Barbados – Caribbean culture with a British accent

Once the home of huge colonial plantations, Barbados is now a destination for many sun hungry Brits wanting to get away from it all during the colder months.

Far from abandoning its British-influenced past, the island state’s 270,000 or so inhabitants have adopted elements of British culture into the West Indian way of life. Its national sport is cricket, while the island is still predominantly Protestant.

The island’s uniqueness within the Caribbean is ultimately down to its history. British sailors began landing on Barbados in the 1620s, following a previous attempt to colonise and enslave the Carib inhabitants by the Portuguese.

British rule on the island remained in place from the initial landing through to 1966. In the first 200 years, African slaves and White indentured servants, mostly from Scotland and Ireland, were used to farm plantations. Slavery was abolished in the 1830s, the island went from
being from prominently white to mostly African by the 20th century.

After years of politics dominated by the white minority, Barbadian people began to peacefully rise up and demand a representative government in the 1930s. November 30th 1966 is remembered as Independence Day on the island, although it remains part of the Commonwealth and recognises our Queen as its own.

For the British tourist Barbados is like a Caribbean home from home, mixing traditions with African folk culture and other local influences.

Its capital, Bridgetown, is a mixture of heritage and residential Barbados. Venture down the commercial city streets and you’ll find yourself amongst chattel houses and rum shops, while in the centre there remain traditional-looking parliament buildings, a 19th century
synagogue and a huge Anglican cathedral.

But it is unlikely you’d head to Barbados to appreciate the
architecture. Many will flock to the Island purely for the sun – its location near the equator means the island remains warm even during the winter months.

Those who just want to lounge around and relax in the Caribbean heat can find a variety of hotels and resorts catering to their idleness. Many hotels are located nearby beach facilities, giving the perfect excuse to do very little while out on holiday.

Families heading for the Island may be interested in the Settlers Beach Villa Hotel. Located right next to its own beach, facilities include a freshwater swimming pool and weekly cocktail party for visitors. The resort features 22 two-bedroom villa apartments on either one or two
storeys.

Beyond sun, sea and sand, Barbados has a range of ttractions to suit everybody. The Barbados Wildlife Reserve allows visitors the chance to see the country’s Green Monkey’s up close.

Unlike British zoo’s, few of the animals are caged and can be observed enjoying themselves with others. In addition to the monkey’s, which are the main attraction, deer, turtles, tortoises, peacocks, birds, raccoons and ducks are amongst the other inhabitants. It’s open from 10:00 to
17:00 daily.

Our underwater companions can also be seen on the island. Ocean Park is the first marine wildlife park in the Eastern Caribbean. It features a living reef, showcasing the variety of animal life which exists alongside coral reefs around the world.

The park also allows tourists to get acquainted with some of the larger underwater inhabitants of the seas. The largest viewing window in the Eastern Caribbean features impressive fish such as nurse sharks, barracudas and the Tarpon. The park costs US$17.50 for adults and $10.00
for children.

Those who just can’t put down the golf clubs for ten minutes will also love Barbados. Chosen to hold the sport’s world cup in December, the island has been recognised for its variety of championship courses.

Major attractions for the sporting tourist include the Barbados Golf Club course near Christ Church. The championship 18-hole, 72-par club was designed by the highly respected Ron Kirby, and offers a wide variety of affordable deals in conjunction with local hotels.

Other challenges include the Sandy Lane Golf Club and the Rockley Golf Course, a nine-hole course that can be extended to 18 holes with alternative tees. Designed for all ages and abilities, some of the course’s holes are said to test even the toughest golf players.

Ecology and nature experts will also have the opportunity to get about and about in Barbados. Welchman Hall Gully features an impressive 1.2 mile long walking track, along which tourists can experience some of the plant life left untouched through the Island’s long history.

A remnant of the forest which once dominated Barbados, visitors should keep an eye out for the largest pillar in the world – formed through the joining of a stalagmite and a stalactite.

Subterranean adventures can be had at Harrison’s Cave – claimed to be one of the world’s best showcases of underground streams, lakes, waterfalls and cave formations. Tourists can hop onto a special tram
tour which will whisk them through the attraction, featuring caverns as high as 100 feet! Prices run at US$7 for children and US$16 for adults.

Barbados is a haven for all sorts of travellers. Its British cultural influences may surprise some, while it has a variety of attractions to suit every kind of visitor. From couples to families, Barbados is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Barbados, of course, is the holdiay destination where you will find luxury hotels at their best. Barbados is home to the famous Sandy Lane hotel and even cheaper hotels such as the Barbados Beach Club offer good quality beach front accommodation.

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