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Island Information

Barbados

Barbados is the eastern-most Caribbean island. It is located at 13.4N, 54.4W. The island, which is less that one million years old, was created by the collision of the Atlantic crustal and Caribbean plates, along with a volcanic eruption. Later coral formed, accumulating to approximately 300 feet. It is geologically unique, being actually two land masses that merged together over the years.

Barbados Island Currency: Barbados island has its own currency, the Barbados dollar, but US dollars, credit cards, and traveler's checks are also widely accepted on Barbados island. A number of international banks operate branches on Barbados island, where currency can easily be exchanged. The Barbados dollar changes approximately at the rate of Bds$2 for US$1.

Barbados Island Entry Requirements: US and Canadian residents can enter Barbados island with either a valid passport or a birth certificate with a raised seal and a photo ID issued by the government. All other travelers, including those from Britain and other Commonwealth countries, must present a valid passport and ongoing ticket to access Barbados island.

Time Zone on Barbados Island: Barbados island is on Atlantic Standard time, four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.

Driving on Barbados Island: On Barbados island cars drive on the left-hand side of the road as in Britain.

Voltage on Barbados Island: Electrical outlets are 110 volts on Barbados island (like North America), but adapters for 220-volt appliances are accessible.

Language on Barbados Island: All Barbados island residents speak English but Bajans spice it up with Afro-Caribbean influences and a distinctive Irish-sounding lilt.

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Barbados History

A look back at Barbados' history gives a sense of what makes the island tick. The Portuguese were the first Europeans in Barbados' history to explore there, drifting ashore the coral and limestone mountain peak in search of fresh water in 1536. They did not stay for long, but left the island with the name that would stick throughout the rest of Barbados' history - the roots of fig trees native to the island reminded them of beards; Barbados is Portuguese for "the bearded ones".

A new period in Barbados history began with the first permanent settlement almost a century later, when the British established the city of Holetown on the island's western coast in 1627. From then on, Barbados' history as a British colony continued virtually uninterrupted, with the island becoming an important trading port reliant mainly on sugar exports to survive. Sugar cane dominated the economy throughout Barbados' history until a few years after it achieved independence from Britain in 1966, when airline travel increased allowing tourism to grow exponentially.

Today's Bajans, most of whom descend directly from either former plantation owners or their laborers brought to Barbados during the 16th and 17th centuries, are intensely proud of Barbados' history and the nation it has produced. Though tourism is Barbados' most important industry, Bajans have worked hard to build upon the infrastructure left by the British period of Barbados history to diversify and strengthen their business community. British customs and traditions remain strong here - afternoon tea and cricket are national institutions - but Barbados' history has also evolved an independent nation whose standard of living rivals any in the West Indies.