I’ll tell you right away, this is a jam-packed guide with everything you need to know about travelling to Barbados as a Muslim traveller. This article has your back and it covers everything from prayer facilities, halal food, Islamic heritage sites, the Muslim population, and so much more.
Barbados is too often considered a far-fetched destination, largely because of its reputation for being expensive. But after having travelled there in January 2023, I fast realised that not only is it affordable, but it’s also one of the best places to travel as a Muslim traveller.
Let’s not deny the fact that Barbados is one of the most prettiest and beautiful Caribbean islands, and it packs a punch when it comes to diverse landscapes. With miles of coastline, pristine beaches and crystal clear waters, Barbados is unique in that it has diverse landscapes such as the many lush green hills and the rugged east coast which is home to the turbulent Atlantic ocean.
Before we get into why it’s perfect for Muslim travellers, it’s worth mentioning one thing; Barbados is the place to be to relax, unwind, and simply immerse yourself in a culture that’s all about doing exactly that. Life is laid back in Barbados and many of the locals are generally very easygoing people. With a small population and not as many tourists as you’d find elsewhere, you’ll find yourself constantly at ease when vacationing here. And although the island is small, there is honestly quite a bit of ground to cover!
Okay, so let’s get right into it.
Why is Barbados a perfect destination for Muslim travellers?
Before I travelled there, I had a brief idea that it was suitable for Muslim travellers, but after having spent a week there, I fast realised that there’s so much that makes this immaculate Caribbean island a must-visit place for Muslim travellers!
Come to Barbados for the beaches. Come for the splendid hotels. Come for the crystal clear waters. Because Barbados truly is a remarkable and breathtaking destination. However, for Muslim travellers, it’s extra special and here’s why:
1. Barbados is Steeped in Islamic History
The popular narrative is that East Indian and Bengali Muslims from West Bengal and Gujarat arrived here as early as 1910. But the reality is, Muslims have been here ever since the 17th century. As far back as the 1600s, Muslims from West Africa were brought over here as part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and almost 30-40% of them were Muslims. Centuries later, the first Muslim from East India arrived here after realising the island has opportunities to make a living.
In 1910, the first Bengali, Beshart Ali Diwan arrived in Barbados and eventually married and had children. Years later, Gujarati Muslims who had migrated to Brazil realised that Barbados is a fine place to live after having travelled here to sell coal and coconuts. They eventually ended up living here and continue to do so to this day. Many of the Muslims ended up opening successful businesses and in the 60s, a scholar named Mawlana Yusuf Piprawala made his way here to serve in matters related to religion.
The first mosque was established in the 50s and the first Adhan was given by the first muezzin Akram Ali, who was the nephew of Beshart Ali Diwan. Indians became a part and parcel of the Bajan culture and many of the previous Gujarati Muslims ended up teaching Islamic studies to the few Bengalis that lived on the island.
Interested in going on an Islamic History and Heritage Tour of Barbados from the comfort of your own home? Watch the video below:
2. The Island is Home To Many Mosques
The island has numerous mosques which are scattered in and around the capital Bridgetown. Some of them date back to the 50s and a couple of them have facilities for sisters. Here is a list of the five officially recognised mosques:
- Jama Masjid (click here for Google Maps location)
- Madinah Masjid (click here for Google Maps location)
- Masjid Ibn Umar (facilities for sisters) (click here for Google Maps location)
- Makki Masjid (click here for Google Maps location)
- Masjid Noor (facilities for sisters) (click here for Google Maps location)
There are other places for prayers i.e. Musallahs including the following:
- Darul Fazal (facilities for sisters) – near the airport (click here for Google Maps location)
- Darul Iman (click here for Google Maps location)
- Islamic Academy (click here for Google Maps location)
- Baytul Mahmood (click here for Google Maps location)
Some of these mosques have been around on the island ever since the 50s which goes to show the incredible history of Islam in Barbados.
3. Halal Food is Widely Available
Okay, I’ll be completely honest. Halal food is widely available, but there’s a few things you really need to know about Halal food. So in this section, I’ll break it down. It may sound a little complicated right now, but trust me, I’ve made it so much more easier for you to know where you can get Halal food from.
Before I go into Halal food options, I have to mention one thing. Barbados is surrounded by the sea which means fishing is a popular activity. Up and down the island, visitors will find fresh fish options as well as many restaurants and smaller food establishments selling grilled fish, fried fish, fish sandwiches and so much more in terms of seafood options. From kingfish to swordfish and Marlin to Mahi Mahi, Barbados is replete with awesome seafood. I highly recommend a place called Oistin’s Fish Fry which is located in Oistins and is a bustling area which serves fried and grilled local fish. Whilst there are few places to choose from here, I recommend Pat’s Place, as the portion sizes are very generous and the taste is top-notch! A generous portion of a decent-sized piece of fish with a side and salad will cost you $30-$35 BDOS (£12-£14/$15-$17)
There is also a fish market next door which serves fresh from as early as 6AM to around 2-3PM. Here you can get the same types of fish and cook at home if that’s what you prefer. Each fish will cost you around $14 BDOS (£6/$7.50)
Alright, so lets get into the Halal options. There is quite a wide range of halal food options available.
When it comes to halal food options, you have two options.
- Home-cooked food delivered to your door
- Placing orders with several halal food establishments
I recommend someone called Sajeda Pandor. With 24-hour notice, she and her husband will cook you up some delicious foods such as butter chicken curry, chow mein or mutton curry. You can see her full menu here or get in touch with her here. There are several other Muslims on the island that will happily cook for you as long as you give them 24 hours’ notice.
Halal Food Establishments
There are quite a few Halal food establishments in Barbados. I’ve listed the places I have been recommended below. I have also added a note if there’s anything you need to know about the place.
– Seemas Grill – follow on instagram to be updated with daily menus. Located near the Jama Masjid in Bridgetown, this place is open 11:30 AM – 9:30 PM daily and can be contacted through their phone number on their instagram page. Here it is just in case the page does not open: + 1 246 571-8209 or +1 246 847-2300. (Click here for Google Maps Location – if you have any issues finding them, just call them on the numbers I have provided.)
– Grillerz – these guys are also open daily and usually open in the evening at around 5:30PM – 6PM till late. They have new items on their menu every day and you can check out what they offer through their Facebook or Instagram. You can also contact them through these channels. These guys are located near the Makki Masjid in Bridgetown. You can also contact them on their local number which is +1 246-242-8888. (Click here for Google Maps Location)
– FlavrGourmet – I have not tried these guys, but their food looks incredibly tasty! You can check their menu out by clicking here and you can also see their location on Google Maps here. FlavrGourmet is basically a small truck set up which has been rather popular amongst locals and tourists. It’s certified as Halal and they do foods like roasted chicken, chicken in waffles (I know right!) and fish platters. Definitely worth checking out!
– The Masala Grill – The Masala GRILL is open on Fridays & Saturdays for in-house dining and take away only. From Ribeye Masala Steaks to Tazza Masala Blue Marlin, you can get a great variety from these guys. The best way to check out where they are, what they serve and who to contact is by visiting their Facebook page here. It is updated regularly with what is on offer and how you can dine in or pick up your order. The grill is fired up from 5:00pm until 11:00pm on Fridays & Saturdays and the last orders are at 10:30pm. The Masala Grill also cooks from their Indie Menu at Holders House Farmers Market, Holders Hill, St. James and this usually is between 10AM – 2PM. Note: reservations are required for in-house dining, and take away orders must be called in beforehand.
– Pak Barbados – this one was recommended to me by a local of Madina Masjid on Sobers Lane. To find out what they offer and how to order, contact them here via their Instagram page. They have a variety of items and even though their menu is small, they have some awesome home-cooked items on offer.
4. Barbados is Home to Thousands of Muslims
The island is home to a sizeable Muslim population numbered around 3000. Whilst most of the Muslims are of Indian/Guyanese descent, there are some indigenous Bajan Muslims too. Most of the Muslims you meet here will be of Gujarati descent and a large portion of them were born here. You also have a senior scholar who lives near Jama Masjid known as Mawlana Yusuf Piprawala. You can visit him after 11 daily. He is around 100 years old and came here back in the 60s. There are many other scholars, huffadh, Alims, Alimahs and many young Muslims on the island of Barbados.
Most of the Muslims that live in Barbados live in and around the capital, Bridgetown. There are some that also live in other areas such as Oistins, Warrens and even parts of the South Coast. You’ll often see Muslims in supermarkets, the beaches, in the malls and also whilst your making your way around the island.
5. Miles of Coastline For Privacy
This is one of the best reasons to travel to Barbados as a Muslim traveller.
Barbados is home to some of the most splendid beaches in the world with much of them deserted at times. For that reason, Muslim travellers will not have an issue finding a quiet spot to kick back, relax, have a picnic and go for a swim.
We used to drive around daily and always found a beach that was empty. With all the beaches being fully accessible to the public, you can literally go to any beach and find a spot. Whilst Carlisle Bay is known to be slightly busy, the beach is huge so you’ll still find lots of space to relax. If you’re worried about nudity, relax. Barbados has a zero-tolerance policy on this and so therefore you will not experience any such issues.
Here’s a wonderful video from one of the most amazing individuals I met in Barbados. Meet Suleiman Bulbulia. He’s the founder and director of Barbados Halal Experience and is working on many projects that look at reviving the history and heritage of Islam on the island. He’s also a commentator for a local newspaper and is the best person to contact if you’re looking for a halal tour package in Barbados. You can contact Barbados Halal Experience by visiting their Instagram page here or their website here.