English, African and West Indian roots have all played their part in shaping Barbados’ unique character. It’s an effervescent island: never dull and boring, always fun and lively.
Here are some facts:
• The island was named ‘Los Barbados’ by Portuguese sailors in the 1500s, after the ‘bearded’ fig trees
• In the early 17th century, the English landed with African slaves, developing Barbados into the world’s top sugar producer by 1650
• The island remained within the British Empire for over 300 years and only gained full independence in 1966
• The local language is English with a unique accent, jazzed up with words from West African-English patois called Bajan
• The capital, Bridgetown, and its Garrison are UNESCO listed
• Something extremely rare is the Baobab Tree, icon of African landscapes and the oldest living tree on the island.
Tourism is booming and unravelling local history provides a fascinating insight often missed by beach-worshippers. Away from the glitzy shores of the Platinum Coast, handpainted signs direct you along meandering lanes to places such as Worthing, Hastings and Dover, reminders of the island’s colonial past.
Historical sightseeing includes places maintained by the Barbados National Trust, such as Gun Hill Signal Station, Morgan Lewis Windmill, Tyrol Cot, Bridgetown Synagogue and Arlington House Museum, an engaging three-storey museum housed in a restored 18th Century building. Other attractions include Cotton Tower Signal Station, George Washington House & Museum, Codrington College, Barbados Museum & Historical Society, Sunbury Plantation House, Andrew’s Sugar Factory, National Heroes Gallery and Museum of Parliament, National Heroes Square, Sir Frank Hutson Sugar Museum and St. Nicholas Abbey. Garrison Savannah is the home of horse-racing and where British officers once raced.
Don’t miss the Barbados Concorde Experience, a fantastic visitor attraction, if you’re planning an excursion during your stay. The incredible iconic plane once flew many of our clients from Heathrow to the sunny Caribbean in under three hours.
Something else unmissable is meeting the Bajan people, who are exceptionally polite, warm and friendly. They also have a passion for food and on your travels, there will be the chance to sample spicy West Indian curries, sweet plantains and rice and peas. They’re also passionate about partying and the island’s bulging calendar of events includes Oistins Fish Festival, Sandy Lane Gold Cup, Barbados Reggae Festival, Gospelfest and the biggest and best of them all – Crop Over. This fabulous summertime event celebrates the end of the sugarcane harvest and lasts several weeks, ending with Kadooment Day’s vibrant carnival. If your stay misses out on a festival, make a beeline for Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday evening, when hungry crowds gather to devour chunks of herby grilled fish and dance to reggae and calypso. A simple and fun way to get a real flavour of island life!