The Budget Barbados Travel Guide includes 8 Important Travel Planning Tips that will allow you to see and do more on your budget. Learn how you can benefit.
Welcome to the Barbados Travel Guide! While Barbados doesn’t quite match most people’s criteria for a ‘budget’ vacation, there are plenty of ways to make the most on a visit without needing to spend excessively. As the Island is only about 20 miles long and 14 miles wide, real estate comes at a premium so there is a very apparent lack of hostel-style accommodation.
That being said, there are much cheaper places to stay and a good number of ways for savvy travelers to save substantial amounts of money. We’ll discuss all of these throughout the Barbados Budget Travel Guide as well as explain how to manage your budget in a way that’ll still let you have an amazing time here.
Before we begin you should be aware that the Barbados Dollar exchanges at a fixed rate of 2:1 with the USD. For convenience’s sake, we’ll quote prices in USD unless specified.
Now that you are reading the Barbados Travel Guide, what’s next? Let’s learn more about other trips in the surrounding areas.
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Budget Barbados Travel Guide – What Are the Best Things To See & Do
Embrace The Beach Life
Let’s begin with the obvious! Barbados has over 80 white sand beaches and they are rightfully considered some of the best on the planet. Even the super-exclusive Sandy Lane Beach is still entirely open to the public and renting a couple of sunbeds and an umbrella doesn’t cost more than $15 anywhere.
You are perfectly within your rights to just bring a beach towel if you’re seriously looking to chop those costs! All beaches have plenty of fresh food stalls where the prices can be very reasonable indeed. A plate of six fresh fishcakes should set you back no more than $5. Explore the likes of Carlisle Bay, Mullins, Brandon, and Browne’s at your leisure – and remember to take the time to check out some of the more isolated spots as well.
Sup Those Rums
Rum is probably Barbados’s most famous and loved export. Most of the largest distilleries offer tours (including free samples) and chances are you’ll want to embrace your inner bootlegger during some stage of your stay. A night out in Barbados can be staggeringly expensive especially as many of the fanciest bars double up as nightclubs and restaurants.
Look instead towards the more casual, chilled out bars and you’ll find far more reasonable rates (rum & mixer for $4/5) or pick up your own supply and relax on the beach instead ($25 for a bottle of standard rum and mixers). There are certainly healthier ways to enjoy Barbados but when its time to let your hair down be assured that you needn’t take out your credit card.
St. Nicholas Abbey
What better way to soothe that throbbing hangover than by taking a visit to the ‘birthplace of rum’? While Mount Gay is the most famous Barbadian rum (with hundreds of visitors every day) this distillery is a much more tranquil experience. This 17th-century plantation house doubles up as a modest distillery as well as a thoroughly impressive museum charting the intriguing history of this strategic island.
Stroll around the peaceful grounds and recharge your batteries with a cup of English tea. Admission is slightly towards the steeper end (about $20) but that does include full plantation tours and plenty of samples, so arrive early to make the most of a full day here.
By day a tranquil fishing village nestled on the island’s southern coast, you wouldn’t think that this is also the place where the locals flock to kick off their weekend. Every Friday night the community throws a street festival with plenty of stalls, pop-up bars, and a really warm welcome for visitors from anywhere.
The fish fry is the highlight of the evening but the party goes on until the very small hours. We’d advise trying to aim for a full day here hiking along the beaches and coves during the daytime before the party starts in full earnest. You can bring a bottle just be careful not to serve your own drinks in the bars.
After all that decadence you’ll probably need to burn off some excess energy – and the good news is that Barbados is packed with accessible adrenalin boosting activities. Hire a bike (about $15-10/day) and you’ll literally be able to tour the entire island over a couple of days while making plenty of scenic stops along the way.
Hiking is fantastic through Barbados but the rockier northern coast offers the most compelling scenery. Make use of the Barbados Hiking Association – they run free group hikes every Sunday across different parts of the island and their walks are graded by difficulty. It’s a great way of meeting local residents as well.
Venture Into The Sea
Needless to say, you’ll be able to dive/snorkel/canoe as far as your budget allows. Once again the northern coast is the hub for this kind of activity although you’ll also find plenty of options elsewhere to consider. Some of the adventure sports packages can be good value, especially when split over different activities on consecutive days. $200 is a fair outlay but not so bad for three days of activity, especially when you factor in gear hire and expert instruction.
Individual activities tend to cost somewhere between $100-150 for about four hours in the sea. You can also hire your own canoe – some hotels offer them for free – but make sure you are careful where you go as the currents and tides can be tricky.
Pet A Racehorse!
Barbados has a racetrack – the Garrison Savannah – but you don’t need to visit to have the opportunity to get up and personal with some thoroughbreds. Most days the resident horses are walked down to Pebbles Beach for a quick refreshing dip in the ocean. It is a peculiarly weird yet pleasant sight watching these stately animals enjoy a quick frolic.
Don’t approach them without permission as some can be a little boisterous and prone to overexcitement, but it’s a magical photo opportunity and one of those moments that’ll stick long in the memory. If you do fancy a trip to the racetrack, you’ll be free to watch from the rails (only the stands charge entry) and there’ll be plenty of bookies happy to take small-money wagers.
Try Some Road Tennis
Road Tennis is probably Barbados’s single and most impressive contribution to the world’s sporting calendar and something well worth checking out. Road tennis matches tend to be arranged between different parishes and take place on large concrete ‘courts’ (parking lots are popular).
This is marked out in a similar way to a tennis court, and the players then take turns whacking a bald tennis ball with wooden clubs back and forward. It is far more difficult than words can do justice to explain – but you’ll be blown away by the local’s skill and flair! Rather handily, most matches end in a party hosted by the opposing teams.
Visit The Concorde Experience
Barbados isn’t the obvious place to find a world-class aviation museum but then this island is full of surprises. As you’d expect, this museum features a decommissioned former British Airways Concorde jet – complete with outfitted first-class compartments – – and explains the history and workings of this iconic plane.
It’s a welcome diversion after a few days of relaxing, partying, and adventure sports with the wonderful tour guides bringing the history to life with plenty of whacky anecdotes. Well worth it just because… why not?
Budget Barbados Travel Guide – What Are the Typical Accommodation Costs
Barbados may well be considered a millionaire’s playground but there’s nothing stopping anyone from visiting on a more modest budget. If you are able to make your own fun – and let’s be honest there aren’t many easier places to do so – and keep your expenses down by shopping and living smartly you’ll still be able to afford those pricier and more iconic travel opportunities.
Barbados isn’t cheap but doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg either. These are the typical costs we at the Barbados Burget Travel Guide reckon you need to be aware of when planning a visit on a tighter budget.
Only one establishment on the island advertises itself as a ‘hostel’ – but you’ll find a handful of ‘guesthouses’ that provide basically the same kind of service. Not all of these operate dorm systems – small private rooms are more common – but they can certainly still be tremendous value for the most part. You’ll need to book these well in advance as they’re understandably very popular!
Prices vary depending on the time of year but if you can find a guesthouse double room in the $60-80 margins then you’ve done very well indeed. Remember that because there isn’t much of a ‘hostel culture’ on Barbados that very few discount places to stay keep a percentage of beds/rooms free for walk-in guests. Book in advance otherwise you’ll probably be stuck for options.
Airbnb & Other Private Online Resources
Costs can be lower – especially on apartment rentals via Airbnb – but again you’ll need to make arrangements months in advance. We’d strongly advise that budget visitors to Barbados do some extensive online searching and send out some friendly and polite emails inquiring about prospective bookings before they’re advertised for let.
The worst that can happen is they’ll tell you the exact date when their accommodation will be open to bookings, allowing you to arrange to be at the front of the queue. Couchsurfing is an option here but you’ll not find too many online options unless you already know people here or those who can throw you a tip or two. Immigration officials can be awkward if you turn up without accommodation arrangements (or a credit card) so factor that into your plans if taking this route.
Advance Off-Season Bookings
Barbados is often considerably cheaper to visit between April and November and the climate/weather are still usually close to most people’s version of paradise. The south coast offers the most budget-friendly commercial-style hotels and these can be fantastic value especially during these parts of the year. Look around and you’ll sometimes find resort doubles including breakfast and pool access for around the $100/night mark.
That may price out single visitors but when the cost is split between a couple it suddenly becomes far more realistic. Self-catering apartments are usually only slightly more expensive but also more spacious and include a small kitchen (ideal for saving yet more money!).
If you’re on an absolute shoestring budget then you’ll be best off looking to self-catering options combined with amazing (and cheap) street/seafood, with the occasional small bar meal. $25/day is about right unless you’re very fussy! Chances are you’ll be wanting to enjoy some drinks as well so pick your bars carefully. A bottle of beer can cost three times as much in one place compared to another.
Make that budget stretch further by picking up a six-pack ($10) and hitting the beach instead. Convenience store prices often catch out first-time budget visitors. Fresh produce is mostly imported and comes at a significant premium. A full week’s worth of groceries without any special or exotic ingredients will likely cost around the $80-100 mark. Tap water is safe to drink on Barbados so refill your bottles as you go.
Providing you’re careful where you choose to dine out you can still easily get by without breaking the bank. Lower key places (often set back from the beach) are generally far cheaper and offer generous portions. $15 should easily cover a substantial meal with a beer to wash it down with.
The Barbados Travel Guide reckons that visitors should be able to get by easily enough on a straightforward $100/day budget. That’s assuming you’re sharing a room or have a decent option with a guesthouse and are willing to cater for yourself and eat out with some consideration of the costs involved.
$50 for your bed/room is about right, $30 for food and drinks (both of these could be cheaper), with $20 leftover for incidental purchases such as bus tickets, cycle hire, admission fees, and so on.
The one significant drawback of that budget is that it does not include costs incurred with additional activities. Organized tours (besides the free ones), ocean activities, boat rides, and so forth will all substantially affect that ‘DIY’ budget plan. By no means are you going to need to do these activities every day – but you’ll probably want to try them out at least a couple of times. Budget with those in mind and add an extra $300 in total to your overall budget to cover the costs involved.
Budget Barbados Travel Guide – Suggested Budget
The Barbados Travel Guide reckons that visitors should be able to get by easily enough on a straightforward $100/day budget. That’s assuming you’re sharing a room or have a decent option with a guesthouse and are willing to cater for yourself and eat out with some consideration of the costs involved. $50 for your bed/room is about right, $30 for food and drinks (both of these could be cheaper), with $20 leftover for incidental purchases such as bus tickets, cycle hire, admission fees, and so on.
The one significant drawback of that budget Barbados travel guide suggestions is that they do not include costs incurred with additional activities. Organized tours (besides the free ones), ocean activities, boat rides, and so forth will all substantially affect that ‘DIY’ budget plan. By no means are you going to need to do these activities every day – but you’ll probably want to try them out at least a couple of times. Budget with those in mind and add an extra $300 in total to your overall budget to cover the costs involved.
Budget Barbados Travel Guide – How Can I Save Money
We cannot stress enough how important it is to research and arrange your accommodation as carefully as possible. Figuring out a place to stay is going to be by far the largest expense after your plane tickets – so use online resources and keep an open mind when weighing up the pros and cons.
Remember that the island is really small so it doesn’t matter much if your accommodation doesn’t boast a sea view. Buses will take you literally anywhere on Barbados within an hour at most and are insanely good value ($1 one-way). If that makes the difference between spending $40/night or $60/night then take the cheaper option every time.
Think of your accommodation as literally somewhere to sleep – you’ll spend almost all day every day outside anyway. The trendy West Coast will be outside your budget but that isn’t stopping you from spending as much time there as you want. Make your own fun as far as possible and put some serious thought into which of those visitor experiences interest and excite you the most. They’re expensive but you can save money by shopping around and possibly even haggle some kind of discount if you’re part of a larger group.
Probably the best advice that’ll likely save you anywhere between 25-50% in total is to simply visit during the less popular/busy times of the year. We’re not exaggerating remotely by saying that the larger resorts often slash their prices in half between May and October/November. Budget accommodation prices don’t change by that large an amount – so consider looking for an ‘upgrade’ to somewhere fancier if you can stretch out your budget allowance a little further.
Budget Barbados Travel Guide – Where Is the Best Place to Stay
As mentioned the West Coast is the fancier side of the island and while you’ll find some guesthouses that squeeze inside the ‘budget’ category most will be set back quite far (relatively speaking) from the beaches. Don’t worry too much about your accommodation location as Barbados is so easy, quick, and cheap to get around that it barely makes a difference.
Self-catering apartments are ideal if you’re also looking to cut back on those sustenance costs – you can have just as much fun enjoying cheap drinks on your balcony as you would in the glitzy and staggeringly expensive nightclubs.
There is a lot to be said for going Airbnb and the number of local listings is slowly increasing. You’ll find quite a lot of guesthouses and B&Bs listed here as well as locals with free rooms/apartments to rent. All we can suggest is start planning early, be proactive about contacting prospective places to stay and be ready to pay your deposit as soon as a suitable place becomes available.
Budget Barbados Travel Guide – What are the Best Transportation Options
You don’t need to hire a vehicle on Barbados and doing so can become prohibitively expensive. As discussed earlier in the Barbados Travel Guide buses are insanely cheap and frequent enough to meet most people’s needs. Cabs are pricier but you’ll need to use them occasionally if you stay out later than the buses are running (about $15/five miles and up, prices vary depending on passenger numbers and time of day/night).
Bike hire is a brilliant option as the roads are decent enough and other road users are relatively relaxed. Expect to save about 15-20% when hiring a bike for the week compared to the daily rates.
Budget Barbados Travel Guide – When Is the Best Time to Visit
The high season runs between November and March. Temperatures are idyllic – meaning Barbados attracts plenty of visitors from colder climes that push prices through the roof. It’s busy, dry, but rarely oppressively hot. Unless you are lucky enough to scope out an amazing accommodation deal this time of year will likely be beyond most ‘budget’ visitors means even though ‘on the ground’ prices don’t change very much.
April – May sees these crowds thin out – and prices begin to drop correspondingly. The weather remains perfectly gorgeous yet most hotels will have spare rooms. You’ll also notice much greater competition between tour operators too with greater opportunities for haggling over prices. If you can visit Barbados during these months it’ll probably be your best time to save money while also enjoying essentially ‘guaranteed’ good weather.
June – October/early November can be an excellent time to visit but you’ll be trusting a little to luck. Barbados does get hit by the occasional tropical storm and they can last for days. Some businesses close over a proportion of these months but those that remain open will be in stiff competition – meaning many more bargains are on the market.
Overall we’d suggest aiming for May if you want to enjoy lower prices and good, reliable weather. Later in the year is even better for saving money but there is the not inconsiderable risk that you’ll be washed out for significant spells of your stay.
Budget Barbados Travel Guide – How To Stay Safe On My Trip
Barbados is safe to visit for the budget Barbados travel guide visitors still need to take care at night in some parts of the island. While the island is well-policed, muggings and thefts do occasionally happen – more often than not targetting intoxicated visitors. Hotel rooms are sometimes targetted by burglars so make use of the safe and remember to lock windows and balcony doors.
Providing you keep an eye on your belongings while enjoying the beach, stay clear of any offers of drugs, and ignore the occasional scam artist you’ll not have anything to worry about. Local police maintain a high visibility presence throughout tourist areas.
Barbados has excellent medical services although these can be very expensive indeed. Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance arranged before visiting and that it includes cover for adventure sports.
We hope you enjoyed reading the Budget Barbados Travel Guide – and good travels! Contact us with any questions you may have about travel to Barbados.