Barbados is the most Anglo of the Caribbean islands colonized by the British. It is also known as Little England. The first permanent settlement was established in 1627 however both Arawak and Carib Indians once lived on the island. A Portuguese explorer, Pedro a Campos named it ‘Los Barbado’; this translates as ‘bearded ones’ and describes the hanging aerial roots of the fig trees.
By the 1640’s, settlers were establishing sugar plantations and importing slaves from Africa for labor. Some of the plantation owners became wealthy and acquired seats in the UK Parliament. This enabled them to control the sugar trade by restricting foreign competition. Indeed, the English paid a heavy price for their sweet tooth. The American colonies had less power than the British Caribbean islands. The preferential treatment of the British West Indies was one of the causes of the American revolution.
While slavery was abolished in 1833, most black islanders continued working on the plantations. The sugar industry continued to be profitable until the 19th century.
Barbados gained internal self-government in 1961 and became an independent nation in 1966. Barbados is a stable democracy and is one of the most prosperous island nations in the Caribbean. Health care and education are more advanced than most of their neighbors. Roads and other infrastructure are generally in good condition.
Barbados is the most eastern island in the Caribbean. It has a pear like shape with 3 coasts. The eastern side faces the Atlantic and is known for natural beauty. Strong ocean waves make this coast ideal for surfing. Swimming on this side of the island is only in sheltered coves. The west coast has mild surf and is safer for swimming. The south side has many good beaches. Reefs protect much of the coastal areas on the south coast. The interior has scenic mountains, valleys, a nature preserve, plantations, botanical gardens and limestone caverns to explore on a tram.
There are an abundance of hotel rooms and resorts with apartments on both the southern and western coasts. Rates on the south side are generally moderate. Most rental villas are on the west coast which is also called the gold coast. Some are beach front at Mullins and Gibbs Bays and other locations. Many villas are on the ridges and golf courses with ocean views and breezes. The rental villas in the Sandy Lane Estates often have membership in an exclusive beachfront owners club next to the hotel.
In Barbados, most of the vacation villas have full staff. This includes maids, gardeners and cooks. A few smaller ones have a housekeeper who cleans and prepares 2 meals per day for guests. Staff services are included in the rent. Staff gratuities are additional at 5-7% of the rent.
Guests staying in villas and some apartments can have food pre-stocked before their arrival. If guests choose this pre-stock option on accommodations with a cook, the first meals can be prepared without a trip to the supermarket.
Villa Journeys also books all hotels including all-inclusive resorts. Hotels and resorts are sometimes available in a package with flights.
US and Canadian citizens should have passports and a valid return ticket. Visas are required for some countries. If you are a US citizen and need a passport please see the US Government passport website for details http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
The Grantley Adams airport (BGI) is approximately 13 miles east of Bridgetown. American Airlines, Delta, Air Canada, British Airways, British Westi Indies Airlines and Air Jamaica offer service to BGI. Flight times are about 3.5 hours from Miami, 5 hours from New York and 4 hours from Toronto.
We can provide airfare for customers booking accommodations with us. If you would like a quote, please Contact us.
The Bajan dollar is approximately 50% of the US dollar. Credit cards and US dollars are accepted in most shops and restaurants.
With average high temperatures between 75 - 85 F°, Barbados has beach weather year round. During the winter months the evenings can be a little cooler. Summer tends to be more humid. The prevailing northeast tradewinds blow steadily keeping the island in the comfortable range.
Rain is typically in the form of quick showers. The driest weather is from January through June.
Electricity in Barbados is: 110 volts/50 cycles and is the same as the US/Canada. Adaptors are required for 220 v appliances.
This is on the left side, same as the UK. Rental cars are jeeps, SUV’s, sedans and smaller vehicles called mokes. Vans are more difficult to find and should be booked well in advance.
Getting to your Accommodations:
If you are renting a villa, we recommend a pre-arranged taxi transfer, especially for evening arrivals. Rental cars can be delivered to the villa at no extra charge. We can provide directions and instruction if you do not have a transfer arrangement however it is much more relaxing to book a pre-arranged transfer. Villas are usually in residential areas with unmarked streets.
Car rentals are recommended, especially for those staying in residential areas. Please contact us for a quote. There are few franchise agencies in Barbados. We book with reliable local car rental agencies.
A Barbados driver’s license is $10.00BDS. The rental agencies issue a local drivers license for those with a valid license.
Taxis are available at major tourist areas and the airport. There are licensed "Mini Vans" that run around picking up tourist and locals. They display a "ZR" license plate. There is regular bus service on major roads at a
flat rate of approx. $1.50BDS. Buses are crowded during the rush hours. All buses terminate at Speightstown.
The island is considered reasonably safe for self-guided driving tours. There are a variety of island tours for those who prefer guided expeditions.
Barbados is excellent for nature tourism. It has underground caverns at Harrison’s cave and a variety of tropical flora at Andromeda Gardens and the Flower Forest. The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is located in a natural mahogany wood with paths for visitors. Most of the animals are not in cages. They can be watched at close range and in a natural environment.
The island is rich in history so there are historical sites to visit. These include plantations, Jacobean buildings, an historic church and synagogue, military posts, museums and sugar mills.
Other activities include water sports such as snorkeling, windsurfing and diving, day excursions by boat, golf, horseback riding and various touring options. Non- divers can explore the under water world on submarines.
The island is known for golf and cricket. Some of the world cup cricket matches were held in Barbados in 2007. Tennis courts are at major resorts and a few private villas.
Your Villa Journeys agent can provide additional information on activities and places to visit for our customers.
Duty free shopping is widely available. When making duty free purchases, bring your passport or airline ticket with you. Packages can be delivered to the airport or seaport for your convenience. Bridgetown is the major cruise port and shopping area. There are smaller shopping centers near Bridgetown and also shops in Holetown and Speightstown on the West coast.
Chattel Village shopping areas feature boutiques and galleries in traditional island homes. These villages are located at Holetown, St.James and St. Lawrence Gap on the south coast.
Restaurants change often so we don’t want to make specific recommendations on this web site. There are a variety of restaurants in all price ranges and cuisines. We provide information on dining for our customers.
A local specialty is flying fish. The local beer is Banks; many others are available.
Popular Special Events
Barbados has several festivals for music and art. Crop Over, a five-week summer festival, is Barbados' most popular and colorful festival. At the end of the festival, there is a huge celebration called Grand Kadooment featuring a costume parade and Calypso band competitions.
A Jazz festival is also offered every January.
We recommend using a local wedding coordinator. Please contact us for details. While weddings can be at various venues, they are not permitted at most villas. A fully staffed wedding villa provides accommodations for guests for 5 to 7 nights. Contact us for villas that are suitable for weddings.
There is no waiting period or required length of stay for getting married in Barbados. Application for a marriage license must be made by both parties in person at the office of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the capital city Bridgetown.
You will require:
- Valid passports or birth certificates.
- Return tickets.
- If either party was divorced, an original Decree Absolute or a certified copy of the Final Judgment.
- If either party was previously married and widowed, a certified copy of the Marriage Certificate and Death Certificate in respect of the deceased spouse.
- For a Roman Catholic ceremony, your bishop must send the relevant documents to the bishop of Bridgetown.
- Where necessary, all documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.
Please always reconfirm these requirements as changes may have been made since posting.