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Barbados enjoys a moderate tropical climate, with generally sunny skies and average daytime highs of 24 to 30 C. Bright, sunny days are tempered by prevailing northeast trade winds that help to offset the heat by day, while providing slightly cooler temperatures at night.Show more Show less
Here, the dry season lasts from January through June, giving way to summer rainfalls. (Barbados receives 1,200 mm on average a year). However, even in the rainy season, showers are often followed by the return of sunshine. And while hurricane season officially runs from June through October, they rarely affect Barbados. The island is 161 km outside of the traditional hurricane belt.
What makes it different?
Immediately clear is the island's embrace of British tradition, from cricket matches and polo fields, to English place names such as Trafalgar Square, Brighton, Ashbury and many more. Thanks to a literacy rate ranked amongst the highest in the world and bolstered by a sophisticated infrastructure (including island-wide Wi-Fi availability), Barbados proudly defines itself as an "island that works."Show more Show less
What makes it different? cont'd
Barbados has all the sought-after characteristics of a top-rated Caribbean destination – including emerald seas and white-powder beaches. But the island is equally rich in its historic and cultural attractions.
While the island's breathtaking Platinum Coast is reason enough for many to visit, Barbados' portfolio of enticing features extends far beyond the beaches. Championship golf, world-class spas, international sporting events, eco-tourism and more combine with the island's natural features, making Barbados a truly unique destination.
Barbados' diverse array of accommodation ranges from upscale resorts catering to the rich and famous to privately owned coastal properties offering unique settings. The island is also home to a handful of branded hotels and all-inclusive properties, providing a vacation experience for every desire and budget.
Barbados also claims the title of epicurean capital of the Caribbean, with more restaurants per square mile than any other destination in the region. The culinary talents of experienced local and international chefs can be tasted in the wide selection of international cuisine offered across the island, including mouth-watering West Indian staples cooked up to perfection.
A highlight of the events calendar is November's annual Food & Wine and Rum Festival – a terrific way to experience the many flavours of Barbados.
Barbados is the easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles and is situated approximately 100 km east of the Windward Islands. The island's relatively flat composition is due to its origin as a continental island, formed by ocean sediments and overlaid by coral and limestone, as opposed to being formed by volcanic activity. At its highest point in the central highlands, Mount Hillaby rises only 340 metres above sea level.Show more Show less
While there are no natural lakes or minerals found here, Barbados' limestone surface and coral base combine to provide farmable land for crops such as sugar cane, cassava, yams, breadfruit and cotton. The coral base serves as one of nature's most-effective drainage systems, effectively protecting the island from floods in the aftermath of torrential rains.
The 430-sq.-km island stretches 34 km from north to south and is 23 km at its widest point. Barbados is also blessed with 97 km of coastline, contrasted between the rough, rocky shores of the east coast and the tranquil, mirror-like waters of the resort-laden west coast.
Although the contrasting coastlines are often attributed to the rough Atlantic versus the calm Caribbean Sea, Barbados is actually surrounded by the former, approximately 100 km east of the actual Caribbean.
No event captures the true essence of Barbadian culture better than the annual Crop Over Festival, rooted in the days of 18th-century slavery. Crop Over marked the end of each year’s sugar cane harvest, when masters and slaves would both indulge in a colourful celebration of dance, rum and a hearty meal of rice and peas, salt fish, cassava and “pudding and souse” (a dish made of pork and sweet potato).Show more Show less
Today, Crop Over Festival celebrates the culture of a proud and independent nation, played out over a month of carnival-style events that kick off on the first Saturday in July. The celebrations of food and drink, arts and crafts, fetes and calypso tents continue until the first Monday in August, when costumed partygoers take to the streets to compete in the annual Kadooment Parade.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to settle on the island in the 1500s. They called the island Los Barbados, in reference to its abundance of "bearded" fig trees (barbudo is Portuguese for bearded). However, the Portuguese soon hauled anchor, never to return, mainly due to the island's lack of natural resources.
English explorers arrived on Barbados in 1625 and began the only colonization Barbados has ever known. The island soon grew into one of the world's largest sugar producers. By the time slavery was abolished in 1834, the island's population was predominantly of African descent, as it remains today.
Since gaining independence from the U.K. in 1966, Barbados has grown into a model of political and social development, while maintaining strong ties to the traditions and institutions of the British system (Queen Elizabeth II remains its Head of State). And nowhere is the island's social development more evident than in the groups of smartly dressed, uniformed schoolchildren en route to schools, forming part of a nation that boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world.
Today, the island's resident population of more than 257,000 includes a skilled labour force of over 126,000. Free education has contributed to a large middle class, significantly diminishing the gap between rich and poor. As a result, Barbados ranked third in 1996 in terms of quality of life, according to the United Nations Development Index.
Barbadians are primarily Christian, encompassing more than 100 denominations who worship at more than 350 churches across the island. Interestingly, close to many churches and greatly outnumbering them, local rum shops serve as gathering points for Barbadians to talk about the politics of the day over a nip of one of the island's finest products.
While tourism has become the island's bread and butter, sugar and rum remain staples of the Barbadian economy, linking the island's past to its present in a very measurable way. The island's fishing industry is also an important way of life for generations of seafaring Barbadians.
From Christian values and calypso music, to its parliamentary system and polo grounds, a balanced mix of indigenous culture and colonial influences have helped shape the unique character of modern-day Barbadian life.
If you're worried about getting lost in Barbados, don't be. The entire island is only 34 km long by 23 km wide. If you're renting a vehicle, please note that people here drive on the left side. Traffic circles are also common. Local drivers are pretty laid back and extremely accommodating to visitors when it comes to driving on their roads. Rental vehicles can be identified by the "H" posted on the vehicle.Show more Show less
If you're not comfortable renting, the Transport Board of the Barbados operates public buses. With a fare of only BBD$1.50 to anywhere on the island, buses also provide an economical option. Taxicabs are also available for hire. Check with your hotel concierge for taxi recommendations.
The official currency in Barbados is the Barbados Dollar (BBD). U.S. dollars, major credit cards, and travelers cheques are also widely accepted. ATMs are available, however fees may vary.
As with all international destinations, you will need a Canadian passport for travel to Barbados. You will also need proof of a return ticket – so keep your WestJet tickets or proof of purchase readily available in your carry-on. To expedite your entrance into the country, fill in the immigration forms given to you while onboard the plane and have them ready for local officials.Show more Show less
Travel requirements cont'd
You'll soon arrive in Grantley Adams International Airport – a modern building located on the southern coast in Christ Church Parish. Once you retrieve your bags, look for a St. James Travel and Tours representative holding a WestJet Vacations sign.
The airport is centrally located, so you'll get to nearly any hotel in under an hour. If you're visiting the south or east coasts, expect to arrive at your destination in just 15 short minutes. The drive to the west coast takes about 45 minutes, and the drive to Bridgetown is approximately 30 minutes.
There is a departure tax in the Bahamas which is conveniently covered in the cost of your WestJet airfare.Vaccinations
Be sure your routine vaccinations are up to date. Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, malaria, typhoid and tetanus are commonly recommended. Mosquito repellant is also suggested, especially when visiting swampy or low lying areas. Make an appointment at your local health clinic for additional information.
Barbados uses the North American standard plug, however some properties have only two-pronged receptacles in the room rather than three-pronged receptacles.