As we all know, every community has its own particular culture – a unique set of social norms, customs and ways of doing things – and our little island paradise of Barbados is certainly no exception! The following section of Living in Barbados gives you insider tips and advice to help you acclimatize to Barbadian society, and the way we do things here, ‘island style’.
By now, you’ve probably settled into a daily routine in your new home so now it’s time to get out and explore what Barbados really has to offer.
Of course, you will have already read our page on Settling in at Home in Barbados, and are ready to branch out and immerse yourself into the fabric of Barbadian society and island life at its finest.
Barbados has a dense road network and various public transport options that cover it. Transport-wise on the island, you’ll find government-owned blue buses, privately-owned yellow mini-buses and white ‘ZR’ mini-vans, plus numerous taxi and chauffeur services. The public transport service is regular and reliable and serves even the most rural areas throughout Barbados.
Our Living in Barbados guide provides you with information about leasing and buying cars, insurance, road taxes and the essential rules of the island’s roads.
For more information, you can also see The Barbados Transport Board’s website www.transportboard.com.
And, if all else fails, walking or riding a bicycle can still get you around the island quite easily!
A big part of the challenge of moving to a new country can be meeting people. Building a strong network, a ‘second family’, and a support system in your home away from home will not only help to ease any homesickness, but also integrate you into our island community. As with anywhere else in the world, a great way to meet people in Barbados is through your workplace, neighbourhood, local church, and through getting involved in social activities that align with your hobbies and interests.
To meet like-minded people on the island, we recommend joining groups, clubs/associations or even signing up for an exercise class, art lesson, or a short study course. Try venturing to places you think might attract people like you, as well as make a point of getting out of your comfort zone – you never know who you might meet!
Also make the effort to introduce yourself to your neighbours – you could even host a ‘house-warming’ party to get acquainted with the people in your surrounding area.
Barbadians are renowned for being very friendly and sociable people. It’s a known fact that every Bajan enjoys a good ‘lime’ (social get together) and you’ll surely be invited to all kinds of different limes during your time on the island. Like with anywhere else, take your time to get to know people on the island and always trust your instincts when it comes to coming to know new kinds of people.
An infusion of both African and British influences, modern Barbadian culture is cosmopolitan, charming, and a little bit cheeky all at one time. From the deep-rooted history of the island to the people, music, arts, architecture and natural heritage (amongst other things), the culture of Barbados is for sure unique, and Barbadian society is a melting pot of influences from both near and far.
If you’ve taken the plunge to set up your home here on the island, do take the time to submerge yourself into Barbadian culture and island life – it’s truly a unique and enriching experience!
For more insight into settling in outside of home in Bajan society, take a look at our page on Barbadian Culture.
Let Your Tastebuds Explore The Island
Barbados is an interesting place to put your culinary skills to the test. Bajans love their food and there are many dishes unique to the island. Flying fish and cou-cou is the island’s national dish and a ‘must try’, especially if you can find a local to cook it for you!
Nevertheless, Barbados boasts a wide variety of restaurants and food outlets to suit all tastes and budgets. Each offering high quality, diverse food and great ambience to suit the venue, you’ll be hard pressed to try them all. Whether it’s cafeteria style, a roadside food van, beach bar, or waterfront fine dining, most cuisines and dining styles are available in Barbados – we really do have it all!
What Can I Do On The Weekends?
Our Living in Barbados guide also has suggestions for how you can fill your weekends, especially when you’re first coming to know your new island home.
You could join a social group or take up a new hobby. Finding the right type of recreation activity for you and your family when you first arrive can seem overwhelming so we’ve provided you with a list of activities – from sports, arts and further education, to book clubs, toddlers groups, learning a language, and volunteer work – whatever your interests, you’re sure to find something that suits you here on the island!
Shop ’til you drop!
Shopping is another favourite pastime for both locals and visitors in Barbados and there’s great duty free shopping in Bridgetown and in most tourist areas.
What may interest you now you’ve settled into your new home is the opportunity to buy things for everyday life like cooking utensils and interior furnishings. This will also include daily essentials like groceries. There are many supermarkets, mini-marts/convenience stores, outdoor markets and even several weekly farmers’ markets on the island.
There’s also a large selection of hardware stores which stack a comprehensive variety of supplies.
Other items such as school supplies, clothing, shoes, to name a few, can also be easily found locally. Ask around or take a stroll through town to see what the city has to offer.
Proudly, the literacy rate in Barbados close to 100%.A high standard of free education is available and mandatory to all Barbadians for primary and secondary schooling, from the ages of approximately 4 until 16 years.
Barbados also has comprehensive tertiary level education with a variety of courses and skills training available on the island.
For more detailed information, see our related article on Education and Training in Barbados.
Religion And Worship
Finding the appropriate place to worship and practice your faith is an important consideration for many newcomers to the island. The majority of Bajans are religious and attend church at least once a week. The Barbadian population is predominantly Anglican Christians however there are also Roman Catholics, Jehovah Witness’, Moravian, Baptists and Methodists.
Minority religions on the island include Judaism, Rastafarianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Baha’i Faith.
You’ll find our page on Religion in Barbados has all the relevant information and contact details for various religious groups and we recommend you phone them to confirm days and times of worship for your relevant faith.
You will come to notice religious holidays and milestones are observed and celebrated here in Barbados. As a result, most businesses are closed on Sundays and bank holidays as it is considered a day of prayer, rest and family relaxation.
Embassies And Consulates
The representative embassies and consulates on the island provide a range of services to non-nationals living or visiting Barbados – for example, if you lose your passport or have been involved in a police incident here on the island.
We recommend registering yourself and your family with your countries’ consulate or embassy in Barbados when you first arrive, during this settling in process.
For a full list of countries that are represented in Barbados with their relevant contact details, please refer to our Embassies and Consulates page.
The blessed island of Barbados is lucky enough to have been spared a major hurricane since 1955. Hurricane season runs from June through to December and even though we tend to be spared a direct hit, the island can still be affected by tropical storms with heavy rains, strong winds and dangerous sea swells.
Precautions are necessary whether it be protecting your home, ensuring your insurance is up to date, or stocking up on supplies. See our pages on Weather and Hurricanes, Tropical Storms and Depressions for further information.
You WILL Settle
You should now be more familiar with various aspects of the local way of life and how you can get more information, get involved or get settled into your new home away from home.
Rest assured – you WILL settle. Everything may seem new and foreign but take your time to come to know the island and its people, and you’ll be welcomed as an honorary Bajan in no time!
HINT: You can only really get to know the island through experiencing it first hand, but it still pays to do your research. Then, get out there and amongst the action and see for yourself what a beautiful island Barbados truly is. Good luck!
Author: Brett Callaghan