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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Barbados Barbados

Country Information & Lifestyle

 Classic Caribbean Charm

Classic Caribbean Charm

Barbados is an island in the Atlantic, only 21 miles long and 14 miles across, located about 300 miles north of Venezuela. Barbados was a former British Colony and a member of the Commonwealth and is an island with dual heritage.

England is evident in the architecture found in the capital Bridgetown, the many Anglican churches, and the horse racing on Saturday, but the lifestyle of the people is truly West Indian.

Barbados is a mostly flat coral island circled by fine beaches and narrow coastal plains. Within the coral shore there is a vast array of caves and underground lakes, which provide an excellent supply of drinking water that is among-st the purest in the world. There are rolling hills and many deep ridges and gullies, with an interesting distribution of flora and fauna.

Barbados is charming and sophisticated, alive with possibilities, as boundless as the turquoise sea, endless as the sandy shore. The west coast has coral shore beaches of fine white sand stretching along a blue-green sea. Coral reefs fringe the Barbados shoreline to provide excellent snorkelling and scuba diving.

It is generally warm and sunny all year round with an average daytime high of 75-85F, the nights are usually slightly cooler. The prevailing northeast trade winds blow steadily giving the island a mild and pleasant tropical climate, so that although it is bright and sunny, it is not unbearably hot. The rain usually comes in quick showers and the dry season is from January to June.

Barbados is a very beautiful island with lots of history and plenty to do day and night. The people make Barbados special. Called Bajans, they are warm and friendly souls, always ready to greet you with a sincere smile. Barbadians make you feel welcome and special, in this lovely Caribbean island. You will want to come back time and time again.

Wake up to the rhythm of the tropics and paradise to explore this beautiful island. There are beautiful beaches everywhere.

The west coast of Barbados is often referred to as the "Platinum Coast" and is renowned for the clear warm waters that lap gently onto golden sands. There are several magnificent beaches along this coast to choose from. At each of these beaches you will find the calm azure waters of the Caribbean Sea that are perfect for swimming and clean coral sands on which to relax and soak up the brilliant Caribbean sunshine. You can walk for miles along unbroken wide sand beaches.

Most of the dive sites are found along the west coast with the most popular being Maycocks Bay, a great dive site with large coral reeds divided by stretches of white sands, manta rays and barracudas frequent these waters. The North Western reefs found near Speightstown are considered to be the best in Barbados and they still have pristine corals and a huge amount of brightly coloured fish and other marine life. The reefs around this area are part of the offshore barrier reef system which runs north to South which is unusual but it provides a huge area on which you can dive.

Along the east coast the beaches are wide and wind-blown and the shore is pounded by the Atlantic making it a delight for surfers who come from all over the world. The Soup Bowl located at Bathsheba is the surfer's choice while the East Coast Road is a popular picnic spot and Cattlewash offers breathtaking landscape.

The south coast beaches and their long stretches of dazzling fine white sands are stunningly beautiful, there's no other way to describe them! The water on this side is incredible; the different shades of blue are truly indescribable. The waves are small to medium making for great wind and kit surfing conditions and there are some really good dive sites.

Or perhaps you would prefer to explore underwater Barbados and enter a breathtaking world of coral reefs, sea flora and fauna a kaleidoscope of living color!

Take a tour of our local towns and villages to truly experience Bajan life!!

Bridgetown, the capital, was founded on July 5th 1628 and over its three hundred years of existence this beautiful city has amassed an impressive collection of historic buildings and landmarks.

Bridgetown is considered the heartbeat of this gorgeous Caribbean island and has a charm all of its own. The main artery in the heart of Bridgetown is Broad Street, famous for its world-renowned jewellery stores, boutiques, gift and souvenir shops, shopping malls, and the numerous duty free shops. There are a great many bars and restaurants where you can experience the real taste of Barbados food.

National Heroes Square, opposite the Parliament Buildings, is where you will find the old "Trafalgar Square" and a statue of Lord Nelson. The Lord Nelson statue, erected on 22 Mar 1813, is older than the statue and square of the same name and fame in London. "Trafalgar Square" was officially renamed National Heroes Square in April 1999, in honour of the national heroes of Barbados.

Speightstown is the second largest town on the island located about twelve miles north of Bridgetown in the northwestern parish of St.Peter. Speightstown was founded around 1630 and was in those days the major port and commercial centre of Barbados.

It got its name from William Speight, the owner of the land where the town is located. He was a wealthy businessman who would go on to become a member of the first Barbados parliament in 1639. Speightstown is a sleepy fishing village with old English architecture.

Speightstown is full of interesting old streets to explore, and there are some historic buildings dating from colonial times such as Arlington House that was recently turned into a museum which tells the history of Speightstown from the days of slavery to the present.

There were a number of small British military forts dotted in and around Speightstown that helped its defence. St.Peters Church and many of these old buildings that are still standing can be found mainly along Church Street, Queen Street and Orange Street.

Holetown, is the spot where the British first landed in 1625. The town got its name from a very small body of water called The Hole which provided safe landing and ship cleaning to take place. The town is located on the west coast in the parish of St. James and is one of the most popular parishes for visitors to the island. A week long festival takes place in the middle of February to mark the settlers arrival. A visit to Ragamuffins bar & restaurant is a must for the excellent Bajan food.

Oistins is the islands main fishing port, the daily catch is sold at the waterfront market. Every Friday evening a lively Fish Fry takes place where you can eat at simple local restaurants, dance to the lively calypso and soca music and buy local crafts. Before leaving head towards the back of the square and watch the locals dancing the old time two step. It's a must see!

St Lawrence Gap is the happening area, about a 15 minute drive from Bridgetown. Water sports are in abundance on Dover Beach in the day, and at night the strip comes alive as tourists and locals alike get ready to party. The Gap as its known locally, has built up a reputation as the island's most popular destination to head for nightlife experience. Most nights of the week is good for a pub crawl but the weekends are spectacular.

In St. Thomas take a trip to Harrison's Cave, unique within the Caribbean, and claimed to be one of the wonders of the world. A half mile tram tour will show you the spectacular stalactites, stalagmites, waterfalls and the mystical wonders of the limestone cavern.

St. James, situated on the West Coast, is famous for the white powdery beaches, luxurious hotels including the renowned Sandy Lane Hotel, and world class restaurants, serving Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine. It's also home to the protected Turtle colony, take a boat trip and swim one on one with this precious species.

Bathsheba in St. Joseph on the East Coast is one the most spectacular places on the island. The lush vegetation and the wild Atlantic Ocean have formed a unique rugged coastline. It's famous for the surf.

The North Point hosts one of the three working lighthouses in Barbados. The coast line is rugged and offers some spectacular views. The seas are rough and attract extreme surfers when the winds are high. The Animal Flower Cave is worth a visit. It is a cavern, home to sea anemones which form the shape of beautiful flowers.

Barbados has a rich history and has preserved and restored many of its historic buildings. Fisherpond, a 350 year old plantation homes, lies in the heart of the Barbados countryside and has been lovingly restored and filled with antiques. Each Sunday Fisherpond hosts its renowned planters buffet lunch with live piano music. The grounds of are ablaze with tropical flora, while fountains and water features complete the charming atmosphere.

The Caribbean is still full of secrets. One recently revealed is that Barbados has the world's rarest collection of 17th century English iron cannon. The island is littered with old cannon and they have been found in gardens, cellars, on the beaches, embedded in the side of buildings and buried under fortifications. The reason being that during the 17th and 18th centuries Barbados was an important military bases which the British used to protect their interests in the southern Caribbean.

Barbados is the home of two of the three remaining Jacobean Mansions left in the Western Hemisphere. St.Nicholas Abbey was built in 1658 and is located in the parish of St. Peter. Drax Hall in St.George is the oldest surviving Jacobean mansion in the Western Hemisphere, built in the 1650's and is one of the earliest and biggest properties in Barbados The Drax brother were a wealthy and well connected family that had a special love for Barbados.

Take a tour through the great house to admire the architecture and historical furnishings. You can also explore the steam mill and rum distillery which are now in full operation and are used to produce St. Nicholas Abbey Rum. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with tropical flora while the natural gullies are home to Mahogany and Silk Cotton trees.

Morgan Lewis is the only intact sugar mill in Barbados. Located in St.Andrew it is in fact one of the only two intact and restored sugar mils in the Caribbean. The mill includes an exhibit of the equipment used to produce sugar at the time when the industry was run by wind power generated from mill such as this one.

Although the old plantation house has seen better days it is still worth a visit. The sugar museum is a permanent record of how sugar was produced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The history of sugar cultivation and production is displayed in this attractive museum which is located in the yard of the Portvale Sugar Factory, just off Highway 2A.

It was said that the baobab tree, also known as the Monkey-bread tree, was brought to Barbados around 1738 from Guinea in Africa. Two magnificent trees with possibly the widest tree-trunks to be found in the Caribbean grow in Barbados! The largest can be seen in Queen's Park in Bridgetown. To give an example of the size of this tree of great distinction, it takes 15 adults joining with outstretched arms to cover its circumference.

There is an old Barbadian legend telling that the Grapefruit was first developed in Barbados in the beautiful Welchman Hall Gully and was first recorded in the eighteenth century. Its parents were Shaddock and Sweet Orange, immigrants from across the Asian Sea. A natural cross-pollination was produced between them as a result the Forbidden Fruit (as it was named many moons ago,) was born for the first time! The name has changed to Grapefruit, because it grows in grape-like clusters. This original Barbadian fruit has now become a world wide favourite.

Bush Hill House, now known as George Washington House. is in the Garrison area, In 1751, George Washington President, of the United States, and his half brother came to Barbados, and stayed at Bush Hill House. The house was recently restored and is a lovely attraction.

St. Ann's Garrison is where the British West Indies Regiment was stationed during the 1600 and 1700 hundreds, this area is rich in history. Inland from St. George, within fields of rolling sugar cane, you will find the Gun Hill Signal Station, used and built by the British Army in 1818.

Barbados is made special by its people. Bajans mostly of African decent are some of the friendliest West Indians, whether at a roadside food stall selling the local delicacy 'Flying Fish', or in a rum shop for a game of dominoes, the Bajans will give you the warmest welcome. The locals are always ready to fill you in on the latest island news or simply give you their view on how to put the world to rights.

Bajan cuisine is a tantalising blend of old and new, and brings together the influences of African, Caribbean, West Indian and European delights to create a unique and authentic culinary experience. Fish is a mainstay of the Bajan menu and the national dish is Cou-Cou & Flying Fish, along with many other saltwater delicacies.

Aside from seafood a variety of meats such as chicken, beef, pork, turkey and duck make up the recipes of many Bajan dishes, and is served, grilled, fried, baked, roasted and pickled. Traditional favourites such as coucou, rice and peas, pelau and macaroni pie, pepper-pot stew, along with an assortment of fruits and vegetables such as breadfruits, sweet potato, yam, papaya, cassava, mangoes and pawpaws.

Barbados is the birthplace of rum and rum is believed to be the oldest distilled spirit in the world. First made 370 years ago from the sugar cane that populated the island, Barbados rum soon found the flavor of many English sailors who offered their bounty of rum as proof that they had crossed the Atlantic. But it wasn't until 1703, when Mount Gay Rum began distilling the oldest brand of rum, that the world would come to recognise Barbados as the true birthplace of rum.

The Bajans love their cricket; the locals will drop everything to listen to the commentary of a West Indies Test Match. Going to church on Sundays is still a major part of the week for a lot of Barbadians. Beautiful little churches are situated across the whole island. No one goes to church without wearing their Sunday best, lookout for the colourful hats on the ladies and the children in their best dresses and suits. You will also hear the vibrant gospel music through the open windows. Visitors are always embraced, and will create another lasting memory of this special Caribbean island.

Barbados is known for two pirates of the Caribbean - Sam Lord and Stede Bonnet.

Sam Lord must have been one of the most unusual pirates of the Caribbean! Rather than taking to the seas Sam Lord found a unique, and very profitable, way to plunder ships in the Caribbean. Legend has it that Sam Lord hung lanterns in the coconut trees on the beach near his castle to attract ships. Captains mistook the lanterns for the lights of the capital city and wrecked their ships on the reefs. Sam Lord, one of the most creative pirates of the Caribbean region, would then plunder the ships!

Stede Bonnet, known as the pirate gentleman, became one of the pirates of the Caribbean in a most unusual way! A retired British army major and well off plantation owner in Barbados, the middle aged Major Stede Bonnet suddenly turned to piracy in early 1717 and actually purchased his own pirate ship, an unheard of act among the pirates of the Caribbean! Bonnet sailed his pirate ship "Revenge" off the New England Coast, capturing and burning several ships, before returning to the Caribbean. Here he befriended perhaps the most famous of the pirates of the Caribbean - Blackbeard!

The friendship quickly changed as Blackbeard took over Bonnet's ship before the 'pirate gentleman' once again took charge. This unusual Caribbean pirate was eventually captured and sentenced to death. He was hung for piracy at the end of 1718.

These two pirates of the Caribbean led unusual lives and live on in legend even today...

It is possible to take a day trip to the neighbouring island of Dominica where much of the filming was done for the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, explore the shipwrecks that litter the ocean floor just off the coast of Barbados take a cruise on the pirate ship The Jolly Roger.

Wherever you lay your hat, you will always hear music; whether Calypso, Soca, R&B or Reggae it's the soul of the island. The pinnacle of all festivals being the two week celebration of Crop-Over (carnival marking the end of the sugar cane harvest) starting in July, with the climax being Kadooment Day (first Monday in August).

The streets come alive with a huge parade of colourful costumed revellers 'Jumping Up' to the blasting music. This is the highlight of the Bajan year for locals and visitors so don't miss it., It's mind-blowing!

Purchasing a Property

There are no restrictions on foreigners purchasing property in Barbados, but non-residents need to ensure that all the funds for property purchase are derived from external sources. You are also advised to have all your financial arrangements, including a mortgage, in place prior to entering into a binding agreement.

The first thing you need to do is to instruct a registered local lawyer who will do everything that is required to enable you to complete a purchase. The process of purchasing a property in Barbados takes about three months. As a non-domicile of Barbados you must get permission to buy a property on the island from the Central Bank of Barbados under the Exchange Control Act. Your lawyer will do this for you. This is just a formality.

Property changes hands by conveyance of title, evidence by the recording of the deeds and certified survey plans at the Land Registry. This is all handled by your lawyer, who will check the Purchase Agreement as drawn up by the vendor's lawyer before you sign and put down the 10% deposit. The vendor then signs this agreement and his solicitor holds the deposit in escrow. If you drop out of the purchase at this stage or after, you will forfeit the deposit.

Your lawyer searches the register to establish title and that the property or land is free from any charges or encumbrances. The vendor's lawyer draws up the conveyance, which is checked by your lawyer before you sign it and pay the balance of the funds. The conveyance then goes back to the vendor's lawyer where it is signed by the vendor and the sale is completed.

In the case of some new builds after the 10% reservation deposit there will be a series of stage payments made through the construction period typically amounting to 85%, with 5% retention for completion of the property.

Property ownership can be in an individuals name, through a local or foreign company, a trust or other entity. In the case of a non-Barbadian it is common practice to make a purchase through a newly-formed offshore company outside Barbados that is registered to do business on the island.

Your lawyer and banker should be instructed to register any funds brought in from overseas to be registered with the Exchange Control Division of the Central Bank of Barbados to facilitate repatriation of these funds at a later date, should you sell the property or land. If the property is owned by an offshore company, then this is not relevant as all transferring of funds is done overseas.

Fees & Taxes

An annual property tax is levied on the improved value of the property, which is revised every three years by the Land Tax Valuation Department. Ask your lawyer to get a copy of the latest Land Tax invoice. At present the figures are:

Type of Property/Land Value (Bds$) Fee (%)
Residence Up to 350,000 0.1
350,000 - 850,000 0.65
Over 850,000 0.75
Commercial 0.65
Unimproved Land 0.60
Hotel 50% rebate with Certificate from the Barbados Tourism Authority 0.65
Villa 25% rebate with Certificate from the Barbados Tourism Authority 0.65

Stamp Duty 1% - which the vendor pays

Property Transfer Tax 2.5% - which the vendor pays (made up of 2.5% on the excess after Bds$125,000, or just 2.5% on Land alone.

Land Tax No fixed sum, will depend on the value of the property and when it is sold.

Capital Gains, Inheritance and Gift Tax. There is no capital gains tax, inheritance tax or gift tax on Barbados.

Legal fees average out at around 1.5 - 2% of the purchase price. VAT is applied at 15%.
Agents' fees are usually 5% of the purchase price plus VAT at 15%.

Land Surveyor's Fee (Vendor) Approximately Bds$1,500.00. Can be higher depending on the size of the property and whether a new Boundary Plan is required in order to complete the sale.

Mortgages are available for non-nationals at around 50%-70% of the property value, with a maximum term of 15 years, and must be approved by an offshore financial institution. You must be able to prove you can make the repayments exclusively from personal funds and not connected to any expected rental income.

The lawyer's fees will be between 1.5-2% of the sale price and are subject to 15% VAT. Both the buyer and seller are responsible for their own legal fees. The process of purchasing a property in Barbados takes about 3 months.


Every person entering Barbados, including all North American citizens (Americans and Canadians), should be in possession of a valid passport for the period of the intended stay, documents for onward travel, and proof of sufficient funds.

US nationals, Canadians, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders and Irish Nationals do not required a visa for stays of up to six months. British nationals require a valid passport. No visa for stays of up to six months is required, irrespective of endorsement in passport regarding national status.

Nationals of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia do not require a visa for stays of up to 28 days. All other nationalities must contact their Embassy or Consulate prior to travelling.

Applicants for visas must complete form in duplicate. The form is to be accompanied by two (2) passport size photographs. The fee for a single entry visa is BDS$50.00 and for a multiple entry visa is $60.00. Visas may be obtained from any of Barbados' Missions overseas.

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