Barbados travel guide

A comprehensive before-you-land travel guide to Barbados

If you are in the midst of planning a Barbados holiday, we’ve written something just for you – the most up-to-date comprehensive travel guide to our fair corner of the Caribbean. From our history to our dining, and from social graces to renting a car, nearly everything you’ll need to know is right here below:

A Brief Introduction to Barbados

Spread out over only 439 km2, Barbados is a densely populated island nation of almost 300,000 people in the Eastern Caribbean. Formerly, a British colony, Barbados became a sovereign state in 1966, and a republic towards the end of 2021.

Earliest evidence of settlers in Barbados, namely the Arawaks, has been found as far back as 1600 B.C. While both the Spanish and Portuguese landed on the island, it was the British who ultimately claimed it in 1625. The influence of the British and their West African slaves is seen in everything from today’s music to architecture.

Barbados has an unmistakably British colonial footprint

The long association between Britain and Barbados has created a largely Anglican culture and the world’s third parliamentary democracy. Until tourism became popular after World War II, the fortunes of the island’s economy rested largely on the ubiquitous sugarcane crops, which were introduced by the Dutch in the first half of the 17th century. It was the widespread planting of sugarcane and the development of plantations that precipitated the importation of thousands of West African slaves into Barbados. These slaves gained full independence in 1838 and begin to fill important positions in island life, contributing arts, crafts, skilled labor, music, governance, and more.

Today, Barbados is a popular tourist destination due to its favourable climate, culture and warm hospitality. The capital, Bridgetown, on the south western corner of the island is known for its colonial architecture, duty free shopping and cruise port and is home to over a 1/3rd of all Barbadians. Grantley Adams International Airport sits approximately 30 mins east of Bridgetown and is the gateway for all international flights. 

Moving inland, the island boasts plantations and rum distilleries, while the eastern shores are less developed, offering nature, wildlife  and surfing as an ideal escape. Whether you stay in Bridgetown or in a quieter setting, you will certainly enjoy the proximity of everything the island offers and the diversity of your options. 

With fine cuisine, energetic music, friendly people and alluring beaches, Barbados is a captivating blend of African and British cultures.

The Languages of Barbados

Bajan is a colorful and expressive dialect that is enjoyable to listen to and many visitors consider it an essential element of a holiday to Barbados.

The official language of Barbados is English, but in informal settings, you will often hear Bajan, which is an English-based Barbadian Creole. A dialect of the language that linguists classify as broken English. The Bajan culture uses English words with African syntax, and speakers have an accent best described as a combination of African and British.

The unusual sentence structure and fast-paced speech that is common among natives can make Bajan language hard to understand to many English speakers, even if they’re familiar with the words being used. Barbadians also have many colorful turns of phrase that you may not be familiar with. For example, “Pompasettin’” means that someone is showing off, and “Wukkin’ up” is a gyrating, energetic dance. One of Barbados’ more well known proverbs is “Wuh sweeten goat mouth does bun e tail,” which means what seems sweet and good at first can have negative or painful consequences.

When in Barbados, it is important to remember that Bajans do know English, and you can speak to them just as you would any other native speaker. They will understand you. If you attempt to imitate their accent or speak slowly so that they can understand you, the gesture may be construed as insulting. Locals also tend to be very understanding of the differences between traditional English language and Bajan dialect, and will be happy to repeat themselves if you have trouble understanding them the first time around.

Your guide to weather in Barbados 

Barbados, in the south east corner of the Caribbean, is located outside the main hurricane corridor, making severe storms and natural disasters rare compared to its regional counterparts. Weather in general is hot and humid.  It has 2 primary seasons, a dry season running from January to May, and a wet season lasting from June to December. 

Even the rainy season isn’t something to keep a traveler home, as precipitation often comes and goes fast, with sunshine never that far away. Interestingly, temperatures don’t vary much either during these 2 different seasons. They range anywhere from 21 to 31 °C (70 to 88 °F) December – May; and 23 to 31 °C (73 to 88 °F) June – November. 

The Time Zone of Barbados

Enjoying your time spent in Barbados will prove much easier once you adjust to the time difference on local clocks.

Barbados is in the Atlantic time zone (AST), which is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. It is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard (EST) Time, and 4 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). The island does not observe daylight-saving time, meaning that from April to October, the Eastern time in America is the same as the time in Barbados. From October to April, the East Coast of the United States is one hour behind Barbados.

COVID-19 and Barbados

SARS COVD-19 has touched nearly every corner on the planet, Barbados is no exception and the government has taken measures to prevent the further spread of the virus. Respecting each other’s space, sanitizing hands, and wearing masks when indoors and in busy public spaces are rules that both visitors and locals must adhere to.

Effective January 7, 2022, international travellers can visit Barbados provided they can show a valid negative Rapid PCR test result done within 1 day prior to arrival in Barbados OR a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test result done within 3 days prior to arrival.

The Barbados Ministry of Health states that “Accepted tests include those tests from accredited or recognized laboratories by a healthcare provider via a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal sample (or both). LAMP tests, self-administered tests or home kits and tests using saliva samples will NOT be accepted.”

For current updates on COVID-19 policies and restrictions, please visit: https://www.visitbarbados.org/covid-19-travel-guidelines-2022

Your guide to Currency and Credit Cards

The official currency of Barbados is the Barbadian dollar (Currency Code: BBD). Denominated into notes of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 2 BBD, each Barbadian dollar is divided into 100 cents with coins of 5, 10, and 25 cents as well as $1BBD coins. The Barbadian dollar is tied to the U.S. dollar on a rate of exchange that is fixed at $1USD=$2BBD. 

Commercial banks will exchange money at no charge at the daily exchange rate, and the island is served by the Central Bank of Barbados and a range of at least five international banks, including CIBC First Caribbean, First Citizens Bank, Republic Bank Barbados, Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Nova Scotia. 

Each bank has a main office in Bridgetown, the nation’s capital. Further branches can be found in Warrens, Hastings, Holetown, Speightstown and Worthing. The airport and some larger hotels will exchange certain currency as well, but it may be at a higher rate of exchange than is necessary.

Barclaycard, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Eurocard, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in the resorts, American Express at certain places but cash is preferred for customs duty payment. Discover Card may still be used in certain places, but this seems to be fewer and fewer with every passing year. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services that may be available.

Automatic teller machines (ATM’s) are available in Barbados and are the easiest way to get cash (only Barbados Dollars BBD) while you’re away from home. ATMs are also available at supermarkets and some hotels.  Look at the back of your bank card to see which network you’re on, then call or check online for ATM locations at your destination. The Cirrus network is worldwide, and any debit card endorsed by a major credit card is virtually universally accepted. You may also get cash advances on your credit card at an ATM, provided that you’ve set up the system and have a personal identification number to use for such applications.

Traveler’s Checks used to be accepted by all banks and most hotels but now that all banks provide chip and pin Visa Debit cards to customers, Traveler’s Checks are no longer accepted from tourists and visitors.  

The import of Foreign currency is unlimited, subject to declaration. The export of local and foreign currency is limited and subject to prior approval from the Central Bank of Barbados.  

Regarding Passports and Entry Visas

Understanding the necessary paperwork for entering Barbados can help to ensure that your trip is relaxing and hassle-free.

Every person entering Barbados, including all North American citizens, should have a valid passport, a valid return ticket, funds to support themselves, and an intended address of where you are staying and a valid Visa (If required) in order to be allowed entry to the country. U.S. citizens and other international travelers are reminded that entering or reentering the United States from Barbados or any other point in the Caribbean will require a valid passport.

If your country of nationality/passport doesn’t have a Visa Abolition Agreement with the Barbados Government then you will need to apply for a Visa prior to arrival.  Visas are not issues upon arrival in Barbados.

Travel Visa application forms & requirements are available online on the Barbados immigration Department website. 

Cruise Ship Passengers

Visas are not required for passengers on cruise ships with the exception of citizens of the C.I.S., Eastern European countries, People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, South Africa, and Korea etc.

Cruise ship passengers who are “in-transit” and stay fewer than 24 hours are not required to carry a valid passport. However, if you are beginning and ending your trip in Barbados or are in-transit to take a flight out of Barbados (Grantley Adams International Airport), you are required to possess a valid passport.

You may also contact the Barbados Immigration Department at 1-800-268-9122 for more information.

Your Guide to Entry and Exit Customs in Barbados

Knowing the customs regulations for the Caribbean and your home country will help eliminate hassles bringing gifts and souvenirs back from Barbados.

As a visitor to Barbados, be aware of the following customs tips and rules before visiting the island:

  • All prescription drugs must be accompanied by an official prescription.
  • You may bring up to two liters of alcohol and two cartons of cigarettes to Barbados. You may bring a “reasonable” amount of duty-free goods for personal use; anything deemed in excess of “reasonable” may incur an import tax.
  • Firearms, weapons and recreational drugs are not permitted.

United States citizens: To avoid paying duty on the foreign-made high-ticket items you already own and will take on your Barbados trip, register them with customs before you leave the country. 

Consider filing a certificate of registration for items such as laptops, cameras, watches, and other digital devices identified with serial numbers or other permanent markings; you can keep the certificate for other trips. Otherwise, bring with you a sales receipt or insurance form to show that you owned the item before you left the United States.

As an island shopper, and before returning home, remember these guidelines, and note they may change at any time:

  • Upon departing your island getaway, make sure your purchases are easily accessible in case your home country’s customs officials request an inspection.
  • You should keep receipts for all items you buy in Barbados.
  • If you have any questions or complaints about your customs experience, write to the port director at your point of reentry.
  • Make sure you are aware of any price and/or volume restrictions your home (return) country places on any goods that you may want to bring home.

As an example, the following additional re-entry rules apply to United States citizens returning from Barbados, as a member of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) :

  • If you are 21 or older, you may bring home up to 1 liter of alcohol, duty-free, as long as the liter was produced in a CBI country.
  • If you visit a CBI country for more than 48 hours, you may bring home $800(USD) worth of goods duty-free, as long as you have not used the $800(USD) allowance or any part of it in the 30 days preceding your trip. If you visit both a CBI country and a U.S. possession (the U.S. Virgin Islands, for example), you may bring home to the United States up to $1,600(USD) worth of goods duty-free, but no more than $800(USD) of the total worth can be from the CBI country.
  • You may bring home, duty-free, antiques and original works of art.
  • You are allowed to bring home up to 200 cigarettes and 100 non-Cuban cigars.
  • You are permitted to mail up to $200(USD) worth of goods for personal use; label the package “PERSONAL USE” and attach a list of its contents and their retail value. If the package contains used personal belongings, mark it “AMERICAN GOODS RETURNED” to avoid paying duties.
  • You may send gift packages—except alcohol, tobacco, or perfume—worth more than $500(USD) from a CBI country such as Barbados to the United States duty-free, with a limit of one parcel per addressee per day.

Note: Mailed items do not affect your duty-free allowance on your return from Barbados.

Since customs regulations are subject to change from time to time, it is best to check with your country’s specific entry requirements before you leave, and keep your knowledge current using the following contact information:

CountryContact
United StatesU.S. Customs Service1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NWWashington, DC 20229 877-287-8867 www.customs.gov
United KingdomHM Customs & Excise 0845-010-9000 www.hmce.gov
CanadaCanada Customs and Revenue Agency 800-461-9999 www.ccra-adrc.gc.ca
AustraliaAustralian Customs Service 1300-363-2633 www.customs.gov.au
New ZealandNew Zealand Customs Service 04-473-6099 www.customs.govt.nz

With these guidelines in mind it’s sure to be a smooth trip to Barbados.

No matter where you’re visiting, embassies and consulates can provide a helping hand whenever trouble strikes; this is no different in Barbados. Here are a few links to local consular offices that should be able to provide travelers with everything from lists of local doctors to help with lost passports.

If trouble strikes during your island vacation, your best bet is to stop in at the nearest embassy or consulate for your home country and register yourself as a citizen in the region. Even if you don’t need your passport to get to Barbados, it’s the best form of identification at an embassy and consulate.

Travellers who are injured or ill will find help in locating medical assistance, and even have their family and friends back home informed by the consular office. Though you likely won’t receive financial assistance for a trip back home, travel insurance, an item many travellers purchase for their journey, will cover such expenses along with personal medical insurance.

Clothing and Style in Barbados

Whether you select functional travel attire for touring or elegant apparel for evenings out on the town, be sure to pack clothing of lightweight fabric and natural fibers such as silks, light cottons, and linens for your trip to Barbados. Easy-wearing lightweight fabrics serve the dual purpose of being breathable for the cool sea breezes and providing comfort for lounging.

Barbados is generally warm and sunny throughout the year and is  also quite humid.   In the dry season January – June, rain isn’t much of a concern, but it’s always best to be prepared. Rain showers in the Caribbean usually come up suddenly, come down hard, and then are over fairly quickly, so you need to be prepared with a waterproof jacket or umbrella everywhere you go, especially in the wet season July – December. Opt for attire that is easy to carry around that you can quickly slip on and then put away again when the sun reappears.

Many Caribbean communities still retain conventions from their days as European colonies, and this is reflected in clothing etiquette. In Barbados, retentions from the days of British colonialism are among the strongest in the Caribbean, and while this provides for a fascinating atmosphere and experience on your vacation, it is something you should remember when dressing to go out.

Beachwear is considered inappropriate anywhere except the beach. In shops and on town streets, Supermarkets etc you should be fully dressed with a top and bottom, or casual clothing for dining. 

Vacationers should note that there are no nude beaches on Barbados – in fact, nudism is illegal. If traveling for business, you’ll be dressed appropriately in a tropical weight suit. Some upscale restaurants may require somewhat more formal attire; a dress for female patrons and Shirt and long pants for men should suffice.

Learning about the social dress code and your personal requirements is the first step toward packing smart for your vacation in Barbados Camouflage attire is illegal in Barbados. If ever you need to enter a government building or courthouse for any reason, women need to wear an outfit that is at least knee length and covering shoulders. For men, a t-shirt/shirt and long pants. Persons would not be allowed to enter in any inappropriate or sleeveless attire,shorts, cut out jeans etc.

A normal work week in Barbados

The laid back atmosphere that brings vacationers to Barbados can also cause frustration to foreigners who aren’t familiar with the island’s relaxed business hours. Some stores and shops even keep their hours based on the tourist flow, season to season and cruise ship to cruise ship.

Below is a good general guide for determining the business hours, but helpful concierge staff at your hotel will, of course, prove to be an invaluable resource for more exact information once you arrive in Barbados.

Type of EstablishmentDaysHours
BanksMonday – Thursday; Friday8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Government OfficesMonday – Friday8:15 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Post OfficesMonday – Friday8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Stores/ShopsMonday – Thursday; Friday; Saturday8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.; 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
SupermarketsMonday – Friday; Saturday8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Your Guide to Staying in Barbados

Travelers to Barbados will find no shortage of accommodation options. However, they might be surprised to learn that nearly all of the accommodations on the island are concentrated along the western and southern coasts.

Visitors looking to hang their hat in style will want to start their search along Barbados’ west coast, but those looking to stick to more of a budget will also find accommodations along the southern coast. However, some travelers may not want to rule out searching on the east coast of Barbados, where a handful of long-established hotels and guest houses dominate the business.

There are no shortage of option when your are looking at staying in Barbados

No matter what type of lodging you prefer, you’re bound to find something that suits you on this beautiful island. Prices for accommodations run the gamut, from affordable to the sky’s the limit, which buys you amenities galore. Budget-conscious travelers may want to ask if the government hotel tax of 7.5% – 10% is included in the quoted room rate before deciding on a final lodging choice. The lowest rates vacationers are likely to find on very basic accommodations in Barbados are approximately $50 per night.

Vacationers who enjoy having a number of great amenities and services available on-site might want to look into all-inclusive resorts. Here you’ll pay only once and have everything from lodging and meals to activities included on a bill. Obviously, convenience is key at many of the all-inclusives found on Barbados, but not everyone will enjoy the “packaged” feel of an all-inclusive resort.

For a truer taste of Barbados, check out the growing number vacation rental properties available all over the island. Homes and villas are often a great choice for those traveling with family or in large groups, those that love to cook or hire a private chef, want more privacy, or anyone who enjoys the freedom of setting their own schedule.

Things to Do in Barbados

Barbados is known for its beautiful beaches, but that doesn’t mean sand and surf are the only ways to enjoy the island. Plenty of outdoor activities allow travelers to take in a little sun and a bit more of Barbados.

The local golf courses are popular hot spots for those who prefer to stay on land. Here, you’ll find plenty of top-notch courses on the island, including some that are used by the PGA Tour. With so many options for golfers of all skill levels, it’s easy to see why this sport is a popular island pastime.

If you’d like to leave dry land, chartering a fishing boat may be the perfect option. Fish in the Caribbean come in all shapes and sizes. In Barbados, the fish tend to be large and popular with anglers from all over the world.

Those who want to dive right into the action, can enjoy the underwater beauty of Barbados. Several dive sites, including a number with sunken ships, are ever popular with travelers. These shipwrecks are now a perfect habitat for incredible coral and underwater creatures. 

Golf, fishing, diving and snorkelling aren’t the only activities for those on vacation in Barbados, but they are certainly some of the most popular among visitors. If that doesn’t meet your fancy, there are shops, historical sites and museums, and tours that can fill your days. Animal Flower Cave, Harrisons Cave, St Nicholas Abbey, Cherry Tree Hill to Morgan Lewis Windmill, Concord Experience, a Catamaran lunch cruise and snorkel with turtles are some popular attractions.

Eating in Barbados 

Adventurous travelers know that no two vacations should ever be exactly alike. Some people will prefer a tranquil stay by the ocean while others are eager to immerse themselves in local culture. Fortunately, the dining options in Barbados can accommodate both the footloose and the formal vacationer.

Laid-back diners will enjoy nighttime vendors who line both sides of streets and serve local favorites such as grilled pigtail, fried or grilled fish, and fishcakes. These informal booths allow visitors to eat while they stroll the streets and beaches. Vendors are also a good way for the hesitant eater to pick and choose among the unusual dishes without making too heavy a dining commitment.

In Barbados the food is always fresh, and never strays too far from the sea.

Fast food is even available on the island but with innovative interpretations. The traditional international and local fast food, hamburger, pizza or Chicken may be accompanied by Bajan menu items. Meals at fast food restaurants and street stands cost approximately $7(USD) to $12(USD) per person.

After a long day of swimming and enjoying the Barbados sun, many travelers opt for a more lively restaurant experience, complete with renowned Bajan hospitality. Dining at a mid-priced restaurant that features both Bajan specialties as well as international cuisine will cost approximately $18(USD) to $25(USD) per person.

Upscale restaurants that showcase the world-class chefs of Barbados home offer traditional gourmet menu items, such as caviar and pâté, as well as exotic local dishes and regional catches. Expect to pay minimum $50(USD) per person at a posh restaurant for an evening meal.

It’s also important to remember that Barbados is an island where appearances count. Restaurants tend to be more relaxed at lunchtime, but can be far more formal after the sun sets. Most restaurants have their menus online.  Dinner reservations are also highly recommended, particularly when eating at some of the finer Bajan restaurants.

Regardless of whether vacationers are searching for a quiet, romantic dinner for two or an accommodating meal for the whole family, Barbados offers countless dining options.

Tipping (Gratuities) in Barbados

Vacationers should have no problem conducting business on the island once they adjust to a few minor changes in the hours of operation found on Barbados.

A few simple guidelines can simplify the tipping customs of Barbados.

Every country has its own traditions and rules about what is customary and polite when it comes to tips and gratuities. While tipping throughout the United States is compulsory, in other places it may be less common. In destinations known for tourism, gratuities are often included in the bill, or in the original price quoted to you. But this isn’t always the case.

Restaurants

In Barbados, many restaurants will add a percentage of gratuity to the bill, especially for larger groups. You’ll need to check for this to make sure you’re not tipping twice. If the tip is not already included, 15 – 20 percent is customary, although more is certainly allowed at your discretion if you feel that your service was particularly good, or that more of a tip is warranted for other reasons.

For bartenders, the customary tip is $2 (USD) per round of drinks unless the order was particularly large or time consuming, in which case more may be deserved.

Hotels

Most hotels on Barbados add a service charge to the final bill, so do not be surprised to see the extra charge when you check out. It is generally 10 percent. Maids should be tipped $2(USD) per room per day, and bellhops $1(USD) per bag.

If staying in an all-inclusive resort, check with your resort’s policies. Although many resorts encourage you to tip their staff, most all-inclusives strictly prohibit it.

Taxis

Taxis are not metered in Barbados, but the government regulates fixed rates, which tend to hover around $20(USD) per hour. Visitors are advised to settle on a fare before taking a taxi and should also negotiate with the driver to determine whether the quoted price is in Barbadian or U. S. dollars. Taxi drivers customarily receive a 10 percent tip, and $1(USD) per bag is appreciated if they handle luggage for you.

Porters at airports also appreciate $1(USD) per bag tip for handling luggage. 

Taking a few moments to familiarize yourself with the standard of tipping on the island will help ensure that your vacation runs smoothly once you arrive in Barbados.

A Guide to Driving in Barbados

Travelers planning to drive while in Barbados should expect to get used to a few minor adjustments.

Expect to pay $10 for a tourist permit to drive in Barbados

Barbados drivers stay to the left, just as they do in England, which may take some getting used to for North American drivers. Road conditions are mostly good throughout the region, but watch for potholes outside the larger towns and cities. Use caution when driving at night because of narrow roads with no shoulders and frequent pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Taxis and buses are generally safe, but buses and vans are often crowded and tend to travel at high speeds, so they may not always be for the faint of heart.

A Barbados driving permit is required for all tourists, which can be obtained from car rental companies, the Ministry of Transport (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.), the airport (every day, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) or police stations in Hastings, Worthing, and Holetown. You will have to pay a registration fee of $10(USD) and show a valid license from your home country or an international driving permit.

For specific information concerning Barbados driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Barbados Tourism Authority at 212-986-6516, or visit https://www.barbados.org.

Telecom and Internet in Barbados

4G service is available throughout most of Barbados, so travelers should not encounter any major communication problems.

The international country code for telephone calls placed to the island of Barbados is +1-246. Once on the island, however, outgoing international calls should be prefaced by the access code 011 and the code of the desired country. For example, visitors calling England would begin the call 01144 before dialing the direct telephone number. Calling the United States or Canada requires no international prefix, and should be dialed like a regular long-distance call.

Emergencies should be reported to the appropriate agencies, however many of the contact numbers that travelers are familiar with will be different in Barbados. Medical emergencies should be directed to 511, and fire alerts will go to the fire department at 311. The police can be reached at 211. As always, visitors are encouraged to look up numbers in the phone book upon their arrival to make sure they are familiar with any possible discrepancies.

Travelers from North America and Europe should have no problem getting their mobile phones to work if the service has been activated for roaming, though charges may be assessed based on the individual service provider. We recommend turning off roaming before arrival to prevent any surprise costs on your next monthly bill.

Once on the island, travelers should be able to purchase a local data sim card to use during their stay from Flow or Digicel the mobile providers. 

Hotels, inns and vacations rentals usually offer high-speed Internet services for guests, but if not; Internet cafes are still available in Barbados, enabling visitors to send and receive e-mail from almost anywhere on the island that their adventures may take them.

The island of Barbados is well connected, and vacationers should have no trouble staying in touch with friends and loved ones at home.

Plugging into Barbados

The electrical service in Barbados is reliable and power outages are few and far between.

The electrical service in Barbados is 110 volts/50 cycles, similar to that found in the United States. Standard plugs found in Barbados are also similar to those in the United States with which is the usual 2 vertical flat blades or 2 vertical flat blades with a round grounding pin.

If traveling from North America, you should be able to bring any small appliances (hairdryers etc.), devices and computers and use them without any problems. If traveling from Europe, however, you may need adapters and transformers. Some hotels provide these (plugs) to their visitors, but not all – and there’s always the chance that they could run out, especially in the high season. So be prepared with your own equipment, and note even if you have an adaptor, European devices may not work if plugged to a normal 100v outlet.

Health and Medical considerations in Barbados

If an emergency vehicle is required, dial 511 immediately. Also, be sure to check if your insurance policy covers medical expenses incurred while traveling. Medical care in Barbados can be somewhat expensive, so if your insurance company does not provide sufficient coverage, you should obtain traveler’s insurance before visiting the island. It is best that you bring your regular prescription medication and have any paperwork from your own doctor if you may need it on your travels, including prescription information.   

For ease, our travel guide to Barbados lists 3 options for emergency medical treatment:

Bay View HospitalSt. Paul’s Ave, Bayville, St. Michael246-436-5446
Queen Elizabeth Hospital.Lower Collymore Rock, St. Michael246-436-6450
Sandy Crest Medical CentreSunset Crest, St. James246-426-3053

Travel Health Insurance

Medical expenses in Barbados can be costly, so acquiring proper medical insurance coverage is important. In fact, even if you do have insurance, many hospitals and treatment facilities require full payment at the time of service. Most health insurance policies—except for Medicaid, Medicare, and certain HMOs — cover medical expenses incurred while traveling. 

Call your insurance company a few weeks prior to traveling to ensure that you have sufficient coverage. If your policy does not have a provision for medical care while traveling, consider taking out a special traveler’s policy with an agency that your insurance company recommends.

Drinking Water

Drinking water in Barbados is piped-in and treated for sanitation. Piped-in water is usually safe to drink because it is filtered and chlorinated. However, the chlorination could cause mild abdominal upsets, so if you’re prone to stomach problems, it may be wise to drink bottled water, which is readily available.

Food Safety

Cigatuera is a neurotoxin found in fish that normally feed on reefs. This toxin is not a problem in hotels and restaurants in Barbados as these establishments take extra precautions when selecting fish to serve guests, but be wary of catching and cooking reef fish yourself. Be particularly cautious of amberjack and barracuda. In fact, before heading out on a fishing expedition, ask for guidance on the prime spots to catch cigatuera-free fish. Symptoms of exposure to cigatuera include tingling in the fingers, mouth, and toes.

A few precautions should prevent many potential health hazards, and a basic familiarity with the medical procedures on the island should allow visitors to be prepared for any possible situation that may arise while in Barbados.

If an emergency vehicle is required, dial 511 immediately. Also, be sure to check if your insurance policy covers medical expenses incurred while traveling. Medical care in Barbados can be somewhat expensive, so if your insurance company does not provide sufficient coverage, you should obtain traveler’s insurance before visiting the island. It is best that you have any paperwork from your own doctor if you may need it on your travels, including prescription information.

Crime in Barbados

Alertness pays off for vacationers who take measures to prevent crime while visiting Barbados.

Barbados is a very safe place to visit, but crime and opportunity exist everywhere. Locally, crime most often is characterized by petty theft and street crime. Incidents of violent crime, including rape, rarely occur, but visitors should remain cautious, especially on the beaches at night or after a few drinks. 

Always secure valuables in a safe when possible and take care to always lock and secure hotel room doors and windows or your private villa or apartment. Barbados is still much safer than most large cities in the United States and Europe, but staying alert and taking proper precautions are always the best way to ensure a safe and secure vacation.

The loss or theft abroad of a passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate of your home country. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you in finding appropriate medical care in Barbados, contacting family members or friends and explaining how funds could be transferred. 

Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The 3 Most Asked Questions by Travelers:

  1. Is Barbados Safe?
    Yes, Barbados is a very safe place to visit. However, like any other destination, safety precautions should be taken when visiting unfamiliar areas. Over a 10-year average from 2010 – 2020, and at approximately 10 homicides per 100,000 residents, Barbados has one of the lowest rates in all of Central America and the Caribbean.
  1. Is a passport needed to enter Barbados?
    Yes, you need to have a valid passport to enter Barbados and it must be valid for the duration of one’s stay on the island.
  1. What’s the average price of a beer in Barbados?
    The average price of a domestic beer in Barbados is $2.50 USD per bottle. Banks Barbados Brewery is the largest of its kind on the island and is known for its Pale Lager and Amber Ale