BARBADOS TRAVEL TIPS
A collection of important information that can make your trip more enjoyable.
Barbados is an island that gives a dreamlike, intimate feeling to your trip. Barbados also offers sun, two seas, and an indescribable richness of colour. The island abounds with exotic locations and exciting history, while the extensive variety of culture, sports and activities make Barbados the gem of the Caribbean. Take a moment to brush up on the travel tips that will help you be more prepared for travel anywhere in Barbados.
BARBADOS GENERAL INFORMATION
Area: 430 sq km (166 sq miles).
Population: 267,000 (2000).
Population Density: 620.9 per sq km.
Capital: Bridgetown. Population: 5,928 (1990).
Government: Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from the UK in 1966. Head of State: HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor-General Sir Clifford Husband since 1996. Head of Government: Prime Minister Owen Seymour Arthur since 1994.
Language: The official language is English. Local Bajan dialect is also spoken.
Electricity: 115 volts AC, 50Hz. American-style two-pin plugs are in use
Alternative energy: The island uses solar power mainly for hot-water systems.
Barbados is spiritually alive, it vibrates with enlightenment and vitality. You will see it in the faces of its fishermen, coconut vendors, shopkeepers, hotel workers, artisans, policemen and pedestrians. You will hear it in our music, in the laughter of its people, in their talk and friendly gossip and you will sense it in their spontaneous, natural and happy disposition. Mainly Christian, with an Anglican majority, Roman Catholic minority, plus small Jewish, Hindu and Muslim communities.
Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean chain of islands. It lies well to the east of the West Indies. To the west, beaches are made of fine white sand and there are natural coral reefs. Along the east coast there is a lively surf as the sea pounds the more rocky shoreline. Barbados is predominantly flat with only a few gently rolling hills to the north. The coral structure of the island acts as a natural filter and the waters of Barbados are amongst the purest in the world.
BARBADOS ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Passports: Every person entering Barbados, including all North American citizens (Americans and Canadians), should be in possession of a valid passport and a valid return ticket. CLICK HERE FOR VISA INFORMATION
Cruise Ship Passengers: Visas are not required for passengers on cruise ships with the exception of citizens of the C.I.S., Eastern European countries, People's Republic of China, Taiwan, South Africa and Korea.
Cruise ship passengers who are "in-transit" and stay less than 24 hours are not required to carry a valid passport.
However, if you are beginning and ending your trip in Barbados or are "in-transit" to take a flight at the Grantley Adams International Airport, you are required to possess a valid passport.
For a complete Barbados Cruise guide for cruise visitors, crew and management, please visit the Barbados Cruise Tourism website. You may also contact the Barbados Immigration Department at: 1-800-268-9122 for more information.
Duration of Visit to Barbados: Visitors coming to Barbados should provide proof of adequate means of support for the duration of their stay to the satisfaction of the Immigration officer at the port of entry. They should be in possession of valid return tickets.
Visitors wishing to extend their stay should apply to:
The Chief Immigration Officer
Careenage House, The Wharf
Tel: (246) 426-1011
BARBADOS CUSTOMS REGULATIONS
• General duty free allowances in Barbados.
• Personal Effects: 1 litre of potable spirits or wine, 200 cigarettes (one carton) or 100 cigars or 50 cigars and cigarettes not exceeding 230 grammes in aggregate.
• All articles in excess of this exemption are subject to the relevant duty and tax.
• Personal effects are passengers' baggage containing apparel and articles for personal use which a traveler may reasonably require during his vacation e.g. clothing, cosmetics and accessories.
Restricted or Prohibited Items: The importation of certain articles are restricted or prohibited in order to protect the community, to maintain animal and plant life, among other reasons. Prohibited articles such as illegal drugs and pornography will be seized and persons may face penalties or prosecution.
Restricted items may be released after inspection by the appropriate agency or detained until conditions of the restrictions are met. Receipts are issued for all articles detained by customs. Among the restricted items are:
Fruits and Vegetables. All fruits, vegetables, plants, cuttings, seeds or unprocessed plant products must be declared to customs and presented for inspection by a Plant Quarantine Officer. Fresh fruits from certain countries are prohibited in order to prevent the spreading of pest and plant diseases. Certain plant, seeds or cuttings may require an import permit and a photosanitary certificate. Request for import permits and further information should be addressed to:
Ministry of Agriculture,
Tel (246) 428-4150
BARBADOS DUTY FREE ALLOWANCES
BRITAIN - Duty Free Allowances for Returning British Citizens
Each returning resident over 17 years of age may take back:
1 litre of alcohol
200 Cigarettes or 250g of tobacco
50g (2 fl.oz.) of perfumes
Up to 28 pounds sterling worth of other goods.
CANADA - Duty Free Allowances for Returning Canadian Citizens: Persons whose stay is in excess of 48 hours can claim up to $100 in each calendar quarter. Persons whose stay is in excess of 7 days can claim up to $300 in each calendar year.
Each returning Canadian resident may take back:
40 ounces of alcoholic beverages
2 lb. of tobacco
24 12-oz cans/bottles of beer.
Minimum age for alcoholic beverages vary with port of entry.
No duty or GST is charged on purchases under $300. GST charge on entire total purchases. Duty varies on alcoholic beverages.
Gifts: Persons while abroad may mail casual gifts (except tobacco and alcoholic beverages) free of duty and taxes, to friends and relatives in Canada, providing the value of the gift does not exceed CAN$40.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - Duty Free Allowances for Returning American Citizens
Each returning citizen whose stay is in excess of 48 hours may on his return, take back, free of duty, articles totaling up to US$400 (based on the retail value of the items in the country of purchase).
Duty on purchases in excess of the US$400 exemption is 10% on the next US$1000, and thereafter at the rate duty applicable.
Duty free liquor is allowed at one litre per person for persons over the age of 21.
Gifts: In addition to the US$400 exemption, each person can mail back gifts valued at $50 each to friends and relatives back home, provided the addressee does not receive more than one gift parcel a day. No declaration is required, and no tax is levied.
BARBADOS DRIVING/DRIVERS LICENSE
You can obtain a Barbados drivers license for $10.00 Bds on producing a valid National or International License. All authorised car rental companies can issue you a drivers license if you have a valid license.
|• Police Stations
• Licensing Authorities
• Christ Church
• St. Michael
Barbados is a relatively flat island with an abundant supply of large gradually sloping beaches fringing the land.
In some areas, notably the North, coral and sandstone cliffs rise straight out of the sea reaching several hundred feet in height. In the South West, cliffs of 50 to 100 feet rise and fall along the coast, separated by small sandy beaches and bays.
On the flatter South West and West coasts, you may walk for miles along unbroken white sand beaches, sometimes stopping at a cluster of coral rocks jutting out to sea. All along the shore large and small beaches are broken by coral formations, the soft coral rocks weathered by the ocean surf, forming abstract sculptures to an artist's eye.
Soft, Warm, White Sand Beaches: Barbados is a coral island and its beaches are made from finely ground coral forming a clean fine grain. There are few beaches that are not fine sand. Generally if there is a beach on the shore, it is beautiful sand. Natural sand dunes are not common but some exist in Long Bay on the South West Coast.
Privacy: All beaches in Barbados are open to the public. Properties which front onto a beach may own the land to the high-water mark only. Access to the beach is a right for every Barbadian and many of the sea front properties must provide a public right of way across their land to the ocean.
Nude Bathing: There are no nude beaches and all beaches are open to the public. Nudism is actually illegal. Barbados has a history of conservative British tradition and Barbadians are not comfortable undressing or seeing other undress on public beaches.
Beach Vendors and Security: Selling goods to tourists on the beach is a regulated practice in Barbados. Vendors are not permitted to roam the beach and set up shop out of a carrying case. If you are bothered by a vendor, report it to the police. Most of Barbados' favourite beaches are patrolled by police, but they cannot be everywhere and it is prudent not to leave valuables unattended.
BARBADOS SAFETY TIPS
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.
BARBADOS SOCIAL PROFILE
Food & Drink: There are a great many restaurants offering both international and traditional Bajan cuisine at a variety of prices. Local specialities include flying fish, lobster and crane chubb. The sea urchin (oursin or sea egg) is a particular speciality. Other local foods include sweet potatoes, plantains, breadfruit, yams and such fruits as avocados, pears, soursops, pawpaws, bananas, figs and coconuts. An exchange ‘Dine Around’ system is operated between some hotels of the same class and guests can eat at other hotels for no extra cost.
Local drink specialities include all types of rum-based cocktails, rum punch, planters punch, pina coladas and sangria. The local beer is Banks. The two most famous rums are Cockspur’s Five Star and, for the connoisseur, Mount Gay (the oldest rum blend on the island). There are numerous bars which emulate the British pub and serve genuine British bitter and stout.
Nightlife: Nightclubs, discos and bars provide entertainment including limbo dancing, fire-eaters, steel bands and dance bands. There is a small cover charge. As in all Caribbean countries, swinging nightspots tend to come and go with seasons. Coastal boat trips with live entertainment are very popular; most sail twice daily and run buffets, bars and live music.
Special Events: All details are available in The Visitor, published weekly, and The Sunseeker, published fortnightly, available in most hotels. The following is a selection of special events occurring in Barbados in 2005; for a complete list and exact dates, contact the Barbados Tourism Authority (see Contact Addresses section):
Jan 10-16 Barbados Jazz Festival. Feb Barbados International Polo Challenge 2005. Feb 13-20 Holetown Festival. Mar Barbados Sandy Lane Gold Cup. Mar 24-27 Congaline Festival. Mar 26-28 Oistins Fish Festival. May 27-Jun 3 International Folk Festival. May 28-29 Barbados Rally Carnival. Nov 20 National Fun-Walk. Dec 2-4 Run Barbados Festival.
Social Conventions: Social attitudes, like administration and architecture, tend to echo the British provincial market town. However, the optimistic attitude, laid-back manner and wonderful sense of humour of the Bajans is well appreciated by many tourists. Casual wear is acceptable in most places. Dressing for dinner in hotels and restaurants is suggested. Smoking is generally unrestricted. Tipping: In restaurants or nightclubs, tips are usually 10 to 15 per cent. Porters’ tips are at the customer’s discretion.
The Barbados Dollar is converted at the rate of $1.98 BDS to $1.00 U.S.
Our Dollar is fixed to the U.S Dollar and does not fluctuate. Its rate to other currencies fluctuate daily based on their fluctuations relative to the U.S. Dollar.
US dollars are accepted island-wide, and most stores and restaurants accept major credit cards and travellers cheques.
CRIDET CARDS & TRAVELERS CHEQUES
Most of the hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments will accept credit cards. Travelers cheques in U.S., U.K. and Canadian funds are also cashable at many outlets. There are many Banks in Barbados (mostly British and Canadian) and most have ABMs that will accept credit cards and Interac. They all dispense funds in Barbados $ at the current rate of exchange.
The major credit cards that are readily accepted are
|• American Express
• Carte Blanche
• Diners Club
Shopping is a delight and there is a wide range of goods with visitors being able to take some purchases home duty free on production of their passport and air ticket. Liquor and cigarettes are sent to the airport or port for collection on departure. Other items can be taken away at point of purchase. Prices tend to be on the high side, though for such things as jewellery, clothing and ceramics, the high quality often makes the expense worthwhile. Special purchases include rum, straw goods, coral and shell jewellery, prints (batik) and woodcraft. Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700, Sat 0830-1600 (supermarkets are open longer on Saturdays).
PEOPLE, HOMES & GARDENS
Barbados; Ordinary & Extraordinary Personalities - The Caribbean is full of people who are larger than life. They fill your mind with their colourful speech, their walk, their engaging looks and their endless energy and love of life. They are children who will never grow old, no matter what their age, they insist on having fun.
Barbados personalities are no exception to the rule, but Barbadians will surprise with their warmth, casual charm and sophistication. The island is a reflection of its people. Here the simple chattel house sits boldly in the splendor of wealthy estates. The beach vendor will happily discuss the meaning of life with anyone, from Pope to movie star. They usually have an inspired point of view.
Barbadians are different to other Caribbean Personalities in many ways. They are most spiritual and religiously conscious. They are by nature open, thoughtful and generous. They love a party but will have time for anyone, they like people, no matter what background, race, and disposition. They make time for quiet and shy people and draw them out with disarming innocence and charm. They will rise to the occasion on any occasion to shoot the breeze and laugh and joke with the most outrageous personalities of our time.
Homes & Gardens - Come and explore the tropical gardens and lovely homes that can be found in abundance in Barbados. You are sure to be amazed by the array of tropical flowers that abound across the island! And to further enhance this experience, each year the local Horticultural Society opens some of the island's best private gardens for public viewing! This is an opportunity that should not be missed!
Another treat is the Open House Programme run by the Barbados National Trust. Barbados is an architectural delight of old and new, of elegance and simplicity, of history and tradition preserved and repeated through the years, and its all here just waiting for you to explore.
Weddings ... Just Beyond Your Imagination Imagine sleeping under the stars.
Lulled into dreams by the melody of chirping crickets in a tropical night, the wind in the trees, blowing through the open shutters.
Dining in the sunset terrace or under a silver moon, lulled into romance with calypso, jazz and reggae, saxophone and drum. Music beating with your heart.
Barbados Marriage requirements - It is very easy to get married in Barbados .. there is no required waiting period or minimum length of stay. Application for a marriage licence must be made by both parties in person at the office of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Documents Required :
• Valid Passports or the original or certified copies of birth certificates.
• If either party was divorced, an original Decree Absolute or a certified copy of the Final Judgement.
• If either party was previously married and widowed, a certified copy of the Marriage Certificate and Death Certificate in respect of the deceased spouse.
• Where necessary, all documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.
• Fees: if neither party is a citizen or resident of Barbados - BDS $150.00 cash and a $25.00 stamp.
BARBADOS CLOTHING & ATTIRE
• Bring clothes for the tropics.
• Light cotton dresses and light jackets for formal wear.
• Casual slacks and lightweight sports for the times when you are not in a bathing suit.
Beachwear should also include sunglasses, sunblock and beach footwear.
While Barbados is a fun holiday island, there are dress codes, and because of 300 years of conservative British heritage, formal attire is still seen at times other than weddings and funerals. Business men wear a shirt and tie and sometimes a jacket. Women wear smart dresses.
It's a good idea to wear pants and shirt when visiting the bank, it looks more respectful and gives you a pocket for your wallet. Bathing suits are best for the beach, beach bars and the pool.
BARBADOS SPORTS ACTIVITIES
Barbados is one of the sporting meccas of the Caribbean, and the ideal spot for an active vacation, or to relax and enjoy a favourite activity either as a participant or spectactor!
|Barbados Activities :
• Horse Racing
• Horse Riding
|Barbados Watersports :
• Scuba Diving
• Swim with the Turtles!
If you are in the mood for beach fun or partying, head to The Boatyard, where you can enjoy a range of beach activities, watersports and sailing!
Watersports and Diving Operators
Carib Ocean Divers - see the wondrous marine life that the Caribbean Sea has to offer!
Just Breezing Watersports - Waverunner (Jetski) Rentals and more!
BARBADOS TIME ZONE
• Barbados falls in the Atlantic time zone. Geographical Location: 13° 6' N, 59° 37' W
• Barbados Standard Time is Greenwich Mean Time minus four hours.
• There is no daylight saving time in Barbados.