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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.Read more about diving in Barbados here.

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

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.

Check the Entry/Exit Requirements here.

Immunizations

Vaccinations are not required for entry into Barbados. Exception: Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one (1) year of age, coming from infected areas. 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, Telephone and Internet Access

Electricity in Barbados is 110 volts/50 cycles (hairdryers and shavers from North America do not need a converter but if needed can usually be borrowed from your hotel).

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

Barbados has a modern telecommunications infrastructure with the latest in digital technology and fiber optics systems including international direct dialing, facsimile transfer and satellite telecommunications which allows for the efficient transmission of electronic data.

Internet and e-mail services, as well as express mail and courier delivery, are also available. The international direct long distance dialing code for Barbados is (1–246), followed by a seven digit local number.

Water Quality

The water service in Barbados is reliable and the water supply is safe and refreshing to drink straight from the tap.

Language and Currency

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

The local currency is the Barbados Dollar check the current rate here.

US currency is accepted across the island, and most stores and restaurants accept major credit cards and travellers cheques. Most Barbados hotels, restaurants and businesses will accept credit cards. Travelers cheques are also cashable at many outlets.

There are many commercial banks in Barbados (mostly British and Canadian) and most have ABMs (also known as ATM's) that will accept credit cards. They all dispense funds in Barbados dollars at the current rate of exchange.

Time

4 hours behind GMT. 1 hour ahead of US Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the winter and the same time as US Eastern Daylight Saving Time in the summer.

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 and Size

Barbados is the easternmost island of the West Indies in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is approximately 300 miles north of Venezuela. Barbados is 166 square miles, divided into 11 parishes. It's captial city is Bridgetown, with a population of approx. 99,000.

Although Barbados is a relatively small island (21 miles long and 14 miles wide), there is much to explore so you should consider renting a car during your Barbados vacation.

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.

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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