Local traditions and culture in Barbados

  • Dolphin FISH
    Dolphin FISH
    by briantravelman
  • Local Customs
    by Assenczo
  • Local Customs
    by Assenczo

Most Viewed Local Customs in Barbados

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo

    I Like Big Butts And I Cannot Lie

    by briantravelman Written Apr 25, 2015

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I couldn't find the story behind this, as any searches I tried to conduct on the subject, brought me to "adult" websites. However, there seems to be a local dance here, that for whatever reason, involves Bajan girls, strapping something to their butts, to make them appear ridiculously large. They than perform a dance, to the beat of steel drum music, which involves shaking these oversized booties, often times, directly in the faces, of unsuspecting diners.
    I first saw these dancers at the Oistins Fish Fry, than again, at a bar in St. Lawrence Gap.
    I have no idea whether this is a traditional dance, or something that was created purely to entertain tourists. I'm sure there is some purpose, and some interesting story behind this dance. Unfortunately, I could not find what that is.
    Although you will quickly realize the butts are fake, these dances are still entertaining, and fun to watch, especially if you're a butt guy. I could tell everyone in the audience, men, women, and children were enjoying it, though probably for different reasons.
    This performance was the highlight of the event. I love watching local dances, big butts or small.

    Related to:
    • Music
    • Arts and Culture
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo

    Not That Kind Of Dolphin

    by briantravelman Updated Feb 13, 2015

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Even before I arrived on the island, I saw some pictures of restaurant menus taken by other travelers, and my initial reaction was, "Oh, my God! I can't believe they eat dolphin here!" But it was more a reaction of surprise, than disgust. Than at several restaurants around the island, I also saw dolphin on the menu. Than at the Oistins Fish Fry, one of the cooks offered me it. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but than my curiosity and adventurous side got the better of me, and I said, "Sure, why not? It'll be interesting." I asked her, "What kind of animals does it taste similar to?" Than she started saying to me, "It's not flipper. It's not flipper." I didn't know what the hell she was talking about. It took me about a minute to figure it out, when she finally said to me, "Not the mammal. It's a fish." Than I finally realized it was Dolphin FISH, the technical name for the Mahi Mahi. I felt kind of stupid, but she told me not to worry, as this happens quite often, and I am not the first tourist to make this mistake. In fact, some other tourists also told me they thought it was the mammal. If they just put Dolphin FISH, I would know immediately, what it was. But I'm not gonna complain that they should rewrite it, as it's kind of funny to watch the reaction of confused tourists, like myself, when they think they are being offered dolphin. Makes me wonder if they do it on purpose. At least, now you know.

    Dolphin FISH Restaurant Menu
    Related to:
    • Food and Dining

    Was this review helpful?

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo

    Funny Signs

    by briantravelman Updated Feb 13, 2015

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Although Bajans can be a bit rude and jumpy, you will quickly realize that they also have a very interesting sense of humor. This is clearly evident in these humorously sarcastic signs, that they put up at their businesses. These signs are quite common, specifically in St. Lawrence Gap. They are honest, but with a humorous twist, and give you a good laugh. I rather enjoyed them.
    I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo

    Sharing A Table

    by briantravelman Updated Feb 6, 2015

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    One thing I really liked about Barbados is that it's not like in the U.S., where you go to a restaurant, and every party gets their own table, no matter how many people, and if all the tables are taken up, you will not get a table, even if you are by yourself or your party is small. Most places in the U.S., if you ask complete strangers if you can sit with them for dinner, they will look at you like you are crazy, and will feel that you are intruding on them, and probably ask you to leave. That is not the case in Barbados. Even if there is another party already at a table, doesn't matter if it's locals or tourists, as long as there is room at it, the waiters will seat you there. We were having dinner at the Oistins Fish Fry, and a waitress sat another couple with us, twice. Also, it is really normal and common for random locals, and even tourists, to ask you themselves, if they can join your table, and it is considered very rude and impolite to refuse them. It is also not uncommon for them to start having a conversation with you. We had a very lovely conversation with some friendly Londoners from Canada, at the Oistins Fish Fry, and another conversation with a London tourist in St. Lawrence Gap.
    Some people might get annoyed having a stranger join them for dinner, but this actually isn't a bad thing, as it's a really great way to meet people. In fact, we met several friendly tourists this way, and had some lovely conversations. And it doesn't matter if it's a group of locals or a group of tourists, everyone will share a table with you. This is just the norm here, and it is nice to see that even tourists have adopted this custom. Though I've noticed this is a bit more common with English tourists, than American tourists, who aren't used to this short of thing.
    So if you really want to eat somewhere, but there isn't a free table, don't be afraid to join someone else's, whether they be locals or other tourists, even if you may feel like you are intruding. Even though they most likely won't ask you to leave, do make sure you ask them first if you can sit at their table, don't just walk up and sit down without saying anything.
    The only drawback is you might not eat much, because you will be too busy having a conversation, and making new friends.

    Related to:
    • Food and Dining

    Was this review helpful?

  • Assenczo's Profile Photo

    Mass Tourism

    by Assenczo Updated Feb 29, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A little warning about the Barbados set up should include a paragraph or so about the mass tourism and its impact on this tiny spec of a land in the Atlantic Ocean. The government has decided, apparently, that the tourism is going to be the next sugar cane crop and acts accordingly. The airport has been upgraded to receive the largest aircraft in service and they dutifully use it with great frequency. The crowds are efficiently processed by the immigration fellas and spewed out on the taxi stand. Taxi vehicles of the mini-bus size are the norm and they are transferring the eager sun worshipers in practically no time to their not-so-all-inclusive destinations in the Gap and further. In half an hour they are in a horizontal position watching the planes fly over with their precious cargo of more and more tourists; pretty much the cycle of life itself! Thankfully, there are many beaches and the economic crisis is definitely not gone so there is space for practically everybody under the prodigious Barbadian sun and still have room for personal distance. Is this the real Caribbean? Probably not. For the real thing one has to face LIAT and go to places similar to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and find out what exactly the Caribbean should feel like.

    Related to:
    • Luxury Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Assenczo's Profile Photo

    Hotel dilema

    by Assenczo Updated Feb 28, 2012

    Looking at the accommodation sites related to Barbados, one might get the impression that the lodging is quite expensive. Yes, it is not cheap but there is hope. The best approach for people with small luggage and patience is to pick a hotel of acceptable value and then check it out without reserving in advance. Sometimes it might work right away and sometimes it might require some extra legwork. In this case the Dolphin hotel was fully booked so the next in line was probably 3 min. away on the same street. Unfortunately, this was one of the older establishments, whose staff has not noticed the gradual decline and continue demand incompatible prices. They even dare to have a two tier system designed for Eastern Caribbean nationals and everybody else and all of this incongruity for 95USD. Well, another 3 min. walk and you are into the parking lot of Sunisland Apartment Hotel. This place is new, has one and two bedroom apartments and sits on top of a Chinese restaurant. The management is Chinese, the negotiation is nonsense-free and the price is 75USD for the one bedroom apartment. Considering that this is only 5 min. walk from Dover Beach and St. Lawrence action the hotel is a super deal. Even way more unfortunate setups with common areas in larger (guest) houses cannot match the privacy and price of this establishment.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Assenczo's Profile Photo

    Taxi hassle

    by Assenczo Written Feb 28, 2012

    The prices for standard taxi rides all over the island have been regulated. They are written on boards at the taxi stand of the airport. Still, some taxi drivers are trying to insist on more using different excuses. It is up to you to stand your ground or give in and set bad example. For instance, airport to St. Lawrence is supposed to be 31 Barbadian dollars but they would insist on 40.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Assenczo's Profile Photo

    Free Pulpit

    by Assenczo Written Feb 26, 2012

    The vast majority of Barbadians (Bajans) appear to be gentle souls. Some exceptions are very vocal though finding appropriately crowded venues to express their frustrations; main bus station or traffic jammed Independence square rank very high. Common theme across the Caribbean must be the lack of institutions for the mentally challenged. So they roam free and their lectures are silently put up with by the numbed audiences. The advice of the locals is definitely to be aware and keeping physical distance is the approach to keep out of trouble best. On the side lines there are some individuals who have lost their minds in communication with the multitudes of intruders from other cultures. For those poor souls and to the benefit of future victims of culture shock the government has organized a nice visual propaganda along the highways where a polite character from a yellow bill-board reminds the populace the advantages of civility. This must be the Barbadian version of French education on the matter when apparently nasty Parisian behaviour towards visiting Anglos was spoiling the tourism aura of the City of Lights and its coffers.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Cruise
    • Adventure Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • joanj's Profile Photo

    Fish Fry Night

    by joanj Updated Mar 14, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness


    An update for you all - Oistens has been refurbishing the area for Fish Fry nights, and I have now included some photographs to show you the refurbishment. It really has tidied up the area, and the vendors stalls are so colourful. All in all Oistens has been regenerated in this area.

    Do go to Oistens on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night to sample local food at its best, Friday night is noisy, with loud music, so much finger lickin' food to choose from, and colourful locals to watch reggae, or dance in their own inimitable way. Do not miss this , it is fun. Just get the bus to Oistens cooking starts when the sun goes down. Enjoy. Thursday nights are crowd free, and you can obtain your food almost immediately, there is no music, but still good food.

    The photo shows the two slate roof buildings which houses the catch of the day and the locals who clean the fish ready for sale. Please be courteous and ask permission if you wish to take photographs.

    The Oistens Fish Festival takes place over the Easter weekend, and it brings a carnival atmosphere to this small coast fishing village. There are contests in fish boning, and other skills, testing local prowess. There are also stalls selling crafts and home cooked foods.

    Photo by joanj

    Oistens New fish fry night area Oistens Fish Market Oistens vendors huts on main thoroughfare seating area for fish fry Area at the fish fry for the Very loud music

    Was this review helpful?

  • Rachael71's Profile Photo

    Photographer

    by Rachael71 Written Oct 27, 2006

    Our wedding photographer, Eleanor, was just superb. She is highly in demand for weddings across the island and has links with many of the hotels so is very experienced at making the perfect record of the day (in fact, she recently took the pictures when Tiger Woods was married at the Sandy Lane Hotel!) Her package prices are extremely reasonable (from $BDS850 for 36 photos, plus album and all negatives), especially compared to the cost of photography for a UK wedding. Eleanor mounts the pictures in an album and delivers them to you before the end of the holiday. She has a wonderful way with people too, which is so important.

    The only gripe i have is that she took so many great pictures, we are having trouble deciding which ones to have framed now that we're back home!

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

    Was this review helpful?

  • Rachael71's Profile Photo

    Hairdresser

    by Rachael71 Written Oct 27, 2006

    I wasn't too sure where to post this tip, so 'local customs' will have to do!

    I had a wonderful hairdresser, Valerie, for my big day. She has her own salon at the main shopping centre in Holetown, and the package we booked with her included a hair trial at the salon the day before, with Valerie coming to the villa we stayed at a few hours before the wedding itself to transform us. I was so pleased with what she did - I have very straight and very thick hair that is difficult to work with, but she transformed it into a wonderful 'up' do of curls and ringlets, with my tiara fitting perfectly. If like me you are not sure what you would like and what will suit you, Valerie will make a perfect recommendation. The picture shows my sister, who had fresh flowers from the garden worked into her hair.

    I really did feel like a princess, and would recommend her very highly to anybody looking for a hairdresser for their special day in Barbados.

    My beautiful bridesmaid
    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

    Was this review helpful?

  • Rachael71's Profile Photo

    Marrying in Barbados

    by Rachael71 Written Oct 27, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We had a lot of help in organising our marriage in Barbados, but one thing we did have to do ourselves was purchase the marriage licence.

    Take your passport and birth certificates (and, if relevant, decree absolute or death certificate of your previous spouse) to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is near the General Post Office in Bridgetown. You will also need a BDS$25 postage stamp, and BDS$100 for the marriage licence. Then it is just a matter of completing some forms, and swearing an oath on the Bible that all the information you have given is true and accurate (at that point we did begin to wonder if we would be leving the Ministry as a married couple with the ceremony the followng day being a mere formaility!)

    The process is fairly quick, but be prepared to queue if you are getting married at a popular time of year.

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

    Was this review helpful?

  • joanj's Profile Photo

    Chattel Houses - Keeping up a tradition.

    by joanj Updated Mar 14, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    These few pictures show a Chattel house on the St. Lawrence Road, Christchurch that was in desperate need of repair. The first picture shows the beginning of the wooden structure, the foundation having been left.

    The next two pictures show the nearly completed outside of the property. Pictures 1 and 2 were taken about a week apart, and picture 3 only a few days later.

    Chattel Houses were used by early African Plantation workers. They were built on cement blocks, and so could be dismantled easily and moved to other pantations. They were able to move them because the workers did not own the land they were built on.

    As their income improved, they were able to add on to the house.
    Sometimes these little houses have many family members all living together. They are small but compact.

    Today, many Chattel Houses are used as craft shops, notably in Holetown, St. James on the West Coast, and St. Lawrence Gap in Christchurch.

    Many Bajans today, still occupy this type of house.

    Early Stages of building Almost finished nearly completed shell of Chattel House

    Was this review helpful?

  • joanj's Profile Photo

    Hurricane Shelters

    by joanj Written Mar 12, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    You will find dotted about the island, Hurricane Shelters in the form of the local Church.

    This particular photograph is of the St. Lawrence Church which was consecrated on 5th November 1839, and established a Parish on 15th January 1977.

    As the Church is the centre of the Community, it makes sense to have them as the gathering place in an Emergency.

    St. Lawrence Church.

    Was this review helpful?

  • claire1011's Profile Photo

    Sundays are religious days

    by claire1011 Written Mar 9, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you want to see the locals dressed up get a bus on a Sunday and just go for a ride on it, the ladies wear grand dresses,hats and shoes to match, bless um. The guys are in suits and look very posh, its a pleasure to see them and they know they look good too even if they are about 20yrs out of date!!!!!

    Was this review helpful?

Barbados Hotels

See all 105 Hotels in Barbados
  • Little Arches Hotel

    Enterprise Coast Rd, , Barbados, Caribbean

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Business

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

  • Blue Horizon

    Rockley Beach 1, Christ Church, Caribbean

    Satisfaction: Average

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 3 out of 5 stars

  • Southern Palms

    Travelled to this hotel shortly after 9/11 so it was extremely quiet. It is a very large hotel...

    more

Top Barbados Hotels

Bridgetown Hotels
65 Reviews - 186 Photos
Saint Lawrence Hotels
20 Reviews - 73 Photos
Dover Hotels
4 Reviews - 14 Photos
Worthing Hotels
18 Reviews - 37 Photos
Westmoreland Hotels
2 Hotels
Sunset Crest Hotels
5 Hotels
Speightstown Hotels
9 Reviews - 20 Photos
Silver Sands Hotels
2 Hotels
Sandy Lane Hotels
2 Hotels
Rockley Hotels
3 Hotels
Porters Hotels
3 Hotels
Oistins Hotels
11 Reviews - 35 Photos
Mullins Hotels
1 Hotel
Mount Standfast Hotels
1 Hotel
Maynards Hotels
1 Hotel

Instant Answers: Barbados

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

18 travelers online now

Comments

Barbados Local Customs

Reviews and photos of Barbados local customs posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Barbados sightseeing.
Map of Barbados