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Barbados

Barbados is an island in the Caribbean region, but which lies out in the Atlantic many miles east of the Caribbean Sea. Its nearest neighbours, some 100 miles west, are Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia, part of the arc of the Lesser Antilles that separate Atlantic and Caribbean. Those islands look like and are a partly-submerged chain of mountains. By contrast Barbados has formed from deposits of coral and has a gentler landscape. It's fertile, and is sometimes called the "Little Britain" of the Caribbean because of its long and uniquely unbroken history of British colonisation and settlement. It became independent in 1966 and tourism is nowadays its main industry.

Understand

Barbados has experienced several waves of human habitation. The first were the Saladoid-Barrancoid people who arrived by canoe from Venezuela's Orinoco Valley around 350 AD. Second were the Arawaks, arriving from South America around 800 AD; they called the place Ichirouganaim meaning "teeth", referring to the island's reefs. In the 13th C the Caribs arrived from South America and displaced the previous populations. For the next few centuries, they lived in isolation here.

In 1536 the Portuguese explorer Pedro Campos called the island "Os Barbados" ("The Bearded Ones") because the long hanging aerial roots of the island's fig trees resembled beards. Later, Spanish conquistadors seized many Caribs on Barbados to use as slaves, and many other Caribs fled from the island. However neither Spain nor Portugal settled here. The first Europeans to do so were the British from 1627 and, unlike other Caribbean islands, Barbados never passed into the control of other nations as the later centuries' wars played out.

Early crops were of cotton, tobacco, ginger and indigo, worked by indentured labourers, mostly English and Irish. Their conditions were harsh but not slavery, and after several years labour (if they survived), they were awarded freedom, money and land - so a colony evolved. But those crops suffered competition as North American production grew. Sugarcane was introduced in 1640 and proved more profitable and reliable, but demanded heavy labour. Enslaved Africans were shipped in to meet this need, many being Igbo from what is now Nigeria. For two centuries Barbados was a slave colony, as the plantations grew and grew and bought out the other settlers. From 1833 there was gradual emancipation, through a combination of rebellions, anti-slavery movements and laws, and changing economics.

Barbados remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum and molasses through most of the 20th C; the labour was still hard, and employment conditions were repressive. By now 90% of the island's people were of African descent, 10% were a British-descended squirearchy that clung onto all the wealth and positions of power, and ethnic Caribs were very few. But from the 1930s an educated black middle class fought for universal adult suffrage and gradually gained power, and post-war social and political reforms led to complete independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. In the 1980s, tourism and manufacturing overtook the sugar industry in economic importance. Barbados has developed into a stable democracy with one of the highest rates of literacy in the Western Hemisphere. It does however have an uncomfortable level of sovereign debt: in May 2018 the newly-elected government uncovered shady national accounting, with the true debt being over 1.7 times the country's GDP. Your tourist spend however modest will be appreciated.

Locals refer to themselves as Bajans and things Barbadian as Bajan.

Regions

The island of Barbados has eleven parishes which can conveniently be divided into four regions:


Get in

Entry requirements

Most visitors do not need a visa for tourist or business visits. That includes citizens of the countries below (listed by the Barbados government in 2009 and believed to be unchanged in 2019) but they are likely to need a visa to work or study so those visitors must make further enquiries of the embassy or consulate.

Citizens of the following countries do not need visas to enter Barbados:

See embassy website for visa application process & fees. Beware commercial websites that will charge extra for less reliable information.

By plane

1 Sir Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI IATA) (8 miles east of Bridgetown). By air is the main way in and out of Barbados, so the airport has good connections to North America, Europe especially Britain and Germany, and the Caribbean region. Many long-haul flights are by package tour operators eg TUI and Virgin Atlantic, but these also offer flight-only tickets. Regional short hops are operated by LIAT and others. Departing, the check-in area is a semi-open-air triangle with a couple of small cafes and free rest-rooms. After check-in, emigration comes before security, as there are no domestic flights. Airside has a large retail mall with cafes but the exchange desk charges 5 B$ minimum fee so it's not the best option for leftover small amounts of B$. Arriving, you may use the duty-free shop before immigration. You have to fill in a landing card for immigration, and you're told to keep the counterfoil for departure, but no-one will ever look at it.

Public buses and minibuses run from a stop just outside the airport. They ply to the south coast hotel strip, Bridgetown, and up the west coast as far as Holetown and Speightstown for B$2 per person, but a taxi is the most convenient way to get to your hotel on arrival. Across the road is a little collection of bars and eating places.

By boat

There are no ferries between Barbados and the other Caribbean islands. A ferry to Grenada ran 2011-2016 but was discontinued, and there are no plans to restart.

Many cruise ships dock in Bridgetown deep water harbour - check company itineraries to see if a point-to-point sailing to Barbados is possible. The terminal is served by an army of taxis, as well as shuttle "buses" to/from downtown Bridgetown for B$2 each way per person. There are separate arrangements to enable cruise passengers to transit between ship and airport without going through immigration.

Private moorings are available around the island. It's strictly forbidden to drop anchor on the coral reefs, with stiff penalties.

Get around

Driving is on the left. The bus system is extensive, cheap and fast if you are headed to somewhere on the main route, but a car (or mini-moke) is the only way to see many of the out-of-the-way sights. Many drivers will hold a bus for you if they see you are from out of town, reflecting the typical welcoming spirit. Buses are run by the Barbados Transport Board (blue) and are quiet. Private operators include the yellow buses, which play very loud music, and private mini-vans (white), which are usually cramped and crowded. The two privately run means of transport are often driven very fast and recklessly. All charge the same fare (B$2). Yellow buses and minivans offer change and even accept US dollars. BTB buses accept Barbados dollars and do not give change.

There are also more than enough taxis to take you wherever you need to go on the island for reasonable prices. They do not use meters and it is best to negotiate the price before you get in. However, most taxi drivers are honest and you are unlikely to be overcharged. Be sure to ask the management of the hotel or the friendly locals what the going rate is for a cab ride to your destination.

Renting a car is expensive. If you are driving, be aware that the roads on the island are generally quite narrow, with the exception of the ABC highway, which also has several long sections towards the west coast that is under large scale construction to expand the road to accommodate additional lanes. It is advisable to be extra cautious as many roads on the island have sharp turns, steep inclines, and are generally quite bumpy, although most are paved.

Many of these "highways" do not have sidewalks, so there can be pedestrians on the street sharing the road. Many bus stops are also on the side of roads where there are no sidewalks. Additionally, beware of impromptu passing lanes as slow drivers are often passed by others behind them when on two lane roads. Road signs can be fairly confusing (they often indicate the nearest two towns/villages in opposite order - i.e. furthest listed first), so be prepared to get lost: just ask the way as people are always eager to help.

At most all of the local car rental agencies, a full collision damage waiver policy is automatically included with the rental, except for any damage incurred to the car tires, a testament to the poor condition of the smaller roads and tendency of foreign drivers to miscalculate driving lanes and hit curbs.

Mopeds and bikes can also be rented to explore sites not easily reached by cars. This is not recommended however due to the poor condition of many of the secondary and residential roads. Except for the main highway, all the other roads provide a hazardous journey to the moped or bike rider due to the lack of sidewalks, frequent pot holes, sharp corners and speeding local buses.

Another fun way to get around is to rent a moke (open top car/buggy) available from any number of local car rental agencies.

Talk

The official language in Barbados is English. Bajan (occasionally called Barbadian Creole or Barbadian Dialect), is an Irish/English-based creole language spoken by locals. Bajan uses a mixture of West African idioms and expressions, such as Igbo, along with British English and Irish to produce a unique Barbadian/West Indian vocabulary and speech pattern. There are a few African words interspersed with the dialect. Communication will not be a problem for any English speaker, and Barbados has one of the highest literacy rates in the Western Hemisphere. Many Irish prisoners of war were sent to the island as indentured servants after the English Civil War. Some of the descendants of these can be found in St John and St Phillip and are known as Poor Whites or redlegs and another term that may be seen as racist.

See

If you're a member of a heritage organisation at home, such as the National Trust or RHS in Britain, bring your membership card, you'll get a discount at many Barbados heritage sites.
  • Botanical gardens are mostly in the hilly, less-developed country of Central Eastern Barbados. The standout is Andromeda Gardens, near Bathsheba. Others include Hunte's Gardens, Flower Forest, and Orchid World.
  • Grand houses from the plantation and colonial eras. Those routinely open for visits include the George Washington House and Wildey House in Bridgetown, and Sunbury Plantation House and Codrington College in Central Eastern Barbados. Several others are only open on special occasions, such as the Open House days in Jan-March. But you really need to time your visit to dodge the coach parties and cruise ship excursions. While that applies to any tourist attraction on Barbados, it's especially true for these houses - they're grand but not palatial, and sharing a four-poster bedroom with 50 amply-fed folk takes the gloss off the experience.
  • The green flash, if you're very lucky. This is sometimes seen in the tropics in the last split-second of sunset, when just as the sun vanishes the sky above it is momentarily a brilliant green. Conditions have to be just right: you need a hot calm day, with a clear view out to the sea horizon. Even then, most evenings all you'll get is a false flash, when staring towards the sunset leaves a green after-image on your vision. You'll begin to doubt it exists, but keep watching for it every clear sunset. Once seen, never forgotten.

Do

  • Surfing at Soup Bowl on the east coast and various breaks along the west when the swell is up. The south coast has great surf and the world windsurfing tour visits Silver Sands.
  • Scuba diving. There are also many diving tour operators for every level of experience to explore coral reefs as well as sunken ships. The waters around Barbados are some of the most transparent in the Caribbean.
  • Nightclubbing eg at Harbour Lights or along the Saint Lawrence Gap strip.
  • Catamaran Cruises, ? +1 246-429-8967, fax: +1 246-418-0002, e-mail: info@actioncharters.org. daily. A catamaran cruise with opportunities to snorkel with sea turtles and snorkel above shipwrecks. The tour includes transportation to and from the harbour, all drinks (alcohol included) and a buffet lunch. A cheaper version of the tour is offered that skips the buffet lunch. Turtle-snorkelling-only cruises are offered as well. B$150 per adult, credit cards accepted with 4% charge.
  • Atlantis Submarine Tours, ? +1 246-4368929. Dive down nearly 50m below sea level in a real submarine. For people who dare not dive, this is a convenient way to get close to marine life, corals and sunken ships. Morning tours are recommended since later tours may be canceled due to rough surface conditions. Minibuses from the centre also pass nearby but leave only from the northern (market) bus terminal, thus a cab might make more sense. US$180/couple.
  • Watch cricket at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown. West Indies play as a combined team for international matches ("Test matches", lasting up to five days). Barbados also competes as a nation in other competitions in the Caribbean region. First-class matches are sometimes played at other venues around the island, but the big games are always at the Oval.
  • Visit a rum distillery. Three distilleries are in production: Mount Gay in Bridgetown is the best known (M-F, Sat Nov-Apr). West Indies Rum Distillery (source of Malibu liqueur) in Bridgetown changed ownership in 2017 and currently only offers tours by special arrangement. Four Square in Saint Philip in Southern Barbados offers free self-guided tours M-F.

Buy

Money

The local currency is the Bajan dollar, denoted "Bds$" (ISO code: BBD), but US dollars are accepted in almost all shops and restaurants. The exchange rate is fixed at 2 Bajan dollars to the US dollar. Exchangers in hotels may insist on taking an additional percentage of the exchange (typically 5%).

Shopping

Just as anywhere else, your prime considerations are "Do I actually want this stuff?" and "What feels like a fair price?" Anything else is secondary.

Bridgetown's main street hosts numerous jewellers, e.g., Colombian Emeralds and Diamonds International. Cave Shepherd department store offers a wide range of mercantile, while Harrison's offers premium gifts, leathers and cosmetics. There are large supermarkets on the edge of Bridgetown. Smaller stores offer virtually everything a visitor or resident might need. The mall at the harbour has a good selection but is pricier than elsewhere.

Barbados has a well-deserved reputation for its rum. Two distilleries are currently open for tours, and purchases there will be at the best price.

Barbados has a great variety of street vendors. Haggle vigorously. Don't stop until you are at about a third of the original price.

Duty-free pricing is available for luxury items such as watches and jewellery, cosmetics, clothing, tobacco, alcohol and electronic gadgets. The shop may call itself duty-free but it's the individual item that you need to check: the price tag should state DF and the amount in US$ or B$. If it states LP, that's "local price" with duty paid. (Of course they may have a cute definition of local price, to make out you're getting a bargain.) The duty is specifically the import tax that the vendors paid on that item, that they recoup when the goods leave the country. So there's no duty-free reduction for things like food that don't incur import tax. You need your passport and departure schedule in writing; for most items you take the goods away and drop off a counterfoil at the port of exit. For alcohol you pick up the goods at the port of exit, though surely you wouldn't have been tempted to drink it while still in Barbados.

Business hours

Almost everything used to shut down on weekends, and visitors had to plan ahead especially if self-catering. This is no longer the case. Clothing and gift stores open until 4PM or so (Sheraton Mall shops until 9PM) on Saturdays; very few are open on Sunday. Many supermarkets island-wide are open on Saturday and Sunday.

On bank holidays (such as Christmas, New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday), most if not all stores and banks and business houses will be closed. But stores attached to gas stations will have limited availability of basic items, and shops at the deep water harbour will be open if cruise ships are visiting. There are a few small family run groceries across the island that will open on bank holidays (or have a side door open) to serve their community.

Eat

What to eat? Bajan cuisine is an odd mix of spicy, flavorful treats along with traditional English fayre. So be prepared for meals where fiery stews accompany beans on toast.

  • Flying fish, the icon of the islands, appear on coins, bills, and menus. The fish are usually lightly breaded and fried, with a yellow sauce. (This sauce consists of very hot Scotch Bonnet peppers with onions in a mustard sauce.) Or the fish is steamed with lime juice, spices, and vegetables. It's often served over coo-coo, a polenta-like cornmeal and okra porridge.
  • Pepperpot is a pork stew in a spicy dark brown sauce.
  • Cutters are sandwiches made from Salt Bread (crusty outside, fluffy inside, but not salty; go figure). Popular fillings are flying fish, ham or cheese; "Bread and two" is a cutter with two fish cakes.

Where to eat? See each regions' "Sleep" as well as "Eat" listings, as many hotels have good restaurants open to non-residents, both a la carte and buffet-style.

  • Street vendors offer snacks like fish cakes, BBQ pig tails, fresh coconut, and roasted peanuts.
  • Every Friday night on the south coast the place to be is Oistins for the fish fry. This is a town market where you buy fresh fish cooked according to local recipes. Locals stay there late and dance until the early hours.
  • For fast food, Chefette are a chain virtually unknown outside Barbados, but found across the island. They've largely kept out the western chains, though KFC and Subway have a presence.

Drink

Rum and rum-based drinks are featured at every bar. For tours of a rum distillery, see Bridgetown#Do for Mount Gay (the brand leader) and Southern Barbados#Do for the less-known Four Square. The third distillery, which produces Malibu, is not open for visits.

Small rum shops can be found all everywhere. Here local men (and rather few women) foregather to shoot the breeze and put the world to rights.

Banks Beer is Barbados' own brew; it's distinctly hoppy, like a traditional English bitter. See Southern Barbados#Do for tours of their brewery.

10 Saints is the first craft beer to be brewed in Barbados. This is a lager aged for 90 days in Mount Gay "Special Reserve" rum casks, for a unique finish. It's widely available throughout the island.

Sleep

Barbados offers everything from inexpensive guest houses with bed and breakfast from under US $40 daily for a single in the summer to luxury accommodations at some of the world's best hotels at $1,600 in the prime season.

Barbados apartments and apartment hotels offer the comfort of a hotel room combined with the convenience of your own cooking facilities. Most are located on or near the beach and are especially suitable for families.

There is a wide selection of luxury villas and cottages available for rent throughout Barbados. Many of these villas and cottages are located on or near the beach.

Privately owned vacation rentals are often rented at much lower costs than hotel or resort rooms. There is a wide selection of these holiday properties available throughout Barbados and many are located on or near the beach. Vacation properties range from beach houses to condos and apartments.

See regional articles for listings. Generally, more expensive resorts are on the west coast north of Bridgetown, simpler guesthouses are available along the southern coast and only a few housing options available in Bridgetown itself.

Learn

  • Bellairs Research Institute is a teaching and research facility operated by Montreal's McGill University [1] focusing on marine biology and environmental studies.
  • Barbados Hospitality Institute operates The Hotel Pommarine.
  • Barbados Community College
  • The University of the West Indies - Cave Hill Campus

Stay safe

Although it is generally a safe place to travel, there has been an increase in crime. Tourists should avoid certain high-risk activities, e.g., walking on secluded beaches day or night, walking in unfamiliar residential neighborhoods or secluded areas away from main roads. Tourists, particularly women, should always stay in groups.

The most common kinds of crimes against tourists include taxi fraud, robbery, and shortchanging; however, rape and assaults are becoming more common. Most Bajans are by nature friendly, especially in the earlier part of the tourist season (November and December).

A special area of concern for visitors to Barbados is drugs. The country's strict anti-drug policy is made apparent to visitors coming through Customs. In practice, however, Europeans and Americans in Barbados are offered marijuana or even cocaine frequently. Sellers will often roam the beaches selling aloe vera or other such innocuous goods as a pretense to begin a conversation about "ganja", "smoke" or "bad habits". As a result, many hotels and resorts now ban the use of aloe vera under the pretense that it "stains the towels".

Regardless of one's inclination to use drugs, it is not advisable to accept these offers. Marijuana is considered bad and is not accepted by Bajan police. While Bajan police are not frequently encountered, they prosecute drug crimes easily.

Care should also be taken going into the sea. Many people underestimate the powerful currents and rip tides in many areas, especially on the east side of the island. They have claimed many lives over the years. Look for warning flags, and swim where you see other people - a fair indicator of safety. Do not go out deep (beyond your ability to touch the sea bed) unless you are a strong swimmer. The west coast has calmer waters than even the south coast of Christ Church, and beaches get progressively rougher as you go east of Oistins.

Homosexual acts between consenting adults are punishable by life imprisonment in Barbados.

Camouflage clothing is forbidden for non-military personnel in Barbados.

Stay healthy

Beware of the sun, Barbados is only 13 degrees off of the equator and you can get sun burned very easily. Drink plenty of water and bring an umbrella to shade yourself against the sun.

During nightfall, it is advisable to put on bug spray, as mosquitoes are often a nuisance to anyone staying outdoors for prolonged periods. This is also prevalent while eating at outdoor restaurants.

Barbados has some of the purest water in the world that can be drunk straight from the tap. Cruise ships are often seen stocking up on their water supplies while docked at the island.

Respect

Despite, or maybe because of, the tropical climate, Bajans tend to dress conservatively when not on the beach. A bikini will not be appreciated in town and certainly not in church.

Bajans are particularly sensitive to manners and saying "Good morning" to people, even strangers, goes a long way to earning their respect.

When meeting a Bajan, try not to discuss politics or racial issues. Talk is also important because Barbadians speak fairly fast when speaking in Creole (or Bajan, as it is called).

The use of the "N" word is a no-no, but when talking to friends words such a "B" (which is short for "bro") and "dawg" are used to describe or refer to a friend. These words should not be used unless you know the person well.

Most Bajans are fun-loving and love to go out and have fun, as is noted by the large number of young people found in the clubs and on the Southern Coast of the island. Try not to stare at people without good cause. If you happen to bump into someone in a club, you should immediately apologise to the person.

Keep in mind that Bajans are very protective of family, and insults to a person's family are taken very seriously. This also relates to their views on issues such as homosexuality. -most Bajans do not agree with the practice.

Connect

There are several small internet cafes located around the island and connections offered by the larger resort hotels.

Go next

It means flying, as nowhere is close enough for a ferry service. Barbados' closest neighbours, all with frequent flights of 30-50 mins duration from BGI, couldn't be more different from each other:

  • Saint Lucia is very mountainous, a hell of a place to try to run a plantation, but brilliant for scenery and smelly volcanic springs.
  • Saint Vincent is also mountainous and scenic, yet barely developed for tourism, so very much away-from-it-all.
  • Grenada is good all-round for amenities and attractions, a sound first choice for a Caribbean holiday. Its smaller island of Carriacou has good diving but is little developed.

The chain of islands continues north through Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe. To the south are Trinidad & Tobago, and mainland Venezuela.



Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Petty crime is common and incidents of violent crime occur. Crimes against tourists, as well as incidents involving firearms, have been reported. Foreigners have also been the target of rape. Avoid unattended or isolated areas, including beaches, at any time. Be particularly vigilant when visiting Long Beach, where incidents have been reported.

Arrange completely secure living accommodations and do not carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Leave personal belongings and travel documents in safety deposit boxes and hotel safes.

Road travel

Traffic drives on the left. Roads are narrow and poorly lit. Road signs are scarce. There are many pedestrians and cyclists, and few sidewalks. Roadside assistance is not widely available. Locating a phone booth in rural areas may be difficult. Seatbelt laws are strictly enforced.

Public transportation

Buses and vans are often crowded and travel at high speed. Although standard fares exist for some destinations, taxis are not metered. Confirm fare before departing.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Emergency services

In case of an emergency, dial 211 for the police, and 511 for an ambulance. Police and ambulance response can be slow.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in the Caribbean, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Caribbean. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in the Caribbean, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in the Caribbean, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are adequate. Some clinics and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for medical services.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws

It is an offence for civilians to dress in camouflage clothing or to carry items made of camouflage material.

Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import and export of items such as firearms and agricultural products, and the penalties for all drug offences are severe.

If you are interested in purchasing property or making other investments in Barbados, seek legal advice from appropriate professionals in Canada and in Barbados before making commitments. Disputes arising from such activities could be prolonged and costly to resolve.

You need a local driving permit to drive in Barbados, which you can obtain for BB$100 at any car rental agency or police station upon presentation of a valid Canadian driver's licence or International Driving Permit.

Money

The currency is the Barbadian dollar (BBD). The U.S. dollar is also widely accepted. Three Canadian banks operate on the island, with several branches. The Royal Bank of Canada normally accepts Canadian bank cards for direct transactions with other banks in Canada.

Climate

The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

Barbados is located in an active seismic zone.

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