Barbados is the easternmost island in the Caribbean archipelago and its name is derived from the words los barbados, or “the bearded ones”; this is what 16th-century Portuguese sailors called the island’s banyan trees. With its verdant rolling hills and valleys, sugarcane fields and historical plantations, every day on Barbados is a day to be celebrated. To best enjoy the tropical paradise in true Barbadian fashion, slow down and feel the rhythm of the island. Sway to the soothing calypso music. Order a rum punch. Settle down on one of the powdery-white beaches and be lulled by the blue waters lapping the shore. And finally, contemplate which of the island’s wealth of historic and natural attractions you want to explore.
Before you start start swimming with the turtles or exploring one of Bardados’ 60 beaches, a few tips for travelers:
- The official language is English, although it’s spoken with a distinct Bajan dialect.
- Official taxis have a “Z” on their license plates. The rates are fixed, and a 10 percent tip is standard.
- Barbadians drive on the left side of the road, and street signs are a rarity. Use caution if driving.
- All of Barbados beaches are open to the public — even the ones in front of private properties and hotels.
- The official currency is the Barbados dollar (2 Barbados dollars = 1 USD), but almost every merchant accepts U.S. bills.
- The mild, subtropical weather hovers around 75-90 °F all-year round.
Top sightseeing destinations include:
- Orchid World – This colorful 6.5 acre botanical garden is abloom with more than 20,000 orchids.
- Bathsheba – The dramatic coastline is home to the Soup Bowl, heralded as one of the top surfing spots in the world.
- Barbados Wildlife Reserve – Witness troops of roaming exotic green monkeys – a playful species rarely found outside Africa.
- Harrison’s Cave – Solar-powered trams journey 170 feed below ground through an intricate limestone-cave system. (Cruisers, be sure to consider our off-ship excursions.)
- Gun Hill Signal Station – From this historical lookout point set 700 feet above seal level, visitors get the best panoramic view of the island’s amazing scenery.