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Barbados, like many islands in the Caribbean, is a popular destination because of its beautiful beaches and pleasant weather. It also offers a fine array of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and historic sites. For those who love outdoor activities, there is no shortage of water sports and natural wonders to explore, with the best way to navigate the island being by car.
Driving Tips for Barbados
Driving in Barbados can have its challenges for those who are not familiar with driving in the region. The road conditions in Barbados are generally good but drivers should be careful of potholes outside of the main city. The roads here can be narrow, so take precaution when travelling at night and be on the look out for pedestrians and cyclists.
Driving licences: a temporary Barbados driving permit, valid for two or 12 months, is required. This permit can be obtained from car hire companies or police stations upon production of a UK driver’s licence.
Which side does Barbados drive on: the left.
In the city: 20mph (32kph)
On country roads: 37mph (60kph)
On highways: 45mph (72kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.08 per cent; on par with the UK limit.
Driving age: 21 years.
Seatbelts: it is illegal to drive or travel as a passenger without a seatbelt. Children under the age of five must be properly restrained in a car seat.
Mobile phones and GPS: talking on a handheld phone is not permitted when driving; however, hands-free devices are allowed. GPS is useful for navigating Barbados.
Cost of fuel in Barbados: slightly cheaper compared to the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: most petrol stations and car hire depots accept credit card payment. Prior notification of travel plans should be given to the credit card supplier.
Insurance: third-party, and often collision damage waiver, insurance is included with car hire; however, excess insurance to cover damage to car tyres is recommended.
Traffic and parking: it is advisable to park only where there is a ‘P’ sign. Another option is to park in a paid car park. Parking elsewhere could result in a parking fine. Traffic is not normally an issue outside of commuter hours.
Taxis in Barbados are affordable and easily identified by the letter ‘Z’ on their licence plate. It is easy to hail a taxi; often drivers will stop to ask you if you need a ride. Visitors can also make prior arrangements for taxi pick-ups and even specify a specific luxury model of taxi. Most taxis do not operate with a meter but rather a standard price system depending on your destination, so it is prudent to verify the cost prior to your trip. Expect fares of around £15 between the airport and Bridgetown Harbour.
Buses offer a convenient and cheap way to travel in Barbados, especially when travelling short distances such as from your hotel to restaurants, shops and beaches. It is a good idea to flag down the bus even when standing at a designated bus stop. The large public buses are the safest option as private vans and minibuses often violate local speed limits. Fares are cheap at around £0.60 per ride.
Cruise ships dock at Bridgetown, from where taxis and buses shuttle visitors to the resorts. Private yachts and catamarans are available for charter around the island, with day cruises starting at around £45 per person.
Most tourists enter through Grantley Adams International Airport, which sits less than 10 miles from Bridgetown, roughly a £0.60 bus ride away. The airport receives year-round flights from London-Gatwick with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways, as well as seasonal and charter flights from the UK.
St. John’s Parish Church in Saint John was built in 1836 on an east coast plot of land where previous churches had been built since the 1600s. This particular church was built in a Gothic style with a hand-crafted staircase and pulpit. From the vantage point of the churchyard, visitors are treated to a spectacular view of the jagged coastline and moss-covered family vaults.
For history, tourists should head to the site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison. The Barbados Museum is housed in a former British military prison of the 19th century. The exhibits here span the time from when the first coral islands appeared until independence from British rule and everything in between.
In the St. Michael Parish portion of the island, visitors will find the Mount Gay Rum Distillery. Tours which allow visitors to witness how rum is made from the staple product of the country, sugar cane, are available. With a prior reservation, visitors are treated to a lunch tour that culminates in an authentic Bajan meal.
Barbados’ tropical weather is one of the main attractions of the island. It is sunny and hot throughout the year, with temperatures only fluctuating between 28 and 30°C and with just enough rain to sustain the island’s beautiful flora. The best time to visit is from December until April when rainfall is at its lowest. Hurricane season typically runs from June through October, but big storms only hit the island about once every 10 years, with warnings usually made well in advance.