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The easternmost of the Caribbean islands, Barbados is a traveller’s paradise blessed with lush vegetation, friendly people, superb dining and idyllic palm-fringed beaches – wild and windswept on the south and east, pristine and tranquil on the north and west. Once a British colonial outpost, and much of this history is reflected in the nation’s architecture, street names, and passion for cricket. There’s an enormous amount to see and do on Barbados: Take a jeep safari to the untamed east coast, known for its world class surfing, or head to the rugged southern coast, where secluded coves are hugged by craggy cliffs. If you prefer calmer , the north and west coast will be your thing, powder-fine white-sand shores melting into serene bays perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Barbados’ capital, Bridgetown, has excellent shopping and sightseeing, while the island’s relatively flat interior is dotted with beautiful gardens, verdant nature reserves, glittering caverns, and breath-taking viewpoints.
TRAVEL, TRANSPORT AND GETTING AROUND
Hiring a car is the best way to explore Barbados, thanks to the fact it’s a well-developed, small island measuring just 34km (21 miles) long and 23km (14 miles) wide. Anything from a Mini Moke to a limousine may be hired at the airport, at offices in Bridgetown or at main hotels. Petrol is comparatively cheap. Traffic drives on the left. Drivers must be between 21 and 65 years of age to hire a car in Barbados, with a minimum of three years driving experience. Visitors to the island are easily identifiable on the road by the ‘H’ number plate. Locals are usually accommodating and make allowances for any confusion. Seat belts are compulsory. Speed limits are 40, 60 and 80kph (25, 37 and 50mph). A Barbados driving permit is required. This can be obtained from car hire companies, the airport or some police stations. The permit costs US$5 and is valid for one year. A valid national licence or International Driving Permit and a small registration fee are required.
Barbados has a modern, reliable bus network, which operates from 0500 to midnight.
Taxis in Barbados tend to be fairly safe and reliable. Taxis are unmetered but charge fares are regulated by the government and are based on the distance travelled. Check the rate before travel – it can be in US Dollars or Barbados Dollars. Special deals apply for a full-day hire. Licensed minivans, identifiable by their ‘ZR’ licence plates, operate around the island and can be flagged down. There are no fixed schedules, but service is frequent. Rates are the same as for buses, although minivans tend to be quicker – but can be a tight squeeze.
Scooter hire is available – you’ll need to pay a small deposit and wearing a helmet is required by law..
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Constant sea breezes cool Barbados’s balmy, tropical climate but the island is still sunnier and drier than the other islands. During the so-called wet season (July to November), some brief rain showers are likely. Average sunshine hours per day are eight to ten from November to March and eight to nine from April to October. Tropical storms and hurricanes may occur between June and November.
Food and Drink
Barbados’s water is said to rank amongst the purest in the world; it is filtered naturally by limestone and coral and pumped from underground streams. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption.
Eating out in Barbados is pricier compared to other Caribbean islands. Expect to pay around £20pp in a mid-range restaurant. There is an eclectic choice of food available, with everything from global cuisine served in smart, world-renowned restaurants, such as The Cliff, to Bajan fare available in street markets such as Oistins. Replica British pubs are popular and serve genuine British bitter and stout – often with fish-and-chip bar snacks. There are more than 100 rum shops across the island, which are simple, sometimes shabby, but always friendly where policeman and locals sip a mid-afternoon drink, it’s something to be experienced.
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