If you’re traveling to Barbados and want to make the best of your driving experience, this is the guide for you.
Whether it’s a 3-day city break or a much long relaxing vacation, renting a car and driving around Barbados gives your days off the flexibility to match your holiday spirit.
In this guide we’ll share with you everything you need to know about how to drive in Barbados, what are your best options to explore the island, how much should it cost you, how to stay safe, requirements to drive, how to get a drivers permit, directions, distance and tips from the locals!
So, how easy is it to drive in Barbados?
Every country has its own rules and regulations.
When it comes to car rental, you will find that requirements differ as well. In Barbados, you can easily recognize a hire car because they all have an ‘H’ on their license plating.
Make sure you meet all of them as vehicle hire in Barbados opens up the whole beautiful island for you to explore, and will also give you the independence to enjoy your time here.
Here is a list of important requirements that let you hire a car:
The minimum age to hire a car in Barbados is 21 years. Besides that, The Barbados Licensing Authority requires all motorists to have held your license for at least 1 year.
Keep in mind that you need a driving experience of at least 2 years to rent a car and that some companies require 5 years.
If you are 25 or younger, your automobile insurance will get more expensive – most car hire companies need you to be at least 23 to drive.
Image Credit: https://www.ratedradardetector.org/
If you are 70 years of age or older, you must first obtain a medical certificate issued by a doctor based in Barbados, that shows you are fit to drive.
At Drive Barbados, we offer car rentals to both senior drivers and young motorist, and we do run senior car rental discounts because age should be a limitation on renting cars. However, we do abide by the minimum 21 years requirement and have an 80 years rental age cap.
Drivers must carry a valid driver’s license of origin, a Barbados driver’s license, registration documents, and insurance documents at all times while driving.
In order to rent or drive a vehicle in Barbados, you’ll need to have a valid driver’s license from your country of origin & a valid credit or debit card.
Upon arrival to Barbados, you must purchase a locally issued driving permit to be able to legally drive on the island if you are not a permanent resident.
You can obtain a driver’s permit from the Barbados Licensing Authority Offices, or through an authorized car hire company like Drive Barbados.
The cost is US$5 for two months or US$50 for a full year. You can also enlist an extra driver for US$3.00 per day. But before you pay up, know that the renter’s spouse is exempt from additional rental charges and can drive the hire car for free.
If you are 70+ years old, or over, and want to obtain a visitors driver’s permit in Barbados, bring a valid driver’s license issued in your country and contact your car rental company.
They should be able to help you obtain your medical certificate by putting you in touch with a qualified local doctor.
The cost of the examination varies depending on the doctor, but you can expect to pay around US$40.
The medical examination is straightforward and takes only a short time to complete.
Your eyesight will be checked, as well as your heart and blood pressure.
Your capacity to drive may also be assessed, using simple tests in the consulting room.
The process of renting a car in Barbados when you are 70+ years old is not much different from the same process in other countries.
However, because of the required medical certificate, you may not be able to hire a vehicle immediately after your landing at the airport.
Instead, you may have to hire a taxi to take you and your luggage to your hotel and then undergo the medical examination on the following day.
This way, you can obtain your permit for driving in Barbados in a matter of hours.
To hire a car in Barbados, most companies will ask you to have a valid credit or debit card under your name.
This is a general requirement at most rental companies.
However, some might still ask you to make a cash deposit instead of using your card.
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to drive or hire an old or a new vehicle.
The rules are exactly the same: you need a permit as well as a current driving license from your home country.
So if you’re visiting Barbados, make sure you pack your driving license!
As a visitor, you can obtain a local driving permit in Barbados if you check the following:
The permits are not expensive, especially if you’re just staying for a few weeks.
There are two driver’s permits which are valid for up to 2 months or to last a year.
Your International driving license must be valid during these periods.
The cost of the Visitor’s driving permits is as follows:
The permit can be issued only from Barbados Licensing Authority offices around the island.
The Barbados Licensing Authority has offices at:
The offices are open Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 3.00 pm.
Make sure you also check the whole list of Barbados Licensing Authority Offices at many different locations!
If you want to skip the hassle and inconvenience of having to queue up in a government office, you can ask our team to take care of getting a Barbados driving permit for you.
This means that when we meet you at the airport or seaport, we will not only have your car ready and waiting for you, but we will also be able to present you with your temporary driver’s license at the same time.
You can still get a Barbados permit with a few negative entries on your record.
However, different car rental companies have different rules regarding the leasing of a motor vehicle to drivers that do not have perfect driving records.
Rental companies might not allow you to drive their cars if in the past you have the following violations:
As you can see, getting a license to drive on Barbados roads is possible, but it’s not a default you can take as a guarantee.
To make the most of this, you should also get familiar with, and always respect the traffic laws, especially road usage signs and the Barbados Highway code.
Keep reading to find out more about the Barbados traffic laws!
Barbados will give you some of the best and most scenic parts of a Caribbean island.
It’s not mountainous, so you can go around Barbados in one day in your hire car.
Most of the roads are in very good condition but watch out for potholes when you get out into the countryside.
Follow our advice and you’ll drive hassle-free in the city:
When driving in Barbados, drive on the left-hand side of the road, like you would in the UK.
If you’re not confident for left-side driving, then take your time and practice it before finally driving on the roads.
As you can see from the picture below, with Rihanna & Oprah in a Jimny soft top jeep in Barbados, Rihanna is driving and the driver’s wheel is on the right.
When hiring a car in Barbados,
it’s important to know the road rules and regulations, as they will most likely be different to those that you’re used to.
We encourage you to get a copy of the Highway Code Booklet to familiarize yourself with the rules of driving in Barbados.
You can get this booklet from any of The Barbados Licensing Authority locations, or ask your rental company to offer you one.
Fine for breaking the LAW is: US $1000, imprisoned for 18 months, or both
Barbados has very few sidewalks so it is necessary to keep a good lookout for any pedestrians walking beside the roadways.
The local roads can also be a bit narrow and not very well marked, either by stripes in the road or by signs.
Most of the main roads are in pretty good condition, but you might encounter some potholes along the way.
Our little island our coastal roads are narrow (except for the East Coast roads).
In general, the drivers in Barbados are patient.
Any Bajan driver will be able to spot you as a tourist by the H on your rental’s license plate, and that can earn you even more patience and courtesy from other drivers.
GPS. The best way to navigate the roads is to hire a GPS system with your car.
A local road map or two will also be useful and most car rental companies will have placed one in the glove box for your use. GPS will be really valuable to have with you.
Barbados is very small but has a lot of pavement roads so you can get lost in a split second.
Although everybody speaks English very well, even local directions can be wrong.
Speed limits vary on different roadways,
so make sure you check that you are following the correct speed limit. If you’re an American or British driver, be aware that speed limits are measured in kilometers/hr, rather than miles/hr. For reference, 1 kilometre = 0.62 miles.
The usual, typical speed limits for motor vehicles are:
Safety camera warning devices have limited usage as there are no fixed speed cameras and you’ll rarely discover any mobile speed traps. Always check the signs to be sure you’re not exceeding the limit.
Driving rules are very relaxed in Barbados. Unless you are doing something extremely dangerous, it’s unlikely you will get stopped.
On the rare occasion when that happens though, a ticket will be issued and you’ll need to pay it at the nearest police station.
Luckily, there are no tolls in Barbados.
This will most likely surprise you, but there is no legal alcohol limit for driving. The Barbados Police has no breathalyzer laws.
However, it’s highly advisable that you do not drink & drive.
Barbados is indeed the country where the best Rum is made, however, make sure you respect the same alcohol limits you would also respect at home.
Despite the fact that there is no drink-drive limit, it is never a good idea nor acceptable to drink and drive.
Driving while under the influence is discouraged by locals as well.
Just as you wouldn’t drink and drive in your home country, Barbados should be no exception.
There are plenty designated parking areas (look for the “P” parking sign) that are well lit and maintained, so would be the safest place to park your vehicle.
Make sure you don’t park your car in a “No Parking” zone, as you will be fined.
There are many parking locations such as outdoor parking lots and indoor parking garages in Bridgetown, where a minimal fee will be charged.
On-street parking is not recommended as the parking spots are usually very small and the parking laws are enforced.
When parking your vehicle always take your valuables with you and never park in dark areas or under trees which are dropping fruit.
If you consider airport parking, you should note that rental companies based at GAIA Airport are, on average, 30% more expensive than local firms due to the high costs of operating out of the airport.
The minimum stay fee is US$1.00 for half an hour, and US$1.50 per half hour thereafter. However, there is a capped limit of US$12.00 per day.
The airport parking facilities have 24-hour security which greatly eliminates the risk of theft and/or damage to your vehicle, whether is a rental car or your own personal transportation.
King George Memorial Park
– A 10 minutes’ drive from the airport, is a refreshing alternative. There is free parking for visitors, so if you’re quite early for your departure it’s a beautiful spot to relax before your flight.
– Location: Jezreel, Work Hall,
– Positioned in St. Philip Parish, 1.9 miles north of Diamond Valley
The price of 95 octanes unleaded is around US$1.50, with diesel a little cheaper. You’ll find many petrol stations, especially as the island is only 21 miles long.
There are three possibilities when it comes to the fuel options of rental cars in Barbados.
The option you choose is up to you and the rental company’s policy, so make sure to talk it through with them!
Petrol stations are plentiful in and around Bridgetown, along the main highways of the West and South Coasts, and in most country towns.
Most stations are open all hours and days of the week.
One of the best things about planning your vacation in Barbados is the safe scenic place with sightseeing opportunities for both young and old visitors, with friendly locals and clean ocean breeze that’s is always near.
Follow our tips and tricks and make sure you stay safe while visiting:
However, getting around safely and comfortably is not guaranteed just because you hire a car; it demands your effort and vigilance from you, as a road user, to avoid undesired incidents and accidents.
Barbados is a safe place to drive around in, but still, just like any country on earth, there are forces of nature you have to protect yourself against.
Driving at night – The most pressing danger is night driving. Many roads do not have pavements, so pedestrians usually walk on the side of the road where they’re difficult to see.
Roads are generally quite narrow and buses and vans go much closer and faster than you might expect.
Plan your trip – Before getting into your car, be sure you know where you have headed and the route to your destination.
Even when you just want to sightsee around town or wish to discover new places in the new locale, you should gather some information using maps or ask locals.
Crime areas – Stay away from known crime areas. In most countries and cities, information on areas you should not go to is readily available from the police or your travel contacts.
If you must ask for directions, use your common sense and be thoughtful as to who the advice comes from.
Boscobelle Toll Gang – Although not really a ‘gang’, there are few individuals around the Boscobelle area that may flag down hired vehicles and ask for money.
Be cautious and do not stop if flagged down by civilians.
Park in a well-lit area – Cars should be parked in a well-lit area, especially where P sign is stated.
If you park the car in some other area, then you may be liable to get a Parking Ticket.
Avoid potholes – Most roads in Barbados are in very good conditions, but there is always a pothole or two to watch out for especially on the countryside roads.
When driving at night, you will need to be extra vigilant because most roads do not have sidewalks (pavements), hence pedestrians have to share the road with cars.
Never leave valuables in the car – Because of the potential for car theft, you should never leave valuables in an unattended vehicle and always park in well-lit areas.
Keep your valuables locked in the glove compartment and not somewhere straying eyes will notice.
Do not leave your car windows or doors opened, keep them locked while unattended, and do not carry large amounts of cash
Defensive Driving – Be a defensive driver. Stay safe on the road by being alert about the wrong driving moves by other drivers.
Stay alert and maintain distance from other vehicles while driving. It is strongly advised not to use mobile phones.
Don’t pick up hitchhikers
Protect from the sun – It gets hot in Barbados! You’ll most likely want to soak up all of the rays you can, but this could lead to sunburn and heatstroke.
If you are visiting from a country with a cooler climate, make sure that your vehicle has working air conditioning.
If you opt for a convertible Mini Moke, avoid the temptation of leaving the roof down when the sun is at its hottest.
Pedestrians – There are many roads that do not have pavements, so pedestrians will often walk on the road and this requires extra attention on your part so that everyone is kept safe
Potholes – Although the majority of Barbados’ roads are in good conditions, there are potholes on the road that can be easily overlooked at night.
Paying extra attention while driving around these types of roads will allow you to enjoy your driving experience.
Since rural areas offer great country scenes and nature experiences, you may find yourself driving into blind turns or sharp corners in these rural country roads, being alert about the way in which the roads curve are highly advisable.
Don’t underestimate how big Barbados is in square miles.
With 34 kilometers (21 miles) in length & up to 23 km (14 mi) in width, the island’s total square miles cover an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi).
Depends if you want to stop off every now and then (which we would recommend) take in some of the fab scenery.
With some breaks, driving from coast to coast can take you between 4 – 6 hours. Bare in mind is this going around the island completely coast to coast, and not inland.
This also depends on how fast you drive and how many times you get lost!
Here are some examples of driving from coast to coast:
See more ideas on what is where to drive and the best places to visit in Barbados
If you have an accident while driving, stay safe by calling the rental car company right away and do not accept responsibility for the accident, even if you are clearly at fault.
Get your car off the road if possible, so it doesn’t get in the way of other traffic.
These are the telephone numbers you should keep close while traveling in Barbados:
Lights on emergency vehicles are blue and red; do not be fooled into stopping by white flashing lights stopping.
If in need, consult our list of hospitals in Barbados.
Some people leave everything until the last minute. Whatever might be your reasons, this is an easy way to start your vacation badly.
Make sure you book your car in advance, follow our driving advice and have fun while you get to know beautiful Barbados!