Bridgetown, Barbados

Photo by  Cédric Frixon  on  Unsplash

Barbados: Pride and Industry

Welcome to Barbados, or Bim, a nickname coined by the locals. 

Known for its beaches, scenery, food, and Rihanna, Barbados is a great place to soak up the sun for your next vacation. In fact, according to Barbados.org, the island is known to get 3,000 hours of sunshine a year!

This beautiful country is located in the Caribbean and has a rich history. The island today is made up of West African and British influences with the significance of the sugarcane crop leading to an annual celebration called Crop Over. This festival celebrates the end of the sugarcane crop harvest. Crop Over is held annually throughout the month of July with a finale celebration, Grand Kadooment Day parade on the first Monday in August.

Paying a visit to the beautiful island of Barbados? We’ve made your trip easy with the following travel guide.


What to pack:

-Comfortable sandals/flip-clops

-Sneakers for walking/hiking

-Prescription medications, pain meds (just in case) and vitamins (if you normally take them)

-SPF sunscreen

-Small umbrella


What to wear:

-Loose-fitting cotton or linen clothing for the humidity

-Thin raincoat

-Light, denim jacket or windbreaker

-Swimwear

-Sunglasses


Before you depart:

-Make sure to arrange travel insurance

-Double-check airline baggage allowance

-Inform your bank/credit card company of your travels

-Withdraw small amount of cash (in case of emergency)

FLIGHT

For this itinerary, allow 7 days, 6 nights.

ARRIVE: Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in the morning of Day 1

DEPART: Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in the evening of Day 7


LODGING

Bridgetown | Day 1-5, 4 nights

West Coast | Day 5-7, 2 nights

RESERVATIONS

Island Safari Tour | Day 2

Lickrish Food Tours | Day 3

Harrison’s Cave Tour | Day 4

Dinner at Daphne’s | Day 5

Seaduced Luxury Charters Cruise | Day 6


BRIDGETOWN

Day 1-5 | 4 nights

You’ll be staying in the capital of Barbados – a bustling city with old colonial buildings. Enjoy great shopping, local culture and experience a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Here are a few great accommodation options:

The Hilton Barbados

Banyan Beach House Villa

Radisson Aquatica Resort

Island Inn Hotel

Courtyard by Marriot

WEST COAST

Day 5-7 | 2 nights

Welcome to the West Coast of Barbados. Here you will relax on the tranquil beaches. This area is known as the ‘Platinum Coast’ – a nickname earned for the color of the sand.

Here are a few great accommodation options:

The Club Barbados

Coral Reef Club

Sandy Lane Hotel

Discovery Bay Barbados

All Seasons Resort – Europa


APPS

Barbados Yellow Pages | find businesses, directions, maps and coupons

WhatsApp | keep up with family and friends by using this free messaging app which also lets you make video and audio calls

Trip Advisor | a great resource to find restaurants, attractions and things to do

Currency Converter Pro | makes converting prices so easy!


TRANSIT BOOKING SITES

Booking.com | you can find deals on hotels, vacation rentals and guesthouse

AirBnb.com | find homes and apartments for rent

SkyScanner.com | helpful for prediction technology


INSTAGRAM

For re-posts of your shots, @tag and use the following hashtags:

Bridgetown | #bridgetownbarbados

Barbados | @visitbarbados, #barbados, #visitbarbados

Travel Noire | @travelnoire, #travelnoire


ADDITIONAL SUPPORT

US Embassy | US Embassy Bridgetown, Wildey Business Park, St. Michael 14006, Barbados W.I. 

PHONE: (246) 227-4000


Day 1

ARRIVAL

Welcome to Bridgetown, the beautiful capital of Barbados! You’re in for a fun-filled five days in this busy city. Get ready to see, learn and experience a true Bajan lifestyle. Located on the southwest coast of Barbados, this city is known for its British-influenced colonial architecture. The original streetscape of the city was designed in 1657 and is still strikingly similar, earning Bridgetown a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012. Although there were at least 10 fires between 1668 and 1993 that destroyed a lot of the early history and official records in the city, original street names have remained. 


 MORNING

You’ll be landing at Grantley Adams International Airport which is about 10 miles from Bridgetown. You can take a taxi from the airport to your hotel.

Check-in to your hotel, drop your baggage and let’s get something to eat!

Enjoy a delicious breakfast at Coffee Barbados Café with healthy options such as an energy smoothie or indulgent options like cinnamon French toast with maple syrup. Spend the rest of the morning leisurely taking a walk along Barbados’ most magnificent body of water – Carlisle Bay. Running over a mile along the southern edge of the city, Carlisle Bay is lined with white sand and crystal clear water. 

After a stroll, head back to your hotel for an afternoon nap.

EVENING

Good food and good vibes. Head to the Waterfront Café for Bajan comfort food. This spot is loved by both locals and tourists and offers a full bar and a la carte menu. There is music from 7:30 pm – 10:30pm every night and free live entertainment Thursday – Saturday nights. 

Unwind with their rum punch or piña colada and enjoy dishes like whole snapper, jerked wings, and slow roasted pork shoulder.

After dinner and music, spend the rest of the evening walking around Bridgetown and taking in the vibrancy of this city. Don’t head back to your hotel too late – adventure awaits in the morning!


Day 2

MORNING

Grab a quick breakfast at your hotel because, today, we’re going on an island safari!

This 5.5-hour long safari will expose you to the most beautiful coastal scenery on the island. 

Hop in a 4x4 on and off road and experience some of the least visited spots in Barbados. You’ll be able to learn about the history of the island while drinking Jungle Juice aka rum punch. Drinks and snacks will be provided throughout the tour as well as a traditional Bajan buffet lunch! There will be roundtrip transportation to and from your hotel. Just make sure to pack comfortable shoes, a towel, camera and sunscreen


AFTERNOON

Explore the past of Careenage, the popular waterfront area of Bridgetown. This area, also known as Constitution River, was once an area where ships unloaded and loaded goods between long journeys. Women would sell baskets of foods along the dock while boats were being ‘careened’. This was England’s first port-of-call on the Transatlantic Slave Trade. 

Stroll the waterfront and take a moment to reflect on the commemorative plaque which honors the ‘strength and resilience’ of the enslaved Africans brought to Barbados in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It’s in this area that slaves were sold to plantation owners. 

After learning a bit about Barbados’ past, stroll to the rest of the waterfront and take in your surroundings. If tours are more of your thing, you can arrange a guided tour of Careenage with Barbadian author and expert Morris Greenidge. This will be a 2-hour walking tour and Greenidge will transport you back in time with his storytelling. 

EVENING

Enjoy dinner at Brown Sugar Restaurant where their motto is “ask a Barbadian where you can find the very best in Barbados and Caribbean cuisine, and the answer is sure to be Brown Sugar Restaurant.” You’ll be dining on a patio surrounded by water gardens for an elegant experience. Taste the national dish of cou-cou and steamed fish every Wednesday and Friday. End your evening with a drink or perhaps dessert and coffee – the choice is yours. 


Day 3

MORNING

Grab a light breakfast because we’ll be going on a food tour today!

MID-MORNING AND AFTERNOON

Depart at 11:00 a.m. from Independence Square for a 3-hour-long Bajan walking food tour. You’ll be eating your way through the streets of the most vibrant city on the island. 

Nosh on authentic Bajan treats and foods while learning the history of Bridgetown. Lickrish Food Tours encourages you to eat like a local and stroll 1.5 miles while doing so. You’ll be introduced to foods like: barbecued pigtails, fish cakes, Bajan chicken soup, flying fish and cou-cou. 

EVENING

Spend the evening shopping on Broad and Swan Streets. There will be roadside vendors trying to haggle with you but you’ll still feel as though you’ve taken a step back to centuries ago. Broad Street is filled with duty-free ships and was once the place where British merchants traded. Head off Broad and you’ll find the pedestrian-only Swan Street, which was once known as Jew Street because Jewish-owned businesses were prominent at that time. The Jewish-owned shops would be on the ground floor while the owners would live right above. Today, Swan Street is filled with clothing and shoe stores amongst other shops. Walk to the side alley off Swan and you’ll find Busby Alley. This alley was once the block where freed Africans would sell goods such as breads, cakes, or puddings. Today, it’s filled with stands where you can find souvenirs and don’t be afraid to haggle with vendors!

Hungry? Head to one of the local restaurants or street food vendors.

Day 4

MORNING

Enjoy a hearty breakfast at your hotel because today we’ll be exploring!

After breakfast, venture about 22 minutes from Bridgetown to Harrison’s Cave! You’ll be whisked off on an hour-long tram tour through this historic cave. The tour guide will be sharing their knowledge of the active cave’s natural passageways while you enjoy the sounds and sights of the waterfalls and streams.


AFTERNOON

Head to downtown Bridgetown for lunch at Tim’s Restaurant. This restaurant is easy to miss, so look for the sign and then follow the stairs and turn right. This is one of the best restaurants in Bridgetown for cheap, yummy eats. Order pigtails to feast like a true Bajan. 

After lunch, head to the top of Broad Street and view the spectacular neo-gothic style Parliament Buildings which is also referred to as the “Public Buildings”. The buildings were built between 1870 and 1874 out of coral limestone to house the Barbados Parliament. The building have stunning stained glass windows which tell the story of British monarchs. You can also head to the National Gallery and Parliament Museum to get a history lesson of the democratic heritage of Barbados. Included in museum entry is a tour of the parliament buildings. 


EVENING

Celebrate your last night in Bridgetown with dinner at Cocktail Kitchen. Damien Leach is the chef and is also 2018 chef of the year. The menu has Barbadian lamb which is not easy to get. If that doesn’t interest you, then try one of the chef’s recommendations: pan-seared catch crusted with coconut, pineapple and cilantro with ginger & scotch bonnet sweet potato puree. Indulge in a vanilla braised plantain cream for dessert. Head back to the hotel and gear up for the day ahead. 


Day 5

MORNING

Time to check out of your hotel – hope you had a great stay! You can normally store your luggage with reception until your departure. 

Savor your last morning in Bridgetown by heading to Pebbles Beach. Grab breakfast at Cuz’s Fish Shack, the most recommended food spot in Barbados. This fish shack off the beach is known for their fish cutters (a sandwich made with salt bread and filled with savory ingredients). Pebbles beach has white sand and perfect waters for swimming. Take a morning dip in the ocean or simply just relax at the Boatyard Beach Club with sun lounges and umbrellas. 

Before heading back to your hotel, make your way to the corner of Roebuck and Palmetto Streets to see where rum was first discovered. This area dates back to the 17th century and was home to the highest amount of rum bottlers and blenders int eh world. 


AFTERNOON

Head back to your hotel, grab your luggage and travel for about 30 minutes to the West Coats where you will be staying for the remainder of your trip. Check in to your hotel and head straight to Mullins Beach, one of the most popular beaches in the area. You can lounge at their Mullins Beach Bar and spend your afternoon sipping on rum punches. 


EVENING


Enjoy dinner at Daphne’s which is an award-winning restaurant whose sister location is in London. Daphne’s is a popular dining spot amongst celebrities – even Rihanna eats here!

The vibe is low-key and the food is Italian-influenced with an island twist. End your night with a watermelon martini or one of their other creative cocktails.

Day 6

MORNING

After breakfast at your hotel, spend the morning in Holetown – Barbados’ oldest settlement. Head to Folkestone Marine Park which is about half-mile north of Holetown to snorkel in protected waters. There is also a marine life information center and museum on-site. Get some shopping in at Limegrove Lifestyle Center, a trendy mall with upscale brands. For more of a local shopping experience, head to Chattel Village. This colorful outdoor shopping complex has small shops, local fashion and souvenirs. 


AFTERNOON

Go on a sunset tour with Seaduced Luxury Charters – they offer private and semi-private sunset cruises. You will be able to get a sun kissed -view of the waters and surrounding areas (the cruise departs at 3:30 p.m.) as well as a breathtaking view of the sunset. There is also a swim platform for easy access to the water. The free bar allows you to enjoy the magnificent sunset with a G&T in hand.


EVENING

Enjoy dinner at Juma’s which overlooks the ocean. You can enjoy hearty favorites like ribs and chicken or seafood with fresh fish being made every evening. There is also an amazing selection of wine. This is your last night on this beautiful island – take it all in. 


Day 7 

Spend your last morning with breakfast at Fish Pot Restaurant. Eat a hearty meal while reminiscing on your vacation spent learning, exploring and tasting your way through Barbados.


Check out of your hotel and head to the airport – it’s time to say goodbye, for now. 




Basic Stats

Area: 432 Sq. Km.

Area code: 246

Currency: Barbadian dollar (B$) – To convert, just divide by 2. For example, if an item is 100 BBD, it would be equivalent to $50 USD.

Language spoken: English

Population: 287,000

Time: Atlantic Standard Time (GMT/UTC minus four hours)

Capital: Bridgetown (formerly known as The Town of Saint Michael)


Best Time To Travel:

The cheapest time to travel is during the stormy season, which runs from June to November. Travel during September through November for the cheapest flights and accommodation. 


For the best weather, visit between December and the beginning of April. This is the driest time of the year and the temperature is around 85 degrees every day. 


How To Get There?

The only way to get in and out of Barbados is by air. 

Fly to the island’s Grantley Adams International Airport (airport code: BGI). The airport is about 10 miles from the capital city of Bridgetown. 

Barbados’ airport is the largest in the eastern Caribbean and serves as a hub for many travelers. Although major airlines from North American fly to Barbados, JetBlue serves the island more frequently. 

Please note that a departure fee is added to all flights leaving Barbados. 


In Case Of An Emergency:

Hospitals in Barbados provide excellent care for minor-illnesses. In addition, most hotels on the island will have a doctor on call or be able to call one for you. To be on the safe side, invest in travel insurance that covers medical care – especially because healthcare in Barbados is expensive. 

The main hospital on the island is in Bridgetown. Traveling from the US, you will not need any special vaccinations. It is safe to drink tap water all across Barbados. 


Bajan Etiquette:

Greetings: when entering a space or transportation, it is expected to greet by saying ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’, or ‘goodnight’. When meeting someone, common courtesy is to greet with a handshake.

Speaking: Bajans usually speak in a softer tone during conversation.

Transport: local commuters cram into minibuses rather than awaiting the next ride. It is common to be crammed with a lack of personal space while taking public transportation in Barbados. 


Punctuality: Bajans are known for being late to everything. If you need something done at a certain time, be very clear and specific about it. 


Culture:  The culture in Barbados is influenced by the English. For example, playing cricket, polo and horse racing are popular things to do while on the island. Business is usually conducted in an extremely organized manner, older women were prim hats and ceremonies are conducted the traditional British way.


On the other hand, Barbados is also highly influenced by Afro-Caribbean tradition. The African and East Indian influence shows in the spicy foods, music, dances and festivals. 


Bajan people are mostly conservative and men are expected to play the macho role.


Barbados is a bit more progressive that its surrounding countries because of their ongoing relationship with London. The Bajan youth are very much into things like Hip-Hop, basketball and urban fashion. 

Sports: The national sport is cricket. You can find the schedule for attending a cricket match here.

Music: The music in Barbados consists of soca (upbeat offspring of calypso), rapso (when soca and hip-hop come together), dancehall (reggae with faster beats and an MC).


Rihanna is from Barbados and has become a global star. Here songs are influenced a lot by reggae. 


Landscape

The island is somewhat pear-shaped with most of the terrain being relatively flat. The northeastern part rises to Barbados’ highest point (1,115 feet), Mt. Hillaby. 

The west coast boasts white-sand beaches with turquoise waters. 

The east coast has the waters of the Atlantic Ocean which can be quite turbulent and has cliffs. 

Most of the island is surrounded by coral reefs which contributes to the white-sand beaches. 

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Wildlife

The grass snake is only found in Barbados and is completely harmless. There is also a species of tiny, non-poisonous blind snake. 

Other wildlife include: whistling frogs, lizards, red-faced tortoises, and eight different species of bats. 

There are more than 180 species of birds sighted on the island. 


Additional things to know:


Haggling prices

Although this isn’t common on the island, it is acceptable to do so at souvenir shops and markets.


Crime

Barbados is a generally safe island. Most of the crimes are tourist scams. To stay safe, just be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are pickpockets in Bridgetown, so it’s advised to keep your belongings secure when walking around the city. 


Electricity

US-style two-pin plugs are the norm in Barbados. However, you may spot some places with UK-style three-pin sockets.


Emergency numbers

Ambulance – 511

Fire – 311

Police – 211


Entry and Exit Information

Importing rum and foreign matches is prohibited. Also, camouflage clothing is not allowed.

Upon entering, you must have a valid passport and a return ticket or ticket elsewhere, showing you are definitely leaving. Officers sometimes ask for proof that you have a departing ticket.

US, Canada and most European countries won’t need a visa when traveling to Barbados. 


LGBTQ Travelers

Barbados is a very conservative and religious island and Bajans are commonly opposed to homosexuality. Although there are a few openly gay couples on the island, they tend to be discreet.

When staying on international resorts on the island, people are more open-minded. It is advised to be conscious when venturing out into smaller, traditional towns even though it is unlikely you will run into issues.


Internet Access

WIFI is common at hotels, bars and restaurants on the island. 


Media

Newspapers – there are two daily newspapers in Barbados: the Barbados Advocate and the Daily Nation. You can find some UK papers sold in tourist areas.


Television – CBC is a government-owned TV station that broadcasts on Channel 8. 


Radio – the local radio is on FM 92.9, 94.7, 98.1 and AM 900. You can find soca music on FB 95.3, gospel on FM 102.1 and BBC on FM 92.1.


Money

It’s wise to get Barbadian dollars but large payments can be made with US dollars. Major credit cards are accepted at most businesses. 

Hotels typically quote their rates in US dollars as well as some restaurants.


Hours of Operation

Banks usually operate between 8am – 3pm Monday to Friday.

Restaurants from noon – 10pm

Shops are 8am – 5pm Monday to Friday and until 1pm on Saturday.

Most places are closed on Sunday.

Some bars are open 24 hours. 


Post Office

The postal service in Barbados is very modern. You can find post offices in all major towns on the island. They offer regular and express mailing services. 


Smoking

Smoking in public places is prohibited. You are allowed to smoke at outside spaces such as beaches and parks. Majority of hotels prohibit smoking in rooms and enclosed spaces but smoking is allowed on room balconies and patios. Some resorts even have designated areas for smoking.


Taxes and Tax Refunds

There is a 17.5% tax applied on most goods in Barbados. The tax rate for hotel rooms is 7.5%. Tourists are not allowed to get a refund on VAT paid during trips to the island. 


Telephone Usage

The country code in Barbados is 1 and the area code is 246. If you want to call another country with a country code of 1 (this includes most North American countries and Caribbean countries), dial 1 and the 10-digit number. When calling other countries, dial the international access code 011 + country code + number. 


If you want cell phone service while traveling around the island, you can purchase a SIM card and buy data. 3G services is available and the main cell phone services are Digicel and Flow. 


Weights and Measurements

The metric system is used in Barbados. Many locals, however, will give tourists directions in feet and miles as well as selling things by the pound. 


Getting Around The Island

Car

You can rent a car to drive around the island as you please. Tourists must get a temporary driving permit from the car rental agency which costs $5 USD. All you have to do is show your valid driver’s license from your home country.

There are many independent car-rental companies on the island. Some are even run out of private homes.

A small car is about $65 - $75 per day which includes unlimited mileage and insurance. Rental cars all have an ‘H’ on the license plate.

Many rental companies will even deliver your car to your hotel for you. 

Although highways aren’t well marked; landmarks, roundabouts and major intersections are clearly labeled. Low cement posts are present at the side of the road which shows the highway number and number of kilometers to Bridgetown. All of the major roads and secondary roads are paved but you may run into some narrow roads. There are 24-hour gas stations in Bridgetown. You will be driving on the left side in Barbados. 


Taxis

You can spot a taxi by the ‘Z’ on the license plate and ‘taxi’ sign on the roof. Getting a  taxi is fairly easy on the island and they are usually waiting on the side of the road in popular tourist areas. Taxi fares are determined by the government and they are not metered. You can haggle with taxi drivers for a fair price. 

Bus 

You can get around the island in a bus, which goes practically everywhere.

Here are the different types of buses:

-Government-operated public buses – large, blue with yellow stripe

-Privately operated minibuses – mid-size, yellow with blue stripe

-Route taxis – minivans with ‘ZR’ on license plates, white 

All of the buses charge $1 to go anywhere on the island. When boarding the government bus, you should have exact change. Minibuses and route taxes will be able to give you change if you have bigger bills. Bus stops in Barbados are red-and-white signs which ahs the destination they’re going to on or above the front windshield. Buses run from around 6am until midnight.


Public Holidays (not including internationally-known holidays)

Errol Barrow Day – January 21

Heroes’ Day – April 28

Labor Day – May 1

Emancipation Day – August 1

Kadooment Day – First Monday in August

UN Day – First Monday in October

Independence Day – November 30