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Why Go To Barbados

You can find a white-sand beach, a sprawling golf course or a duty-free shopping plaza just about anywhere in the Caribbean, but in Barbados, visitors can taste the bittersweet Mount Gay Rum, dance to the thrum of a calypso song or take in a polo or cricket match. And though you could spend all your time on the beaches, you'll find plenty more to do when exploring this Caribbean paradise. This luxurious island is brimming with breathtaking architecture, a passionate sports culture and a party-loving attitude. 

The easternmost island in the Caribbean, Barbados juggles two different cultures to create a distinctly Bajan personality. Even after gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1966, this island still holds tight to British traditions like afternoon tea, cricket and horse races. Trademarks of the Caribbean and West Africa are still evident, however, in the island's sugar cane fields, rum distilleries and lush landscapes. And then there are the many beaches. While all of Barbados' shorelines boast picturesque views and calming ocean breezes, some of the country's must-visit beaches include Dover Beach, Bathsheba Beach and the sands overlooking Carlisle Bay.

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Barbados Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Barbados is between July and November. Though these months fall within the Caribbean's hurricane season, hurricanes rarely hit the island, and you could attend one of the lively Crop Over Festival activities if you vacation during this time of year. Temperatures stay between the mid-70s and mid-80s year-round, so there's little reason to travel during the peak season, which occurs from late December to mid-April.

What You Need to Know

  • This is Little Britain Though island attire is acceptable at the beach, thanks to its colonial history, Bajans are fairly conservative in attitude and dress. Don't be surprised to see men wearing pants and women in dresses.
  • This is rum country White, aged and flavored are just some of the rum varieties you'll find produced on the island. To sample some of Barbados' best, take an interactive tour of a top-notch distillery like Mount Gay Vistior Centre or St. Nicholas Abbey.
  • This is where the sun lives Barbados is only 13 degrees north of the equator, meaning you'll likely enjoy plenty of sunshine and hot weather during your visit. To avoid dehydration, heat strokes and sunburns, apply sunscreen regularly and drink plenty of water.

How to Save Money in Barbados

  • Be mindful of the exchange rate The Barbadian or Bajan dollar (BBD) is permanently fixed at Bds$2 for every $1. Although most establishments accept U.S. currency, you should pay in Barbados dollars – your money will go further.
  • Visit in the offseason Though you may face a hurricane, visiting between May and November will save you some coin on airfare and hotels.
  • Go for an all-inclusive To avoid added food, drink and activity expenses, consider staying at one of the island's all-inclusive resorts.

Culture & Customs

Independent since 1966, Barbados has maintained a political system similar to that of Britain, with a constitutional monarchy and a democratic parliamentary government. Bajan customs and ways of life are also similar. You should bring light colors and fabrics to wear on your vacation, but note that Bajans tend to dress conservatively. Long pants for men and dresses for women are not uncommon.

Throughout the country, the Barbadian dollar (BBD) is used. Bds$2 equals $1. When tipping in Barbados, travelers should expect to add an additional gratuity based on the service received. However, unlike the U.S., some restaurants will include a 10 to 15 percent gratuity in food bills, so be sure to check your receipt before you pay.

And though English is the primary language in Barbados, the Bajan dialect, which is typically used in casual conversations, may confuse some foreigners. Key phrases to remember include "wha gine on" (what's going on), "aight" (how are you) and "ga so" (go this way).

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What to Eat

An array of Caribbean and international cuisine can be found in Barbados, though the island's fresh seafood is the focal point of many restaurant menus. Gourmet chefs have opened the most sophisticated establishments in the St. James and Bridgetown areas, but you should expect to pay a pretty penny for the experience. Make sure to plan ahead at these eateries since most require a reservation to get in the door. Recent visitors to Barbados mention that the food in St. Lawrence Gap is well worth the price; reasonable prices can also be found in Holetown on the central west coast.

While eating out, you may notice a lack of plastic. Beginning in April 2019, the island banned all single-use plastic, including plastic cups, cutlery and straws, as part of a long-term conservation effort.

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Getting Around Barbados

The best way to get around Barbados is in a car – preferably one you've rented and not a taxi. Just keep to the left and keep your wits about you for the twists and turns. The aforementioned taxis are an expensive option, but at least the fare is set by the government – it'll cost between 13 and 83 Barbadian dollars ($6.50 to $41.50) to get from Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) to various parts of the island.

Barbados is also a popular port of call for cruise ships sailing to the eastern or southern Caribbean. Cruise ships dock at the Bridgetown pier, which is located about 3 miles from downtown Bridgetown.

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Entry & Exit Requirements

U.S. citizens should carry a passport to enter Barbados; a visa is not required unless you plan to stay more than six months. One blank page is required in each passport. Visit the U.S. State Department's website for the latest information on foreign exit and entry requirements.

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Barbados1 of 20
Barbados2 of 20

Whether you're surfing the world-famous Soup Bowl at Bathsheba, swimming and snorkeling at one of Carlisle Bay's beaches or sailing at Dover Beach, you'll find plenty to see and do at Barbados' shorelines.

Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

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