Barbados

The jewel-shaped island of Barbados is a gem in the Caribbean, sparkling as bright as the twinkling turquoise waters surrounding it. It only takes about three hours to drive around the entire island, measuring 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. But with historical landmarks, pristine vistas and adventure awaiting on each coast, it is recommended to make the journey at a glacial pace, or you’ll miss the enchanting Bajan spirit.

Many assume conflict in the Caribbean began with the arrival of Europeans. However, the history of Barbados tells a different story—one revealing that the Carib tribes from South America conquered lands once inhabited by the local Arawak tribes centuries before the first Europeans arrived.
Early Portuguese explorer Pedro Campos was the first European to arrive in present-day Barbados in 1536. The island’s name derives from its unique Bearded Fig Trees still prominent today. But it wasn’t until two centuries later that it was colonized by the British in 1627, who were attracted to the island for its sugar (and later rum) producing capabilities. This thriving industry led to more than 150,000 enslaved Africans being brought to the island, who gained their freedom only in 1834. Barbados remained a British territory until 1961,and declared independence in 1966. Most of the 300,000 locals today are descendants of the enslaved peoples.

Tourism is among the top industries in Barbados, with approximately one million tourists internationally—arriving with a newfound interest in immersing themselves in the rich Barbados culture, history, and post-card-worthy natural views. The southern region is home to the capital, Bridgetown. Uncover the town’s history at landmarks like the Independence Arch, Charles Fort, and George Washington House Museum, and admire the statues and fountains decorating National Heroes Square. Connect to the local culture with a stroll down Rihanna Drive, retracing its British heritage in The Cricket Legends of Barbados Museum, or stop by the town of Oistins on Friday to slam dominos with the locals during its famous fish fry. Finally, visit the popular tourist beaches at Carlisle Bay and Pebbles Beach.

On the northern coasts of Barbados, visitors can ride the St. Nicholas Abbey Steam Railway to learn about this 17th-century plantation, its modern-day sugar processing operations, and taste its world-famous rum. Or peer through the nature-carved mouth of the Animal Flower Cave and eat at the unusual cave restaurant perched on the cliffside. With stronger waves on this shore, beaches like North Point are popular surf spots.


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