Beyond the Beach is what Barbados is other than sea, sand, and sun. Barbados is known for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and lush greenery. While the natural beauty of Barbados is undoubtedly captivating, the island’s rich history and cultural heritage are equally fascinating. In this blog post, we explore the history and heritage of Barbados beyond its beaches.

Beyond the Beach

The Heart and Soul of Barbadian Culture
More than 25 cruise lines call on Barbados, and its 80-plus beaches lure one million visitors annually. Yet Barbados has a rich and diverse heritage unseen by many; most of its history was written by white colonialists who enslaved its people.

Beyond the Beach- Rogues In Paradise Review

Rogues in Paradise changes that perspective with a vivid portrait of Barbados told through first-person accounts of Bajans, demonstrating their unique personality and humanity. They are remarkable people who overcame 300 years of slavery and discrimination.

The People of Barbados Speak

An In-Depth Look at the Island’s Society By Bajans Themselves

In the buzzing backdrop of iconic rum shops,historic chattel houses, and bustling open-air markets, Bajans mingle, work, play, and always remember who they are, where they come from, and those who came before.

with woolly as we open the DNA test kit

In Woollys Open Air Art Studio as we examine the DNA test kit

Bajans remember heroes like Bussa, born free in Africa and brought to Barbados as a slave.  He led the infamous revolt against the colonial plantation owners. They remember Rachael Pringlerose from slavery to become a successful businesswoman in the then-British colony. And the forward-thinking Errol Barrow, who, despite political opposition, implemented free school education and free school meals for all children. Unequivocally linked to today, where Barbados has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. And they mingle with Ground-Breakers like Mia Mottley, Barbados’ media-savvy prime minister, ranked as a top influencer by Time magazine. Trend-Setters like Rihanna, a pop star who engineered a cosmetic brand and became the youngest self-made female billionaire.

British Colonials

Stories of Resilience and Triumph in Barbados

In 1627, the British claimed the island, and it became a colony of the British Empire. The British established sugarcane plantations on the island, and by the mid-17th century, Barbados had become one of the largest sugar producers in the world. It was a troubled time. The king of England was executed in the reign of Oliver Cromwell as lord protector of England. It was during his time in office that the British colonised Barbados. Cromwell was a ruthless leader who encouraged using slaves to build the sugar empire in Barbados. Under his rule, he sent an Armada to Barbados to put down the royalist

A civil war was planned. Opposing sides lined up on the Bay at Oistines. But royalists and roundheads decided to put it off and adjoined to the Mermaid Tavern to write up a new character. That was good news for Barbados and the other colonies who used the Barbados document as a guide and inspiration of what was possible. The  Charter gave Barbados unheard-of rights and privileges and a form of self-government not seen in the new world colonies.

Windmills of a colonial past

Colonial rule was dreadful, with many atrocities against the Africans brought to work on the plantations. The book Rogues In Paradise discusses the inhuman and brutal slave trade, and how it has and still affects Barbados today.

It was a dangerous time, dominated by rogues who roamed the seas searching for fortunes in the new world.  See the blog on Early Colonial History.  While it was the British who colonised Barbados, it was the Spanish that first discovered the island.

The Spanish Discovery of Barbados

The first recorded European to visit Barbados was the Spanish explorer Juan de la Cosa,who landed on the island in 1499 during his voyages to the New World. However, it was not until 1511 that the Spanish returned to Barbados, led by the explorer Diego de Nicuesa. They were the first Europeans to settle on Barbados, establishing a small colony on the island in the early 16th century. However, their settlement was short-lived, and they abandoned the island in 1518.

The Portuguese briefly claimed the island after the Spanish left. They named it Los Barbados, which means “the bearded ones” in Spanish, after the fig trees that covered the island, which they thought resembled beards.

The Spanish Influence on Barbad

War at sea

English Ship at War

Despite their brief stay, the Spanish significantly influenced the island’s history and culture. They introduced sugarcane to the island, which would become the main crop of Barbados for centuries to come. They also brought Catholicism.

While the Spanish settlement of Barbados was brief, their influence can still be seen on the island today. Many of the island’s place names, such as Oistins and Speightstown, have Spanish origins. The island’s architecture also shows Spanish influence, with buildings such as St. James Parish Church featuring elements of Spanish colonial style.

The Spanish discovery and settlement of Barbados may have been short-lived, but their influence on the island’s history and culture is undeniable. The Spanish introduced sugarcane to the island, which would become the mainstay of the island’s economy for centuries to come. They also left a cultural legacy that is still evident on the island today. While the island has since changed hands and undergone significant development, the Spanish influence on Barbados remains an important part of its history.

Slavery and Emancipation!

The Journey From the Past to Freedom

The sugarcane plantations on the island heavily relied on slave labor, with thousands of enslaved Africans brought to Barbados to work on the plantations. The conditions of slavery were brutal, with slaves working long hours in extreme heat and facing harsh punishments for any disobedience.  The abolition of slavery in Barbados came in 1834, with the Emancipation Act granting freedom to enslaved people. However, the legacy of slavery and its impact on Barbadian society and culture still reverberates today.

Culture and Heritage Beyond the Beach

Untold Stories of Barbados’ Extraordinary Heroes, Legends, and History

The history of Barbados has had a significant influence on the island’s culture and heritage. The island’s cuisine, music, art, and festivals all reflect the cultural fusion of African, European, and Caribbean influences. One of the most important festivals on the island is Crop Over, a celebration of the end of the sugarcane harvest that dates back to the 1780s. The festival features music, dance, parades, and street parties and is a vibrant expression of Barbadian culture.

Barbados is also home to several historic sites and landmarks, including St. Nicholas Abbey, a beautifully preserved 17th-century plantation house, and the Garrison Historic Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once a British military base.

Importantly Barbadians have made a mark overseas. The Bajan diaspora is large and influential- This influence works two ways. Bajans enrich the places they inhabit, like Canada.   Living abroad brings new skills, attitudes, and cultural exchange, which enriches families at home and creates a worldview that has been invaluable to Barbados everywhere.

Beach Culture and beyond

Beach Culture and Beyond!

The Bajan Identity

Insights into Barbadian History, Culture and Identity.

The Bajan identity is a mix of cultural influences from Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. The island’s history of slavery and colonization has left a lasting impact on the Bajan people, and their culture reflects this mix of influences and origins.

Africa-Bajan Origins

Niddel Passage First Port Barbados

Despite these historical hardships, Bajans are known for their resilience and warmth. They are friendly and welcoming. They have a strong sense of community, evident in how they come together to celebrate festivals and special occasions.

They are comfortable in their skin, and many have no interest in learning more about their African heritage. One notable Rogue explains: “I know who I am – I am Bajan,  what is the point of digging up the past.” Not all agree, and several of the Rogues in Paradise plan to do the DNA test to explore their roots and heritage. – Example SeeThe Soulful Entrepreneur

The Bajan Dialect

Blending African, English, European and Many Cultures

One of the most distinctive aspects of Barbadian culture is the Bajan dialect. Bajan English is a unique blend of British English, African languages, and Caribbean creole. It is full of colorful expressions and idioms, which can be difficult for outsiders to understand at first.

However, once you get used to the Bajan dialect, it’s easy to see why it’s so beloved. It reflects the island’s rich history and cultural fusion, and it’s a way for Bajans to express their unique identity.

Bajan dialect, also known as Barbadian Creole, is a creole language similar to those spoken in the Caribbean. It blends African languages, English, and other European languages. Other Caribbean islands also have influences from Portuguese, Spanish, and indigenous Caribbean languages.

Some common features of Bajan dialect include:

  • The dropping of the final consonant in words, such as “chil'” for “child” and “tal'” for “tall”.
  • The addition of the suffix “-in” to verbs to indicate ongoing action, such as “limin'” for “liming” (hanging out).
  • The use of the word “wunna” instead of “you all” to address a group of people.
  • The use of the word “doh” instead of “don’t” to indicate negation.
  • The use of the word “fuh” instead of “for” in certain constructions, such as “gimme dat fuh mek” (give me that to make).

Bajan dialect is widely spoken in Barbados and is an important part of the island’s culture and identity. It has been the subject of study and analysis by linguists and anthropologists, and is also used in literature and music by Bajan writers and artists.

grab a free Sample of Bjan Dialect in Chapter 1 Pompasettin-

Food is Culture

A Taste of African, European, with Barbados Caribbean Roots

Barbados has a vibrant culinary scene that reflects its history and cultural influences. The island’s cuisine is a fusion of African, European, and Indian flavors, with fresh seafood being a staple ingredient. Some of the must-try dishes in Barbados include flying fish and cou-cou, fish cakes, pepperpot, macaroni pie, pudding & souse,  and breadfruit.  Local street food vendors and food markets offer a fantastic opportunity to taste the island’s flavors and experience the community spirit. Barbados  Restaurants are 5-star gourmet delights with fantastic beachfront and ocean views.  restaurants include Italian, French, Greek, Indian, Lebanese,  Spanish, Chinees, Asian, and international cuisine. All with a Bajan flair! There is Oistins fish fry, Cus beach shack at Pebbles, and Bombas Beach Bar Soul-Food on the Westcoast for a true local ambiance.

Summary of the most popular dishes in Barbados include:

    • Flying fish: This is the national dish of Barbados and is usually served with a side of cou-cou (a cornmeal and okra mixture) and spicy gravy.
    • Rice and peas: This is a staple dish in Barbados made with rice, pigeon peas, coconut milk, and spices.
    • Fish cakes: These are deep-fried balls made with salted cod, flour, and herbs. They are often served as a snack or appetizer.
    • Macaroni pie: This is a baked dish made with macaroni, cheese, eggs, and spices.
    • Conkies: These are sweet dumplings made with cornmeal, grated coconut, sweet potatoes, and spices. They are often eaten during the Barbadian Independence Day celebrations.
    • Bajan pepper sauce: This is a hot sauce made with Scotch Bonnet peppers, vinegar, and spices. It is often used to spice up local dishes.
    • Pudding and souse: This is a dish made with pickled pork and sweet potato pudding. It is often eaten on Saturdays as a traditional Bajan meal.

Barbados also has a thriving street food culture, with vendors selling everything from fried chicken and fish to local sweets and snacks like tamarind balls and coconut candy. Overall, Barbados’ food culture is a delicious reflection of the island’s history, geography, and people.


Music is deeply ingrained in Barbadian culture, with popular calypso, soca, and reggae genres. The island has produced several world-famous musicians, including Rihanna, who has become an icon of Barbadian culture. The Crop Over festival, which takes place in July and August, celebrates music, dance, and Bajan culture and features performances by local and international artists. There are musical events throughout the year when international stars visit Barbados, like Vujaday and many other festivals,

Some big names include the Late Pavarotti, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John, Alicia Keys, Grover Washington, Gloria Estefan, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, and many more.

Local Barbados music has many influences that give it a distinctive voice. It is a rich musical heritage, with a variety of genres and styles that have developed over time. Some of the most popular genres of music in Barbados include:

  1. Soca: This is a type of music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago, but has become popular in Barbados as well. Fast rhythms and lively beats perfect for dancing characterize it.
  2. Calypso: This music genre originated in Trinidad and Tobago but has become popular in Barbados. Witty lyrics and a strong social commentary characterize it.
  3. Reggae: This music genre originated in Jamaica but has also become popular in Barbados. It is characterized by its use of the Jamaican patois and its focus on social and political issues.
  4. Gospel: Gospel music is popular in Barbados, particularly among Christians. It is characterized by its focus on religious themes and its use of traditional hymns and gospel songs.
  5. Jazz: Jazz music is also popular in Barbados, particularly among the more upscale and sophisticated crowd. Its improvisational style and focus on complex harmonies and rhythms characterize it.
  6. Spouge – a genre of music that Barbados’ Jacky Opel introduced in the 1960s. It is a fusion of different styles, including calypso, jazz, R&B, and traditional Barbadian folk music. The term “spouge” is believed to have been derived from the word “sponge,” which refers to the way the rhythm of the music absorbs and incorporates different musical elements.

    Spouge music is characterized by its distinctive rhythm, created by using a scraper and a drum. The scraper is a metal instrument that is played by rubbing a stick along its ridged surface, while the drum provides the bass and backbeat.

    Spouge music was popular in Barbados in the 1960s and 1970s, but its popularity declined in the 1980s as other genres of music became more popular. However, spouge music continues to be an important part of Barbadian musical heritage, and there have been efforts in recent years to revive and promote the genre.

    Some of Barbados’ most famous spouge artists include The Draytons Two, The Mighty Gabby, and The Blue Rhythm Combo. Many other artists, like Alison Hinds and Rihanna, have been nfluenced by the sponge quality of Spouge.


Sports, especially cricket, play a significant role in Barbadian culture. The island has produced some of the world’s best cricketers, including Sir Garfield Sobers, Joel Garner, and Desmond Haynes. Cricket matches are common on the island, with locals and tourists joining in the fun. Barbados also hosts several international sporting events, including the Barbados International Surfing Festival and the Barbados International Hockey Festival.

Art and Crafts

Barbados is home to several talented artists and craftsmen, with traditional crafts like pottery, weaving, and basketry essential to the island’s cultural heritage. Local art galleries and craft markets offer unique and beautiful artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and handicrafts.


Religion is vital in Barbadian culture, with Christianity being the predominant religion. The island has several beautiful churches, including St. John’s Parish Church, which offers stunning east coast views. Many festivals and events on the island are based on religious traditions, such as the Holetown Festival, which celebrates the arrival of the first settlers in 1627.

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Conclusion Beyond The Beach

Barbados is more than just a sun, sand, and sea destination. The island’s history and heritage are a testament to the resilience and creativity of its people and the cultural fusion that has developed over the centuries. Beyond the beach, visitors to Barbados can explore a rich and diverse culture deeply rooted in its past and an integral part of its present and future.

Beyond the Beaches: The Heart and Soul of Barbadian Culture

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