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Barbados Travel Guide
Barbados, known as the 'pearl of the Caribbean', is the eastern-most Caribbean island, and is actually an enormous and ancient coral reef that was formed approximately one million years ago. It has been dubbed 'the real fantasy island', an appellation that points to its exotic resorts and glorious beaches. Enjoying 340 days of sunshine a year, numerous well-developed amenities, a throbbing nightlife and friendly inhabitants, it is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Caribbean.
Barbados islanders, calling themselves 'Bajans', are West Indian by descent, although largely shaped by English customs and culture. These influences pervade much of the island, most evident in the Anglican stone churches (the island is divided into numerous parishes) and in the many cricket games played on the village greens. The 'Little England' legacy dates back to colonial days when the sugar industry reigned supreme. Barbados gained self-government in 1966, and now tourism, rather than sugar, is the mainstay of the local economy.
The island is a pear-shaped, 20-mile (32km) stretch of soft coral, which is permeated by water and over time has formed fascinating underground caverns. The coral reefs enveloping most of the island entice tourists to its picturesque shores for activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, and watersports.
Electric current in Barbados is110 volts, 50Hz. Most hotels provide adaptors and transformers for hairdryers and other appliances.
The Barbados Dollar (BBD) is fixed to the US Dollar at a rate of Bd$1.98 to US$1 and does not fluctuate. Its rate is relative to other currencies fluctuations based on the particular currency's relation to the US Dollar. US Dollars are also widely accepted on the island, and well-known international credit cards and travellers cheques (best carried in US dollars to avoid additional charges) are accepted in most stores and restaurants. Banks and ATMs are freely available and cash withdrawals can be made.
English is the official language in Barbados.
Tipping in Barbados is not necessary if a service charge has already been included in the bill, otherwise it is generally about 10-15%. Tipping is normal in bars.
There are no mandatory requirements regarding vaccinations for visitors to Barbados, however a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one year of age coming from infected areas, and Hepatitis A vaccinations are recommended for those aged over two years. There has been an increase in the outbreaks of dengue fever and mosquito repellent is strongly recommended. Medical care is good but very expensive and serious cases are usually transferred overseas (usually to the USA). Health insurance is therefore strongly recommended.
There are no extremist groups or areas of instability in Barbados. Some drug-related organized crime exists, but does not generally affect tourists. There has been a small increase in the incidence of tourists being robbed, and visitors are warned to be especially vigilant on the beaches at night. There has been an increase in attacks and rapes against foreigners and visitors should be alert at all times. Tropical storms and hurricanes may occur between June and November.
Tourists don't usually require a visa for stays of up to six months but they do require a return or onward ticket, proof of sufficient funds, and documents for onward travel. Passports must be valid for the period of intended stay. However, we recommend that passports always be valid for six months after departure from destination.
It is an offence to dress in camouflage clothing in Barbados as it is reserved for the military. Topless bathing is frowned upon and nudism is illegal.
Barbados Tourism Authority, Bridgetown: +1 246 427 2623 or
Embassy of Barbados, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 939 9200.
Barbados High Commission, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for South Africa): +44 020 7631 4975.
High Commission of Barbados, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 236 9517.
Consulate of Barbados, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 09 473 5949.
Embassy of the United States of America, Bridgetown: +1 246 227 4000.
British High Commission, Bridgetown: +1 246 430 7800.
Canadian High Commission, Bridgetown: +1 246 629 3550.
Australian High Commission, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (also responsible for Barbados): +1 868 822 5450.
South African High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica (also responsible for Barbados): + 1 876 620 4840.
Mission of Ireland to the UN, New York, United States (also responsible for Barbados): +1 212 421 6934.
New Zealand High Commission, Ottawa, Canada (also responsible for Barbados): +1 613 238 5991.