Barbados on a Budget – Top Tips for Travel to Barbados
Barbados. All the beautiful images you’ve seen on postcards are true. Turquoise blue waters, white sandy beaches, stunning sunsets and rum punch by the pool. When you travel to Barbados, you’ll find beachside cocktail bars, fresh BBQ fish grills and turtles to swim within the waters. It’s true, this island isn’t known as a cheap Caribbean destination, but is it really possible to visit Barbados on a budget?
Barbados is sold as a luxury destination, and it’s clear to see why. There are so many gorgeous beaches and bays to choose from, but in the end, you’re in control over how to plan your vacation before you’ve arrived. It’s also up to you how you spend your money once you’re here.
Many visitors buy a package deal, which includes accommodation at resorts or hotels, car hire and pre-purchased tickets for excursions or day trips and that’s fine, but it’ll cost ya. Let’s talk about how you can travel to Barbados for the best price.
Affordable Travel to Barbados. What’s the secret?
If you’d like to visit Barbados without the huge price tag, you just need to be clever about how you spend your dollars here. Visiting Barbados on a budget is possible because we just did it. You can stay in beautiful accommodation, get around the island easily and eat good food for a fraction of the cost as the packaged tour visitors.
Here are our best tips to visit Barbados on a budget
Barbados experiences a wet and a dry season. Both seasons coincide with the low and high seasons for tourists, with most visitors booking their holidays in the cool, drier months that run from December to May. Many people travel to Barbados at this time because the weather is at its best.
The wet season can see intense downpours, however, unlike the rest of the Caribbean, thanks to its position, the country is not as affected by hurricanes and storms as other islands.
Barbadian Dollar (BBD). At the time of writing, 1 USD = 2.00 BBD.
The Barbadian dollar is pegged to the USD and it is possible to pay with US currency on the island and you’ll receive BBD in change. I’d recommend withdrawing some local currency from many ATM’s around the island (most ATM’s charge will charge 6.00 or 10.00 BBD for the transaction, which is quite expensive so make sure you get enough to sustain your stay to avoid more bank charges).
You can also bring USD currency and easily change this to BBD in any bank, these are well located around the island too.
How to get to Barbados on a budget
Depending on where you are travelling from, the cheapest flights to Barbados can be booked online. We researched a few different websites, however, Skyscanner seems to always have the best connections and the cheapest prices.
We flew in from London and we found direct flights from London, Gatwick with Thomas Cook. The fare we paid was about GBP 230 per person for a one-way flight. This is a great deal for an 8.5-hour flight.
Return flights (direct) from Miami are less than $500 per person on this website!
Using Skyscanner, you can view a whole week or month of flights to compare prices. This is ideal for this destination, as costs can vary greatly depending on the days of travel and from what city you are flying to.
Barbados is one large island. The hub is the capital of Bridgetown, also a popular cruise port for visitors cruising around the Caribbean islands. The bus and minivan network on the island is very good.
Most transport starts or changes here to then go towards your destination or past the beach you’d like to visit. All buses/vans have a number on the front of the vehicle and they have signs in the front window for the direction they’re going to.
The local Barbadians are very friendly people, so if you’re unsure of how to get to where you’re going, just ask somebody. Barbados is an English speaking nation.
How much does it cost?
Each ride will cost you 2.00 BBD or USD $1. If you leave one van/bus and change to another, you must pay again for the next ride.
There are many small bus stops located all over the island. Simply flag down the driver as he’s driving past and press the convenient buzzer when you’d like to get out. Pay the driver when you jump out, it’s best to have correct or small change if possible.
Rockley Beach in Barbados.
Private taxis are available, however, they’re quite expensive. Remember to negotiate the rate with the driver before you begin the journey.
How to take the bus from the airport to your accommodation:
TIP: If you don’t have any small USD notes or BBD currency, there is an ATM in the baggage collection hall. It charges a 10.00 BBD ($5) transaction fee, but you’ll need it to pay for transport to get to your accommodation.
Exit the airport and directly ahead and across the car park, near the main road you will see a bus stop. Take the bus from here. If you don’t know the van/bus number, just ask a local at the bus stop or ask the driver when he arrives if he is going in your direction.
Taxi from the airport:
Once you walk out of the arrival halls, there is a board with prices for your taxi, depending on where you’re going. Look for the authorized taxi stand right next to this and someone there will ask where you’re going and arrange your taxi. He’ll write you a paper receipt and ask you to pay the taxi driver directly, with cash. Only USD or BBD is accepted.
If you’re aiming to visit Barbados on a budget, yet you’d still like to stay somewhere that is clean, comfortable and well located, the room we booked in a house on Airbnb was perfect!
Our host, Elease has a two-level open and breezy Caribbean home with 3 bedrooms for guests.
We had access to two guest bathrooms and our room and bed were very comfortable. We paid USD $39 per night to stay here and we absolutely loved it.
Our accommodation had everything we needed and more
The house has a large kitchen downstairs with your own space in the fridge and cupboards to store food. There is a coffee filter machine and an espresso machine, so bring your own coffee to enjoy each morning. There’s a dining area to enjoy meals and a large living area with a big TV hooked up with Netflix. The wifi is super strong in any room and there is a cute little veranda where you can chill out in the evening with a rum or tea.
The best part is that you can walk to nearby Silver Sands beach (less than 10 min) and there’s a small supermarket a few minutes away. You can also walk less than a minute along the road to catch convenient little minivans that run all over the island. Each trip is BBD 2.00 and it’s an affordable and great way to explore the island.
The West Coast is popular to stay among tourists and tends to be the more expensive side of the island. These are the best deals in this area.
Silver Sands Beach in Barbados. A short walk from our accommodation
The Preserve – Bright, fully equipped apartments located just a 5-minute walk from a beautiful beach in Batts Rock. Overlooking the water, each apartment has 1 air-conditioned bedroom, cable TV and wifi. Your room also includes a kitchen with a fridge, oven and stove. Supermarkets and bars are 10 min walk away.
Sungold House Barbados – From $75 per night, this holiday home features accommodation with an outdoor pool, free WiFi, barbecue facilities and a garden. Located in Speightstown, one of the most popular locations on this side of the island.
The East Coast is a little more remote and peaceful. A great place to stay is:
ECO Lifestyle and Lodge -The property is only a 5-minute walk from Soup Bowl and Bathsheba Beach, the most popular surfing beach on the island. This eco-friendly place features studio apartments with outdoor patios equipped with hammocks and free wifi throughout. A ceiling fan, a refrigerator and a coffee maker are standard in all studios. Prices start from $150 per night.
You can also hire a car on the island, however, it’s not cheap. RentalCars usually offer the best deals on car hire. Prices start from around BBD 130.00 (USD $65) per day. NOTE: Petrol here is quite expensive too.
Where to Eat?
Barbados is a pricey island, particularly for meat and fresh salad and vegetables. If you decide to eat in restaurants on the island, expect to pay around USD $30 for a nice meal or USD $20 at mid-range establishments.
Here are some of our favourite places to eat on the island for affordable prices and good local food.
Oistins Fish Market
Everyone will tell you to go and eat at this place if you tell them you plan to travel to Barbados. Yes, it’s a little touristy, but the food is good. The best time to go is on Friday nights when the atmosphere is busy with lots of people, locals and music to enjoy.
Take a bus to Oistins and choose from one of the little wooden kitchens here cooking fresh seafood of the day with sides. A typical meal here of your choice of fish served with rice, vegetables and some side salads sets you back between USD $12-15. Order a cold beer or rum punch for an extra $2-5.
Eating fresh seafood at Oistins Fish Market
Our favourite wooden hut is called Pat’s Place. It’s a little green hut located along the road-front with others. Pat’s does the best seafood and local fare at the markets. You can’t travel to Barbados without stopping by Pat’s Place.
Only 15 min walk from our Airbnb accommodation. Small place, plastic chairs and tables. Best fried chicken on the island, great prices too.
Located in Speightstown, the ‘Little Bristol’ of the island. Canteen style food, lots of local specialities and you can pick and choose what you like. Located right on the beach, a good plate of food is found here for under $10.
Cuz’s Fish Stand, Bridgetown – Pebbles Beach
Best flying fish sandwich around! Just ask the locals. If there’s a line, wait in it…it’s good! I’d travel to Barbados again just to eat here again.
Save money and self-cater
It can get very expensive to eat out for every meal, so if you choose to book a room in a house as we did, you will have a full kitchen to cater for yourself. We tried some local dishes from affordable places in Barbados, however, we took advantage of the kitchen in our accommodation. We cooked the majority of our meals during our stay and it was the key to us being able to visit Barbados on a budget.
There are larger supermarkets located in the capital, Bridgetown and in the more touristy beach areas such as Rockley Beach and Oistins. If you’re here for several days, it’s best to stop by one of these supermarkets and stock up.
Things to do in Barbados
This is one of the most loved tourist attractions in Barbados. Found in the jungle-covered highlands of the country, this limestone cave is an interesting place to explore. There’s a small tramway that rolls its way through the extensive cave network. A great look into the underground world.
Barbados is renowned for its quality rum, and the Mount Gay brand is one of the island’s most famous exports. Dating back to the early 18th century, Mount Gay Rum is a famous institution, and it’s possible to experience the history on a distillery tour to learn more about Barbados and the rum trade. Maybe leave the car at home and take the bus, as a tour here will include some tastings too.
Barbados has a long colonial history and much of the current culture was built around the plantations that ran the thriving sugar cane industry. Both St Nicholas Abbey and Sunbury Plantation houses are worth a visit.
All of the beaches in Barbados are public access, which means that you can enjoy the same beaches as the people staying and paying for luxury resorts. The more popular beaches will have free parking (if you have a car) and facilities.
Many of the smaller beaches you may have to yourself. Bring your own food/picnic, snorkelling gear, and a good book and you’re all set to go.
Bring your snorkel and some fins and head to the west side of Barbados on the bus. This is the best place to go in search of marine life. The water is clear and calm and it’s also where a large population of turtles swims off this shore. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to swim with them.
There are so many incredible beaches to explore here and too many to name; however, my favourites were Miami Beach, Cranes Beach, Brownes Beach, Carlisle Bay, Rockley Beach and Bathsheba.
At Rockley beach in Barbados
How much do things cost (in USD) in supermarkets?
**Index of prices** Price shown in USD
1.5L bottled water (Note: tap water is OK to drink) $1.75
Canned tomatoes $0.90c
Canned tuna $.0.80c
Small bag red onions $1.20c
Small block cheddar cheese $3.00
A loaf of bread $1.50
6 Pack of bread rolls $2.20
Bananas $1.20 for 4
A small bag of tomatoes $2.00
6 eggs $3.00
Box muesli Alpen $10.00
1 x small bottle beer $1.70
Bag spaghetti 500g $0.80
Bag potatoes $1.20
Small bag fresh garlic $0.80
2 min noodles 0.50c
Bottle of wine $13.00
So there you have it, travel to Barbados is a great idea and you can visit Barbados on a budget too. We had an amazing time here and we could have easily stayed a couple of extra weeks. The people were very welcoming and it’s a super relaxing place to be. We seriously can’t wait to return and as we mentioned to our host – we will be back!
As always, be sure to have comprehensive travel insurance when things don’t go to plan. I choose World Nomads Travel Insurance for all my travels around the world.
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🚌 Transportation: To book trains,Trainline is the best and cheapest website. To book transport in Europe, USA & Canada, we useOmio & FlixbusUS. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go.For all other countries, we use BookaWay to compare and book Bus, Ferry, or train tickets to get around.
Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 190 countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.