and Pudding 'n Souse.
Tourists from every walk of life are drawn to Barbados; from those who prefer city life to those looking for seclusion and that get-away-from-it-all setting. From east to west, travelers can experience everything from nature to nightlife, and all categories in between. When it comes to planning a trip to Barbados, it truly is hard to come up with a reason why not to go.
The number of crimes reported in Barbados is fairly low, and the gap between socioeconomic classes is not so great as to cause major problems. Still, using traveler's common sense is advisable - keeping an eye on your valuables, being aware of your surroundings, and taking other basic precautions can go a long way to making your vacation more enjoyable.
As far as water goes, Barbados is lucky to have a naturally pure water supply; water is filtered through the coral rock base of the island and is pumped from an underground supply.
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