Sponsored by Visit Barbados

Choosing a vacation destination isn’t always easy. But as African American travelers one thing is important: spending our dollars — and time — at locales that value both. Barbados is making it clear that it’s choosing Black American travelers.

“There’s something about Barbados that keeps you wanting to return, especially for other Black folk.”

The Caribbean country, an independent British commonwealth nation, most often lauded for being the native land of pop culture icon and beauty industry queen Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty, has long been a popular tourist destination and boasts a host of events, cuisine, and attractions that leave visitors enamored with Bajan culture. Still, the country wants more African American travelers to reach its shores.

“What I hear most often from African American travelers is how at home they feel on island. The diaspora is a powerful thing and often we’ll find that there are so many similarities between us,” says Eusi Skeete, U.S. director for Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.  “I think discovering that commonality is a beautiful thing and even though Barbados will be a unique experience, it will still also feel very comforting, like a home away from home. It’s why we have such a high rate of repeat visitors. There’s something about Barbados that keeps you wanting to return, especially for other Black travellers.”

There are many “somethings” that make the island a must-visit destination.

Let’s start with the landscape. Being surrounded by water has its perks, especially when it comes to cuisine. To that end, Barbados is known for its amazing variety of fish, with flying fish (the country’s national dish), marlin and mahi-mahi being some of the most sought-after selections. “Fishing is so central to our identity, and we are really proud of our culinary skills when it comes seafood dishes,” says Skeete. “Flying fish (and yes, they really do fly) love our warm waters. You can enjoy it as a “fish cutter”, which is a fried flying fish sandwich in “salt bread” or as part of our traditional national dish — Coucou and flying fish.” According to Skeete, with a host of festivals slated for Summer/Fall 2023, including the inaugural FABA Fest, this year is a great time to taste authentic Bajan cuisine and experience Bajan culture.

“FABA (For Alumni, By Alumni) Fest is the first international beach festival celebrating alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). It will bring “the Yard” to the world’s newest republic, Barbados,” says Skeete. But FABA Fest isn’t the only reason to event travelers may want to attend. The island’s Crop Over festivities (June - August) always draw an international crowd, with partygoers and locals coming together to celebrate the end of harvest season. Another event not to be missed is the Food and Rum Festival (October 19th-22nd).

“Barbados truly has something for everyone. For thrill-seekers there’s eco-adventure park at Harrison’s Cave or surfing lessons on the east coast of the country. If you are a foodie, Barbados has one of the best culinary scenes in the Caribbean,” says Skeete. “And don’t forget to do a rum tour. You can’t visit the birthplace of rum without experiencing one of our rum tours.”

From flying fish and food festivals to FABA and Crop Over, Barbados is a Caribbean destination where we can spend dollars is spaces that are truly for us and, most importantly, catering to us.

Find out more at Visit Barbados.

3 Events Happening in Barbados in 2023

FABA Fest                                   June 15th-18th

In honor of Juneteenth, the island is kicking off its first annual FABA Fest (For Alumni, By Alumni), a four-day event that celebrates the connection of alumni from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Much like HBCU Homecomings, the festivities will range from networking and informative gatherings to parties and social events.

Crop Over Festival                       June - August

Get your walking shoes ready. The festival is part of a long-held tradition to celebrate the end of sugar cane harvest season. Attendees enjoy days of day partying, parades, and street fairs. Parade participants are known of their ornate and exquisitely designed costumes featuring sequins, jewels, and feathers.

Barbados Food and Rum Festival           October 19th-22nd

Known as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean”, Barbados has a long legacy of delicious food options — including the country’s famous flying fish. Experience all the island has to offer from the finest chefs, cooks and rummeliers.