When the island was originally settled in the 15th century, the Spanish discovered that the island was almost completely covered in dense jungle and had an exceptionally large population of wild pigs. The reason for this was that the Portuguese, who had discovered the island several years earlier, but left it unclaimed, had introduced the pigs to the ecosystem as a means of guaranteeing a healthy supply should they ever decide to revisit. It should therefore come of little surprise that pork is a large part of the Bajan diet today. At Cutters of Barbados on Crane Beach you can grab a pork and Plantain pizza for a mixture of native and introduced food.
Interestingly, the Portuguese pig introduce-rs initially called the island ‘Los Barbados’, meaning the bearded one. The reason behind this was the island was littered with fig trees, which have hanging aerial roots that looked like beards from a distance. You can take a look at these remarkable trees at the Andromeda Botanical Gardens in St Joseph.
Aside from the large wild pig population, the island is also home to an extraordinarily large amount of mongooses. The mongooses were originally imported from India by the British colonisers in order to control the population of big rats that were destroying the sugar cane crops, which were one of the island’s main exports at the time. However, the plan backfired as the mongoose ended up wiping out the snake population, who were the initial predators of the large rats. To this very day, the locals swear that the mongoose population of Barbados won’t cross the road unless someone is watching. If you’re driving through St Lucy or St Philip you can expect to see one of these critters running around.
In the late 19th century, Barbados was known all over the world for its famous healing qualities. People travelled from all corners of the world to immerse themselves up to the head in the sands of the beach at Cattlewash at St. Andrew’s. The practice was believed to cure a large variety of illnesses and was very popular until the 20th century when medical science began to evolve and enthusiasm began to diminish.
The wellness centres in Barbados are still world renowned for their therapeutic qualities and surely worth a visit.
Interestingly, in the 19th century, Barbados was officially recognised as the healthiest place in the world to live, where 1 person in 66 people died annually, compared with the annual world average of 1 person in 35 people. Which is good, I suppose, if you think about it.
The survival rate is much higher these days, thankfully, throughout the world, and many living people choose to head off to Barbados for their holidays.
After visiting for a first time around 39 percent return, which makes it one of the most re-visited countries in the Caribbean region. Visitors accredit this factor to the friendliness of the locals. Bajan spirit is something the island prides itself on and it is visable in all facets of island life.
During the summer months you can get a vibrant and colourful taste of Bajan tradition during the Crop Over Festival Season.
Running from June to August, Crop Over has a number of insular events that celebrate the different stages of the festival, culminating in the Grand Kadooment at the beginning of August.
This finale is awash with luminous flowers, cocktails and steel drums, with hundreds of locals and visitors parading through the streets.
As in the U.K., the legal drinking age in Barbados is 18. However, children aged from 10 to 17 are permitted to drink alcohol when accompanied by their parents, which can make family holidays a little more…. Interesting.
Talking of alcohol, Barbados exports over £40million worth of rum every year, making it one of the countries’ main exports. Unsurprisingly this traditional rum capital of the pirate world offers a couple of amazing Rum tours around the island.
Moving away from alcohol, Barbados has pure drinking water available from taps and was also the first Caribbean island to have piped water, making it one of the most developed. This means that, unlike in many Spanish resorts, bottled water is not a must.
Like in Cuba, taxis in Barbados are not fitted with meters, so a fee must be discussed and agreed with the driver before embarking on the journey itself.
Bartering is king here so be sure to take a hard line and you should get the price you want. However, if you prefer to pay a fixed price and have your own vehicle then car rental is probably the best bet.
A trivial part of the colonial legacy resulted in the Barbadians driving on the left hand side of the road, so UK tourists can look forward to the lack of confusion.
Originally discovered and colonised by the Spanish in the 15th century, the tiny island of Barbados was invaded by England and King James I in the 16th century and remained part of the Commonwealth until 1966 when it gained independence. Despite this the left hand drive trend has remained.
The Bajan context of a darker part of colonialism, slavery, may also surprise you. The first slaves that arrived in Barbados after its colonisation were known as Indentured Servants. Indentured Servants were white colonial subjects that were considered enemies of the crown and paid for their voyage to the new world by working as slaves for various colonial institutions for a number of years.
Barbados’ history is fascinating and there are many sites to visit all over the island, which has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the fantastic things about Barbados is that there are so many things to mention before even mentioning the beaches it is so famous for. Accra Beach, also know as Rockley Beach, is a moon of white sand on the southern coast. The tiny huts here sell beers and simple foods, while the surf is great for body boarding and jumping around, although surfers will be disappointed.
The waves are better at Crane Beach where parents best avoid taking their children for a dip. It is a great spot though and one of the island’s most beautiful beaches without a doubt.
However, it is often a good idea to follow the locals wherever you are and, in Barbados, most of the Bajan sun-soaker-uppers can be found at Enterprise Beach. Half of the beach gets big waves while the other half is shallow and enjoys the attention of lots of families.