What You Need To Know
Barbados, in the eastern Caribbean, is an independent island nation within the British Commonwealth. Bridgetown, the capital, is a cruise-ship stop with shopping, colonial buildings and one of the Western Hemisphere’s oldest synagogues. Barbadian traditions range from afternoon tea and cricket (the national sport) to pursuits such as scuba diving at Dottins Reef and golfing on designer oceanside courses.
Area: 166.4 mi²
Population: 284,644 (2013) world bank
- The Barbadian Dollar is the currency of Barbados.
- ATM’s are widely available and are the easiest way to get cash while you’re in Barbados.
Look at the back of your bank card to see which network you’re on, then call or check online for ATM locations at your destination.
The debit card network is worldwide, and any debit card endorsed by a major credit card is virtually universally accepted, If you have a PIN number you can also get cash advances on your card at an ATM.
When you withdraw money using your card it will be dispensed at the current exchange rates in Barbados dollars.
- In Barbados travelers cheques are accepted by all banks and most hotels and businesses.
If you want to avoid additional exchange rate charges, you should take travelers checks in U.S. dollars or pounds sterling.
You can bring into Barbados an unlimited amount of currency but you should declare the amount. The export of local currency is prohibited.
The amount of foreign currency you can take out of Barbados is limited to the amount of currency that was declared on arrival.
Lying just 13° north of the equator, Barbados enjoys a hot tropical climate with two distinct seasons – wet and dry. The wet season begins in May/June and runs though until November/December. Little rain falls during the rest of the year, especially in the driest period between February and April, though as a tropical island the odd storm can never be ruled out. Temperatures generally vary very little with average highs sitting just below 30°C and average lows in the mid to low 20s.
Barbados sits in the Atlantic hurricane belt and is at risk during the hurricane season from June till November. However, hurricanes tend to strike the islands further north more frequently. On average Barbados is struck by a hurricane only once every 25 years. The last one to strike was quite recent – Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Although not at its strongest, it was still a category 3 hurricane when it passed Barbados and claimed one life on the island.
The official Barbados language is English, however you will hear our local dialect – referred to as Bajan dialect spoken as well.
Health and security
- TOne of the attractions of living in Barbados is its good health care system, ranked among the best in the Caribbean. While there are challenges of gaining access to some highly specialized clinical and rehabilitative services, the core services are quite well developed. Given the fact that the society is highly westernized in its acculturation, the chronic non-communicable diseases are the major causes of ill-health in the adult population, similar to patterns evident in North America and Europe. As such, there has been a well developed cardiac surgical program in place for well over a decade at the principal tertiary institution, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). Access to acute care has significantly expanded, particularly in the private sector, with care provided by highly trained emergency physicians at the FMH Emergency Clinic in Bridgetown and the Sandy Crest Clinic, Holetown, St. James. We have also witnessed increased provision of private laboratory and radiological services in recent years. Healthcare is available to all Barbadians either publicly through a network of polyclinics around the island, which provide primary and some secondary care, while the QEH provides tertiary care.
- Barbados is generally a safe place to travel, but there are certain natural and social perils that travelers need to be aware of. As with travel to any destination that one is not familiar with, foreign or otherwise, there are precautions that need to be taken in order to ensure personal safety and guarantee a safe trip with minimal negative outcomes.
Like most places, there is crime and drugs in Barbados, travelers are usually not the victims of violent crime, and generally enjoy better security than local residents; most hotels, resorts and other businesses catering to tourists operate in walled compounds monitored by private security staff.
On the other hand, high-traffic business areas commonly frequented by tourists are targeted for opportunistic street crimes like purse snatching and pocket picking.
- Women should stay in groups and avoiding walking home at night alone.
- That military pattern may be on-trend in the world of fashion, but you’d better leave any camouflage-wear at home if you’re Barbados bound. It’s actually illegal for anyone but the Barbados Defense Force to don this style here. Even toddlers in cute pink camo shorts are prohibited. Seriously. Visitors have had contraband camouflage clothing confiscated at the airport and have been denied entry at some attractions for this unwitting offense. You may not be arrested if you’re caught in an army fatigue bikini, but you may be asked to change.
- If you are in a dangerous situation or fall victim to a crime, the emergency number in Barbados is 211, and of course you can always call your emergency assistance number on your travel insurance policy.