American Express -- There is no officially designated exclusive Amex representative on Barbados, but a reputable travel agency that can fulfill most travel-related services is St. James Travel, West Plaza, Sunset Crest, St. James (tel. 246/432-6725; www.stjamestravel.com).
Banks -- Most banks are open Monday to Thursday 8am to 3pm, and Friday 8am to 5pm. The major banks of Barbados, all with ATMs, are found along Broad Street in Bridgetown, including branches of First Caribbean Bank, the Barbados National Bank, Scotiabank, and the Butterfield Bank. These banks also have branch offices in Holetown, Speightstown, and along the St. Lawrence Gap south of Bridgetown. There are ATMs at the airport as well, plus at bank branches throughout the island.
Consulates & High Commissions -- The Embassy of the United States is in the Wildey Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael (tel. 246/227-4000; http://barbados.usembassy.gov); the Canadian High Commission at Bishop's Court Hill, St. Michael (tel. 246/429-3550; www.barbados.gc.ca); and the British High Commission at Lower Collymore Rock, St. Michael (tel. 246/430-7800; http://ukinbarbados.fco.gov.uk).
Currency -- The Barbados dollar (BD$) is the official currency, available in $5, $10, $20, and $100 notes, as well as 10¢, 25¢, and $1 silver coins, plus 1¢ and 5¢ copper coins. The Barbados dollar is permanently fixed because of an international agreement, at the rate of approximately 50¢ in U.S. currency. In contrast, the value of the British pound is not permanently fixed, and as such, it floats freely, going up or down in relation to a wide range of political and economic factors that change from day to day. At press time for this edition, £1 equaled a little more than BD$3. Most stores take traveler's checks or U.S. dollars. However, it may be best to convert your money at banks and pay in Barbados dollars, since you could save over U.S. dollars. Prices in this guide are quoted in U.S. dollars.
Customs -- Most items for personal use (within reason, of course) are allowed into Barbados, except agricultural products and firearms. You can bring in perfume for your use if it's not for sale. You're also allowed a carton of cigarettes and a liter of liquor.
Documents -- Citizens of all countries need a passport to enter Barbados, including those from the United States and Canada. Cruise-ship passengers need only the ship's magnetic identification card. However, if a cruise begins and ends in Barbados, a passport is required.
Electricity -- Most electrical outlets are wired with 110-volt AC (50 cycles) current, same as within the U.S., so you can use your U.S.-made appliances. The very few electrical outlets that follow the British and European systems (220-volt AC) are rare, and when they do appear, they're clearly marked and designated with a plug configuration that makes it virtually impossible to plug a U.S.-made appliance into it without a special adapter and/or converter.
Emergencies -- In an emergency, dial the police at tel. 211, the fire department at tel. 311, and an ambulance at tel. 511.
Hospitals -- The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is located on Martinsdale Road in St. Michael (tel. 246/436-6450; www.qehconnect.com). Of the several private clinics, one of the most expensive and best recommended is the Bayview Hospital, St. Paul's Avenue, Bayville, St. Michael (tel. 246/436-5446; www.bayviewhospital.com.bb).
Language -- The Bajans speak English, but with their own island lilt.
Liquor Laws -- Liquor, beer, and wine are sold throughout the island at every outlet, from grocery stores to convenience stores, on any day the stores are open. Open containers are illegal on the beach.
Safety -- Crimes against visitors used to be rare, but today there are reports of pickpocketing, armed robbery, and even sexual assault. Avoid leaving cash or valuables in your hotel room, beware of purse snatchers when walking, exercise caution on the beach or at attractions, and be wary of driving in isolated areas.
Taxes -- A 7.5% government sales tax is tacked onto hotel bills. A 15% VAT (value-added tax) is levied on all meals. (For example, if your hotel costs $200 per night and you are charged $50 per person for a MAP, you'll have to pay a 7.5% government tax plus the 10% additional service charge for the $200 room rate, and then an additional 15% VAT on the MAP rate.) Some visitors view these additional charges as "larcenous." They certainly won't make you happy when you go to pay your final bill. There's a departure tax of BD$27.50 or US$14, payable in either currency.
Telephone -- To call Barbados from the United States, dial 1, then 246 (the area code for Barbados) and the local number. Once on Barbados, to call another number on the island, only the seven-digit local number is necessary.
Time -- Barbados is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round, so it's 1 hour ahead of New York except during daylight saving time, when Barbados's time is the same as the eastern United States.
Tipping -- Most hotels and restaurants add at least a 10% service charge to your bill. If service is extremely good, you may want to supplement that. If it has not been included, you may want to tip your waiter 10% to 15%. Taxi drivers expect a 10% tip.
Water -- Barbados has a pure water supply. It's pumped from underground sources in the coral rock that covers most of the island, and it's safe to drink.
Weather -- Daytime temperatures are in the 75°F to 85°F (24°C-29°C) range throughout the year.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.