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  Tourists pour into Barbados from all over the world, drawn by the delightful climate, the big blue sea and brilliant white sandy beaches. Many of them rarely stray far from their hotels and guesthouses, but those who make an effort find a proud island scattered with an impressive range of historic sites and, away from the mostly gently rolling landscape, dramatic scenery in hidden caves, cliffs and gullies.
  For more than three centuries Barbados was a British colony and retains something of a British feel: the place names, the cricket, horse-racing and polo, Anglican parish churches, and even a hilly district known as Scotland. But the Britishness is often exaggerated, for this is a distinctly West Indian country , covered by a patchwork of sugarcane fields and dotted with rum shops, where calypso is the music of choice and flying fish the favoured food.
  The people of Barbados, known as Bajans , take great pride in their tiny island of 430 square kilometres and 250,000 people, which has produced writers like George Lamming, calypsonians like the Mighty Gabby and cricket players including the great Sir Gary Sobers, who have for decades had an influence way out of proportion to the size of their home country.
  Tourism plays a major part in the country's economy and revenues have been put to good use. The infrastructure and public transport are first-rate and there is no sign of the poverty that continues to bedevil some Caribbean islands. Development has mostly been pretty discreet, many of the facilities are Bajan-owned, there are no private beaches and no sign of American fast-food franchises.


  The nights are usually slightly cooler. The Barbados weather rain comes in quick showers and the dry season lasts from January to June. This is the Caribbean and believe it or not, some people actually put on a sweater to ward off the cool night breezes. The surf is usually above 80 F. Barbados weather will seem very warm to anyone outside of the Caribbean tropic region.
  The climate in Barbados is ideal for much of the year. The only time not perfect is July-October, during the hurricane season, when it gets a bit more rain. But even then, it isn't bad as long as a hurricane doesn't come calling. Daytime Barbados weather temperatures are almost always in the 80s F/28-32 C, with nights in the 70s F/23-27 C. Temperatures can get into the 60s F/15-22 C at night in the winter. Take a sweater for evenings year-round.
Barbados vacation   Officially there are two rainy Barbados weather seasons, in July and October, but these consist of passing downpours after which the sun comes out and dries up all the rain.
  More annoying (particularly as they're so unpredictable), and seemingly more frequent in recent years, are the grey spells that spin off the bad weather systems in the North Atlantic, blanketing the whole area in British-standard cloud, and putting a blight on your Barbados weather holiday.
  Barbados weather Hurricanes - most common in September - hardly ever hit Barbados (the island is too far south), but they can still bring heavy weather and heavy seas.


  English is the official language of Barbados.

As a result of its long-standing association with England, Barbados is mainly Anglican. The Moravian and Methodist Churches were added to the list of denominations of the 18th century. Since then these have been followed by Roman Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, The Salvation Army and many other small religious groups.
  There are small groups of Hindus and Muslims, as well as a small Jewish community. These groups all have complete religious freedom.


Barbados family beach   Barbados is not a particularly cheap place to visit, and prices for many items are at least what you'd expect to pay at home. Bargaining is usually frowned upon, but during the off-season, it's worth asking for reduced rates.
  The island's unit of currency is the Barbados dollar (B$), divided into 100 cents. It comes in bills of B$100, B$50, B$20, B$10, B$5 and B$2 and coins of B$1, B$0.25, B$0.10, B$0.05 and B$0.01. The rate of exchange is fixed roughly at B$2 to US$1; the US dollar is also widely accepted. Prices are normally quoted in B$, with the exception of accommodation which is almost universally quoted in US$, and we have followed this practice in this guide.
   Banking hours are generally Monday to Thursday 8am-3pm and Friday 8am-5pm. Bridgetown, Holetown and Speightstown have numerous banks, and there are branches at most of the south coast resorts; most have ATMs. Many hotels will also exchange money. Major credit cards are widely accepted, though not always at the smaller establishments.
  Many hotels and restaurants automatically add a service charge of 10 percent.


Local time is GMT -4.


Barbados honey moon vacation   Barbados's postal service is extremely efficient. The GPO is located in Bridgetown and there are branches across the island, in the larger towns and villages and at the airport.
  Calling within Barbados is simple - most hotels provide a telephone in each room and local calls are usually free. You'll also see Bartel phone booths all over the island, and these can be used for local and international calls. Most of the booths take phone cards only, available from hotels, post offices and shops.
  If you want to access the internet , many hotels will let you use their computers for free or for a nominal charge. Alternatively, in St Lawrence Gap, Bean & Bagel offers internet access, as does Global Business Centre, a stall in the West Coast Mall in Holetown.

   Getting There

  By far the easiest and cheapest way to get to Barbados is by air . The majority of British and Irish visitors travel on some sort of two-week package tour that includes a charter flight to the island. Alternatively a few airlines offer direct scheduled flights from London, while some require stopovers in the US. There are no direct flights from Ireland, but there are connections via London or via New York and Miami. British Airways, Virgin and BWIA all fly from London.
  Visitors from the US have a good number of options. BWIA flies non-stop out of New York, Miami and Dallas; American Airlines flies non-stop from NY and Miami, while Air Jamaica flies out of LA, NY, Chicago, Miami and several other major US cities. Vacation packages, including airfare, accommodation and sometimes meals, can be very good value.
  BWIA flies to Barbados from Toronto, and Air Canada serves Toronto and Montreal.
  There are no direct flights from New Zealand or Australia, and package deals are few and far between. Travellers from these countries will need to fly to one of the major US gateways and pick up onward connections from there.
  The occasional cruise ship typically only docks in Barbados for a day or two at most.
  Airport departure tax is presently B$25, payable at the airport when you leave, in local currency only.


  Barbados is one of the safest countries in the world but that does not mean that our country is free of crime. There are certain common sense precautions you should take while you are here.
  Avoid beaches at night - A lot of tourists, especially couples, always seem to have this fantasy about taking a moonlight walk on a secluded beach here late at night. Even though many of them do not get robbed or attacked, some do and some even get seriously wounded if they try to resist their attacker(s). Although a moonlight walk along the beach watching the moon dance on the waves seems romantic, please resist the urge to do so. If you really want to, go in a group of at least three.
Avoid swimming in beaches on the East Coast - The East Coast of Barbados is notorious for its huge waves and strong currents. These beaches such as "Bathsheba" and "Bath" attract not only many surfers because of their excellent surfing conditions but their rugged beauty also lures many tourists into their treacherous waters. Along many of these beaches, the safest of them being "Bath", are signs in about 5 different languages advising people about how dangerous swimming there could be. Only swim on the East coast if you are a good swimmer or if you are suicidal. If not, do yourself a favour and be content with the clear calm waters of the west coast!
Avoid walking the streets alone at night - Females especially are discouraged from walking the streets alone at night especially in remote areas and bushy areas. If you do have to walk, go in a group of at least 3 people and be sure to remain in a well-lit area.
Pickpockets - In Bridgetown around Christmas Time, pickpockets come out in numbers! Try not to carry large sums of money and if you do, try not to make it look too obvious! There is no easy way to tell who is a pickpocket from who is not one so be on your guard. Ladies, carry handbags that have straps which cannot be easily cut.
Driving at night - When driving alone at night, especially in remote rural areas, make sure all of your car doors are locked. Don't leave valuables in your car when you exit it because that would tempt someone to try to break into it.
Driving at night - Do NOT give rides to strangers especially to males if you are a female. I am not saying that everyone who asks you for a ride is a killer or a rapist but one can never be too sure, right? In addition, accepting rides from strangers while you are walking or standing up at a busstop is also a risk you should not take!
Sunburn - Barbados has a warm tropical climate so please dress accordingly. Also remember to wear sunblock while you are at the beach especially if you are of a fair complexion.
Getting ripped-off - When buying something from vendors along the sides of the road, it would be advisible to ask them how much the item(s) costs first before giving them your money. If you let them see your money first, they might try to take advantage of you and sell it to you at a higher price than they had originally intented. I am not suggesting that all vendors intend to rip you off but I am just advising you to exercise good judgement.
Avoid the manchineel trees - The manchineel tree may be found near the beaches throughout the island. This tree is highly poisonous! The fruit of the tree is pale green and turns to a bright yellow or orange. AVOID THIS TREE! The fruit and milky sap of the leaves can cause serious blistering so do not touch them! In addition, if it is raining, do NOT stand under this tree for shelter because you will get blistered also.
Wearing light coloured clothing at night - If you decide to go for a walk or a bike ride at night along a highway or a road, do NOT wear dark clothing. If you do, especially in an area where streetlights are scarce, you run the risk of being struck by a vehicle. Wear bright coloured clothing like white, yellow or red so you can be seen by vehicles.
Avoid busstops in bushy areas - When catching a Transportboard bus, minibus or ZR while you are here, avoid waiting at busstops located in bushy or remote areas. If you really have no choice, as happens sometimes, try to position yourself in a way so that your back is not completely turned to the bush and try to be vigilant!
Always blow your horn when coming around blind corners - Always blow your horn when coming around blind corners. This will allow pedestrians and motorists coming from the other end to hear you and therefore prevent accidents and loss of life.
  These are just a few basic and general precautions you should take while you are here. Above all remember to use your common sense and exercise good judgement in everything you do. Always have handy a list of emergency numbers. If you happen to encounter any problem, contact your country's diplomatic representation here be it an embassy or a consulate or refer to your list of emergency numbers.

  Police- 211
  Fire- 311
  Ambulance- 51


  Electricity in Barbados is: 110 volts/50 cycles.
 There is a reliable electricity supply, with only the occassional outage.
Standard plug types in Barbados are: (1) Flat blade (2 flat blades) and (2) Flat blades with round grounding pin.
Most Barbados hotels can provide adapters and transformers for hair dryers and other appliances.

 Alternative energy
 The island uses solar power mainly for hot-water systems.

   Wneh To Go

  For many visitors, Barbados's tropical climate is its leading attraction - hot and sunny year-round. The weather is best, however, during the high season, from mid-December to mid-April, with rainfall low and the heat tempered by cooling trade winds. The peak season also brings the biggest crowds and the highest prices.
  Things can get a good bit hotter in the summer, and, particularly in September and October, the humidity can become oppressive. September is also the most threatening month for hurricanes. The season officially runs from early June to late October, but big blows only hit about once a decade.


   The main festival in Barbados is the summertime Crop Over, which reaches its climax on Kadooment Day when the festival monarchs are crowned. This is a great time to catch some of the island's famous calypso. There are plenty of other events to distract you from the beach as well. The tourist boards have full details.

  The main public holidays celebrated throughout the Caribbean, during which virtually all shops and offices close, are: Barbados-holiday

January 1 New Year's Day

Good Friday

Easter Monday

May 1 Labour Day

Whit Monday

Dec 25 Christmas Day

Dec 26 Boxing Day

Barbados also celebrates Errol Barrow Day (January 21), National Heroes Day (April 28), Labour Day (May 1), Emancipation Day (August 1), Kadooment Day (first Mon in Aug) and Independence Day (November 30)

Festivals and events

Barbados Jazz Festival tel 246/429-2084

Barbados Windsurfing Championships tel 246/426-5837

Busta Cup Cricket Competition tel 246/426-5128


Holetown Festival tel 246/430-7300


Holder's classical music festival

Test cricket tel 246/426-5128

Oistins Fish Festival tel 246/428-6738


Congaline Street festival tel 246/424-0909


Crop Over festival


Barbados International Triathlon tel 246/435-7000


Caribbean Surfing Championship tel 246/435-6377

Festival of Creative Arts tel 246/424-0909


Barbados Road Race Serie

The Barbados Jazz Festival or "Paint It Jazz" takes place every January. The event attracts jazz performers and jazz lovers from around the world, as well as local groups. Performances are held throughout the island. One of the highlights is a daytime open-air concert in Farley Hill Park. People bring blankets and picnics, and camp out on the hillside nearby to watch the show. The Holetown Festival is a week-long party in February to celebrate the anniversary of the first settlement in Barbados in 1627. Holetown was the site of this settlement. The festival is marked with music, dance, sports, games, market fairs and street parties.

The Oistins Fish Festival takes place on the Easter weekend in Oistins on the south coast. There are boat races and fishing competitions. Fishermen also demonstrate their skills in boning fish. Participants dance to steel bands and other music.

The Congaline Carnival takes place in late April. Revellers form a long conga line in Bridgetown and dance their way to St. Lawrence Gap, about six kilometres away on the south coast. Trucks carrying musicians, amplifiers and disc jockeys lead the procession. A daily exhibition of crafts and food is set up in a field in St. Lawrence.

Gospelfest takes place in late May. Musicians and singers perform international and Caribbean styles of gospel music for audiences in locations around the island.

Crop Over Festival takes place in late July or early August. Traditionally, the festival marked the end of the sugar cane harvest season. Bajans set up calypso tents for calypso and steel band entertainment. A highlight of the festival is the Calypso Monarch competition. There is a street fair featuring Bajan cooking and, in the evening, fireworks fill the sky.

Throughout November, the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts takes place. Bajans of all ages demonstrate their talents and compete with others in music, performing arts, visual arts, poetry and writing. The exhibitions and performances culminate on November 30, which is Independence Day in Barbados. Christmas Day is celebrated by feasting and attending church services. A dish known as jug jug, made with corn and green peas, is a favourite at Christmastime.

   Food and Drink

Barbados food and drink service   Despite the island's small size, the tourist market has produced a staggering variety of places to eat . Although most of Barbados's restaurants have a vague international flavour, it's well worth sampling traditional Bajan cuisine.

Fresh seafood is the island's speciality: snapper, barracuda and dolphin fish, as well as fresh prawns and lobster. Most popular of all is the flying fish - virtually a Bajan national emblem.

Look out, too, for other traditional Bajan dishes: the national dish is cou-cou (a cornmeal and okra pudding) and saltfish, and you'll occasionally find the fabulous pudding and souse - steamed sweet potato served with cuts of pork pickled in onion, lime and hot peppers. Cohobblopot (also known as pepperpot) is a spicy meat and okra stew.

For snacks , you'll find cutters (bread rolls with a meat or cheese filling), coconut bread, and more substantial rotis (flat, unleavened bread wrapped around a filling of curried meat or vegetables); all are widely available.

Rum is the liquor of choice for many Bajans. Hundreds of tiny rum bars dot the island, which are an integral part of Bajan social life. On the coast, you'll find fewer places that cater specifically to drinkers but, all-inclusives apart, most hotels and restaurants will welcome you for a drink even if you're not staying or eating.

Turtle Pier Airport Road, Simpson Bay tel 599/545-2562. Right on the lagoon and within walking distance of the airport, making this a good place to grab a meal or a beer before you fly. The food is described as "creative Caribbean", so expect to find fish and lobster in a variety of local styles (creole or pan-fried, for example) and there's a small menagerie of monkeys and parrots to distract the kids. Daily for all meals.

Wajang Doll 167 Front St, Philipsburg tel 599/542-2687. Excellent and popular Indonesian restaurant, with typical main dishes of snapper fried in chillis and tamarind or chicken in coconut milk for US$15-20, plus good-value and substantial rijstaffels (literally "rice-tables") comprising 14-19 different dishes for US$20-25 per person. Mon-Sat 6.45-10pm.


  The earliest settlers in Barbados were Amerindians , who came to the island in dug-out canoes from the Guianas in South America. Christopher Columbus, the first European visitor to the West Indies, never stopped at Barbados, but in the early sixteenth century, Spanish slave-traders arrived to collect Amerindians to labour in the gold and silver mines of New Spain.

In 1625 a party of British sailors landed in Barbados, claiming the island for their king, and in February 1627 eighty colonists landed at present-day Holetown. They quickly found that sugar grew well in the island soil, and the industry brought almost instantaneous prosperity. By the 1650s, Barbados was reckoned to be the wealthiest place in the New World.

As Barbados developed, a workforce was needed for the sugar plantations. At first, the main source of workers was indentured labourers , escaping poverty in England and Scotland. In return for their passage to Barbados, these men and women signed contracts to work on the plantations without wages for up to seven years. Later, large numbers of West African slaves were brought to Barbados, and the island slowly began to take on its present-day ethnic composition.

By 1700, the wonder days of Barbados sugar had passed. Huge fortunes had been made, but increased competition from Jamaica and the Leeward Islands had reduced profits. Many of the small planters were squeezed out of business, handing even more economic power to the large plantation owners.

In 1807 the British government abolished the slave trade. Far more threatening to the planters, though, was the movement for the abolition of slavery itself. Barbadian slave-owners made some small improvements in the slaves' working conditions, but the slaves realized that these were little more than a reluctant sop to the abolitionists. Rumours spread, claiming that emancipation was being blocked on the island. Frustration grew, and in April 1816 Barbados faced its only serious slave uprising.

Bussa's Rebellion - named for its alleged leader, an African slave from a plantation in St Philip - began in the southeast with attacks on property and widespread burning of the sugar fields, and quickly spread to all of the island's southern and central parishes. Within three days, however, the rebellion was crushed; just a handful of whites were killed, but over a thousand slaves were either killed in battle or executed afterwards.

Nonetheless, by the early 1830s the reformers in London had won the argument for the abolition of slavery and full emancipation took place on August 1, 1838. The planters remained confident that the new situation would work to their advantage; no longer responsible for the upkeep of their workers, they would have a large pool of cheap, unorganized labour desperate for work.

Some former slaves headed to the towns, particularly Bridgetown, but most had little choice but to continue work on the sugar estates. The white planters still ran Barbados; they owned almost all of the farmland, and controlled the Assembly that made the island's laws.

A significant influence on the island's development was the decision by the United States in 1904 to build the Panama Canal . By the outbreak of World War I Barbados had provided at least 20,000 workers - virtually all black and a huge percentage of the local workforce. Many returned with sizeable savings, which they were able to invest in new businesses and in land. The white planters, who had previously refused to sell land to blacks, were now obliged to do so by economic circumstances. Even if much of the land bought by blacks was marginal, by the 1930s the pattern of land ownership had changed dramatically.

Alongside economic change, the island saw significant political development. Black political parties were formed in the 1930s and 1940s to fight elections and, although executive power remained with the British-appointed governor, black politicians were appointed to the highly influential Executive Committee.

During the 1960s, foreign investment and tourism were actively encouraged to reduce the island's dependence on sugar. The British government finally recognized the capability of the Bajans to govern themselves and, in 1966, Barbados became an independent country .

Development has been fast since independence and the economy has boomed. Tourism remains the main money-earner, but success in manufacturing and other service industries means that not all of the island's eggs are in the tourism basket

   Best Of

   Welchman Hall Gully
Stroll through some of the island's most wild and beautiful scenery.

Crop Over
One of the most fun festivals in the Caribbean - an extended party of dancing and rum-drinking.

The crashing waves in the soup bowl make this an ideal spot for surfing year-round.

Sample from the town's fabulous selection of restaurants, including a few good-value options.

After Dark, St Lawrence Gap
Dress up for a night out After Dark , popular for its live music, enormous dance floor and well-stocked bar.

Getting Around

  The bus system in Barbados is excellent, with blue government buses and yellow, privately owned minibuses running all over the island. Fares are a flat rate of B$1.50. Buses run roughly every half-hour between Grantley Adams International Airport and Bridgetown, stopping at or near most of the south coast resorts en route. Services to the resorts on the west coast are less frequent.

White minivans known as route taxis also operate like minibuses, packing in passengers and stopping anywhere en route. They're particularly numerous on the south coast and the fare is B$1.50.

Finding a taxi - identifiable by the Z on their numberplates - is rarely a problem. Fares are regulated but there are no meters, so agree on the fare beforehand. From the airport, expect to pay around B$40 to the hotels in St James on the west coast, B$50 to Speightstown, B$20 to Crane Bay and B$25 to the resorts in the southwest.

Driving is on the left. While the roads in Barbados are mostly good and the distances small, car rental prices are fairly high, starting at around B$90 per day, B$500 per week, for the mini mokes (open-sided buggies) that you'll see all over the island (you'll pay a little more for a regular car). As car rental companies here are all local, it can be easier to arrange rentals once you've arrived. Reliable firms include: Coconut (tel 246/437-0297), Hill's (tel 246/426-5280), Premier (tel 246/424-2277) and Sunny Isle (tel 246/435-7979).

Prices for scooters and motorbikes normally start at around B$80 per day; try Caribbean Scooters, Waterfront Marina, Bridgetown (tel 246/436-8522).

Exploring Barbados


  With a gorgeous location beside the white-sand beaches of Carlisle Bay, busy Bridgetown is the capital and only city of Barbados. One of the oldest cities in the Caribbean, the architecture of Bridgetown today is largely a blend of attractive, balconied colonial buildings, warehouses and brash modern office blocks. The centre of activity is the Careenage, parking place for numerous sleek yachts overlooked by the Barbadian parliament . A number of the island's main religious buildings are within five minutes' walk of here, including St Michael's Cathedral and the synagogue , both erected on the sites of their mid-seventeenth-century originals.

Just north of the city there are a couple of rum factories that you can tour, while Tyrol Cot is an unusual nineteenth-century house that was home to two of the island's leading post-war politicians, Sir Grantley Adams and his son Tom Adams.

Southeast is the historic Garrison area , where the British empire maintained its Caribbean military headquarters from 1780 to 1905. It's an evocative place; the huge grassy savannah, today a racecourse and public park, was once the army's parade ground. The ranks of brightly coloured military buildings around its edge include the worthwhile Barbados Museum and the Barbados Gallery of Art .

Bridgetown is an extremely safe city, even at night, though you may want to avoid the seedy area southeast of the Fairchild Street bus station, particularly around Nelson Street and Jordan's Lane where the red-light district is located.

The City

  A good place to start your tour of Bridgetown is beside the Careenage , a long, thin finger of water that pushes right into the city centre. There are always plenty of expensive yachts and fishing boats moored at its western end. The parliament buildings (open to visitors during parliamentary debates), as well as bustling shops and a couple of smart restaurants can all be found in the immediate vicinity, some of the latter two housed in restored warehouses.


  Don't expect dramatic topographical change as you head into the interior of Barbados ; the landscape of the central parishes of St George and St Thomas is almost uniformly flat or gently rolling - perfect for the sugar crop that's been under cultivation here for almost four centuries. As you head north towards the parish of St Andrew , however, the land rises in a short series of peaks to the island's highest point, Mount Hillaby .

Despite its small area, central Barbados offers a considerable number of attractions to lure you away from the beach. The parish of St George has some rewarding historic sights, including the military signal station at Gun Hill and the beautiful plantation house at Francia . To the north in St Thomas - slap-bang in the middle of the island - is Harrison's Cave , a series of weirdly beautiful subterranean chambers. The narrow strip of jungle at nearby Welchman Hall Gully , hemmed in by cliffs and densely covered with the island's most attractive plants and trees, offers a unique glimpse of the island in its primal state, while the gardens at Flower Forest offer a more carefully managed look at local flora.


  For many, the rugged, little-explored east coast is the most beautiful part of Barbados. Almost all year round, the Atlantic waves crash in against this wild coastline, making for superb surfing but difficult and sometimes dangerous swimming. It's certainly worth making the effort to explore since this is a very different side of the island from the heavily touristed south and west; if possible, try to spend a night or two up here. If you can't stay, do at least check out one of the excellent restaurants around the laid-back old resort of Bathsheba for lunch.

Although the coastal scenery is the main attraction, there are a few specific places that merit a visit, most notably the delightful Andromeda Botanical Gardens . Specific sightseeing apart, this is a lovely area to drive through, particularly under the steep-sided Hackleton's Cliff that runs parallel to the coast, where the road weaves through lush tropical forest, offering stunning views over the ocean. You can also walk along the beaches at Bath and Martin's Bay , watching the surf ride in.


  By the late seventeenth century, sugar-rich Barbados had become one of the most important of Britain's overseas possessions. To protect against possible invasion, defensive forts were erected along the calm south and west coasts, with the biggest of them protecting Carlisle Bay and the capital, Bridgetown. In 1705, work was begun on a major land fort near the capital, known as St Ann's Fort and designed to offer back-up protection. By 1780, as Barbados developed, the British decided to make the island the regional centre for their West Indian troops, and more and more army buildings were put up around the fort.Today, this part of the city's outer zone, just a couple of kilometres south of the centre, is known as the Garrison area . Chock-full of superb Georgian architecture, it remains one of Bridgetown's most evocative districts. It retains the most attractive of the island's colonial military buildings including, in a restored jail, the Barbados Museum . A short walk from the museum, the Barbados Gallery of Art merits a quick visit.


  The north of Barbados is the most rugged and least visited part of the island, but nonetheless offers an excellent variety of places to explore. The most popular target is the Barbados Wildlife Reserve , home to hundreds of green monkeys and a host of other animals; nearby, there's an old signal station and a nature trail through the forest at Grenade Hall , while the lovely park and desolate ruins at Farley Hill make a good place to stop for a picnic. Just north of here there is a working sugar mill at Morgan Lewis and a superb Jacobean Great House, St Nicholas Abbey


  North of the city, and just above the Kensington Oval cricket ground, the Spring Garden Highway heads up along the west coast, skirting the beach almost all the way to historic Speightstown in the far northwest. Much of the area immediately north of Bridgetown is given over to industrial production, including a couple of rum factories that are open for tours. To the northeast is Tyrol Cot , the former home of Sir Grantley Adams.


  The southwestern parish known as Christ Church , the birthplace of tourism in Barbados, is dominated by the trappings of the holiday industry. The main highway here hugs the coast, linking a string of small resorts; each consists of a fringe of white-sand beach backed by a cluster of hotels, restaurants and tourist facilities. On the whole, the area is not as beautiful as the west coast, nor as lorded over by the staggering palaces of the mega-rich, but the beaches are just as fine, there are plenty of good eateries, and prices are much more reasonable.

As you head east from Bridgetown towards the airport, several of the coastal towns bear the names (and some of the atmosphere) of British seaside resorts. Each has its speciality, however: you'll find the best beaches at Rockley and Worthing , the liveliest restaurants and nightlife at St Lawrence Gap , and a bustling local scene at Oistins , while the quieter beaches at Silver Sands attract windsurfers and those who want to spend their holiday strolling on relatively deserted stretches of sand.

On the other side of the airport, in the southeast of the island, you enter the far less developed parish of St Philip . There's just a handful of hotels here, but the scenery is spectacular, with the Atlantic waves lashing the rocky coast.


  Barbados's west coast (also known as the "platinum coast") is a fringe of bays and coves along the sheltered, Caribbean side of the island. Its sandy beaches and warm blue waters have made it the island's prime resort area. As a result, the coastline has been heavily built up; it holds the island's top golf courses and priciest hotels, and its sought-after private homes change hands at formidable prices.

You don't, however, need to win the lottery to visit. There's a smattering of reasonably priced places to stay and, as everywhere on Barbados, all of the beaches are public. Admittedly, it's a bit of a tramp to reach a few of them, but there are many that are well worth a visit, particularly those at Prospect, Sandy Lane and Mullins Bay . If you're into some serious exercise it's even possible to walk most of the way along the coast at low tide.

If you can drag yourself away from the beach, the region has other attractions. Lively, modern Holetown has a fine old church and a legion of shopping opportunities, while further north, Speightstown repays a visit for the colonial relics and picturesque old streets that recall its vanished heyday as a major port. A short detour inland, through fields of sugarcane and tiny farming villages, will take you to the sugar museum at Portvale

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