Barbados: All You Need To Know
In the mid ’80s, I went to school in Barbados for 4 years. It was so much fun, so much fun that I never graduated; luckily my credits were transferable to the next school I attended :-). I had also diverted there enroute to Trinidad and Tobago from Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ) on an Air Canada (AC) flight. So I was excited when I got an invitation from the Barbados Tourism Board in October 2019.
The Tourism Board arranged some tours for our group as well as gave us an opportunity to sample the food; it’s Barbados Rum & Food Festival in November each year, and we got a preview of it, as well as visit the hotels and chat with the people.
I also had a chance to check out the new stuff going on at my old school and hung out with one of my classmates.
All in all a fun trip. It’s now time for you to head down to Barbados.
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If you’d like to visit, I’ve compiled some facts to help you on your journey.
- Time Zone: GMT -6
- Currency: Barbados Dollar
- Language: English
Capital: Bridgetown in the parish of St. Michael.
- Size: Barbados is only 166.4 square miles (pop 285,719 source World Bank) and shapes like an avocado. Though it’s small, it’s still larger than some of the smallest countries in the world.
- Visa and Health Information: No visa is required for U.S. citizens traveling to Barbados. You do need a valid passport for at least 180 days after your last date of travel as well as a ticket for onward journey from the islands. Here is some additional information for U.S. Citizens. If you are not a U.S. citizen, use this link to check visa requirements.
- National Airline: They don’t really have one, but they have a stake in Liat (LI).
How To Get Here
Barbados has always invested in its airport. I believe that it’s the only Caribbean airport to have Concorde land there; I could be wrong. So much so, that when Concorde retired from service in 2003, one of the British Airway Concorde is housed here. Sadly, though it was closed for renovations when I visited.
The airport is located on the south side of the island with easy access to the rest of the island by bus, private cars, taxi, etc.
Scheduled Service Airlines Serving Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI)
- Air Antilles Express (3S), Air Canada (AC), Air Caraibes (TX), Air France (AF), American Airlines (AA), British Airways (BA), Caribbean Airlines (BW), Condor (DE), Copa Airlines (CM), Corsair International (SS), Eurowings (EW), JetBlue Airways (B6), Liat (LI), Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS) and WestJet (WS).
Here is a video of my JetBlue flight from New York-JFK to Barbados (BGI).
Airport To The City
You can rent a car or take a taxi to your destination. A local drivers license can be purchased at the airport and is valid for 90 days. Driving is on the left-hand side. You can take a local minivan as well or the local buses. And there are plenty of taxis.
There is no ferry service to the island.
By Cruise Ship
There are several cruise lines that stop in Barbados. This is the low season, so they only arrived on weekends. I saw Celebrity as well as Carnival when I was in town. The ships are huge and its fun to see them on the horizon as they approach the island.
As Barbados is an island, there are no buses to the island. Once you arrive though, you can take the local buses all around the island. There are the government-owned blue ones and the privately-owned yellow ones.
Out Of The Ordinary Stuff
I know how most of you like movie stars and celebrities, well, Simon Cowell and Rihanna both have a residence at Barbados’ most expensive piece of real estate, One Sandy Lane. If you are lucky and are in town and pass by the property you may see them on the beach. They weren’t in town when we got there.
The People of Barbados
As I travel, I love to talk to the people I meet to get there take on day to day life or anything for that matter. I talked with a few people in Barbados, let’s take a look:
Here’s a look.
Meet Michael, The Drunken Rastaman. I met him at the Mount Gay Experience in Bridgetown.
Nicky From The Mount Gay Rum Experience In Bridgetown, Barbados
Where To Stay
I stayed at the Club Barbados Resort & Spa. They really tried to get me to try the Spa, but sadly, I had so much going on, I missed it. The property is managed by Elite Island Resorts, the same company that managed the Verandah Resort in Antigua and Barbuda where I stayed in May 2019.
Barbados has many places to stay depending on your budget. I must say though, that some are really pricey so weigh your choices well and think in terms of food, etc.
I personally had the opportunity to visit a few properties while on the island, let’s take a look at the ones I saw and remember this is not an exhaustive list of the island’s accommodations:
Colony Club Barbados By Elegant Hotels – Porters BB24017, Porters Rd
This is a luxury hotel in St. James right on the coast. I love the entrance as it has a pool of koi fish.
Hilton Barbados Resort – Needham’s Point St Michael Bridgetown, BB15158
I’m currently a Hilton Diamond Member, so I was really interested in this property. While they no longer have a Lounge for Diamond members, they do offer complimentary breakfast and do their best so you feel like a top tier member.
There are 355 rooms that were upgraded starting in November 2017 and just finished in mid 2019. Most rooms have an ocean view of some sort as they property is on a peninsular. The property is not an all-inclusive property.
The property is located close to downtown, you can walk if you wish or take a taxi or possibly even a bus. Here are some photos.
Sandals Barbados Resorts St. Lawrence Gap BB15028
Sandals Royal Barbados Maxwell Gardens, Oistins
sea breeze beach house Maxwell Coast Road, Christ Church, BB 15031
This is an all-inclusive resort that sites right on the beach in the path of the airport. You can sit on the beach and watch planes land while sipping a tropical drink.
Use the search box below to see what kinds of hotels are available in Barbados.
Things To Do in Barbados
Barbados has a ton of stuff to do and its not just water-related, although there are many. You can use the handy drop down here to see what the country has to offer. Just select Barbados from the list of countries. My friend, Ursula, also has a great resource at Caribbean & Co. on Barbados.
Here are a few things I’ve experienced while there.
The songstress, Rihanna is from Barbados. She was not born when I was living there for school; geez, I’m old :-). They’ve re-named her street Rihanna Drive, repainted her old house (her family lives in an upscale part of the island now) and also added a shrine at the end of the street.
I spoke to a lady walking by and she says it may soon be available as an AirBnB property so watch out for that.
Here are some photos from the street.
Mount Gay Rum Tour
This tour is actually a short walk away from Rihanna Drive.
If you want to taste the Mount Gay rum as well as learn about the history of the rum, then I highly recommend the tour. You can even not listen to the history and move to the rum, but its at the end of the tour, so you’ll just have to hang out :-).
There are beaches all around the island of course and the good thing is that they are all accessible as there are no private beaches in Barbados. Back in the ’80s there was a big contention and one of the songs for CropOver (their annual Carnival celebrations) was “The Beach Is Mine” by Gabby which showcased the issue.
My hotel had a small beach and I was able to make use of it, but only one day if you can imagine that. I did talk to a lady at the airport and she mentioned that her famous beach was up in the north, Port St. Charles.
There’s also a famous one in the south, just outside of Bridgetown called Rockley.
I was able to see a few of them on the west coast as I headed north to North Point which is where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meets. You can’t swim at north point as its quite rough up there it seems.
But one day we took a drive along the west coast and there were beaches all along the road, so you don’t have to ever go far to find one.
The dominant religion is Anglican, but that does not mean that other religions are not represented as well.
Each Parish has its own church and the oldest of which, St. James Parish Church, is located in Holetown in the parish of St James.
Like many of the Caribbean islands, there are a ton of festivals usually based on the harvesting of crops or the end of slavery. In Barbados, its Crop Over. Held in August, this is a major event and the entire country participates. You can find more information at https://www.visitbarbados.org/crop-over-festival.
What To Eat In Barbados
It’s a Caribbean islands so it has an abundance to eat. There is lots of natural foods and the food is spicy and amazing. There are also many fruits. Check out the market or stop, say hello to a local and ask if you can have a fruit from their tree.
In Barbados, the main food is Cou-Cou and flying fish; sadly, it was not flying fish season when I visited, so I did not have any.
There is a place called Fisherman’s Pub in Speightstown that is very popular with the locals and you can get a lot of local foods there.
Chefette is a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s. It is very popular and are all over the island even at the airport.
Have you made it to Barbados as yet? What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.