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Should You Rent a Car or Travel by Public Transportation in Barbados?

Public transportation: buses & vans (ZR)

Visiting Barbados by public transportation is quite easy and affordable if it fits your schedule and pace. The standard bus in Barbados usually costs around BDS$2 (US$1), but just local currency is accepted. (BD – Barbadian dollar)
You can also see the island with ZR, which are small vans with high speed and loud music, that pack in as many passengers as possible – so this is quite an adventure!

For more about traveling by public transportation in Barbados, you can check the info from The Lonely Planet.

Traveling by car

Traveling by a rental car in Barbados is a safe option and comes with a lot of benefits if you want to explore new places as your ease.

From the captivating beaches to the botanical gardens, you can enjoy the whole beauty of the island by driving a car. The biggest advantage is that you can stop whenever and wherever you wish, getting to know more new places and immerse yourself in the rich local culture.

In Barbados, both Northern and Southern Districts, as well as the City of Bridgetown has unique places ready to be discovered.

So a car will the best option to help you get around and enjoy Barbados to its fullest!

The advantages of having a rental vehicle at your disposal whilst on holiday in this Caribbean paradise far outweigh the disadvantages.

To rent a car in Barbados is by far the most convenient and recommended transportation solution, whether you are on business or vacation.

Renting a vehicle on your holiday will provide you with the freedom to go where you want, when you want, without having to rely on public transport or taxi drivers.
taxi table on a vehicle in Barbados
Although many people argue about whether public transport or car rental is the best way to explore Barbados, the latter certainly has more perks. A comfortable ride, a more insightful view of the island, traveling with the people you choose and the possibility of unlimited mileage are merely a few of the benefits a leased vehicle has to offer. Below you can find many more reasons why renting a vehicle in Barbados is more worthwhile than using public transportation.

Explore every bit of the island

The country nicknamed “Bim” is merely 34 kilometers across at its widest point and unfortunately isn’t entirely covered by public transport routes. By hiring a vehicle, you can easily reach even the most hidden beaches and some of the best diving sites, including Carlisle Bay and Stavronikita.

Avoid being late for appointments

Buses are also frequently late due to traffic, and they often break down along the road, so they’re mostly unreliable. To make sure you get to your desired destination on time, rent a car which will safely and surely take you to your planned destination.

Don’t waste your time hanging around

Even if the local buses manage to depart the bus station on time, they usually stop in every small village along the way. Getting from Bridgetown to Sam Lords Castle with the bus can take up to an hour, whereas you can get there in half the time if you drive.

Don’t be afraid of getting scammed

Besides the usual bus routes, taxis are another option to get around the island. The only problem is that they never run the meter, so you need to negotiate with the driver about the price of the fare. Many tourists have gotten scammed this way, by not knowing the exact value of the trip the taxi driver took them on and end up paying double the price.

With a leased vehicle you know upfront exactly how much does car rental hire costs, so there won’t be any annoying surprises when you have to pay.

Enjoy the freedom a rental car offers you

By hiring your own four-wheel vehicle you can go wherever and whenever you’d like. You don’t have to adhere to someone else’s schedule and it gives you the flexibility of being spontaneous, being able to stop anytime along the way if you happen to come across a beautiful beach or an interesting place to explore.
view from the beach to the small town in Barbados and a couple walking on the beach

Steer clear of overcrowded local buses

Because both local Barbadians and tourists often choose to get around via public transport, many buses are overcrowded as no passenger is ever turned down. Imagine if you’re traveling with your luggage or your children and don’t even have a proper place to sit down! In this aspect, renting a car is much more convenient and comfortable, both for you and your family, plus your luggage!

Choose from a wide range of vehicles

From little ‘moke’ to a more substantial four-wheel jeep-style vehicle, you have the choice. Maybe a sedan car rental will fit the bill for comfort and some air-con, or maybe you like to have the wind in your hair with an open-top vehicle. You have a mix of economy and fun when looking at the choice of vehicles available for hire in Barbados.

Be safe, instead of being cheap!

Though it might sound tempting to rent a moped or a bicycle, you need to consider the fact that the roads in Barbados are somewhat narrow, making it difficult and even dangerous to get around on these budget-friendly bikes. We advise you to lease a mini moke car instead, an open-top vehicle which is very economical, and ideal for the narrow roads.

Should you hire a car when visiting Barbados?

You might think of Barbados as a small island, but this Caribbean island does have over 1,600 kilometers (990 miles) of paved roadways that await you to explore them.
Many tourists who come to Barbados for the first time totally underestimate what the island has to offer. Lots of times they can’t wait to come back again to explore further!
Read more about the pros and cons and comparison!

If you like exploring, then a rental car is a must. We encourage you to take an entire day for your scenic drive as it will require around 4 to 6 hours to drive around the entire island. This will allow you to really experience the relaxing and beautiful coastline drive.
woman drives a rented car on Barbados roads

Barbados airport taxi rates versus car rentals

The price for transportation from the airport to the island depends on the number of passengers and the number and measures of their luggage.

Usually, a taxi costs US $45 – $60 for one way trip (from the airport to the north of the island or back), while to hire a car costs you around $70 – $100 per day. We can see here that rates are almost equal between a one way trip with a taxi and hiring a car for the entire day.

More miles of roads than you will ever guess

Of course, you should rent a car whilst you are holidaying in Barbados. It’s easy and there is no difference between hiring a motor vehicle in Barbados, compared to any other place that you may choose to holiday. The advantages of having a rental vehicle at your disposal whilst on holiday in this Caribbean paradise far outweigh the disadvantages. Barbados may be considered a small island, but it does have over 1475 km of paved roadways to explore. Now that is quite impressive for an island that is only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide.

Mind you, you can cram an awful lot into such a small area, so you would be mistaken for thinking that Barbados was all about the sea and sandy beaches. Many who come to Barbados for the first time totally underestimate what the island has to offer and often they can’t wait to come back again to explore further. So, the question is, should you opt for a car hire when you come to Barbados, or just stick to taxis and buses?

Are you an explorer or a beachcomber?

Well, the answer really depends on why you are on the island and what you intend to do when here. If you are here on business you may need to attend meetings at specific times, and if you are on holiday, you may not want to spend all your time at your hotel or lying on the beach. If you like exploring, then a rental car is a must. And of course, that needn’t break the bank, which is just perfect for getting out and about in.
closer view on a beach in Barbados

Hiring a car is your wheels to freedom:

You candiscover all the beautiful hidden nooks and crannies of Barbados. Swim in the calm blue waters on the West Coast in the morning or surf the Eastern shoreline, then go for a leisurely decadent lunch at one of the many cosmopolitan restaurants. The perfect road to holiday happiness is to hire a moke and let the wind blow your hectic day-to-day life away.

Come and go, as and when you please. There is no waiting around for an overcrowded bus that you have no idea when it may make an appearance, or even if it is going where you want to go. The alternative is to be plugged into the bus timetable website via your smartphone, as the bus stops do not have signs at all. Do you really want to carry your mobile around with you?

Hiring a taxi can be an expensive exercise if you need one every time you wish to go somewhere. If you choose to jump on a “route taxi”, you will be assured of a very “up close and personal” experience with your fellow travelers, as someone’s lap is often your seat.

Your holiday is truly yours to plan out each day with flexibility and no time constraints, other than the ones you make on yourself.

Unlike most countries there are no drink driving laws, so you can, in fact, have more than that “one” glass of wine. Of course, individual discretion and personal safety must come into play on this issue, as you don’t want to end up as a tourist road statistic.

For the rental vehicle doubter:

Maybe the drama is collecting a hired vehicle at the airport on arrival when you are tired. You can avoid this by having the car delivered to your hotel.

If it is the Barbados driver’s permit, there is no problem, as any registered car hire company is able to take care of this prior to your arrival.

Driving British style, with the steering on the right-hand side of the car, is of no concern for those that are used to this. For those “left-hand drivers” or any prophets of doom, lease a small sized car. It will be easier to navigate any narrow winding roads and a breeze to park anywhere. But, do forget about having that extra drink.

If getting lost is your main concern or for those with no sense of direction whatsoever, get a hired car with GPS. The maps of the island are good for the main roads, but there is no real detail of the other roads you may wish to explore. Or simply enjoy the ride and just go wandering. Getting lost can be half the fun when the time has no constraints. You can’t get too lost, or if you are totally scrambled, you can either have a friendly chat with a local or call the hire car company for directions.
man drives a rented car on Barbados road
Or are you concerned about your child in the car? If so, that is no problem at all, as child car seats are available.

Whether it is a “short-term” or a “long-term”, leasing a vehicle in Barbados gives your holiday the flexibility to match your vacation spirit. You will have four wheels of freedom by having a rental car to go where your fancy may take you, stress-free and carefree, and it is the ultimate way to experience all that Barbados has to offer you.

The big car rental boys play at the Grantley Adams Airport; therefore their overheads are reflected in their hiring prices. If you choose to go local, with the local knowledge and reliable backup if required, compare our prices for car rental, whatever your needs are. We are a family-run operation, reliable and affordable.


Barbados is an eastern Caribbean island and an independent British Commonwealth nation. Bridgetown is the capital. Around the island are beaches, botanical gardens, the Harrison's Cave formation, and many other tourist attractions.

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