Photo Credit: Bob Thomas
13 Things To Remember When Visiting Barbados
Are you thinking about visiting Barbados soon? You should know it made history by ushering in a new, post-colonial era. At the helm isn’t Queen Elizabeth, but Sandra Mason, Barbados’ first president. There is plenty to love about this beautiful island, its warmth and its people. Words can’t do it justice; it needs to be experienced in person.
It is playfully referred to as The Land of The Flying Fish, because of the many little fish that “fly” through the sea. Small wonder that the national dish is flying fish and cou-cou, traditionally served on Friday and Saturday, though you can get it anytime. It’s loaded with flavor thanks to the savory Creole sauce, accompanied by a base of cornmeal and okra.
If you like rum, you’ll be interested to know that Barbados basically invented it, and has the oldest rum distillery in the world. Moreover, it’s a paradise for golfers, and along the west coast is where you’ll find the best beaches and high-end resort communities.
The motto of Barbados, visible on its coat of arms, reads, Pride and Industry. This describes the people well- proud and industrious. Ready to hop on a plane to paradise? Here are 13 things to remember when visiting Barbados.
1. It Is About To Become A Republic
With the removal of Elizabeth II as the Head of State, Barbados has elected its first president.
Sandra Mason will be sworn in on November 30, 2021, the 55th anniversary of the island’s independence.
This is promising news on three counts. A Black woman is set to take power, colonial ties are being abandoned, and Barbados may inspire her sister islands to follow suit.
We love to see it.
2. The Flag Design Is Symbolic
The flag of Barbados has three vertical panels, two blue and one yellow, with a black trident at the center.
According to Go Barbados, the “blue represents the sea and sky of Barbados, the yellow represents the beaches, and the broken trident illustrates the island’s break from Britain.”
The flag made its debut in November 1966, when the island became independent, but was still part of the Commonwealth.
With the recent news, the broken trident may be more significant now than it has ever been.
3. The Bajan Dialect Is Charming
Totally Barbados describes the Bajan dialect as “a combination of African and British accents and languages.”
For the chorus of Work, Rihanna leaned into her Bajan dialect, which the uninformed incorrectly called gibberish.
Not unlike Jamaicans, Bajans speak in a spirited, sometimes fast-paced manner that you might not understand immediately if you aren’t familiar with Caribbean dialects.
Bajans and Jamaicans use some of the same words. This is dis. That is dat. Thing becomes ting (which in Jamaica, is also grapefuit soda). Her and him might be swapped out with she and he.
And so on.
4. Rihanna. That is All.
One thing that makes Rihanna so dope, aside from her beauty and business acumen, is that she’s unapologetic in her Blackness.
This talented star is known for pop music, some of which is infused with Caribbean flavor. She’s collaborated with many artists including Drake, Shakira, and Elephant Man. Creatively, she’s constantly testing out new waters and evolving, and it’s fun to witness.
Her Savage X Fenty line is one of the most inclusive brands today. In an industry that has prioritized slim builds for so long, it’s refreshing to see other physiques take center stage in the Savage X Fenty advertisements.
This kind of forward-thinking has Rihanna’s competitors shaking in their boots.
5. You Should See The Accommodations!
When it comes to luxury accommodations, Barbados is on another level.
There are condominiums with terraces where you can sip coffee as the sea breaks on the sand below.
The villas usually come fully staffed, so you don’t have to lift a finger, except to enjoy a cocktail.
Some winners include Nelson Gay which can sleep up to 18 people between the main house and the guest quarters. It opens out to the beach and has a private swimming pool among other amenities.
Illusion is another grand estate in the resort community of Sugar Hill. Perfect for a family of 8, or friends getting together.
The Royal Westmoreland is where you’ll find Bajan Heights. The house is surrounded by palm trees and other vegetation, and it faces the west coast of the island.
These villas are so beautiful, you might not feel much inclination to venture beyond them.
6. There Are Decent Beaches
Full disclosure, not all the beaches in Barbados are aesthetically pleasing. Some of the ones along the east and south coasts are a bit rough.
If you like the rugged look, head over to Bathsheba, part of the east coast. According to Go Barbados, “visitors come here to breathe in the air, soak in the invigorating pools and feel alive.”
The west coast beaches are lovely, with sand that looks like sugar and calm waters safe for swimming.
Specific beaches to check out include Sandy Lane Beach, Gibbes Beach, Mullins Beach, Reeds Bay, and Paynes Bay Beach.
7. There Are Vibrant Towns and Resort Communities
The Bajan capital is Bridgetown, where you’ll find most of the government buildings, as well as an abundance of duty-free shops.
Speightstown, Oistins, and Holetown offer good restaurants and shopping.
Much of the high-end real estate for rental and purchase can be found in Royal Westmoreland and Sandy Lane.
8. There Are Great Golfing Opportunities
Barbados is great for golfers, whether you’re just starting out or are a pro.
As noted by Visit Barbados, “seamlessly integrated into the dramatic natural landscape, the golf courses are a masterpiece in design, with several more world-class courses in the planning.”
Sandy Lane’s Green Monkey is a prestigious golf course. Other good spots to tee off are Barbados Golf Club, Apes Hill Club, and Royal Westmoreland Golf Club.
9. It Is The Birthplace Of Rum
Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and home to Mount Gay Distillery, believed to be the oldest distillery in the world, dating back to 1703.
Mount Gay Distillery is in Bridgetown, and you can enjoy tours and special tastings.
Consider getting a bottle of Mount Gay as a gift for the rum lover in your life.
10. Great For Nature Walks
When you really want to be immersed in what nature has to offer, Barbados is it.
In St. Joseph, visit the Andromeda Gardens, which are six miles of trees, flowers, and unique plants. For locals, entry is free, but international visitors are encouraged to pay something to help maintain the space.
11. There Are Many Water Activities To Do
According to The Culture Trip, scuba diving allows guests to explore coral and the “more than 200 wrecks littering the seabed around the island.”
This is a testament to just how important Barbados once was as a trading post.
Windsurfers and surfers rejoice! Barbados has you covered. The conditions are almost always ideal to enjoy both.
Go Barbados highly recommends renting a jet ski. If the shop is reputable, “they will provide life vests and comprehensive instruction” regardless of your experience level.
When you’re zipping across those waves, be sure to show respect for other people and marine life.
12. The Crop Over Festival Is Epic
This epic party goes back to the 1700s, when Barbados was one of the world’s biggest sugar producers.
It lost momentum in the 1940s, only to be revived again in the 1970s. It’s been going strong ever since.
At the start of the festival, there’s the Ceremonial Delivery of The Last Canes, followed by mas bands, dancing, food and vibrant costumes. Rihanna is known to make appearances.
The official Crop Over season is July and August, but the revelry starts as early as May.
13. It Is (Mostly) Spared Hurricanes
Because of the island’s location, Barbados isn’t often in the line of fire come hurricane season, which cannot be said for some other islands.
According to Reuters, Hurricane Elsa this year caused power outages and structural damage towards the south of Barbados, but no deaths on the island.
Unfortunately, deaths were reported in St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic.
The most powerful hurricane to affect Barbados in documented history is Hurricane Janet in 1955. The structural damage was enormous, and about 38 people died.