Barbados offers sunshine, beaches and exclusivity. The little Caribbean island-nation allures over a million annual tourists, many of which stay in the ultra-luxurious beachfront villas in Barbados. With an impressive tourist infrastructure and a diverse range of activities, there’s little wonder why it’s such a popular place for a holiday. But before you book the ticket and hop on the flight, check out these things every tourist should know before travelling to Barbados.
Expect to pay, pay, pay
First and foremost, Barbados isn’t a cheap destination. It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning to stay in a beachfront villa or a Bridgetown guesthouse, you can expect an expensive vacation. Taking tours and embracing the opportunities to explore more of this nation will keep the credit card bill rising. But don’t let this deter you. World-class accommodation combined with the ultimate beach retreat promises an unforgettable trip. Research the costs beforehand and anticipate high prices, but you’re sure to come away feeling it was all worthwhile.
Know where you want to stay
If you’re looking for exclusivity on your trip to Barbados, consider getting one of the vacation rentals. Popular with honeymooners and families, dozens of bungalows line the shores on the south and east coasts. You can book a few nights and wake to the gentle waves and open the curtains to pristine beaches. However, these tend to sell out months in advance, and it pays to start doing your research now. The exclusivity and luxury will be on another level and worth the costs. Just be prepared to rent a car for easy access to and from the property.
But if convenience is what you’re looking for, you should stay at one of many all-inclusive resorts. Despite their relatively high price tag, most guests consider them to be good value for money. You’ll have access to high-quality food on demand and usually an open bar. Huge swimming pools, health centres and massage services are available too. Families travelling with younger children might also benefit from the kid’s clubs offered at some of the resorts. Mom and Dad can sit around the pool enjoying their slice of paradise while the little ones have the time of their lives in the clubs. And to add an extra layer of convenience, many of the resorts have the facilities to arrange day tours and side trips.
Getting better value for money
Barbados’s high season corresponds to the North American winter. Christmas and New Year tend to see thousands of tourists descending onto the island. During this time, expect the accommodation costs to soar often costing thousands of dollars compared to other times of the year. However, if you’re flexible and savvy, you might decide to wait a few months and visit during low season. The dry season usually lasts until early May, and the prices in late April are generally significantly less compared to the likes of Christmas. For the best value, book a trip during the low season. Tourists travelling during this period can often find their dream accommodation for a fraction of what it was a few months earlier. And don’t neglect the wet season (May until October) entirely. While storms and rainfall are frequent, the morning usually receives unbroken sunshine.
Learn more about the island’s rich history and colonial past
Few tourists make an effort to learn anything about this fascinating island paradise. With an intriguing history dating back centuries and more than 300 years of British colonial influence, Barbados isn’t just about beaches. Taking the time to read up on their past and legacy can transform your holiday into an enlightening experience. Join a tour passing around the former colonial estates and mansions. Or encourage the older kids to read up before they visit.
If you want flexibility, get a car
Tourists who want to explore Barbados need to have their own set of wheels. The island offers endless hiking opportunities, hidden coves and viewing platforms. Many of these are challenging to reach without your own transport. While some tours do take visitors to the main attractions, they often overlook some of the more off-the-beaten-path sights. If you rent a car, you can have your own mini-adventure. The main road passes around the perimeter of the island, and you can drive around comfortably in a single day. It’s almost impossible to get lost, and regardless of what the rental company tells you, GPS isn’t necessary. Just be prepared for a lower standard of driving, bumpy roads and little-observed traffic laws. But if you drive carefully, you’re unlikely to have any problems.
Barbados is safe, but…
Despite the island’s reputation as one of the safest in the Caribbean, it doesn’t give you the excuse to let your guards down. Most Barbadians lack the affluent lifestyle of the thousands of daily cruise shipping tourists. And this gives them the incentive to try to scam or steal. Use your common sense and leave anything valuable in the hotel. Or even better, don’t bring it at all. Ask a trusted local to give you up-to-date advice on any no-go areas on the island. This might include certain neighbourhoods in Bridgetown, stretches of beach or potentially dangerous nightclubs. But with a little effort, you’re almost guaranteed to face no problems or complications what so ever.
Things every first-time visitor should know
A trip to Barbados will be a dream come true. Just expect the high-prices, know the type of accommodation you want and get a car for flexibility. And don’t forget to leave any designer clothes or expensive jewellery in the hotel safe or at home.