Barbados: A Local's Guide

BY Ashlee Constance

Barbados: A Local's Guide


166 sq miles in size and the most eastern of the Caribbean island chain, Barbados is divided into 11 little parishes. As you drive through our communities it’s common to see a luxury villa next to a traditional home, next to a rum shop that sits alongside a church — everyone and everything is mixed together. Unlike most West Indian destinations, there is no real barrier between travellers and local communities. This closeness offers you a chance to connect with the Barbadian people and hear the stories that reveal their beauty, resilience and charm.

Dousing yourself in Barbadian culture starts with a lime. All you need is a group of people, a hot debate, a nice stiff drink and some good food. No matter where it is, once you’re liming, you’re having a good time. The simplicity of liming guides you around the island, it introduces you to new characters, new places and an authentic side of Barbados.

Let’s say you touch down in Bim (an affectionate term for Barbados) on a Friday night, check into your accommodation and head straight out to either Oistins in the south or Moontown in the north. Hear the shuffle of dominoes and waves crashing in the distance. Jump in on a few random conversations, have a laugh, exchange stories and enjoy a flask of rum. Come Saturday, make your way to Lemon Arbour. Choose from one of the local favourites — fry pork, buljol and creole breadfruit – while taking in the views of the St.John countryside. Battle the hangover on Sunday at Heywoods Beach where you can swim in the Caribbean Sea and sunbathe under palm trees, but first, make a stop at PRC bakery. As the sun begins to set, make your way to John Moore’s Rum Shop – a traditional gem on the flashier West Coast – for sundowners.

The island is great year round but summertime is always sweeter. What started as a celebratory dinner and dance for slaves is now Barbados’ biggest annual event: Crop Over. During Crop Over – which normally takes place in July through to August – the streets fill with the sound of soca and people wukking up, bringing the festivities to a close with a costumed, carnival-like parade.

It doesn’t matter when you come or where you go in Barbados, the people are what make it so special. Barbadians are proud and not easily impressed by fame, which reminds you to stay humble. Come for the idyllic beaches, stay for the Bajans. Using the welcome stamp, an initiative to bring Digital Nomads to the country, you could even stay for a year.

If you're travelling to Barbados, check out our local guides for the best places to go.