Known as the Jewel of the West Indies, Barbados is a firm favourite for both luxury travellers as well as those looking to hold back their purse strings a little. Whilst the country is prominent for its splendid beaches, the Bajan experience is about so much more! From UNESCO World Heritage sites to colourful Caribbean buildings and a thriving culture, to a history that stretches back hundreds of years, Barbados will surprise you at every turn!
Barbados is fast becoming a popular choice for many seeking a Halal Tourism experience. The adventurous and young Muslim generation is now seeking a more meaningful experience, which means destinations such as Barbados is becoming an extremely popular choice. Known as the quintessential Caribbean destination, Barbados has all that it needs to accommodate Muslim travellers. With a vast history of Muslim presence on the island, Barbados is home to established mosques, Islamic institutions and a thriving Muslim community mainly concentrated in and around the capital city, Bridgetown.
To truly experience the island for what it has to offer, dive deep and explore its eleven parishes. Each parish has its unique charm and is eagerly awaiting the footsteps of visitors. What’s more, the Barbadians make it a priority to welcome and embrace visitors every year. The locals are friendly, and welcoming and will go out of their way to serve Muslim visitors. Whilst the entire island is a haven for those seeking a relaxing break, the West Coast is particularly known to excel in catering for Muslim tourists.
History of Islam in Barbados
While many Indian Muslims arrived in Barbados as far back as the 20th century, the history of Muslims stretches back to the time of the mid-Atlantic Slave Trade. Research tells us that as many as 30% of the enslaved were Muslims mainly from the Mandingo and Fulani peoples. Brought over by enslavers starting in the 16th century, traces of Islam soon disappeared. It was around 1910 and from this year onwards that Muslim Indians made their way to Barbados from India. Hailing from Bengal first and then Gujarat, these Indian Muslims worked mainly as itinerant traders and helped shape aspects of Barbadian culture. Contributing towards economical progress, the itinerant workers came here of their free will to seek a better life. Their legacy and lineage live on to this very day.
For this reason, visitors will find thousands of Muslims living in Barbados today, with many of them involved in religious activities. Islam may not be the majority religion on the island, yet it has been embedded remarkably well, allowing Muslims to practice their religion openly and freely. In and around Bridgetown, visitors will find four established mosques which can be visited by all for the five daily prayers and Jumuah.
Where To Stay in Barbados
To be honest, there is no perfect place. As the island of Barbados is only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, you’re always close by to everything.
While it may seem enticing to do nothing but lay by the beach, Barbados has a lot to offer. But before we get into all that, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are four distinct coastal regions which can differ from place to place.
The East Coast possesses rugged beauty with wilder conditions. Here you’ll witness the wild waves of the Atlantic Ocean hitting the rocks, forming small pools near the shore.
The West Coast on the other hand is calmer and more tranquil, which is why it’s often a popular spot amongst tourists. The West Coast is also home to the capital, Bridgetown which is where you’ll find fine museums, splendid architecture, and local culture at its finest.
The South Coast is an ideal region for those looking for a livelier atmosphere. The sea on the South Coast is a unique mixture of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, making it an ideal spot for swimming and surfing. The nightlife here is vibrant and there are many options for seafood here, making it a hotspot for many younger tourists. What’s more, the South Coast is home to more budget-friendly accommodations and restaurants.
Finally, we have the north coast. This is where many come to escape the tourist crowds and bustle of the nightlife on the South Coast. Just like the East Coast, the North Coast is home to a more rugged landscape as well as caves, cliffs and rolling hills. Popular with ex-pats and retirees, the North Coast has an entrancingly charming vibe, giving you the time to do nothing else but relax!
What To Do in Barbados Beyond The Beaches
Did you know that every single beach in Barbados is open to the public? That’s right! That means you’ll be able to visit any beach you like without having to worry if it’s owned by a hotel or resort.
The beaches of Barbados are the main reason why many people visit, and for good reason! Pristine beaches, swaying palm trees and clear blue waters are all you need for that quintessential Caribbean escape! But there is so much more that makes up the Bajan experience than just beaches.
Go Horseback Riding
To truly capture the beauty of the sea, go horseback riding along the coast of the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. We recommend going with Ocean Echo Adventures. With a choice of tours along the countryside or the beach, you’ll be able to relax and absorb the remarkable views of the rugged and calm landscapes.
Thanks to the calm waters of the West Coast, it allows visitors to admire the breathtaking sea life deep below. Carlisle Bay Marine Reserve is a top snorkelling spot as it is home to five shipwrecks, and a great range of turtles. With the wrecks covered in coral, snorkelling is a fantastic way to travel back in time underwater.
Visit Harrison’s Cave
Located 160 feet underground lies the 1.5-mile-long network of coral caves. Hop on board one of the electric trams as it takes you on a tour of the caverns, waterfalls, stalagmites and freshwater streams. To make your tour interesting, opt for the ‘adventure tour’ which will give you the chance to swim and crawl through the smaller passageways of the cave.
Enjoy an Underwater Adventure
If you want to admire the sea life without getting wet, we highly recommend an underwater adventure with Atlantis Submarines. Popular amongst tourists, a tour with Atlantis Submarines allows you to get up, close and personal with the diverse sea life in a real submarine! From native species of corals and fish to exploring the famous Harrison’s Cave, riding a submarine might just be one of the best things you do here.
Barbadians know how to turn it up a notch when it comes to food. While there are options for Halal eateries, we recommend sampling the endless seafood dishes. Having said that, several spots will cook you up some delicious dishes! The Masala Grill located in Christ Church is a great option for those looking for some scrumptious Indian food. What’s more, with rib-eye steak and lamb ribs on the menu, you’ll not want to give this place a miss.
Fresh fish is always available thanks to the excellent conditions for the local fisherman. You can grab a bite from street vendors or make your way to a high-end restaurant. From freshly grilled barracuda to perfectly cooked lobster, we recommend visiting one of the many best-reviewed restaurants in Bridgetown. Oistins Fish Fry is another we recommend. Visited by many tourists daily, here you’ll find stalls selling grilled fish and shellfish amidst a lively and energetic environment. Don’t forget to try plantain and grilled breadfruit!
Other than the above, you can buy halal chicken from most major supermarkets. For any other meats, we recommend visiting a local Muslim butcher. For those who choose the self-catering option, several halal caterers can deliver to your holiday accommodation. What’s more, if you’re having a wedding, there are Muslims trained as chefs who can be hired for the day.
The Best Time To Travel
We recommend travelling to Barbados between December and May as that is known as the dry season. If you choose to visit between June and November, chances are that you’ll see heavy rainfall. But it doesn’t last long as it usually rains for around an hour.
Currency in Barbados
The currency in Barbados is the Barbados dollar (BBD). You can get 2.48 BBD for £1 (as of December 2022).
Barbados Halal Experience (BHE)
For those of you looking for a specially designed holiday package in Barbados, we recommend exploring what Barbados Halal Experience has to offer. Recognising the growth in Halal Tourism, BHE works tirelessly to provide Muslim tourists with a remarkable all-inclusive halal vacation. BHE aims to provide Muslim tourists with a memorable experience of the beautiful island of Barbados.
Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.
Juber's favourite Quote...
"The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page" [Saint Augustine]