A Sleepy Little Fishing Village …
Oistins is a historic fishing and market town in the parish of Christ Church, on the south coast of Barbados. Oistins may be Barbados’ smallest city, but what it lacks in size, it sure makes up for in character.
It’s thought the area was named after an early landowner called Austin who is reported to have been a raucous rum drinking character, and well-known all over the island.
The town of Oistins is popular with both locals and tourists alike for its thriving fishing community and infamous Friday night Fish Fry.
There’s a quaint village vibe in Oistins and you’ll see boats bringing ashore freshly caught fish such as Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Kingfish, Marlin and the local delicacy (and one half of our national dish) Flying Fish, sold in the market at very affordable prices.
This sleepy seaside village saw the battle between the Royalists and the Roundheads resulting in the Charter of Barbados (Treaty of Oistins) being drawn up on 11th of January 1652 and then signed between locals and The Crown.
What’s Around Town?
Oistins has a shopping complex area selling more local goods than touristy items, however here you can buy groceries at the large supermarket, go to the bank, rent videos, purchase hardware items and refuel at one of the gas stations.
In this area, you’ll also see many fishing boats hauled up in the dockyard being worked on in preparation for the fishing season, which starts when the fisherman start to see the Flying Fish glide through the air, usually around November.
There is also big fishing complex complete with an ice factory for the fisherman to fill their boxes and go out for a week at a time, only returning when the ice boxes are full.
Many local men are descendants of generations of fisherman who have passed on the knowledge of the sea around Barbados and particular fish catching skills. They use some interesting methods such as hand lines, nets and fish pots.
If you’re interested in fishing, then some of the fisherman may be happy to take you out with them for the day to see firsthand how they earn their living. They will probably make a small charge but this is generally not as expensive as game fishing, which is much more of a sport.
Tip: When walking around the fish market, you’ll see the vendors gutting and scaling fish – ask one of them for some scraps and venture out to the jetty.
Here, you’ll see the fisherman off loading their catch of the day, and if you go just before sunset, you will also get the rare treat of seeing the turtles swimming along the boats hoping to get fed. This is where your bag of scraps comes in handy – watch the turtles multiply before your very eyes as you give them a special feeding treat.
Oistins … Where The Action Is At
Oistins is home to the infamous weekly Friday night Oistins Fish Fry. Oistins is a well-known local Friday nightspot, with many shacks lined up next to the fish market selling freshly cooked fish, salad, and the delicious traditional Bajan dish, macaroni pie.
There’s always music playing and you’ll see tourists and locals coming together to drink the local beer or rum and dance the night away. Want to know more? See our Fish Fry page for all the latest information.
The town of Oistins is also home to the annual Oistins Fish Festival. This popular week-long festival of fish and street fair attracts both locals and visitors alike to support the local fishing community.
The Oistins Fish Festival aims to celebrate local fishermen for their skills and influence on the Barbadian way of life, and showcases the local fishing industry at its finest.
It all begins the weekend before Easter and ends with fun and festivities during the Easter weekend, continuing until the Easter Monday bank holiday.
It’s a great way to experience Bajan culture and heritage. You can experience net throwing and fish boning competitions, both of which demonstrate pivotal parts of the local fishing industry.
The Best Thing Is …
The great thing about Oistins is that you can get fantastic food there any night of the week and at very affordable prices. So, if you prefer to stay away from the Friday night party vibe, head on down during the week for a meal, instead. You can usually expect to pay about $25BBD for a full dinner so come and try it for yourself!
Author: Brett Callaghan