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Barbados

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Barbados

The wreck of the 365’ Greek freighter, the Stavronikita, is one of the most popular dives on Barbados, but the entire west coast of the island offers great reef diving with frequent sightings of turtles, rays and schooling fish. Carlisle Bay is also home to 5 wrecks making it a favorite for wreck aficionados. Visitors can experience the island’s sophisticated and active lifestyle through its luxurious resorts, fine restaurants, world class golf and especially its passion for its national sport, cricket.

Barbados Information

Diving in Barbados

Watersports reign supreme on Barbados’ scenic coasts, offering unparalleled conditions including underwater visibility of 70 to 80 feet and annual water temperatures between 78 and 84 degrees.

Known as the "shipwreck capital" of the Caribbean, Barbados offers a number of unique and interesting diving and snorkeling features that include a number of accessible sunken ships and a host of beautiful coral formations and marine life.

The west coast has two designated snorkeling areas, both part of the Folkestone Marine Park and the south coast’s best snorkeling area is the Carlisle Bay Marine Park. The diving is easily accessible and not particularly technical, and the island’s facilities are excellent, including a decompression chamber situated near Bridgetown and many well-equipped dive centers found on the west and south coasts.

The most famous of the wrecks, the Stavronikita, has created a fascinating penetration dive for experienced divers.

Water temperature is a warm 82-84°F in the summer and 78-80°F in the winter. Most people will find a 3mm suit adequate for diving in Barbados.

Barbados is blessed with steady trade winds, beckoning waves and crystal clear water that make it ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The south coast is the place to be and the best time to hoist a sail is normally December through mid-March.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Entry into Barbados requires a valid passport. Visas are not required for U.S. Citizens with stays of less than 6 months.

Check the Entry/Exit Requirements here.

Immunizations

Vaccinations are not required for entry into Barbados. Check with the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel www.cdc.gov.

Culture and Customs

The Caribbean is full of people who are larger than life. Barbadians (Bajans) are different from other caribbean personalities in many ways. They are more 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. It is not at all ironic that there are more churches per capita than most other island nations. The only thing more numerous than churches are rum shops.

There are a few festivals to make note of. In mid February, there is the Holetown Festival, which is a family attraction commemorating the first landing and settlement in Barbados on February 17, 1627. The Holetown Festival combines folk, gospel and medieval music with a street parade and fair and a torch-lit evening exhibition by the Royal and Mounted Police forces as they perform the floodlit Tattoo. Other activities include poetry, drama, sidewalk art shows, sports, games, local handicrafts markets and the popular Queen of the Festival Pageant.

From the end of February through mid-March, you can take part in the Holders Season festival. This most sophisticated festival offers an exciting season of opera, classical, jazz, latin and caribbean music and takes place at the historic Holders Plantation House, situated on a ridge overlooking what were once extensive sugar and tobacco fields. The event, which is internationally recognized and has attracted such musical luminaries as Luciano Pavarotti, is currently focused on the development and exhibition of local talent. More information on festivals of Barbados here.

Barbados is an island filled with artistic talent from skilled local potters at work fashioning their wares as has been done for centuries, to modern fashion designers, abstract artists and poets.

The people of Barbados have a history of long ingrained Christian principles, a sound and free educational system with a literacy rate of 97%.

Electricity, Phone and Internet Access

Electricity in Barbados is 115/230 volts/50 cycles. Standard plugs use 2 flat pin or 2 flat pin plus 1 round grounding plug. North American appliances and electronics will not need a converter.

The island uses solar power mainly for hot-water systems.

There are a few on island phone and internet suppliers that you can use if you have an international plan on your cell phone or roaming charges will apply. Most hotels offer WiFi, as well as some restaurants, bars, coffee shops and cafes.

The international direct dialing code/area code for Barbados is (1–246), followed by a seven digit local number.

Water Quality

Barbados was one of the first Caribbean Islands to have piped water, it is safe to drink right from the tap.

Language & Currency

English is the official language of Barbados, although the Bajan dialect, which is a combination of British English and various West African languages, can be heard all around the island.

The local currency is the Barbados Dollar. The Barbados Dollar is fixed to the US Dollar at a rate of 1 USD = 1.98 BDS. Check the current rate here.

US currency is accepted across the island, and most stores and restaurants accept major credit cards.

There are many commercial banks in Barbados (mostly British and Canadian) and most have ATM's that will accept credit cards. They all dispense funds in Barbados dollars at the current rate of exchange. Make sure to have your PIN number and to let your credit card company know you will be out of the country so the charge will go through. Local currency offers $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 bills and coins of 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents and $1.

Time

Barbados is in the Atlantic Time Zone (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Barbados is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).

History, Art, and Culture

The history of Barbados is as rich and fascinating as the island itself. It is believed that the island’s first inhabitants were the Amerindians, who reached its shores around 1623 BC by open canoe from the Orinoco area of South America, known today as Venezuela. The next 3,000 years brought the settlement of several tribes, including the peaceful Arawaks and the cannibalistic Caribs. At the whim of prevailing northeast trade winds, the Spanish and Portuguese followed in 1537, calling the island “Los Barbados”— perhaps a nod to their fascination with the hanging, aerial roots of the Bearded Fig Tree.

By the time the first settlers–the British–chanced upon the island by virtue of navigational miscalculations in 1627, the Indians had all but disappeared. For the English, Barbados represented a golden opportunity to acquire a colony with good potential for agriculture: favorable climate, rich soils and generally flat land. These early pioneers set about the task of cultivating the land and instigated a long period of English rule that was to last some 339 years.

The booming sugar industry and slave trade fueled the establishment of an excellent infrastructure and Barbados’ own Parliament in 1639, making it the third oldest in the British Commonwealth. Later, Barbados became the first country to abolish the slave trade in 1834.

Barbados gained independence from Britain on the 30th November 1966 and has since enjoyed over 40 years as a proudly independent nation. Read more about the history of Barbados here.

Location, Size and Population

Barbados is the Easternmost island in the Caribbean. Barbados is in the West Indies and located in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is approximately 300 miles north of Venezuela. Barbados is 166 square miles, divided into 11 parishes. It's capital city is Bridgetown,

Barbados is a 21 miles long and 14 miles wide.

Driving in Barbados is on the left side of the road and the majority of vehicles are “right hand drive.” The island has an extensive road network of paved roads. A highway links the north and the south of the island. There are a number of ways to get around the island by hired car, taxis and buses; all are safe, reliable and convenient. The population of Barbados is 285,006 (2016).

Dive primer
  • Water Temp: 78-80°
  • Visibility: 60'
  • Wetsuit: 1.5mm to 3mm
Best time to travel
  • Year-round
Favorite dive sites
  • Wreck of the Stavronikita
  • Wreck of the Berwyn
  • Wreck of the C-Trek
Topside attractions
  • Barbados Wildlife Reserve to see the green monkeys
  • Harrison's Cave
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