Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the Barbados people called?

A person from Barbados is called a Barbadian or a Bajan – pronounced as: bay-jan

Can I use Canadian or US dollars?

The Barbados dollar is tied to the US dollar. One US dollar = two Barbados dollars. You can spend US dollars, just like Barbados dollars, anywhere on the island without concern. Canadian dollars can be problematic because people will not know what the rate of exchange is. So it is best to exchange your Canadian dollars to Barbados at a bank. Otherwise you’re going to run into problems.

Do the Barbadian or Bajan people speak English?

They sure do as English is their only language. While the Bajan dialect may take some getting used to, Bajans will always try hard to make sure you will understand them.

Noteworthy: the literacy rate in Barbados is close to 100%, one of the highest in the world.

Are there buses on Barbados?

Sure. In fact, there are two different types of buses. All for a flat fee of BDS$2 paid to a conductor. They are painted the national colours of blue with a horizontal yellow stripe. The large Transport Board buses and privately owned Mini-vans are painted bright yellow with a blue stripe. The island’s bus stops are clearly marked ‘To City’ (towards Bridgetown) and ‘Out of City’, so that you can gauge which direction you are heading in. As the bus approaches, you must extend your arm out to indicate that you want to get on. You will need the exact fare on the large buses as the driver does not carry change.

Are Taxis available too?

Indeed there are a few kinds of taxis.
1. A regular taxi has “Z” on the license plate. Make sure you know what you’re going to pay up front as taxis do not have meters.
2. Private taxis called ZR vans are white privately-owned mini vans that work specific routes. For BDS$2 paid to the conductor, these vans offer a truly bajan experience and a really good way to get close to your fellow travellers – if you get my drift. So, if you’re claustrophobic or tender of nose, I’d pass!

Are there any dangerous plants to avoid?

Yes! Do not touch the Manchineel Fruit. Those big shady trees with the little green apples are quite poisonous. Don’t touch any fruit on the ground and never sit under the trees during a rain shower. The milky sap of the manchineel will cause painful blisters on your skin and can even blind you if you rub it into your eye.

Is swimming safe in the ocean?

For the most part – yes. However, as a rule, don’t swim on the East Coast. The heavy surf has some dangerous currents and rip tides that can carry you out to sea and even drown you. As a good rule – swim only where others are swimming and you’ll be fine. Beaches on the south and west coasts are perfectly safe and some of the more popular beaches have lifeguards on duty.

Are there any dangerous animals or reptiles on the island?

There are no snakes to worry about. Should you encounter a centipede, don’t pick it up as it will bite. No need to fear monkeys but respect that they are wild animals and give them some space. The green lizards (geckos) are no concern and it is common to have them in your room – they eat bugs.

Are there local drink specialties?

Oh yes and I warn you not to underestimate the power of a Rum Punch. They are offered everywhere and they taste so good going down you lose count of how many you’ve consumed – that’s when you’ll discover the “punch”.

Can we tan topless or go nude on the beaches?

The simple answer is NO! Barbados is very conservative and modest and public nudity is actually against the law. Locals, while not prudish, prefer you to keep beachwear at the pool or beach. Don’t stroll around town or expect to enter a non-beach restaurant in your swimwear. Please be discreet and cover up.

Can We Stroll on the Beaches at Night?

Although Barbados is relatively safe and very romantic, walking around deserted areas or dark beaches at night is not a good idea. Use the same common sense you would at home and never set yourself up as a target.

Can we see nesting turtles?

Yes, but never disturb nesting sea turtles. If you come across a turtle nesting on the shore, just quietly observe and if possible, report your sighting to the Barbados Sea Turtle Project. They will take your call 24 hours a day on their hotline – 246-230-0142.

Can we swim with the turtles?

Yes! This is a must for your trip and an experience you’ll never forget. There are many ways to do this through tour operators or if you are comfortable, you can swim out to known areas and swim with turtles that are being fed by tour operators. You’ll need a mask but don’t use fins and these are dangerous to the turtles and cause serious injuries.

Are Mosquitoes a problem?

Yes, they can be. So take your favourite repellent with you. Mosquitoes can infect you with Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika so take precautions especially at night.

Is it safe to rent a car and drive yourself around?

Sure, it’s a great way to get around and see the island on your own. And don’t worry about getting lost. You’ll be on an island that’s only 34 kilometers long – how lost can you get? One thing to know is, they drive on the left so be careful.

Are there lots of poor people there?

There are poor people everywhere you go in this world. But Barbados would not be considered a “poor country” and bajans live comfortably well and prosperous lives in typical middle and upper class socio-economic societies.

Are there nice homes in Barbados?

Sure there are and quite a range of homes too. Some live in modest moveable wooden houses, which are considered a traditional style home, called a ‘chattel house’. While others live in more permanent and contemporary cement homes worth a lot of money.

Do Flying Fish really fly?

Yes they do – well kinda. Flying fish launch themselves out of the water to escape prey and can glide for 30 to 50 metres! The Flying Fish is a national symbol and delicious. Make sure you try it any time you can.

Does Barbados have a national flower?

Yes. — The Barbados national flower is the red coloured Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). Although not as common, you’ll also see yellow varieties.

Does Barbados produce rum?

Boy oh boy do they ever. Mount Gay Barbados Rum (just one brand of many) is over 300 years old and was first produced in 1703. It is one of the oldest and most famous brands of fine rum in the world.

Is there easily accessible healthcare in Barbados?

Local healthcare services in Barbados are easily accessible and of a high standard. There are two main hospitals on the island, various medical centres, well-equipped private and public clinics, medical laboratories, pharmacies, and a large number of private doctors in practice. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital offers emergency, surgery, paediatrics and obstetrics, radiology, and psychiatry services. The QEH also doubles as an accredited teaching hospital, affiliated with the University of the West Indies.

Are there lots of dining options?

Absolutely from world-class establishments overlooking the Caribbean Sea to street food just about everywhere. And getting to know Barbados can be fun and delicious through it’s many food delights. Make sure to try Flying Fish, salt fish and cou-cou, pudding and souse, pepper pot, macaroni pie, fish cakes, ham or fish cutters, pork, mahi-mahi, rice and peas and biscuits and cheese washed down with a local sweet drink to name a few. Find a food truck and you’ll be smiling until the last bite – cheap too!

What is the religion in Barbados?

Anglican is the predominant religion of Barbados however there are various denominations of Christian and alternative religions practiced in the island. Each parish in Barbados has an Anglican parish church and tourists are welcome to worship or simply explore.

How big is Barbados?

The island is 429 square kilometres (166 square miles) and 34 km long by 23 km wide and is divided into 11 geographical regions called parishes. Each parish is easily accessible by road and has unique characteristics. You really should get out and about because it’s safe and a great way to discover the island.

Where does Barbados culture come from?

Quite simply, from England and from Africa. And it is this unique blend of cultural influences that makes Barbados a very interesting and unique place to visit. Barbados became an British colony when the first settlers arrived in 1627. The African influence derived from the importation of slaves from west Africa.

What is the Crop Over Festival?

The major annual cultural festival of Barbados is called Crop Over which signifies the end of the sugar cane crop harvest. Held throughout July, it culminates with the Grand Kadooment Day costume jump-up on the first Monday in August. Another very popular event in the Crop Over calendar is the Fore Day Morning Jump Up held on the Friday night before the Monday Grand Kadooment Day parade. This night-time street party continues into the early hours of Saturday morning where revellers plaster themselves with mud, paint and oil as they jump up and dance to the big music trucks as they make their way down the road. You are welcome to join and of theses activities and I think you really should – at least once.

Can I get a sunburn?

Oh yes you can and a sunburn will ruin a few days of your vacation. So, follow this advice. Take sunbathing in small doses at first. Fifteen minutes then cover up. You can increase your exposure each day as you like. Trust me, even with clothing on you’ll be getting lots of sun.