The InteleTravel Island Guide: Barbados

The InteleTravel Island Guide: Barbados

The name Barbados has an interesting origin story. It either comes from the Portuguese os barbudos or the Spanish los barbudos, both roughly translating to The Bearded Ones.

Of course, the beards don’t refer to locals with extensive facial hair (presumably an uncomfortable look in the humid conditions of the Caribbean), but rather to the fig trees that populate the island. 

No matter the etymology, Barbados should be synonymous with tropical paradise. As the easternmost Caribbean island, the country boasts all the good of the region--white-sand beaches and temperatures in the 70s and 80s all year round--while avoiding the paths of tropical storms and hurricanes. 

The result is an often surprising mix of land and aquatic adventures, a blend of cultures with influences from all over the world, and vibrant energy packed into 166 square miles. 

Here’s what you need to know about traveling to Barbados. 


Quick Facts

Consider this a fun list of did-you-knows to make your friends jealous prior to heading to Barbados.

  • Although the official language is English, most natives speak (and refer to themselves as) Bajan, an English-based Creole language. 
  • The Caribbean is of course known for its rum, and Barbados has a claim as the spiritual home (so to speak) for this liquor. The Mount Gay Distilleries have been producing rum since 1703. 
  • Rum isn’t the only tropical delicacy that calls Barbados home: The grapefruit also originated here. 
  • Cricket is considered the national sport, and the top Barbadian cricketers compete for the West Indies (Windies, for short) alongside players from other English-speaking nations in the Caribbean. 
  • Yes, it’s Rihanna’s home nation.

The Lay of the Land

Barbados is by all measures a small island. It’s 21 miles long, 14 miles wide, and is home to less than 300,000 people, 110,000 in the capital of Bridgetown. 

What it lacks in stature, it makes up for in variety. The Atlantic coast is known for its ruggedness and swells, the perfect destination for the adventurous. The Caribbean side of the island is calmer, an ideal base camp for relaxation in the sun. (Then again, you can easily drive from one side of the island to the other.)

Then there’s Andromeda Botanic Gardens and Harrison’s Cave, terranean and subterranean attractions, respectively, that will take your breath away. 


When to Go

Similar to its Caribbean neighbors, Barbados has two seasons: dry and wet. The dry season runs from December to June, while the latter spans July to October. As aforementioned, Barbados is outside the geographic path of most hurricanes, although it can still experience high winds and rain during stormier periods. 

For those reasons, the peak travel season falls in the winter. 

If you’re looking to capitalize on ideal weather conditions and avoid a barrage of tourists, aim for May. You’ll get better prices closer to the wet season, while still enjoying the main attractions of the island at their best. 

Then again, you can often score the best deals during the wet season. If you check the forecast and adjust your itinerary accordingly, you may find yourself experiencing a luxurious stay in Barbados at a standard price. 

There’s one more consideration: Crop Over, Barbados’s biggest party. This annual, epic carnival attracts revelers and celebrities from across the globe. It starts in June and concludes in August with the Grand Kadooment, a finale worthy of a months-long, colorful celebration. 

If you’re one for vibrant crowds, limitless rum, and a good time, then plan well in advance, and book your party ticket. 

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Getting There

A number of major American airports fly direct to Barbados. It’s a little longer than a four-hour flight from New York (JFK and Newark), and a little less than four hours from Miami. The earlier you can book a flight, the better. 

Of course, it comes as no surprise that Barbados is a popular cruise destination as well. Liners like Oceania deliver luxury experiences on the open seas at affordable prices. In 2021, Oceania is offering a 12-day excursion from Miami to Bridgetown, with stops in the Cayman Islands, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, Antigua, and St. Lucia. You could also choose a 10-day, Bridgetown-to-Bridgetown cruise covering the eastern Caribbean, or even a 27-day odyssey that follows Europe’s Atlantic coast departing from London and concluding in the Barbados capital. 


Where to Stay

Because Barbados is so small, you can explore the entire island, if you wish, in a matter of days. Rather than focus on where to stay in terms of location, find lodging that fits your fellow travelers’ needs, too. Consider these options. 

For a Family-Friendly Stay: Crystal Cove

Crystal Cove by Elegant Hotels provides something for the entire family. Adults will love the spacious suites, ocean views, and all-inclusive packages that epitomize care-free living. The younger ones will appreciate the array of water activities, not to mention the Fly Fish Kids Club and tiered, lagoon-style pools. 

For Luxury: Altman Villas

Although Barbados is full of luxury resorts, you can avoid the crowd by booking a private stay at an Altman Villa. Choose from a variety of options, all of which are surrounded by charming gardens and tranquil pools. They’re affordable as well, with rooms starting at less than $200 a night. 

For a Romantic Getaway: Sandy Lane

Sandy Lane has earned a reputation as one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. It certainly lives up to that billing. Treat your significant other with a stay here. Relax in the 47,000-square-foot spa. Hit the links on the highly exclusive Green Monkey golf course. Indulge in the fine-dining options and convivial bars. Create memories that will last a lifetime. 

For an Authentic West Indian Retreat: Coral Reef Club

A boutique hotel, Coral Reef Club has all the amenities people have come to love in the West Indies: open concept, spacious rooms with ocean views; fresh-caught seafood with Caribbean spices at the hotel restaurant; access to a wide variety of aquatic activities. Even just strolling the grounds will confirm you’re living in paradise, if only for a short while. 


What to Do

You could stay at the resort, soak up the sun, and sip a drink on the beach and call it a vacation, but where’s the fun in that? The fact is Barbados is packed with adventure. 

Sure, you’ll find regular aquatic adventures like snorkeling, swimming with wildlife (in this case, sea turtles), and more. Did you know that Barbados is also a popular haven for surfers? The rugged Atlantic coast, in particular Bathsheba Beach, invites amateurs and experts alike to hang 10. 

From riding waves to exploring caves—try your hand at spelunking. The Harrison’s Cave system is a mile-plus in length with the largest cavern coming in at 49 feet high. When you return to dry land, head to Andromeda Botanical Gardens for an arboreal experience to delight the senses. 

If it’s a good time you want, you’ve come to the right place. Establishments like Harbour Lights get the festivities going on the beach during the day, offer dinner shows, then maintain the party deep into the night.  


What to Eat & Drink

Barbados offers land excursions, aquatic thrills, and culinary delights. All three should be on your list of to-dos when you get to the island. Your taste buds will thank you. 

Start by indulging in what is considered the national dish: fried flying fish with a side of cou cou, a mix of cornmeal and okra. You could also sample chicken curry, made with Bajan spices, and finish off any meal with a traditional dessert like guava cheese.

Then wash it all down with rum. Head to Mount Gay for a distillery tour, and step into history. They’ve been producing the region’s favorite spirit since 1703.

It can be quite stressful planning a stress-free getaway. You'll want to pack as much as you can into your vacation to Barbados, or at least nail the details that matter the most for you and your fellow travelers.

Wouldn't you love to have a professional plan it for you? Of course you would! InteleTravel Advisors don't just book vacations. They offer a personal experience to build the trip of your dreams. They also leverage relationships with the biggest travel brands in the industry to provide exclusive discounts and upgrades. 

Stress less, and travel more when you contact InteleTravel. 

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