Close Encounters with Sea Turtles
This is your chance to meet the ocean's true ancient mariners. Sea turtles can live to 100, and in the waters of Barbados, they aren't shy at any age. You'll find them munching on sponges on shallow reefs, gliding across sand-bottom bays and napping under the keel of a sunken tugboat. Turtle swims have become a signature adventure on the island sometimes known as known as “The Caribbean's Little England.” But these are not trained or captive animals; they are free-swimming reef dwellers who sometimes approach with gregarious curiosity, and other times go about their business, undisturbed by the humans who join in and swim along.
- Best for: Everyone, great for history buffs, beach lovers, watersports enthusiasts and adventurers
- Best season to visit: Year round, outside of the hurricane belt
- Weather: Dry season runs from December to May, while the months of June to November may see passing rain squalls that have no effect on water quality. Trade winds moderate air temperatures, which remain in the 90s in summer and may dip into the low 70s in winter
Animal Interactions in Barbados Overview
Four of the world's five species of sea turtles are found in the waters of Barbados. The huge leatherback and stout loggerhead are occasional visitors, while hawksbill and green turtles are quite common. Named for its parrot-like beak, the hawksbill is more often seen on the reefs, where it nibbles on sponges. Green turtles, which can grow to sizes of five feet or more, are the most common type seen during swimming encounters.
Animal Interactions in Barbados Tips
Chasing or harassing a sea turtle is a definite no-no. Some turtles will hold their position even when a swimmer approaches very close, but just as often an aggressive move may cause them to swim away. A better way to enjoy an up-close encounter is to swim on a parallel course, allowing them enough personal space to move closer if they so choose.
Best Places for Animal Interactions in Barbados
There's a chance of running into a turtle any time you are diving or snorkeling in Barbados. For an almost guaranteed encounter with multiple turtles, the best bet is one of the boat-based tours that choose a destination based on current water and wind patterns. Favorite areas include Carlisle Bay, where waters are generally calm, and turtles gather to take advantage of the tasty morsels offered by guides.
What to Pack for Animal Interactions in Barbados
If you own a mask and snorkel, bring them, but ask about fins. Some operators prefer swimmers not wear fins to prevent accidentally kicking the turtles. Make sure your waterproof camera has a wrist lanyard, and bring a waterproof carry case for valuables, as boat decks can get wet and drippy.
Mango Bay Barbados
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Divi Southwinds Beach Resort
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Coconut Court Beach Hotel
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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.
No vaccinations or preventative medications are required for travel to Bonaire. Check with the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at cdc.gov
Culture and Customs
Stroll down St. Michael’s Row from the Parliament Building to Queen's Park and you might imagine you were in a warmer version of England. At least until a passing local calls out a lilting “good day.” Then you'll know you're in the Caribbean. Barbados offers a unique mix of British infrastructure and African roots, and its people are known for their lighthearted attitude to live and their civility. Oral traditions honed generations ago around equatorial cook fires live on in a love for storytelling, an appreciation for the double entendre and a wealth of colorful colloquialisms. Cultural fusions are heard in the music of tuk bands, which get feet moving with an infectious blend of African rhythms and British folk tunes. Barbados is a sporting island. Cricket is still king, but football, rugby union and basketball matches will all draw a crowd. A uniquely Bajan invention is road tennis, which is a fast-paced blend of tennis and ping-pong played on a swath of tarmac using a six-inch net and wooden paddles. Winter visitors can enjoy an assortment of festivals devoted to food, wine, chocolate, song and art, but the island's big event is the summer's Crop Over Festival, which keeps the party going with a full twelve weeks of dances, parties and parades. Another ongoing island tradition is the weekly fish fry's that take place at locations such as Oistins Bay Garden. In addition to savory seafood offerings, these community gatherings become outdoor concerts and lively marketplaces for arts and crafts.
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.
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.
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).
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. Its capital city is Bridgetown,
Barbados is 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).