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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 100 miles (160 km) west are Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia, part of the arc of the Lesser Antilles that separate Atlantic and Caribbean. Those islands 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 "Bimshire" or 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. In 2019 the population was 287,025.

"Bajan" is the word for the people and products of Barbados.


The main chain of Caribbean islands are along the rim of a tectonic plate that is migrating east, throwing up a line of volcanoes. Around that rim formed a shallow sea with a build-up of corals: one million years ago this was uplifted to become the present island, a slab of limestone.

The first inhabitation of Barbados was probably about 1600 BC but little is known of those people. Better evidenced are the Saladoid-Barrancoid people who arrived by canoe from Venezuela's Orinoco Valley around 350 AD. Next 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 century, 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. The island had been utterly wrecked by the hurricane of 1831 so this was a time of re-building, leading to a pleasant harmony of style in the buildings seen today.

Barbados remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum and molasses through most of the 20th century; 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. Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Barbados never received indentured Indian labourers, though a community of Gujarati Muslim merchants settled here, and their descendants today form the majority of Barbados' Muslim community.

Post-war saw social and political reforms, and mass emigration as England drew in Caribbean labour to run its hospitals and transport: London's Hammersmith and Brixton became the new Bimshire. A "wind of change" blew through Britain's colonies, and the first attempt at independence was to form a Federation of the West Indies. This was quarrelsome and short-lived, so it was as a separate nation that Barbados achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, though it retained the British Queen as head of state. 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 2018 the newly-elected government uncovered shady national accounting, with the true debt being over 1.7 times the country's GDP. Your tourist spending however modest will be appreciated.

On 30 November 2021, Barbados became a republic, ceasing to acknowledge Britain's Queen as head of state. Sandra Mason, the final governor-general, became the country's first president. The tourist and other industries were badly hit by COVID but the island is recovering.


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

Outlying islands are just uninhabited rocks. Pelican Island off Bridgetown was once a quarantine facility, but it was engulfed by mainland harbour development in 1961. Culpepper Island is a scrap of grass 30 yards across that you can wade out to off the east coast. Some Arawak Indians have claimed it as their sovereign territory, but nobody pays any heed.

Get in

Entry requirements

Most visitors do not need a visa for tourist or business visits. That includes citizens of the countries below (updated by the Barbados government in May 2019 and believed to be unchanged in 2020) but they are likely to need a visa to work or study so those visitors must make further inquiries of the embassy or consulate.

Citizens of the following countries do not need visas to enter Barbados; the maximum period ranges from 28 days to six months:

See embassy website for visa application process and 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 e.g. TUI or Virgin Atlantic, but these also offer flight-only tickets. Regional short hops are operated by Caribbean Airlines and InterCaribbean Airways. 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 have to keep the counterfoil for departure. (updated Feb 2019)

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$3.5 (2022) 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

Drive 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$3.50, July 2019). Yellow buses and minivans offer change and even accept US dollars. BTB buses accept Barbados dollars and US dollars but 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. Island roads are generally narrow and twisty with poor sight-lines and unexpected bumps. The exception is the ABC highway, which also has several long sections of dual carriageway.

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.


The official language in Barbados is English, but the pronunciation may be high, fast and hard to follow. When speaking with each other, locals may slide between English and Bajan, which is a creole language based on English, Irish and West African Igbo vocabulary and expressions. Look baffled and they'll slow down for you, if they judge it helpful for you to understand. A good start is always to say "good morning", "good evening" etc, even to strangers on the sidewalk.


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 cramming into a Georgian four-poster bedroom with fifty other amply-fed folk takes the gloss off the experience.
  • Caves: the island limestone is riddled with them, there must be hundreds down there. The most popular is Harrison's Cave in Central Eastern Barbados. You need some skill and fitness, and your own torch, to enter nearby Coles Cave. On the north tip (see Western Barbados), Animal Flower Cave is a sea cave.
  • 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.


  • Scuba diving: and see main article Diving in Barbados. Diving is boat-based, as the main reefs and wrecks are too far out for comfortable shore-diving. (Though intrepid locals do so, and several snorkelling areas are easily reached from shore.) Most dive shacks are in Bridgetown but pick up from hotels along the coast between Speightstown and Oistins: it's best to call ahead, as they may be booked out if a cruise ship is in port. One dive shack is in Holetown on the west coast. They all offer basic training, regular qualified diving, specialty courses and equipment hire. The sea is calmer in the morning, so boats head out around 9AM for two-tank dives, and you're back ashore and settling up by 2PM. Travel times to sites are short so they can drop people off after a single dive.
  • 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.
  • Other water sports include stand-up paddling and snorkelling with turtles.
  • Other boat activities start from Bridgetown, including Atlantis Submarine which takes you down 150 ft.
  • 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 are in production: Mount Gay in Bridgetown is the best known (M-F Sa Nov-Apr). West Indies Rum Distillery (source of Malibu liqueur) in Bridgetown only offers tours by special arrangement. Four Square in Saint Philip in Southern Barbados offers free self-guided tours M-F.



The local currency is the Bajan dollar, officially denoted as "Bds$" (ISO code: BBD) but usually just as B$ on local signage (and hence in these pages). US dollars are accepted in almost all shops and restaurants. The exchange rate is fixed at 2 Bajan dollars to the US dollar, but hotels may scalp you for an extra 5% or so.

Coins in Barbados come in denominations of 5-, 10 and 25 cents and 1 dollar. Banknotes in Barbados come in denominations of 2-, 5-, 10-, 20-, 50 and 100 dollars. Two series of Barbadian banknotes are in circulation, the paper version issued in 2013 and the new polymer issues introduced in 2022.


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, such as 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 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 the 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 are home-produced or 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.


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 region's "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 to local recipes. Bajans dance and party there until the early hours.
  • For fast food, Chefette are a chain virtually unknown outside Barbados, but found all over the island. They've largely kept out the western chains, though KFC and Subway have a presence.


  • Tap water is pure and safe to drink, as it's naturally filtered by the island limestone. You'll see limestone drip-buckets in all the old plantation houses, pre-dating the mains supply.
  • 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.
  • Rum shops are small drinking dives found everywhere. Here local men (seldom 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. It's a lager aged for 90 days in Mount Gay "Special Reserve" rum casks, for a distinctive finish. It's widely available throughout the island.


  • There's not much accommodation in Bridgetown. Generally, south coast hotels are midrange to expensive, the west coast north of Bridgetown is expensive up to Speightstown, then there are simpler guesthouses further north. See the south and west coast pages for specific places.
  • Camping Barbados run three sites on the island.
  • Small guest houses with bed and breakfast are an inexpensive alternative to hotels. The other end of the price scale, if not beyond it, are luxury villas for several $1000 a night.
  • Apartments and condos offer the comfort of a hotel room with the convenience of your own cooking facilities, and are available for one-week lets. Most are near the beach and are especially suitable for families.


Check your visa eligibility when making enquiries of these institutes: the standard visa-free tourist rules don't apply to extended stays for study or work.

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

Stay safe

Barbados remains much safer than many other Caribbean islands, but as of 2023, there has been an increase in crime. Be wary of secluded beaches and non-tourist residential districts away from main roads. Solo tourists, especially women, are most at risk. The most common crimes against tourists include taxi fraud, robbery, and short-changing; rape and assaults are becoming more common.

Drugs are strictly illegal, sternly prosecuted, and vigorously marketed: marijuana and cocaine being the main stuff on sale. Sellers roam the beaches peddling aloe vera and other innocuous goods as a pretext to strike up a conversation about "ganja", "smoke" or "bad habits". As a result, many hotels and resorts ban the use of aloe vera, claiming that it "stains the towels".

Camouflage clothing is forbidden for non-military personnel in Barbados, even kiddy outfits or anglers' floppy hats that couldn't possibly be mistaken for army camo.

Stay healthy

Your biggest risks are road safety, safety in the sea, and alcohol especially when combined with those.

Climate: Beware of the sun. Barbados is only 13o degrees north of the equator and you can burn very easily even if it's cloudy and the sea breeze is keeping you cool. Temperatures often top 32o C (90o F). Seek the shade, use a parasol, wear a wide-brimmed hat and long clothing, and slap on high-factor sun-block: you're aiming for the zinc-nosed cricketer look. Don't be out in the sun unprotected from noon to 3 pm when there's maximum UV and heat. Allow for the high humidity: it can top 90%, and anything above 60% is unpleasant. Drink plenty of water (the tap water is safe), though on humid days your sweat cannot evaporate quickly to keep your body cool.

Mosquitoes are more of a nuisance than a danger: it's very rare for them to carry serious tropical disease such as malaria. You don't need anti-malarials, just standard anti-mozzy precautions - they get busy after sundown, so spray on a repellent before heading out for al fresco dining. Dengue Fever is nowadays uncommon, and Zika and Chikungunya Virus are rare.


Bajans are fun-loving yet tend to dress conservatively when not on the beach. A bikini will not be appreciated in town and certainly not in church.

They appreciate courteous manners, and saying "Good morning" to them, even strangers, goes a long way to earning their respect. Bump into them on the street, let alone tread on their child's toe, you'd better apologise sincerely and real fast.

The "N" word is a no-no, but informal terms such "B" (short for "bro") and "dawg" are used among friends. Strangers shouldn't use them.


Using your mobile in Barbados will hit you with international charges. You can buy a local SIM card at the airport, cruise ship terminal, or any tourist strip.

As of Nov 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Barbados. There are two mobile carriers, Flow (formerly Lime) and Digicel. Neither of them care to show a coverage map, and Nperf data doesn't cover the island. In general 4G/Wi-Fi is good in Bridgetown, on the south and west coasts, and along the main highways, so that Bajan motorists can yap to each other about how it should be made illegal while driving. There is patchy coverage out in central and eastern parts, so either use the hotel or cafe connection, or put the damn thing away and have a holiday instead.

Go next

It means flying, as there are no ferry services. Barbados' closest neighbours, all with frequent flights of 30-50 min duration from BGI, couldn't be more different from each other:

  • Saint Lucia is very mountainous, one 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 little else.

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.


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.


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

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.


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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.

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 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.



There is no risk of malaria in this country.


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 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 (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.


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.


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.


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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