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Barbados on a Budget: An Itinerary Without Breaking the Bank

Barbados on a Budget: An Itinerary Without Breaking the Bank

Barbados is a place to enjoy unique experiences unlike any other. It’s a little island in the eastern Caribbean. Only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, it’s a gorgeous and intriguing vacation destination. For anyone traveling on a budget, Barbados might not seem like the immediate choice.

Silver sands, beautiful beaches, crystal clear ocean, and breezy palm trees are certainly stunning, and they tend not to come cheap. Combine this with the desirable tropical Caribbean Island climate, glitzy beachfront restaurants, and fancy cocktails, which can add up to a really expensive vacation.

You might be interested to find out that it is possible to see Barbados on a budget. You just have to do a little planning beforehand. Visit Barbados and save money by reading on!

Want to Travel the World for Less?

A lot of you are probably eager to go on little vacations here and there and maybe even get that vacation filled with adventure, exploration, and travel.

But, where do you begin? Cheap flights can definitely bring a smile to your face but how much does it cost to actually stay around the place you want to visit? How can you get around? How can you and your belongings be safe?

Here is a list of companies you can contact for you to make the most of your trip:

  • GetYourGuide: See more of every city by taking local tours and experiences.
  • Skyscanner: Home to the easiest and most efficient way to book anything, including flights, cars, hotels, and more.

These are the budget travel tips I wish I’d known before I set out on my adventure around this hidden gem in the Caribbean Sea!

Packing Tips for Your Bajan Adventure

Depending on how you plan to see the island, your luggage is going to vary massively.

Some people opt for the backpacking approach, in which case packing light is essential. Others opt for an inexpensive hotel or Airbnb, in which case, go crazy!

Whichever way you’re planning to experience Barbados, there is a selection of items that you really shouldn’t be without.

Protect Yourself From the Sun

The Rough Guide to Barbados

Parasols are rented per hour, so it’s more budget-friendly to bring a sunhat and sunscreen.

Barbados is pretty close to the equator, which means it’s hot. Whether you’re fair-skinned or not, a hat and sunscreen are the two most important things to put in your suitcase. You wouldn’t want sunburn and skin peeling to get in your way after the joy you just had.

Plenty of people forget these essentials and end up being forced to spend double the money at the airport or a souvenir shop.

If you’re backpacking, then a foldable sunhat is an invaluable item to bring with you as it folds down small and springs back to shape once unpacked.

Another item that will prove invaluable is a comprehensive (but handbag-sized) guidebook.

The Rough Guide to Barbados is small enough to slip into a pocket but still provides tons of information on places of historical interest, as well as some good restaurant recommendations.

A Word on Clothing

Summer Dress

If you are going the backpacking route, then you’ll want to be carrying as little weight as possible. Ensure you take a high-quality, lightweight backpack and bring only the essentials.

On some island holidays, it’s possible to get away with little more than your swimsuit. While that’s perfect for the seafront in Barbados, the style of dress in towns and villages is more conservative.

Men should be sure to pack a t-shirt to cover up in towns, and women should pack a light sundress for the daytime and possibly something to cover the shoulders too.

Of course, the dress code is open to interpretation. There are no penalties for flashing a bit of shoulder, but it’s best to be considerate of others’ cultural values.

Another thing to note, particularly for fans of ‘army-chic,’ is that emulating a police officer or member of the military in Barbados is taken very seriously.

Avoid camouflage print and military-style garments, as these are the kind of items that genuinely could land you in trouble.

See Related: Skiplagged Review

Where to Stay in Barbados on a Budget

So you’ve packed your bags, made your way to the island, and now you need a place to stay.

Barbados has more than its fair share of exclusive hotels, and while they’re certainly luxury, they have a price tag to match.

Happily for you, there are some places to stay on a budget in Barbados. You just have to know where to look.

Booking an Apartment

Airbnb Homepage

Airbnb is an excellent option if you really want to see the island on a shoestring budget. 

While most hotels on the island will set you back at least $75 per night, you can easily book yourself an Airbnb or a privately owned apartment for $25 per night, or even less!

The actual bargain apartments are generally found near the island’s south coast.

If you’re lucky, then you might find one on the outskirts of Bridgetown but Oistins, Hopefield, and Saint Martins are also good budget locations.

Finding a Hotel

Barbados Balcony Scenery

Some people enjoy staying in a hotel while they travel. While I’m an Airbnb convert through and through, I can see the appeal in fresh sheets every day.

Then there’s the hotel bar, of course! If you have your heart set on a hotel, the south of the island is a good place to start.

Coconut Court Beach hotel offers rooms for around $75 per night. This includes breakfast, and the hotel backs onto a stunning stretch of beach.

The Melbourne Inn in Oistins is even more affordable, where rooms start at $70.

Getting Around Barbados on a Budget

Bike

Biking

One of the best ways to see a country is by riding a scooter or motorbike. A bike rental in Barbados isn’t cheap, but it’s still less expensive than a car, public buses, or taking a cab in the island’s capital. It’s nearly impossible to get lost on the main roadways. You can also book a bike tour.

Reggae Bus

Barbados Bus
image by Sven Volkens is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

More importantly, wherever you choose to stay on the island, the chances are you’ll want to do a little exploring. The greatest tip for how to travel to Barbados on a budget is to make use of the Reggae Buses.

These buses are privately operated, and the drivers are keen on their service and incredibly friendly and helpful. The buses drive around the island in constant loops.

Depending on the direction you want to go in, make sure you’re on the correct side of the road.

Then you can either look for the nearest stop or hail one coming your way. Remember, the yellow buses are the Reggae Buses.

The blue and white ones are municipal buses and make far fewer stops and are not for those hailing from the side of the road.

Each ride on the Reggae Bus is just $1, no matter the length of your journey or your destination.

If you really wanted to, then you could travel all around the island on a constant loop all day, and it would cost you the same as a short hop to the next bus stop.

One thing to remember about these buses is that they are noisy.

Most of the buses play loud reggae music, many have comedy horns, and all encourage a party atmosphere.

They can get a little busy, they sometimes drive a little fast, but there isn’t a cheaper or more entertaining way to get around the island.

See RelatedBest Beaches in the UK

Where to Find Cheap and Delicious Food in Barbados

After finding your apartment and getting to know the local transport, chances are you’ll be ready for something to eat. Barbados has a huge variety of restaurants that vary wildly in price.

We’re here, though, for the ones that provide food options while on a budget in Barbados.

Oistins Fish Fry

5 Grilled Fish in Stick
Whether blackened, grilled or fried, the fish at the Oistins Fish Fry is always delicious.

Whether blackened, grilled, or fried, the fish at the Oistins Fish Fry is always delicious.

One of my favorite Barbados eating experiences is the Oistins Fish Fry. Every Friday night, the streets of Oistins come alive with hundreds of dancing people, loud music, and the smell of frying fish and street food.

Pop-up stalls take over the waterfront. They sell freshly caught and fried fish alongside all of the sides you could dream of.

A huge helping of food (and usually a beer too) costs just $15 and is more than enough for one hungry person, or perhaps even two to share.

You can choose to have your fish fried, grilled, or at some stands, blackened. Sides usually include macaroni pie, coleslaw, rice, peas, or fries.

Make sure you give yourself time to look around after dinner. Many stands sell handmade trinkets, souvenirs, and two large music stages.

Fisherman’s Pub

Fisherman's Pub
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Speightstown, the historic beachside town in the Bahamas, is home to the Fisherman’s Pub. In its early years, it provided rum and tequila to northern fishermen as a popular libation.

Many locals and visitors to Barbados flock to this restaurant for its hearty Barbadian cooking.

The national dish of cou cou and flying fish, as well as other local favorites like pepperpot, macaroni pie, chicken, pudding, and souse, may be found here. Patrons can eat outside under the shade of umbrellas or inside the establishment. Enjoy a healthy meal or dinner and entertainment at the restaurant.

PEG Farm

PEG Farm,
image by Management/TripAdvisor

If fish isn’t your thing, then there’s chicken to be had in most food shacks and restaurants. One place that you might find really special is PEG farm.

Food costs in Barbados can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you’re looking for organic food which is served in a beautiful setting, so PEG farm is quite the rarity.

Set in the lands of the Easy Hall Plantation in St Joseph, PEG farm focuses on sustainable, biodynamic farming.

You can sit in a totally open wooden structure overlooking the gardens and farmlands and enjoy a delicious meal with ingredients sourced entirely from the farmland.

PEG farm raises its own animals, including pigs, chickens, and cows. If you want to experience true free-range meat, then you can choose to eat in the cafe or to buy some meat from the farm shop.

Despite the animals’ unparalleled welfare and the meat’s exceptional quality, the farm shop is actually less expensive than supermarkets.

Don’t be put off by the luxury of the setting. Treat yourself to a gourmet experience on a sensible budget.

Try a Flying Fish Sandwich and Cutter

Cuz's Fish Shack Shop
image by Management/TripAdvisor

There’s hot debate over whereabouts on the island serve the best fish cutter, but only a few eateries regularly end out on top. The best local restaurants include Pebbles Beach, Cutters of Crane Beach, and Cuz’s Fish Stand just by Bridgetown.

The big difference between them is cost. Cutters offer a more luxury experience, and the price tag reflects that, although by no means astronomical. Cuz’s is literally a shack on the beach, and their prices are more affordable.

If you have no need for a seat and aren’t afraid of a lengthy queue, then Cuz’s Fish Shack is the place to go. Most locals and tourists alike clamor to get their hands on one of Cuz’s cutters and flying fish sandwiches, sold from his shack on the beach at Needhams Point (right by the Barbados Hilton).

He uses salt bread, Bajan hot sauce, and exceedingly fresh fish to produce a flying fish sandwich like almost no other. These sandwiches are just $8.50 for two, with a beer so perfect for those keen to eat in Barbados on a budget.

Those who prefer a seat in the sun, a well-kept garden, and a glass of possibly the island’s best rum punch should visit Cutters.

This restaurant and deli serves up delicious food alongside a strong, sweet, and perfectly spiced rum punch.

The setting is beautiful, the staff is incredibly prompt, especially by Barbados standards, and they’re not too far from the airport, so it’s a convenient stop for the beginning and end of your visit.

Want more? Book the Barbados 5-Hour Island Tour with Lunch and Drinks.

How to Experience the Best of the Island on a Budget

There are plenty of expensive ways to experience the best of your low-cost trip to Barbados, usually organized by hotels at exorbitant prices. The best way to experience all the inexpensive things to do in Barbados is to venture out yourself.

Accommodation costs include rental cars and taxis instead of taking public transportation and local buses, and a basic lunch when you stay at their hotel room. But this costs a lot of extra money. Extra travel costs and money that you really don’t need to spend!

Get your own ingredients at Jordans supermarket

Suppose you decide to pursue the road of self-catering. In that case, we recommend shopping for groceries at the Jordans Supermarket chain, as this is where the majority of Barbadians conduct their grocery shopping.

Even if the majority of the items will be more expensive than what we are used to paying back at home, this is still a significantly more cost-effective option than dining in a restaurant.

Take an Adventure

Disappointing' Symmonds: Local proposals for future of Harrisons Cave not  up to scratch – Ministry of Energy and Business Development of Barbados

Harrison’s Cave, one of Barbados’ most stunning natural attractions, can be found right in the middle of the island. There are running streams and deep pools of crystal clear water in this limestone cave, which is located in the island’s central uplands. Look up in admiration at the speleothems and white flow stones that adorn the cave.

In visiting Barbados, you should not miss tasting Mount Gay Rum. One sure way to do so is to have an amazing time and become a part of the annual Barbados Food and Rum Festival, which celebrates the island’s rich rum culture. As a tourist in Barbados, you can have a great time at a low-cost thanks to this festival, which attracts thousands of rum and food enthusiasts to the island.

If you’re looking to see as much of Barbados as possible on a tight budget, the Animal Flower Cave is also an excellent option. Located in Northpoint, the natural cave composed of hard coral features a hidden pool of water, which we found to be ideal for cooling off in the heat. Take in the stunning ocean vistas from the cave’s interior and the cliffs above.

Go around the island more but still save money by going by the Barbados Museum. Looking around is free, and all you have to worry about is the travel costs through public transportation.

Under the Sea

Barbados' Reefs
image by Johnmartindavies is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Besides strolling the silver sands of the island, one of the most memorable experiences for anyone who goes on a trip to Barbados should explore the oceans. Barbados’ reefs and wrecks are plentiful and teeming with underwater life.

Snorkeling is a terrific (and free) activity if you’re a budget traveler. Barbados is known for its turtles, so visit Folkestone Marine Park and Mullins Bay. 

Though, you should remember to pack your snorkeling gear rather than rent one. You can find plentiful sea life by hopping into the ocean at any point along the west coast

It’s important to remember that, unlike the East Coast, the West side of the island is sheltered from the waves and currents of the Atlantic Ocean.

The currents in the East can be deceptively strong. Only those who are very confident in the water should swim here.

On the West Coast, you are far more sheltered and should be able to swim with absolute safety.

Finding Green Sea Turtles and Manta Rays

Green Sea Turtle Swimming in Ocean
There’s nothing as magical as seeing a Green Sea Turtle in its natural habitat.

There’s nothing as magical as seeing marine life, especially a green sea turtle, in its natural habitat.

If you’d like to see a little more than just fish, then you have a couple of options. Barbados is famous for its green sea turtles and also manta rays. Although boat trip organizers tell you it’s impossible to find turtles on your own, with a little patience, it’s achievable.

It’s entirely your decision which route you choose. Looking for them on your own takes a little more time, but it’s free and incredibly rewarding. If you choose to take a boat trip, then you’ll be guaranteed to see turtles and rays.

The downside is you’ll be sharing the experience with at least a dozen other tourists.

Those who want to seek out the turtles on their own should look around Moon Town and Batt’s Rock.

Snorkel close to the shallow algae-covered rocks. You can often find turtles munching on algae here. If you don’t get lucky, the beaches along this coast are beautiful, so there’s always a silver lining.

Those who choose to take a boat tour should consider a half-day tour. You’ll get all of the excitement of swimming around a wreck and seeing the rays and turtles, but for a lesser cost than the full-day tours.

Unusual Animals in the Sea

Old Man Holding Race in the Ocean
For a breathtaking budget activity, watch the racehorses swim in the sea by the racetrack.

For a breathtaking budget activity, watch the racehorses swim in the sea by the racetrack.

One animal that you might not expect to find in the Caribbean waters is a horse!

Generally speaking, you won’t find one. Still, if you head to Pebble Bay very early in the morning, then you might just get to see the racehorses from the Garrison Savannah racetrack venturing out for their daily swim.

Around 5 am, or just as the sun rises, the stablehands bring the horses across the road. Once they reach the sea, you can watch them swim right out around the anchored boats.

This method of exercise is easy on the horses’ joints and allows tired muscles to recover more quickly.

Whether you’re a horse lover or not, this is an experience not to be missed. It’s truly magical and also perfect for those seeing Barbados on a budget, as it’s totally free!

See RelatedBest Lightweight Travel Girl for Hot Climates

Visiting Hunte’s Gardens

Hunte's Gardens
image by Alex Dixon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

One experience that costs a little money but is more than worth the outlay is a visit to Hunte’s Gardens.

Many hotels offer this as an extra to your stay, and it often costs as much as $50 per person.

Instead, catch the Reggae Bus and guide yourself around the gardens. This way costs just $15, and you experience exactly the same thing.

Incredibly, the owner of these gardens, Anthony Hunte, built the whole area single-handedly. They are home to many indigenous and rare species, a real treat for horticulturists and ‘commoners’ alike.

More tips when visiting Barbados on a budget

Do they accept US dollars in Barbados?

On your journeys around Barbados, you’ll notice that United States currencies are widely accepted across the country, while many restaurants or stores accept major credit cards. Most hotel chains in Barbados also accept this variety of cash payments.

What currency is best to take to Barbados?

The Bajan dollar (BD$) is the country’s official currency and is linked to the US dollar’s value. Banks are the only places where you can get better exchange rates than you can from any other source. However, a wide range of businesses in the neighborhood accept US dollars as payment and provide local currency exchange as well.

What is the cheapest time to go to Barbados?

It will cost less than the peak season from July to September and the shoulder season between September and November. The low season is an opportunity to have the most excellent deals on the island’s hotels, attractions, and restaurants.

FAQs

Planning to visit Barbados? Here are some top FAQs in visiting Barbados: everything you need to know before your trip.

Which coast of Barbados is best?

If you’re on a tight budget, you can visit Barbados, list your preference, and decide for yourself which one is the best. Clear, warm waters lap softly on golden sands on Barbados’ west coast. This area is known as the “Platinum Coast.” If you’re planning a family vacation or a romantic trip in the Caribbean, this is the place to stay.

The rocky beauty of Barbados’ East Coast is well-known. Beautiful mist and froth are created as the Atlantic’s rollers crash against large boulders. As you venture along East Coast Road, the Atlantic waves smash over rocks and reefs to make little pools close to the shore.

What to do when planning to visit Barbados on a budget?

There are a number of low-cost activities and attractions on the island that you can get to via local transportation. Cultural attractions, including the Barbados Museum and the Garrison Historic Area, are nearby, as is Harrison’s Cave. Other alternatives include the less-visited Mount Gay Rum Distillery and the Caribbean Rum and Food Festival. 

Outdoor recreation is also abundant in Barbados. Carlisle Bay, Crane Beach, and Sunrise Beach are all worth a visit. Plus, you can get a taste of island life in Bathsheba and save money at the same time.

What is so great about visiting Barbados?

It’s certainly no secret Barbados has the most spectacular and picturesque beaches on the planet. The serene Caribbean Sea is famed for its aquamarine waters and soft sands. In contrast, the more wild beaches in eastern Barbados offer an exciting experience for visitors, surrounded by large rollers.

What should I avoid in Barbados?

Always be careful when you visit Barbados or any of the Caribbean islands, for that matter. Avoid solitary areas, especially at night. Use a licensed cab only in evening party streets — especially at festivals. As pickpockets are abundant in the area, make sure your valuables are very secure at all times. You should also leave your personal information in a hotel safe or secure inside your luggage.

How many days do you need in Barbados?

Even though you have the option of visiting just a few places on this island, that really doesn’t do the island any real justice. Most visitors spend one week within the area. When arranging a trip to Barbados, I would recommend a minimum of five days, but seven days is the ideal length of stay.

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