Depending on your travel style, Barbados can be very captivating, fun and not to mention humorous island to travel to. Like going to any new and exciting part of the world, there are a few things you should know:
1. Barbados Is The Size Of A Dot (A Very Small One) …When Compared To The USA
With a total area of 430 square kilometers, it is the 184th largest country in the world by area with the population estimated to be 284,735 (2016) people and growing. That’s a mere 977x larger than the smallest country in the world (Vatican City) and 22,853x smaller than the United States!
#FunFact – Barbados is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide with the highest point in Barbados being Mount Hillaby which is only 1,100 feet above sea level!
2. You’d Think Everyone Knows Everyone
The tropical and hospitable nature of the island is also reflected in the self-proclaimed ‘Bajans’, so it’s not uncommon to be with a local and within two hours felt as though you’ve made “a million” new friends – because you will soon realize that everyone knows everyone as the island is quite small; so it’s really no wonder why time after time, people come to the island but stay because of the love for the people!
#FunFact – because of how small the island is, it’s almost a guarantee that if you go to Cave Shepherd in the heart of Bridgetown, a lady will be there to ask you for a donation/sponsor. Whatever the cause, whether legit or not, she is always there!
3. Bajans Believe In ‘Keeping the Spirits Together”
The island is made up predominantly of African slave-descended blacks with the main religion being Christianity. To be more specific, Anglicanism is the official religion of Barbados but the island is also home to many denominations along with communities of followers of the Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faith. What’s more, is that there are also 1,500 rum shops on the island and some churches are often located within close proximity to a rum shop!
#FunFact – You’d be surprised that within such a small island there are 3,500 churches!
4. Bridgetown (the capital city) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
In the capital city, originally known as “Indian Bridge”, you’ll be able to source anything from jewellery to clothes and even souvenirs – some of which can be purchased duty-free.
#FunFact – The third oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth is located in the heart of Bridgetown.
5. God Iz (read as: ‘Is’) A Bajan
This phrase came about because it is a well-known fact that hurricanes always tend to veer off Barbados. Some say it’s due to the island’s geographical location and others say it’s pure luck. One thing’s for sure, ever since Barbados’ devastating hit from Hurricane Janet in 1955, Barbados has been blessed and constantly spared the direct blow of a hurricane (knock on wood) and has not experienced any major hurricanes since. Lord continue to bless our little island!
6. Cheese On Bread!!
Although British English is the official language of Barbados and is the standard form of all forms of communication on the island, it is very likely that you will hear native “Bajan dialect” being spoken in informal settings which can be best described as broken English! Without a doubt, Bajans speak in a very expressive and colourful manner which can sometimes be very confusing because:
Cheese on bread has nothing to do with being hungry; but rather it is an expression of exclamation, and,
“Give jack ‘e jacket” has nothing to do with Jack being cold; rather, you should give “Jack” credit when due.
7. You And Ya Pork Mout’
Not only do Bajans love their stomach, but we also love our pork and hence are affectionately known as ‘pork mouths’ so it’s really not surprising that pudding and souse (made with various off cuts of pork meat) is a ‘Bajan’ favourite. Traditionally this delicacy has become more of a Saturday ritual for many locals and can be found at some rum shops such as ‘The Village Bar at Lemon Arbour’ with some of the best pudding and souse all served on a deck overlooking the Barbados countryside.
8. Land of “The Rum That Invented Rum”
Here in Barbados, not only is rum an integral part of our history, dating back to its invention in the 17th century, it is also the world’s oldest rum. We are definitely experts in this field and not only does it show in our 1,500 rum shops scattered across the island, but we also export $57 million of rum per year across the world!
9. Barbados Has Natural Water Filtration
Staying hydrated in a climate with high humidity is key and in Barbados, it is safe to drink water from the tap as it filtered naturally through coral limestone rock.
10. Barbados Is A Coral Island Located Fully In The Atlantic Ocean
Created by the union of two landmasses that merged together by way of volcanic activity, Barbados is the only coral island in the region with all white sand beaches. Despite being in the Atlantic Ocean and the north and east coast of the island being generally choppy with high waves and strong currents, the south coast of the island is just as calm as the west coast, although some areas of the south coast tend to have some decent swells making it excellent for any form of surfing.
11. Bajans Are Known For (What They Deem To Be) Helpful But Terribly Useless Directions
Me: Hi, I’m trying to get to *insert place of choice*, can you help me?
Bajan: Want you want to do is go straight, straight, straight, you’ll see a cow by Ms.Bess’ house but that’s not it, keep straight, straight, straight. Then, you’ll come to a mango tree, make that left. Now this road goes up and down and got ‘nuff’ bends, so you know you on the right road and you’ll see a bright red house nearing the end of that gap, but don’t turn there, make the left right after. You’ll see the SOL gas station, you can’t miss it, it’s bright yellow, and what you’re looking for is three houses after with two ackees trees in front!
Me: Thanks! * in my mind * – will the cow still be there when I get there? What are ackees?
12. Reggae Buses … Are Not For The Faint Of Heart
It is quite easy to get around the island via the public transportation system and the standard bus fare is BDS$2 which is the equivalent of US$1.
If you’re looking for adventure you can try the privately owned minibuses (also affectionately termed “reggae buses” by tourists) and/or the ZR (pronounced Zed-R) vans as they not only tend to play loud music, they also drive faster (sometimes unnecessarily so) than the government-owned buses. They are even known for going off route from time to time! Don’t even be surprised if they do a “rolling stop” as you’re getting on or off – you have been warned!
To make a long story short, they do not always adhere to the laws of the road, but you’ll always reach your destination much quicker than you’d expect while having an interesting story as the added bonus to your ride.
The minibuses can be recognised by their distinct yellow paint job with a blue stripe while ZRs are painted white with a maroon stripe.
So what are you waiting for, go and see for yourself!