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If you’re planning your dream trip to Barbados, then now would be the opportune time to beat the winter rush.  You may have booked your trip some time ago to take advantage of a special fare or just so that you had that taken care of well ahead of time when you booked your vacation. However, have you confirmed your accommodation, rental car, ground activities and sightseeing? For a few reasons this is the best time to finalize your details and activities for your Bajan vacation. Choosing a hired car early allows you better choice of make and model. Typically the rental car companies will take reservations for specific needs and with a limited supply of vehicles, the renters who get in the queue first are the ones who end up with exactly what they wanted.   Sometimes, you can also lock in better rates than with last minute bookings and changes. As the fleet is booked up and the vehicles become more scarce demand can influence the price. By booking your rental early you may be able to take advantage of pre-season rates and specials offered to the early birds. This is especially important around the peak demand times such as Christmas and New Year’s. Similarly, you will find that Barbados offers some of the best dining in the world. Due to its relatively small size, intense tourism focus and availability of fine fresh ingredients our restaurant stock is incredible. This means reservations are almost always required in the high season for fine dining and for those special nights during your holiday, you may need to book now in order to get that special table. Barbados, as a destination, offers many attractions beyond and magnificent sea and sand and sun. The freedom of a rental car to explore the island and visit these attractions at your leisure can be very appealing to most. To really make the most of your trip we would recommend that you pre-plan and pre-book the attractions which mean the most to making your vacation special. Whether it be that catamaran cruise, pirate ship adventure, off-roading island tour or a visit to the world famous Harrison’s Cave. Little known fact: Barbados has the 11th most dense road network in the world. This makes for a great adventure when exploring the countryside in your hire car. It also means that with so much of the island accessible by paved road, a trip around the island in a day is very doable, but for maximum fun and enjoyment a couple of parishes a day will more than hold your attention. You will, though, want to plan your route to the map or by geographical location of places of interest and then let your GPS do the work. We rent GPS units for those who prefer the comfort of knowing exactly where they will end up. For the intrepid, Bajan locals are always willing to assist a lost tourist, and get them back on their way. Usually by way of the local watering hole just so dehydration is never a factor. At the end of it, it really is down to how much you want to fuss with details while in paradise or whether you just want to gas up your rental car and make a beeline for the action. Plan your fun wisely!
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For most of the world it is back to school time and the beginning of the new school year. However, if you’re a lucky traveler it is bargain time. September is traditionally the lull between seasons – summer travel has petered out and the winter season is upcoming – and so hotel rates and other services, such as hired cars and beach rentals will be at the lowest that they will be for the year. Additionally, because there is less demand on the resources, bargains are also possible for those looking for upgrades and choice of attractions. This late into the summer also means that temperatures are also a little lower, which is an added bonus for those looking to beat the higher heat of July/August. Beside the lower nightly rates for hotels, the savvy traveler can usually find a great beachfront suite at many of the island’s exquisite hotels up for grabs. Less tourists and local staycationers also means more flexibility of choice for attractions. The freedom of a rental car is the best way to maximise your stay in Barbados. While we’re not a big island you will find that our scenery and attractions are not concentrated in a couple areas, and taxi fares can add up. The rugged east coast, with its surfing spots and natural Atlantic beauty is in stark contrast to the calm azure waters of the west coast and its glamourous villas. Similarly the north coast is about as unspoilt an area of the island as you can hope to find. The pace of life is sedentary and the enjoyment is really in the solace of wide flat expanses of beautiful land. Contrast that with the south coast which is really the young person’s coast. A drive down Highway 7 on any weekend night lets you know that Barbados is awake and ready to have a good time. During the day some of the island’s most popular beaches and the endless restaurants make this a hive of activity, but the dark of night brings out those looking for everything from great reasonably priced dinners to full on bar and party crowds looking to fete the night away. For the truly intrepid a GPS equipped rental car is the way to go. While Barbados’ very dense road network is very well mapped, there’s a lot to be said for just letting yourself get lost along a winding country lane safe in the knowledge that if a friendly local can’t direct you back to your intended destination, you can rely on the soothing voice of your Garmin. Now you know when you should be coming, the next question will be how soon you can get here. Remember, last minute travel is never a problem at this time of year, and neither will be your rental car waiting for you at Grantley Adams International Airport. See you in Barbados!
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In Barbados, August is synonymous with celebration! The month starts with the celebration of Emancipation Day on the 1st. This public holiday celebrates the emancipation of slaves in 1833, and is usually incorporated into our Crop Over festival. The climax of the festival is celebrated on the first Monday in August with the annual Grand Kadooment Day jump up. Costumed revellers take to the streets from early morning until early into nightfall to celebrate life!  Divided into various bands, participants follow their respective music trucks down the closed roads to the pulsating sounds of local calypso beats. The bar truck is also in attendance fueling the revelry. The route takes the ‘jumpers’ playing mas from the Warrens/Waterford area through the National Stadium environs and down to the Spring Garden Highway for the grand culmination. It is truly and sight to behold and an experience not to be missed! Carrying the ‘vibe’ through the month is that sweetness of having to relax from a hectic month of parties and cultural engagements. This leads to many Bajans taking annual vacation to unwind and enjoy the last month of summer with their families. Staycations, overseas travel and island tours are the order of the day for many a local. For a visitor to the island it is an excellent time to interact with the ordinary Barbadian in a very relaxed setting. Driving around the island definitely reinforces the laid back atmosphere, as the East Coast takes on new life with vacationing families and friends scattered across the beaches and houses of the Bathsheba and Cattlewash areas. With the lower hotel rates of this time of year, you can also find many a Bajan taking the opportunity to staycation in local hotels. Living like a tourist is extended into the enjoyment of local attractions and adventures. As you drive your rental car around the countryside the sight of children playing and adults liming by the various rum shops and beaches tells you that summer life is in full effect. Beaches will also have more activity than normal at this time of year, whether on the South Coast or the West, you will find many a family taking the time to follow their watersport passions or just having a ‘sea bath’ . Remember that the best way to enjoy Barbados is always going to be if you’re fully mobile, and for that a hired car is always going to be your most cost effective option. The true beauty of the island is found in its people and the interactions with the various communities as you circulate the island. While it is generally easy to make your way around the beaten path, include a GPS in your rental package to ensure that you can always find your way back to your home base.  See you in Barbados!     
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July heralds the height of the carnival season, or Crop Over, as it’s known in Barbados. The season peaks during this month, with parties happening on most nights, which feature mini-concerts from the leading calypsonians of the day. Calypso/Soca music is the rhythm of the country, with pulsating beats emanating from every available speaker or public address system. A large part of the Crop Over season and the run up to the annual jump up, or Grand Kadooment, is the return of family.  For many a Bajan (Barbadian native) it is just like Christmas in July, with the arrival of friends and family, especially coming in from North America.  For tourists, this means ensuring that amenities like your hired car are booked well in advance, as there will be high demand during this period. Food also features during the festival and the festivities as local culinary delights from fresh flying fish, dolphin (Mahi Mahi) or Kingfish with coucou to Saturday pudding & souse and Sunday Roast Pork and ‘pie’ and rice and peas. Grand meals are shared by friends and families at the multitude of picnics and luncheons and limes (informal gatherings of friends with libations and food). For the visitor to the island, being mobile is a must, as a typical day can find you going from your typical beach/catamaran tour right into an early evening ‘lime’ at any popular watering hole to full on fêtes lasting well into the early morning. Local rums and beers are the stars of the show when it comes to the cocktails available at every turn. Even at the height of the Crop Over season the standard Barbados charm and allure is abundant and enjoyable as always. Even with the huge demand on the tourism product at this time, there are still great deals to be had and relaxing pastimes to be enjoyed. Moderate summer temperatures and warm Caribbean sea water form the perfect mix of ingredients for a summer vacation. For the maximum summer enjoyment we recommend a GPS equipped rental car to get you ‘there’ safely and secure in the knowledge that you can find your favourite beach or party or lime time and time again! Make the most of your Crop Over season with the freedom of a hired car/van/SUV.    
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It’s coming into to summer in Barbados and so begin the longer days. However, many first time visitors to the region are always taken aback by the fact that our days are not as long as those in North America or Europe. Remembering we are only 13 degrees north of the equator; our length of days is very stable throughout the year and just as enjoyable no matter the ‘season’! For us Bajans (Barbadian natives) the summer vibe is definitely palpable as the rhythm of every day is marked by the release of brand new local calypso music and the increase in beach parties and holiday days. Days which revolve around beach activities like surfing, kite-boarding, paddle-boarding, kayaking, you name it, abound during the summer months.  With the kids on vacation, Bajans retreat primarily to the beach to pass the time during the day. June also marks the beginning of the Barbados Crop Over Festival. This unique Festival celebrates the completion of the local sugar cane harvest and is deeply rooted in the traditions of our ancestors who gave their blood, sweat and tears for this most important cash crop.  So, in true West Indian style, when the hard work is over the partying begins! To keep up with the pace of activities a car is a necessity. There is simply no other way to maximise your visit. (Note that locals will also be hiring cars to keep up, so book yours early) As mentioned previously, June sees the release of the first of the calypso/soca music for the season. This infectious music is not indigenous to Barbados, but we certainly stamp our high BPM (beats per minute) energy signature on the party songs, with the social commentary element reverting to the more easy groovy speeds. Think of it like Christmas in June/July/August when even standing in line at the local commercial banks is punctuated by the infectious leg shaking rhythms and genuine relaxed vibe of Bajans doing business to the cadence of the day. For the days in between there is plenty to see and to do. While not the prime season for waves and wind, the longer days and brilliant sunshine still lend themselves to epic beach days and long lazy island tours by 4x4 or by car. Discovery is the name of the game as visitors find themselves wandering aimlessly away from the tourist map, but guided by the comfort of their GPS’ ability to get them back to their hotel. For the maximum summer enjoyment we recommend a GPS equipped rental car to get you ‘there’ safely and secure in the knowledge that you can find your favourite beach time and time again, or you can get to your next exciting party location known only to Bajans! Make the most of your June with the freedom of a hired car/van/SUV.    
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This month welcomes the 25th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s International All Stage rally. Stoute’s Car Rentals Ltd. has been a proud sponsor and partner to this rally which attracts visitors from all over the Caribbean, Europe, the UK and the wider World! Run as a two part event, SOL Rally Barbados and Scotiabank King of the Hill, this two week rally journey is a motorsport lover’s dream.  Covering much of the island is par for the course over the rally weekend, with a hired car or rental SUV a must for enjoyment. To say that Barbados is motorsport crazy is an understatement. During the month leading up to the largest spectator event on the island there us a palpable buzz in the air and wherever you explore people are keen to know if you’re here for the rally. Between events, visitors to the island spend many of their days visiting all corners of Barbados and familiarizing themselves with the stages.  Learning to get around like a local when the roads are closed and the action is moving from stage to stage. Rallying is not the only game in town, however, and there is plenty of track action to be had during the month as well, with scheduled drags and Suzuki Challenge Series racing planned for the Bushy Park Circuit in St. Philip. Just punch in the venue on your GPS and you’re off on your adventure to the east. While you won’t be able to race your rental car, you will be treated to high quality motorsport action between some of the fastest Japanese cars on the island. Stoute’s Car Rental Ltd. is the preferred provider of hired cars, vans and SUV’s for the SOL Rally Barbados and Scotiabank King of the Hill. Teams, support crews and family & friends depend on the ability to be mobile and flexible with their travel throughout the event, and a rental vehicle provides that. If you’ve never experienced high speed road rallying or if you’re a seasoned follower of the rally, you will not be disappointed with your decision to explore Barbados in May while experiencing what has been described as the ‘best rally in the world’. So whether your GPS equipped rental car is programmed with the rally route or you’re just enjoying an island tour or attractions in between, May in Barbados is for you!   
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Water sports are the highlight of the sporting calendar for April in Barbados.  Starting with the annual Carifta Swimming Championships over Easter weekend.  This year marks the 30th edition of the championships, with the Barbados Aquatic Centre having the honour of being the host venue selected.  Young men and women from across the Caribbean will converge on the Centre to test their mettle against their peers, in this FINA approved competition. Again this year, Barbados will go into the contest as a favourite with top level swimmers in every age group contested. Swimming in Barbados is big business with visiting clubs and universities, primarily from North America, choosing to seek out the warm water and sunshine of our climate during their winter months.  It’s not only the Aquatic Centre which sees action, but also the calm and inviting Carlisle Bay: home of open water swimming in Barbados. To truly get the most out of your swim vacation, visitors rely on their hired car to allow them the freedom of schedule to maximise their training or supporting. Also happening on the sea in April is the Barbados Game Fishing Association’s annual International Competition.  Based in the North of the island at the luxurious Port St. Charles Marina , ‘The International’ is an integral part of the Barbadian game fishing landscape, as it not only serves as a focal point for the local season, but also as a reunion, of sorts. Friends from all over the Caribbean and beyond gather annually for this opportunity to tell fishing tales to rival those from the last regional tournament and build each other up over the prospect of that huge marlin which no one has been able to land, but has been on the hook repeatedly. Given the geographic location of the marina relative to the main hotel belt on the south coast rental of a car is a must for the landlocked support crew.  Families generally pass the days with lazy days on the beach or tours of the island’s many attractions.  Evenings are a family affair, literally and figuratively, as the fishermen bring the day’s catch to the scales, the stories of the ones that got away are told up and down the dock over communal dinners and light libations with loved ones.  So whether your GPS equipped rental car is looking for the pool or the beach, there’s a water sport adventure waiting for your arrival in April.  
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March in Barbados starts with a bang, with the first weekend reserved for the Annual Sandy Lane Gold Cup.  The premiere horse racing event in the Caribbean, sees steeds from the leading Caribbean stables and some extra-regional runners vying for the prestigious Gold Cup.  If you’re in Barbados, it is not to be missed, as the pomp and pageantry is second to none, with a true carnival flair and atmosphere to be mixed with the formal proceedings of the grandstand.  A novel and memorable experience though is really to enjoy the race day from the grounds of the UNESCO Heritage site Garrison Savannah.  Just drive up, early, in your rental car and secure your vantage point for the day. Tailgating is the order of the day and the atmosphere is uniquely West Indian, with new friends made throughout the day.  It is not to be missed. But, about this arctic blast you’ve been experiencing on the eastern seaboard of the United States Barbados is the perfect refuge from a bitter winter as it drags on and on.  Not only for the tropical climate and close proximity to the Eastern US, but also for those seeking amazing waves.  Yes, for each strong cold front which you get on the east coast, we get the resultant north swells which produce epic surf on the East and West coasts of Barbados. The world famous Soup Bowl in Bathsheba on the east coast is the obvious choice for reliable powerful north  Atlantic swells, which attracts the biggest names in surfing including Kelly Slater.  The true Bajan (what we call ourselves) ‘secret’ is the West Coast of the island. Known for its normally tranquil waters, the arrival of a north swell brings with it some of the most perfect surf anywhere in the world, against one of the most gorgeous backdrops.  From Duppies and Maycocks in the north of the island to Batts Rock and Pebbles at the southern end, perfect barrels await the intrepid. Don’t let the scale of the map fool you though, you will need to rent a car to truly make the most out of your surf vacation, as many breaks are located quite a few kilometres apart on the road.  For some of the more remote spots, a 4x4/SUV option is recommended, but not required. Breaks such as Tropicana and Church Point are definitely not for the faint of heart, as the shallow coral reef demands an expert skill level for true enjoyment. The constant tradewinds and sun kissed white sand beaches all contribute to the warmth of your experience in Barbados. Year-round warm water means that wet suits are made redundant and sunscreen and a couple pairs of boardshorts are all you’ll need for your surfari.  Staying on the West Coast is going to be pricey, in season, but with a vehicle you can make the whole island your playground. So load up your car with as many boards at it will carry, and your good friends, and attack the surf. Sign up for lessons or a full blown adventure and tour the island discovering the break to suit your enjoyment level.  We invite you to come for the sun and we’ll provide the fun. Just make sure that you order the GPS option when you collect your car from Stoutes!
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The Barbados winter tourist season is the prime opportunity to combine some of your favourite equine pursuits.  The sport of kings kicks off its season with the Annual Boxing Day race programme at the historic Garrison Savannah. Set on the outskirts of the capital city of Bridgetown, ‘The Savannah’ has been home to local horse racing since its introduction to the island in 1845 by the standing British Regiment of the era.  The parade ground became the local race track pitting the best of the Regiment against the Planters from the country and wealthy city merchants. With its spectacular grand and field stands, the facilities at the Garrison Savannah are enjoyed each Saturday of racing during any of the three annual seasons.  However, the true charm of a day at the races in Barbados is to enjoy a picnic around your car on the perimeter of the track while listening to commentary on the radio, Bajan Style. Vendors, selling everything from nuts to snow-cones and everything in between, wending their way through the parked cars and mingling crowd add to the atmosphere and authenticity of your tourist experience. If you prefer your tailgating with posh nosh and exclusive surroundings, then another local favourite equine pursuit is on your vacation agenda: Polo.  Also at the height of its season during the local winter tourist season, polo has been played in Barbados since 1884 and its traditions remain strong to this day, with the island boasting no less than 4 active polo fields! Many visitors will not only want to be mobile to commute to matches, but also to be able to enjoy all the attractions which the island has to offer on those days between polo matches. Local teams play host to many foreign teams from across the polo world. Annual series are anticipated with a fervor usually reserved for the party crowd, mainly because the post-match socials are epic and legendary. It is not unusual to mix it up with celebrities and the odd royal all enjoying the action from the comfort of the clubhouse or just picnicking adjacent to their car on the outskirts of the field.  If the dexterity and speed of horses is your thing, then you’ve come to the right place. Just make sure that you order the GPS option when you collect your car.
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Aerial Photo Courtesy of Above Barbados If it is January in Barbados then chances are a wind sport may be on your agenda.  January heralds the start of the sailing season for the year with the annual Mount Gay Round the Island Race Series. It is also the time of year when the windsurfing and kite surfing mecca at Silver Sands comes alive with visitors from the world over looking for the right combination of warm water, reliable steady trade winds and seemingly endless days. Whether you’re following the regatta as it hosts a series of offshore races along the south and west coasts, or your planning a full island expedition on the day of the Round The Island Race, having access to a car is the only way to go. Having the freedom to take in the action from various vantage points, and take advantage of the best locations for close proximity to shore allows the casual enthusiast and the hardcore salty dog to maximize their enjoyment. If you’re here to enjoy a more personal interaction of wind and water, then being mobile is what you are going to be all about during your stay.  With a variety of wind and sea conditions available off of each coast of the island, wind and kite surfers can take their pick of locations for an exciting expedition. While the jump off point is likely going to be centred around the Silver Sands/Silver Rock area, you can be sure that your vacation will not be complete without a spacious car or SUV to meet your needs. In this, the 79th Anniversary year of the Round the Island Race, faster hulls and more skilled crews were able to overcome the lighter than normal wind conditions to set or establish a couple of records in key classes within the fleet.  The staggered start and varied hulls in competition meant that there were close duels to be observed from every vantage point around the Barbados coastline, culminating in close finishes for much of the fleet. While the competitive element may not be there in the windsurfing and kite-surfing scene during January, the friendly rivalry of travelling friends and training professionals makes for memorable vacation experiences for all levels of practitioner.  Daily excursions and nightly jaunts to Oistins and surrounding night spots are the hallmark of the action sports vacation. There are some who reckon that the best way to see Barbados, is to be looking in from just offshore.

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Kirtons, St. Philip, BB18054, Barbados, West Indies.