Barbados is one of the Caribbean’s most popular islands. It is renowned for its long list of luxury hotels, its spectacular Platinum Coast with soft white sands, the vibrant Bajan hospitality - oh and the world-famous pop icon Rihanna of course. However, there is far more to this idyllic island than you might realise at first glance.
The island has a wealth of history, an enchanting personality and a culture which includes a unique melting pot of African, Indian, Creole and British influences. There is nowhere else quite like Barbados. It is a fantastic all-round holiday destination for everyone from honeymooners and families to beach lovers and foodies… there truly is something for all!
Start getting to know Barbados with our 38 interesting facts we bet you didn’t know:
1. Although located in the most western part of the North Atlantic, Barbados is still considered a Caribbean Island instead of an Atlantic Island.
6. Barbados celebrates Independence Day every November 30th.
In 2017 to celebrate 50 years of independence, Westbury New Road located in St. Michael was renamed Rihanna Drive in honour of the Bajan popstar who grew up on this street.
7. Holetown, was the first settlement in Barbados, although it was originally called Jamestown after King James I.
8. After being a British Colony for so long there are lots of British influences still visible on the island, including the red post boxes and street names like Buckingham Hill.
The island’s cultural roots are in its plantation and slavery history, therefore there is a unique blend of West African and European heritage all over the isle.
9. The official language in Barbados is English, although the majority of residents on the island will speak in Bajan.
Bajan is loosely based on the English language, with influences from West-Africa. The language is not standardised and is always evolving to include new expressions. While a lot of the spoken language sounds like English with strong dialect changes - replacing vowel sounds and dropping consonants – it also includes many fun words and charming phrases. Some you might hear during your stay include a rucka-tuk which means a loud noise or a commotion, a tie goat which is the name given to someone who is married and when you take a swim in the sea you might hear it called a sea-bath.
10. There was a Trafalgar Square in Barbados that featured a statue of Lord Nelson 30 years before the more famous square in the heart of London.
The plaza where Broad Street meets National Heroes Square in Bridgetown, was until 1999 called Trafalgar Square and the statue of Nelson was in place there from 1813. Nelson’s Column in London wasn’t erected until 1843!
Enjoy a home away from home experience like no other at The House by Elegant Hotels. Perfect for those who are romantic at heart and are looking to create some magical memories together, this adult-only resort offers an intimate atmosphere where guests can unwind within the naturally beautiful surroundings of Barbados. Offering an all-inclusive policy, visitors can maximise their time away with a range of complimentary extras including champagne breakfast, afternoon tea, a jet lag massage, as well as a range of fitness, wellness and cultural activities. For for more inspiration on where to stay during your next Barbados holiday click here to view our full collection of resorts and hotels.
11. Barbados has been governed by an uninterrupted parliament since 1639, which makes it the third oldest parliament in the world!
Visitors to the island can learn all about the incredible history of this monumental governance at The Parliament Museum, where guided tours are also available.
12. The east coast of the island is a surfers’ paradise.
Where the west coast of the island offers the gentle Caribbean Sea, the east coast faces the strength and swells of the Atlantic Ocean. The Barbados National Surf Championship is held in a small bay known as the Soup Bowl in a village called Bathsheba on the east coast every November – and that is just one of the many surfing and sailing competitions throughout the year.
13. Barbados has natural wonders hidden beneath its surface – quite literally.
Harrison’s Cave is located in the central uplands of the island. It is an underground cavernous system made up of deep caves and winding passages that is around 2.3km long in total. Packed full of stalactites, stalagmites, cascading waterfalls, flowing streams and deep pools, Harrison’s Cave is a very popular visitor attraction on the island, giving a total otherworldly experience.
14. Very little of the original indigenous vegetation remains in Barbados because so much of the land was cultivated for sugarcane.
Sugar plantations began on the island in the 15th century and soon the production of sugar, rum, and molasses became the backbone of the Barbados economy.
15. Flying fish are very common in the surrounding warm waters around Barbados. The island has long been referred to as The Land of the Flying Fish.
Note: Flying fish do not have wings! Instead, fish jump out of the water and glide for up to 50 meters giving the illusion of flying. These phenomenal creatures can even remain in the air for up to 45 seconds and travel at speeds of more than 70 miles per hour – madness!
16. The Bajan national dish is flying fish and cou-cou.
Traditionally served on a Friday, the recipe comprises seasoned and marinated flying fish accompanied by cou-cou, which is made from cornmeal, okras, fresh herbs and butter. The dish is then served topped with an aromatic tomato sauce.
Heading to a Fish Fry on a Friday night is a very popular pastime for all Barbadians. Oistin’s Fish Fry is the most popular event on the island, hosted in the quaint fishing town of Oistins on the south coast. Locals and visitors alike will flock there on the weekend, to sample fried or grilled tuna, swordfish or even lobster!
17. There are more than 50 beaches around the island of Barbados.
From palm-lined, white beaches on the west and south coasts, to the long stretches of wind-blown sands on the east, and the smaller, sheltered coves to the north - the coastline of Barbados is incredibly diverse!
The west coast is nicknamed the Platinum Coast, because of its idyllic picture-perfect beaches and the array of luxury hotels dotted along the coastline. To view our top picks of hotels and resort position in the ultimate spots along the sought-after west coast, click here.
18. Because of the amazing coastline that surrounds the island, Barbados is a haven for almost any type of island water sport, from kayaking to diving, surfing to deep-sea fishing there is a perfect location to get involved around the island’s shoreline.
19. You can swim with turtles in Barbados
Barbados is home to four species of nesting turtles, including green turtles, loggerheads, hawksbill turtles, and leatherbacks. Snorkelers should keep their eyes peeled even in the shallows for these amazing sea creatures. Once considered to be important only for their meat, eggs and shells, the value of these creatures is now being recognised and the Barbados Sea Turtle Project carefully monitor the population.
20. Barbados is surrounded by coral reefs.
From Shark Bank to Little Sandy Lane, the Great Ledge and the Bell Buoy, there is an abundance of coral reefs of all shapes and sizes just off the shore of Barbados. Teaming with tropical sea life, this natural beauty around the island is a huge draw to divers who wish to explore and witness the vibrant wildlife.
Consider a stay in the heart of all the action at the Coral Reef Club, perfectly placed along the beautiful west coast of Barbados, just a 15-minute walk from historic Holetown with its array of fantastic restaurants, bars and shops.
Offering an immaculate collection of garden cottages, suites and villas, visitors should expect a comfortable stay in superior family-friendly accommodation. Dive in and explore the surrounding waters with a choice of some exciting water sports, including sailing kayaking and more. To discover more on this hotel or to plan the perfect Barbados holiday call our personal travel managers today on 0203 816 0985 or click here to submit an online enquiry.
21. Barbados is considered the birthplace of rum.
Mount Gay Distillery was founded in 1703 and is believed to produce the oldest rum in the world. The famous Mount Gay Rum is today sold in more than 110 countries worldwide. Appreciated by Rum connoisseurs around the world, a guided tour around the distillery is certainly worth a visit – it would be a shame not to sample some local rum punch with the good stuff taken straight from the barrel!
22. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are loosely based on truth.
While there is no record of a pirate named Captain Jack Sparrow, Barbados was the home to two notorious real-life pirates named Sam Lord and Stede Bonnet. Visitors can relish all the fun of a pirate life by exploring underwater shipwrecks off the coast, taking a boat trip around the surrounding waters or visiting the Arlington House Museum to learn all about this famous pair.
Pirate enthusiasts may be more familiar with the island of Antigua, so we put the two islands head-to-head in our holiday showdown here. See for yourself which island comes out on top.
23. In 2011, the historic Bridgetown and its Garrison was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This means this area of outstanding historic value will now be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
24. There are a total of nine museums on the island.
What can we say? With such a fascinating history, Barbados has a lot of stories to tell! Each museum offers a unique experience where you can learn lots about the island in an interactive and fun way.
25. Bridgetown is home to the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere built in 1628.
26. Barbados is a fortified island.
There are more than 40 forts in Barbados including Gun Hill Signal Station and St. Ann’s Fort. A great way to delve into the island’s history is to visit these historical landmarks, where you can really imagine what it was like to be a look-out for an impending attack.
27. A 1000-year-old tree can be found in Queens Park, Bridgetown.
It is impossible to confuse this tree with any other. It is so large it takes 15 adults with hands fully outstretched to cover the circumference of the trunk.
28. Once home to hundreds of windmills there is only one working windmill left on the island and it can be found in the parish of St. Andrew.
29. Barbados has its very own submarine.
The Atlantis Submarine is a fantastic way to explore Barbados’ coast. Visitors can stay dry as they dive into the deep blue and admire schools of tropical fish swimming alongside the port holes.
30. Between June and August every year Barbados celebrates the Crop-Over festival.
By far the largest party on the island, the festival marks the end of the sugar cane crop season and dates back to the colonial-era. Starting as early as June and spanning all the way into August, visitors during this period are guaranteed an exciting time with an array of both day and night parties, craft markets, parades and more to enjoy.
Sample the legendary cuisine at the Lone Star Boutique Hotel and Restaurant, a magnet to all foodies on the island because it is the only restaurant in Barbados where you can dine directly on the beach. Who wouldn’t be tempted by the refreshing cocktails, fantastic food and sun sets on spectacular white sands? And there is no need to leave if you don’t want to. This five-star award-winning boutique hotel offers an intimate stay for families, honeymoon couples and discerning guests who are looking for a more discreet stay. Intrigued? Click here to submit an enquiry today.
31. Cricket is Barbados’ national sport.
The locals thrive from watching and playing this sport and the island has produced some of the world’s greatest cricketing players, including Sir Garfield St. Auburn Sobers.
32. Barbados is one of the best places in the world to enjoy a round or two of golf.
Thanks to perfect combination of top-class golf clubs, masterfully designed courses, the perfect weather and stunning views, it is easy to see why Barbados is ideal for a golfing holiday. Golfers come from all over the world to visit the top-class clubs, including Barbados Golf Club, Rockley Club, Royal Westmoreland, Sandy Lane, and more. A stay at Sandy Lane resort is a great option for golf fanatics with not one, not two but three award-winning courses on site.
33. Barbados has its very own racing car track, The Bushy Park Racing Circuit.
A surprising treat on this tropical island, adrenaline junkies and families looking for fun will love to get involved. Whether in go karts or racing cars, there is the opportunity to take a spin and complete for the fastest lap.
34. Barbados pioneered its own indigenous musical form, Tuk.
The genre emerged in the colonial period when traditional Afro-based drums were banned. The music was created from blending European military-based instruments with the rhythms of Afro-based music. Visitors can still experience this unique sound at many musical festivals throughout the year.
35. The grapefruit was invented in Barbados.
A grapefruit is a hybrid citrus fruit created during the 17th Century. A cross between the sweet orange and the pomelo fruit, no one is sure whether it was a deliberate mix or a happy accident.
36. Islanders consider it good luck if a Mongoose crosses your path.
The Mongoose was originally introduced to Barbados from India as part of a plan to combat the growing rat population. However, that plan didn’t work out as expected. Instead of eating the rats, the mongoose ate the snakes, the rat’s original predator. Local’s now – rather ironically – see it as a sign of good luck when a Mongoose crosses your path.
37. One of Barbados’ most famous icons is the Green Monkey.
The Green Monkey is a very common sight on Barbados. Believed to be introduced to the island over 350 years ago the population has now evolved its own characteristics. Many of the local hotels and businesses have adopted the monkey as a mascot or emblem, like Sandy Lane’s Green Monkey Golf Course, and Barbados’ own The Green Monkey Chocolatier. Discover more about Sandy Lane resort here.
38. Barbados is considered the culinary capital of the Caribbean.
One of the enormous benefits of the melting pot of cultures that have enjoyed the island over the years is the incredibly diverse influences it has on its culinary scene. Every October the island hosts a Food and Rum Festival which is a magnet to visitors all over the world looking to witness the unique flavours, world-class talent alongside the Bajan’s distinct style.
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