General Info Barbados

General Information 

Barbados is the eastern most island in the Caribbean and, in fact, completely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean…not touched by the Caribbean Sea at all! The island is easy to get to with direct flights from multiple US cities, Europe and Canada lying 13.16 latitude and 59.55 longitude. Neighboring islands of Barbados include Canouan, the Grenadines, St. Vincent and Trinidad.

Barbados is known for its more than 3000 hours of annual sunshine across 70 square miles of glorious beaches and is the birthplace of Rum! The island is popular for it’s many colorful festivals, duty free shopping, historical sites, water sports and of course swimming with the sea turtles.

If you want the chance to rub shoulders with celebrities, go to crescent-shaped Sandy Lane Beach during the winter season. Barbados is a great destination for the jet set by providing lavish villas and accommodations on the West Coast.

Currency

The Bajan dollar (BDS official currency), US dollar and credit cards are universally accepted on the island of Barbados. Euros are not accepted as a form of payment. Approximate rates are €1 Euro = $2.5 BDS.

Language

English is the official language of Barbados, although the Bajan dialect can be heard all around the island.

Time Zone

Atlantic Standard Time (UTC-4).

Location

Barbados is the eastern most island in the Caribbean and is, in fact, completely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The island is easy to get to with direct flights from multiple US cities, Europe and Canada. Barbados is just 3.5 hours from Miami, 4 hours from Charlotte and 4 hours, 20 minutes from New York by plane. Airlines offering direct flights to Barbados from the United States are American Airlines from Miami (MIA), Delta from Atlanta (ATL), USAir from Charlotte (CLT), JetBlue from New York (JFK), and US Air from Philadelphia (PHL). From Canada, fly Air Canada or WestJet, and from Europe take British Airways or Virgin Atlantic. Passports are required, and visas are necessary for some countries.

Capital city

Bridgetown was originally named "Indian Bridge" for the rude bridge that had been constructed over the river (now known as the Careenage) by the Indians. It was later called the "town of St. Michael" in official documents, before finally being named Bridgetown when a new bridge was built in place of the Indian Bridge, sometime after 1654.

Area

Barbados is 166 square miles (431 square km) - 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. The West Coast bordering the sparkling, tranquil waters of the Caribbean Sea offers the calmest swimming on the island, and tranquil bays to the south are suitable for swimming and surfing in the gentle waves. If you love the drama of crashing waves, visit the east and north coasts, but aside from a few protected coves this area is generally not advised for swimming.

Entry Requirements

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. Some countries do require Visas.

Electrical Current

110 volts/50 cycles. If traveling from North America you should be able to use your appliances without any problems, however if traveling from Europe you may need adapters and transformers.

Taxes

Visitors to Barbados enjoy duty free shopping with prices generally a good deal lower than in North America or Europe on some items.

Transportation

Rent a “mini-moke” or another car model to get around the island, but remember that you will be driving on the left side of the road. Make sure to pick up a map since there is no GPS on the island. The ABC or Errol Barrow Highway originates at the airport, and The Ronald Mapp Highway connects at midpoint. The island is small and relatively easy to get around. Parking and turning around can be difficult.

Traffic

There can be congestion at “rush hour” towards Bridgetown so plan your day accordingly.

Weather

Barbados is known for its more than 3000 hours of annual sunshine across 70 square miles of glorious beaches. You can’t ask for more perfect weather with prevailing northeast trade winds blowing steadily so that although it is bright and sunny, it is not unbearably hot. The average temperatures for Barbados 78°F/26°C. Barbados lies just south of the main hurricane belt, so the storms that tend to move across the Caribbean don’t make landfall in Barbados.

Security and Health

Barbados is known for the safety and lack of crime on the island. It has a high standard of healthcare, which is easily accessible to all. The main Government hospital - the Queen Elizabeth Hospital - has 600 beds and offers specialized care in areas such as pediatrics, obstetrics, plastic surgery, radiology, etc. The phone number of the hospital is 246.436.6450.

Shopping Hours

Visitors to Barbados enjoy duty free shopping with prices generally a good deal lower than in North America or Europe on some items. Broad Street in the capital city of Bridgetown offers jewelry and other shops, and Pelican Village on the outskirts of town is a great place to find local handicrafts like batik, paintings and wall hangings. Merchandise is displayed showing both the local and duty free prices.

Tipping

Tipping is not mandatory and should be done only if the service warrants compensation. Some restaurants will add a 10% > 15% service charge and this will show as a separate entry in the bill and should also be noted on the menu (usually at the foot of the menu page). In this case, it is customary to leave the wait staff some small change as well. If the service is not included, which is not common, a 10% tip is appropriate, left in cash. If a tip is paid by credit card, it is unlikely that the wait staff will receive anything.

Villa staff tipping is optional and discretionary. We usually recommend tipping the housekeepers between $5 to $10 (UDS) per bedroom per day. Chef and butlers are discretionary as well. $100 to $300 per week per staff member is recommended.

Communications

Barbados Country Code is 1+246

1 - Country Code for Barbados
Local phone number - 7 digits
US to Barbados international dialing format: 1+ six digit number
Europe to Barbados international dialing format: 00+1+ six digit number
LIME or Digicel are the two leading telecommunications companies

WiFi/Computers

Most villas and resorts also offer WiFi Internet. Barbados has plans to cover the entire island with WiFi Internet access - "from bus stop to rum shop"!

Banking

Barbados has an extensive network of banks with ATMs conveniently located across the island including; Barbados National Bank (BNB), First Citizens Bank, Scotiabank and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Banking hours are generally: Monday thru Thursday 8am-3pm. and Fridays 8am-5pm.

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