Barbados – Beyond the Beach

Often times, when we think of cultural meccas we think of destinations like Europe and urban centres such as New York City, but today there is an emerging trend in the Caribbean as the world opens back up for travel …. Barbados, the easterly most island in the Caribbean.

Here are a few facts about this Commonwealth nation: 

  • Barbados is 431 sq. km sitting on a bed of coral limestone
  • the population is approximately 290,000
  • the literacy rate for Barbados is 99.7% which makes it the 4th highest ranking country in the world
  • Barbados has the third oldest parliament in the world
  • there is a high standard of health care in Barbados, which is said to have some of the purest air in the world

Barbados has ancient collapsed limestone caves called Gullies which cover 5% of the island’s land mass. These gullies represent an important bio-ecological zone and house majestic rainforest trees, delicate plants found nowhere else on the island. Here one can experience the antics of the wild Green Vervet monkey.  A walk along gully paths, such as the one found at Welchman Hall, will have you seeing Barbados the way it originally looked to the first inhabitants of the island.  

Another little known fact, the word Rum originated in Barbados. As early as the 17th C sugar cane planters converted their waste molasses into a marketable commodity.  Distilling over time in wood casks improved and mellowed the previous harsh grogs. Barbados was able to export their rum to New England and Britain.  The British Navy instituted the practise of giving each sailor a daily ration of Rum. My father, once a lieutenant in the British Navy spoke fondly of this ration practice which lasted over 200 years until it was discontinued in the 1960’s. 

Music is a part of a country’s culture and Barbados is no exception.  Apart from the famed pop singer Rihanna who was born here, Barbados celebrates music ranging from Gospel, Jazz, Reggae and even Opera.  Celebrities regularly make appearances here …. sometimes performing under the stars! 

Barbados has long been a culinary mecca for seasoned foodies, as well as some of the world’s best chefs.  This culturally diverse island blends the old with the new.  Bajan cuisine brings together the influences of African, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Polynesian and European delights to create a unique and authentic foodie experience. 

Horticultural enthusiasts often retreat to the Barbados countryside to enjoy the beauty of Orchid & Tropical Plant World with over 1,000 Caribbean plants, flowers and exotic orchids. Six acres of artistically landscaped and meandering paths take you past a waterfall, through a coral grotto and into five orchid houses which are a feast for the senses. 

Every Caribbean island is unique in its culture and Barbados is no exception. With 11 parishes to explore and endless activities to enjoy, you too can discover the unique character and cultural attractions of this tiny but significant gem of a Caribbean island. 

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