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A Traveller's Guide To Barbados

Aug 17, 2007
Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, lying about 200 miles east of Trinidad. Formerly a British colony, Barbados gained self-governance in October 1961. The official language is English, with the majority of tourists coming from the US and UK.

For those used to the frantic pace of life associated with Britain, Barbados will come as quite a surprise to many. Bajans (as the locals call themselves) are well known for their incredibly laid back, easy going attitude and an infectious aire of optimism.

For those travelling from the UK or US, no visas are required. Recommended immunisations are for Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Yellow Fever. The best time to visit is during the dry season from February to May, but even the 'wet' season enjoys an average of eight hours of sunshine per day.

The local currency is the Barbados Dollar. In August 2007, the exchange rate is 4.03 Barbados Dollars to the British pound and 2 Barbados Dollars to the US Dollar.

Social attitudes, like administration and architecture, tend to echo the British provincial market town. Indeed, Barbados is known by many as the 'little England' of the Caribbean.

Bajan specialties include an excellent array of seafood, such as flying fish, lobster and sea urchins. Sweet potatoes, plantain, yams, avocados, figs and coconuts are some popular examples of local produce. For the more adventurous, try souse, which is boiled pig's head or feet served with a pickle consisting of onion, parsley, cucumbers, limes and peppers.

Unsurprisingly, rum is the spirit of choice, which is used extensively in cocktails on the island. Banks is a highly recommended locally produced beer. Another local drink is mauby, a bitter-sweet drink boiled from tree bark.

Some trademarks associated with Barbados include cricket fanatics, elderly women in prim hats, calypso music, rum (of course) and a vibrant nightlife.

Essential experiences:

Taking a tram ride through Harrison's cave, an astoundingly beautiful network of caverns and underground waterfalls.

Exploring the natural wilderness and lush tropical plants of Welchman Hall Gully or the cultivated botanical gardens of the Flower Forest.

Visiting the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, which features green monkeys, red-footed turtles, caimans, brocket deer, iguanas and agoutis. This is a perfect experience for the whole family to share.

Exploring the island's coral reefs, which offer excellent snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities. Carlisle Bay, near, Bridgetown, has around 200 shipwrecks to explore.

Wandering around grand 17th century plantation homes and estate gardens.

Visiting the Rastafarian market held at Temple Yard, Bridgetown.

If visiting in mid-July, the Crop-over Festival is a must, which originated in colonial times as a celebration of the sugar cane harvest. There are calypso competitions and fairs around the island, culminating in a carnival-esque costume parade of Kadooment day, which is always held on the first Monday of August.
About the Author
Daniel Johansson writes for the travel related market. For those looking for holiday villas in Barbados, Coverley House could be of interest to families and groups alike.
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