Barbados In A Nutshell: A Quick (And Useful) Guide To Barbados
Like going to any new and exciting part of the world, there are always a few things one must know before travelling. Here is a list of helpful and useful information which will prepare you for life on the picturesque island of Barbados!
AREA CODE – The country code of Barbados is +(1) 246.
TOTAL AREA – Barbados is 166 Square Miles – yes, this isn’t a joke! This little isle is a mere 21 miles long and 14 miles wide – making everywhere on the island a short journey to your destination.
CAPITAL CITY – Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and the largest city on the island. It’s also the location of the main shopping centres (such as Cave Sheperd) and you’ll be able to source pretty much anything from clothes to souvenirs and from cosmetics to jewellery.
AIRPORT – There is only one airport on the island – The Grantley Adams International Airport.
MONEY – Not every place accepts credit cards so be sure to have local cash on hand. The Barbados Dollar is tied to the US Dollar at a rate of US$1 = BB$1.98 (but the street rate is US $1 = BB $2).
Be sure to check with the local banks for any other currency as it tends to fluctuate.
TAX – Value added tax is a steep 17.5% (atrocious, I know) but it is usually included in all prices quoted. When on the island, be sure to take advantage of the Duty-Free shopping at Cave Sheperd or Limegrove Lifestyle Centre and you’ll save more than a pretty penny!
WEATHER – Barbados tends to be consistently warm and sunny all year round with the majority of the rainfall occurring during the summer. But need not worry; showers tend to pass rather quickly!
TIPPING – While not mandatory, a 10%–15% of your bill is a welcomed, and polite gesture to acknowledge good service!
BUSINESS HOURS – Businesses usually open all week long from Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm and on Saturdays with shortened hours. Most importantly, banking institutions open from Monday to Thursday from 8am-3pm and Friday 8am-5pm but, it should be noted that places with higher traffic (such as supermarkets) may open later than usual. As a rule of thumb, be sure to call (or check online) as opening hours may change due to the company as well as the location.
WATER – This precious commodity is safe to drink from the tap as it filtered naturally through coral limestone rock and we recommend that you drink lots (and lots) of water whether it be by the tap or bottle. It may taste a little weird if you’re not accustomed but trust me, it’s perfectly fine.
Remember to stay hydrated because in a climate with high humidity and somewhat unfamiliar for some, staying hydrated is very important!
LANGUAGE – English is the official language of Barbados and is the standard form of all types of communication on the island. While on the island, it is very likely that you will hear “Bajan Dialect” being spoken in informal settings (and sometimes formal settings) which can be best described as broken English to the untrained ear but be warned, it is a full-fledged language with intact grammatical structure. Moreover, our vocabulary is unique and colourful in a way that resonates in the heart of many!
BUGS AND WILDLIFE – You will be on a tropical island where it is hot and humid so please travel with bug spray or insect repellent for those pesky mosquitoes and sand flies. But in extreme situations, here are other ways in which you can ensure a blood sucking mosquito free holiday!
For all other forms of wildlife, if you do not trouble it, it will not trouble you!
CRIME – Barbados generally has a lower rate of violence than its neighbouring islands but you will experience pedlars (sometimes intense ones). Be firm (but not rude) and maintain any necessary precautions.
DRESS – Camouflage is prohibited and while we understand that it nice and warm, keep swimwear on the beach.
TRANSPORTATION – It is quite easy to get around the island via public transportation system and the standard bus fare is BDS$2 which is the equivalent of US$1. Please use local currency has no foreign coins are accepted on the Transport Board buses (easily recognised by their blue colour with yellow stripe). If you’re looking for adventure you can also try the minibuses (also affectionately termed reggae buses by tourists) and the ZR (pronounced Zed-R) vans has they tend to play loud music and drive faster that the government owned buses. The minibuses can be recognised by their distinct yellow paint job with a blue stripe while ZRs are painted white with a maroon stripe.
Taxis are also readily available and most of the time the drivers would stop and ask if you need a ride rather than you having to hunt and flag them down. Taxis can be recognised by a “Z” that appears on their license plate, but, be sure to ask the taxi driver for the fare before hand as the taxi fare is not measured via a taximeter. And if all fails, take a look at our list of popular car hire companies in Barbados!
ELECTRICITY – with 110/230V 50Hz and type A and B sockets which are commonly used in the USA, Canada, Mexico & Japan, it is always wise to bring an adapter with different settings. Better safe than sorry!
Now that you’re fully up to speed, your fantastic vacation in Barbados awaits!