Local traditions and culture in Barbados

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Barbados

  • Fen's Profile Photo

    Red Plastic Bag (Barbados music)

    by Fen Written Nov 13, 2003

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    While we was driving around in our hired Jeep we heard this song called "Volcano" on our car radio and then in our Hotel bar. I asked the Barman and he told me the song was by Red plastic bag. Fantastic I said, I will buy this Album. It went down a treat, as we got everyone listening to it before the Holiday was over.

    Great Album
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    Fish fry

    by minkota Written Jun 20, 2003

    Please go to Oistins for fish. Enjoy the sweet strains of calypso and reggae music coming from the sidewalk stalls. Of course dancing to all that music builds up an appetite, so head for the food and beverage stalls and enjoy traditional Bajan fare such as fish cakes, fried fish and pudding and souse, all washed down with a cool Banks Beer. Local arts and crafts can also be found in abundance as local craftsmen take the opportunity to display their wares. Entertaining, the Oistins Fish Festival certainly is.
    This is the first time I have ever eaten flying fish and it is the best fish I have ever had!!

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  • Be polite, but determined!

    by Wikingwoman Written Mar 21, 2003

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    Men in Barbados like women - a lot!
    Sometimes their way of expressing that can seem a little agressive, and make your stay stressful and uncomfortable.
    I got a really helpful tip concerning this: "If you are not interested in getting romanticly (or in other ways) involved with the guy approaching you - just tell him straight! Don't try to be nice, and feel sory for him."
    For me it felt rude the first time I had to do it, but oh so effective!

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    by rachel_sun Written Mar 10, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Also,a 10% tip is expected here,but make sure that it has not already been added to the bill as some places add it on automatically.
    Bathing suits should only be worn on the beach,not around shops and also skimpy clothes will be out of place in a town.Remeber that you have to pay a departure tax when you fly back home of around bds $25,so budjet for this.Make sure you keep the copy of your immagration card that you filled out on your flight out safe as you will need to hand it in when you fly home.

    Yummy rum bar
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    Manners go along way

    by rachel_sun Updated Mar 10, 2003

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    You should always greet someone before asking directions etc.Barbados is influenced alot by north America and Canada and you will see this on the island in daily life.Barbados is also one of the richest islands in the Caribbean.Barbados is politically stable and has a generous government,so lots of foreign investors are attracted here.

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    Good manners are very...

    by rachel_sun Updated Mar 10, 2003

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    Good manners are very important in Barbados.Guests should say please and thankyou and always ask permission before taking anyones picture.It is considered impolite not to greet someone with goodmorning,good afternoon when you pass then on a road or enter a shop.

    I loved the Malbu center
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    A Few Words of Slang

    by bluewilldo Updated Jan 11, 2003

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    Doin' Dixie- The attention-hog at a party, or in a nicer manner, the life of the party.

    Wukkin' Up- A high energy dance that makes you look like a demon trying to suck out some-ones sole.

    Gully-Boar- A person with no class... white trash

    Skettel- A mean woman, so steer clear of one.

    Gap- Another way to say street.

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  • Here's a publication that may help.

    by 1Nomad Written Jan 5, 2003

    When we arrived to Barbados, we found a copy of a magazine that you may find helpful. It's called THE IN'S AND OUT'S OF BARBADOS. They are published by Miller Publishing Company Ltd. Edgehill, St. Thomas, Barbados. There's a lot of information about things to do and places to see. This publication is now also online.

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    Barbados is a very beautiful...

    by Bgem Written Sep 7, 2002

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    Barbados is a very beautiful island, with lots of art, activities, night life, music, history and some of the best restaurants to be found anywhere. But what makes Barbados even more special, and the reason why so many visitors keep returning to the island year after year, is the people. Barbadians, called Bajans, 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'll feel its your home and you will want to come back again and again. Just be yourself and enjoy some bajan hospitality!

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    Barbados is the eastern-most...

    by Flaul Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Barbados is the eastern-most Caribbean island. It is located at 13.4N, 54.4W. The island, which is less that one million years old, was created by the collision of the Atlantic crustal and Caribbean plates, along with a volcanic eruption. Later coral formed, accumulating to approximately 300 feet. It is geologically unique, being actually two land masses that merged together over the years.

    See http://axses.com/encyc/bta/archives/detail-memo.cfm?ID=382 the Barbados Saga Begins - An Island Stands alone (i)

    Very Early.

    The history of the early settlement of Barbados is being rewritten as a result of recent archaeological discoveries unearthed at the site of Port St. Charles. Artifacts and evidence point to settlement some time around 1623 B.C.

    The first indigenous people were Amerindians who arrived here from Venezuela. Paddling long dugout canoes they crossed oceans and currents that challenge modern sailing vessels. On the north end of Venezuela a narrow sea channel called the Dragon's mouth acts as a funnel to the Caribbean sea and the nearest Island of Trinidad. It is a formidable passage of swift flowing water and cross currents. It is dangerous water for an open dugout canoe. But they came, families and villages, adventurers, descendants of the the first people who travelled across the Alaska land bridge, down through Canada and the Americas to the South.

    They made their new home in Barbados along the coast, leaving behind hardly a trace, only a hint of evidence for the archeologist to date and dream about. Fragments of tools made of shell, utensils, refuse and burial places convey but a mystery of their time.

    Amerindian Civilisation.

    The Arawaks were short, olive-skinned people who bound their foreheads during infancy to slope it into a point. They considered this along with black and white body painting to be attractive. The CaÏques (chiefs) and influential members of the tribe wore nose plugs and/or rings made of copper and gold alloys (History of Barbados). They were an agricultural people and grew cotton, cassava, corn, peanuts, guavas, and papaws (papaya). The cotton was woven and used for armbands and hammocks. Cassava was ground and grated to be made into casareep, a seasoning used in cooking. The Arawaks also used harpoons, nets, and hooks, to fish for food (History of Barbados).

    See http://axses.com/encyc/bta/archives/detail-memo.cfm?ID=383 Barbados Saga - Matamu and the Turtle

    (i) Barbados Saga is a project of WorldSagas.com - History told through the eyes of a story teller.

    1200 Carib Indians

    In 1200, the Arawaks were conquered by the Caribs. The Caribs were a taller and stronger Amerindian tribe than the Arawaks. They were also cannibals. They were a warlike and savage people who are reported to have barbecued their captives and washed them down with cassava beer. In the History of Barbados, for example, it is reported that Caribs ate an entire French crew in 1596. They were incredibly accurate bowmen and used a powerful poison to paralyze their prey. (History of Barbados).


    The Portugese came to Barbados en route to Brazil. It was at this time that the island was named Los Barbados (bearded-ones) by the Portugese explorer Pedro a Campos. It was so named, presumably, after the island's fig trees, which have a beard-like appearance.

    1492 Spanish

    Despite the Caribs' ruthless warlike abilities, the island was taken over by the Spanish in 1492. The Spanish brutally imposed slavery on the Caribs. Slavery and the contagious European small pox and tuberculosis ended the Caribs' existence (History of Barbados). Spain, however, passed Barbados over in favour of the larger Caribbean islands (History of European Overseas Exploration and Empires). This left the island open for anyone who wanted to colonize it.

    1625 - 1644 . English Colonisation

    The first English ship touched the island on May 14th 1625 under the command of Captain John Powell. The island was therefore claimed on behalf of King James I.

    On February 17th 1627, Captain Henry Powell landed with a party of 80 settlers and 10 slaves to occupy and settle the island. This expedition landed in Holetown formerly known as Jamestown. The colonists established a House of Assembly in 1639. It was the 3rd ever Parliamentary Democracy in the world (Barbados History).

    People with good financial backgrounds and social connections with England were allocated land. Within a few years much of the land had been deforested to make way for tobacco and cotton plantations.

    During the 1630s, sugar cane was introduced to the agriculture. The production of sugar, tobacco and cotton was heavily reliant on the indenture of servants. White civilians who wanted to emigrate overseas could do so by signing an agreement to serve a planter in Barbados for a period of 5 or 7 years. To meet the labour demands, servants were also derived from kidnapping, and convicted criminals were shipped to Barbados. Descendants of the white slaves and indentured labour (referred to as Red Legs) still live in Barbados, they live amongst the black population in St. Martin's River and other east coast regions. At one time they lived in caves in this region.

    1644 . 1700 . Sugar and Slavery

    A potential market formed for slaves and sugar-making machinery by the Dutch Merchants who were to supply Barbados with their requirements of forced labour from West Africa. The slaves came from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon. Many slaves did not survive the journey from Africa, but many thousands still reached their destination.

    See http://axses.com/encyc/bta/archives/detail-memo.cfm?ID=384 Barbados Saga -Slave Ships and Human bondage. (i)

    The Barbadians dominated the Caribbean Sugar Industry in these early years. The sugar plantation owners were powerful and successful businessmen who had arrived in Barbados in the early years.

    Many natural disasters occurred in the late 1600s, such as the locust plague of 1663, the Bridgetown fire and a major hurricane in 1667. Drought in 1668 ruined some planters and excessive rain in 1669 added to their financial problems. However, investment continued in sugar and slaves and was perceived to have good prospects.

    By 1720 Barbadians were no longer a dominant force within the sugar industry. They had been surpassed by the Leeward Islands and the Jamaica.

    1807 - 1838 . Abolition, rebellion and emancipation

    See http://axses.com/encyc/bta/archives/detail-memo.cfm?ID=385 - Barbados Saga - The Bussa Rebellion (1)

    After slavery was abolished in 1834, many of the new citizens of Barbados took advantage of the superb education available on the island. After these citizens had been educated, they wanted something more than working in the cane fields. Some of them gained prominent offices in Barbados. Others worked in common jobs, and still others stayed in the cane fields (Barbados History).

    Many people were drawn to Barbados because of the climate and slow pace of life. The island was thought of as a cure for 'the vapours' (Barbados History). Even Major George Washington visited the island with his tuberculosis-stricken half brother in hope of ameliorating his illness (Barbados History)

    Slavery, abolished in 1834, was followed by a 4-year apprenticeship period during which free men continued to work a 45-hour week without pay in exchange for living in the tiny huts provided by the plantation owners. Freedom from slavery was celebrated in 1838 at the end of the apprenticeship period with over 70,000 Barbadians of African descent taking to the streets with the Barbados folk song:

    'Lick an Lock-up Done Wid, Hurray fuh Jin-Jin (Queen Victoria).
    De Queen come from England to set we free
    Now Lick an Lock-up Done Wid, Hurray fuh Jin-Jin '

    See the Emancipation statue, the work of Barbados' best known sculptor Karl Broodhagen.

    See http://axses.com/encyc/bta/archives/detail-memo.cfm?ID=386 Barbados Saga - After Emancipation - Diary of black student (i)

    1961-1966 Independence

    Barbados was first occupied by the British in 1627 and remained a British colony until internal autonomy was granted in 1961. The Island gained full independence in 1966, and maintains ties to the Britain monarch represented in Barbados by the Governor General. It is a member of the Commonwealth. The first leader of Barbados as a free nation was the Right Honourable Errol Walton Barrow, of the Democratic Labour Party. The other major political party is the Barbados Labour Party, led by the current Prime Minister - The Right Honourable Owen Arthur. In 1989, the National Democratic Party was formed. Its leader was Dr.Richie Haynes.

    See http://axses.com/encyc/bta/archives/detail-memo.cfm?ID=401 Barbados Saga - Bathsheba; Life in a fishing village over the last century

    See all Barbados WorldSaga drafts at AXSES WorldSaga.com Archives

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    Because the English used to...

    by mocca Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Because the English used to own Barbados as a colony, there are many old colonial buildings scattered over the island, and if you just drive a round you will many of them, and visit the ones that are open for tourist.

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  • Lewd dancing or wining in the...

    by Island_Babe Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Lewd dancing or wining in the streets for Kadooment can result in a fine and if you can't pay the fine, jail! We as Trinis found this outrageous, so we danced like normal and taunted the police to take us to jail.I don't know of anyone who was ever jailed or fined!

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    Between Lawrence gap and...

    by anglosaxon Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Between Lawrence gap and Worthing beach you will often see local people walking along the beach looking for 'fifth' empty bottles of Mount Gay Rum. You'll see these people later on stopping at hotels etc on the beach offering Aloe Vera (natural after sun lotion). You agree the price first (2 or 3 pounds) and then there is a very pleasant 30 minutes of conversation whilst he cuts the Aloe leaves and fills the bottle with the contents. I don't know what was better, watching this work being done or listening to the tips he passed across. His sister visited 3 or 4 times to make exotic necklaces and bracelets for some of our girlfriends etc and everybody had a good time. Not all beach traders are bums and the info we picked up was spot on.

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  • mangoblue99's Profile Photo

    The people of the island are...

    by mangoblue99 Written Aug 24, 2002

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    The people of the island are laid back , but they have there formal side. i.e. don't wear your bathing suit in the supermarket, use the same rule you do at home for there. you may be on vacation but ,they are not!
    dress for dinner at the resteraunts.

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  • mangoblue99's Profile Photo

    Don't be afraid to ask the...

    by mangoblue99 Written Aug 24, 2002

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    Don't be afraid to ask the local's about finding good places to eat and entertainment,some of the off the beaten path places are the most fun. open air clubs that look like nothing gets transformed to party central after 10pm.

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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...


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