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ExperienceTrue Bajan Culture

April 9, 2019

So you want to experience the ‘Real Barbados‘ during your time on the island, we don’t blame you, the Bajan culture here is one of a kind! The island’s varied heritage makes way for a melting pot culture of British, African and Caribbean influence. 

If you want to do as the locals do and get under the skin of Barbados away from the usual tourist spots then take a look at our suggestions on how to experience true Bajan culture.

1. Eat Local 

Local delicacies like flying fish and macaroni pie are available at all local restaurants, local fish cakes are a must too! You’ll see signs on Saturdays for Pudding and Souse, a local dish made from pork and sweet potatoes. Bread fruit grows plentifully on the island, try the sliced and fried bread fruit chips as an alternative to regular potato. You have to get your hand on mangos when they are in season (during late spring early summer), we have never tasted such sweet and creamy mangos anywhere on earth.

2. Visit Oistins

A Friday night institution in Barbados, the Oistins Fish Fry, a coming together of locals and tourists all in the name of great food, drink and music. Engage with the local people, it is a friendly environment and they will be happy to talk. 

3. Hop on a bus

Travel like a local on one of the island’s yellow busses, or the reggae bus as we fondly call them! For just $2 you can travel anywhere on the island. Be prepared for a fast and bumpy ride, accompanied by great reggae music. At night time the busses really come alive with funky lights! 

4. Discover the island’s history of slavery 

Visit one of the island’s signalling stations, GunHill, Grenade Hall or Cotton Tower, all offer great views. Learn about the slave revolt of 1816 and the emmancipation of the islands’s slaves as instructed by Queen Victoria in 1838. The Barbados Museum in Bridgetown is worth a visit if you’re interesting in learning more about the island’s past. 

5. See more than one coast

Explore the four coasts of Barbados, each being so different from the next. You will experience so much more of this unique island by seeing the variety it offers. The North coast being rugged rock, with sea caves and huge crashing waves. The East coast offers isolated windswept beaches and world class surfing. The South coast is home to the majority of hotels and nightlife, the famous boardwalk is great to stroll along. Finally the West coast, or Platinum coast as it’s known, five star hotels and high end restaurants accompany calm waters. 

6. For a look at Bajan Culture go to ‘Lime’ at a Rum Shop 

Dotted all over the island, a Rum Shop is where locals go to ‘lime’ (chill out and relax). Grab a drink or some traditional local food and soak in the sights and sounds. Locals play dominoes, catch up on what’s going on and enjoy a laid back vibe. Usually located at the side of a road, you won’t miss them, wooden shacks with lots going on!  

7. Celebrate Bajan Culture and ‘Jump Up’ for Crop Over

If you are visiting Barbados during July or early August you can get involved in the huge celebration that is Crop Over. Traditionally celebrating the end of the sugar cane harvest, the slaves would have a party to rejoice that the hard work was done! There’s parties and events galore, all building up to the main event that is Kadooment Day (1st August every year). Now a globally recognised carnival, the atmosphere is electric and the most Bajan experience on the calendar. Get dressed up and jump up (that’s Bajan for party)!

If you want to learn more, be sure to read our up-to-date Travel Guide to Barbados. For more info on events and trip planning, check out Visit Barbados.