Barbados is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles, in the eastern Caribbean/western Atlantic. It is technically in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1,600km southeast of Miami, Florida, and 400km northeast of Trinidad and Tobago.
It is a British sovereign nation, which means that while it is independent and has its own government, it is also a Commonwealth country and observes the Queen as head of state. In the 15th century, it was first visited by Spanish explorers and claimed for the Spanish crown. In 1625, the first English settlers came to the island and it was an English/British colony until independence in 1966. The native islanders are of African descent, like most other Caribbean nations; Barbados is considered Caribbean in name despite its west Atlantic location. It is one of the leading tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
The capital of Barbados is Bridgetown, in the St. Michael province on the western side of the island. Bridgeport is where many of the cruise ships port and where tourism is the main economy. Other cities include St. Lawrence Gap, Speightstown, and Holetown. Transport across Barbados is relatively easy. Bajans drive on the left, like Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. Travellers without a car can rent one, or travel by ZR (Zed-R), group taxis that can be very full. The international airport is Grantley Adams, just east of Bridgetown. It has direct flights to and from the US, Canada, and the UK, as well as within the Caribbean islands. There are frequent buses and taxis between Bridgetown and the airport.
The currency in Barbados is the Barbadian dollar. Historically, sugarcane production has been the main industry, but in more recent years the two sectors of manufacturing and tourism have grown.
Because it is outside of the Atlantic hurricane zone, it is rarely hit by the strong storms that plague other popular resort islands. Barbados’ tropical climate means that cruise ships and independent travellers visit the island year-round. There are two seasons, dry and rainy. The rainy season is from June to November.
Budget accommodation in Barbados is found generally along the south coast, although there are inexpensive guesthouses and/or hostels scattered across the island. Traditional European-style hostels are very rare in Barbados. Instead of backpacker hostels, travellers should look for inexpensive guesthouses.
Once you have your hostel or other accommodation sorted, get out and explore! Barbados is an island nation with a very strong culture. Dancing, music, art, and literature are heavily influenced by the native culture and the drumming is an experience, to be sure. Crop Over is a carnival-like event that takes place from July to August. It includes musical competitions and native music like calypso and sosa. Bajans crown a king and queen of the event; it concludes with a carnival-like parade on the first Monday in August. Travellers keen to explore more outdoor pursuits should visit Harrison’s Cave and Welchman Hall Gully in the Scotland district (northeast.) These were created from the erosion of the natural limestone. Geologically, the island is a coral reef, so underwater activities like snorkelling and scuba diving are popular. Whatever you choose to do in this paradise, you will enjoy it. Barbados is a stunning country with a lot to offer the curious traveller.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Barbados hostels. Welcome.