Barbados is a wonderful island with many beautiful beaches and plenty of culture and history. It is expensive when you consider the cost of flights and fancy hotels and restaurants, along with most of the food being imported.
However, this does not have to be the case if you are budget savvy and looking to save money. You can still enjoy Barbados on a budget and experience all its glory.
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The best time to visit Barbados
The cheapest option for a trip to Barbados will be during the low season, therefore you should be looking to go from May to June or September to November.
This is classed as the rainy season, however, the showers tend to be sharp but swift, and then the sun reappears, so the whole day is not wasted.
Because they are most frequent in the afternoon, you can plan your activities to take advantage of this time-lapse from the hottest part of the day.
The official hurricane season for Barbados can start in June, and end in October, with the highest risk being from September to October.
This is not as bad as it sounds and generally means the occasional storm, with high winds. If you are looking for cheap flights and accommodation, the low season will help you to grab a bargain.
How to get around Barbados on a budget
Taxis operate 24 hours a day on the island with the rates being set by the government, just make sure to agree on the charge before you set off.
Make sure the taxi is licensed, it should have TAXI signage on the roof and the plate will have a ‘Z’ on it. However, these will cost a lot more than going on the local buses.
The public buses are easy to spot: they are blue with a yellow stripe down the side. They belong to the Barbados Transport Board, and travel to most areas on the island, so taking them is more cost-effective than taking lots of taxis.
You can also hire a bike, which will help you to get around, especially if you are located more in the south of the island. Bike rental can be from as little as $20 USD per day.
Budget things to do in Barbados
There are plenty of budget-friendly options to do in Barbados. The island is full of beautiful beaches, and you can hire a chair or umbrella for the day at a reasonable cost.
If water sports are more your thing, there are plenty of places that rent out equipment such as windsurfers, paddleboards and kayaks. There are also many golf courses on the island which offer discounted rates if you book online in advance.
Fish Fry in Barbados
The Friday night Fish Fry at Oistins on the south coast is a must-visit. Here you can dance with the locals to the sounds of Calypso and Reggae and enjoy the famous fish fry which you can watch being grilled or fried in front of you.
You can try the freshest mahi-mahi, swordfish or salt cod fritters or flying fish and cou-cou (which is a dish made from cornmeal and some okra) This is a great chance to have fun and make some new friends.
Visit the beaches in Barbados
Go swimming or top up your tan in the sunshine. Over 80 white-sand beaches in Barbados are free to access, from the beach at Carlisle Bay, Silver Sands or Sandy Lane to name a few.
If you take your own towels, you can save money on hiring a sunbed and you can find shade under a palm tree if it gets too hot.
At the beaches, you can also venture into the water and try snorkelling. There are tours you can take, depending on your budget, however an option to keep the price down is to bring your own snorkelling gear from home, if you are experienced, so you do not have to rent the equipment.
National Botanical Gardens
Walk through the National Botanical Gardens, located in Bridgetown. There is plenty of flora and fauna in this beautiful area of more than 250 acres.
Why not take a picnic with you to enjoy at one of the picnic tables. Throughout Barbados, there are plenty of natural lush areas and trails for you to go and explore and in some areas of the island you can get some beautiful panoramic views.
You can hike around the Sunbury Plantation area or you can hike along the old railway line to the beach at Bathsheba.
Visit the local markets and shops
Visit one of the local markets and do some shopping to grab a bargain. This is a great time to stock up on local produce, especially if you are self-catering in an Airbnb.
The local markets are a great place to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as other staples such as bread. You will also find plenty of meats on offer too, including BBQ chicken and pork.
Pelican village is located in St. Michael’s parish. If you are looking to pick up some beachwear, local handicrafts, art, or souvenirs, then visit this small shopping centre. There are lots of good-value restaurants here too.
Watch the sunset
You can pretty much catch an amazing sunset from anywhere on the island but why not get a few drinks from the local shop and settle yourself in on one of the beaches and enjoy the stunning view.
You will see the sky turn from a bright blue to a deep purple, and then finally turn into an orange-red. It really is an amazing sight to behold. You can also catch some of the local fishermen as they head out in their boats at sunset; it’s quite a sight!
Drink at a rum shack
There are plenty of rum shacks all over the island. These are great places to relax, listen to some music, have a few drinks and meet some new people.
They are cheaper than drinking in a hotel. You will see a lot of locals drinking here, so it is a great place to get some insight into what the people on the island like to do.
You can drink beer or rum for around $5-10 USD per drink; wine is slightly more expensive.
If you are really trying to be money savvy, then enjoy Happy Hour in St. Lawrence Gap. Most bars have happy hour every night 5-7 pm then 10 pm to Midnight.
Places to visit in Barbados on a budget
Bridgetown is the capital of the island and is located in St. Michael parish. This area is home to many historical sites like Parliament Square with its neo-gothic historical parliament buildings, and the National Heroes fountain and obelisk war memorial.
This vibrant city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has plenty of colourful buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants for you to wander around.
You could see the ginormous Baobab tree in Queen’s Park, which is thought to be over 1,000 years old.
Walk along the boardwalk
The mile-long stretch of boardwalk along the Hasting’s coastline is a great way to get to and from the different beaches along the route.
There are bars and restaurants to keep you satiated if you get too hot. Make sure you wear suitable footwear as the boardwalk itself can get hot in the sunshine.
There are some great views from the top of the boardwalk, which you can enjoy while taking a break from exploring. Do not forget to take plenty of water with you as it is easy to dehydrate in the heat.
Flower Forest Botanical Gardens
There is an entrance fee but it is only $15 per adult and children under the age of 4 go free. Located near the village of Bloomsbury in St. Joseph’s parish.
You can wander around this 50-acre site which used to belong to a former sugar plantation. The garden is home to many species of plants and flowers.
There are plenty of shady areas for you to enjoy a rest from the heat, so make sure you take advantage of these. There is also a small cafe where you can get refreshments and snacks.
It is best to visit the garden in the morning or afternoon when it is not too hot. You will find more shade at these times, as well as cooler temperatures.
Farley Hill became a national park in 1966. Located in St. Peter’s parish, today, the park hosts various events, like music concerts or theatrical performances, as well as weddings.
This is a great place to wander around in nature and have a picnic. You can find the ruins of the Farley Hill mansion which was once owned by Sir Graham Briggs.
Visit Hunte’s Gardens in Coffee Gully, St. Joseph’s parish. The beautifully scenic and colourful gardens are a sight not to be missed. Located in a sinkhole, naturally created from a landslip, this area is 150 ft deep – 500 ft across and has been transformed into something magnificent.
There are easy-to-walk paths for you to stroll around with plenty of wildlife to be spotted along the way. Admission is just $20 USD for adults, with children under 12 half price.
Barbados Wildlife Reserve
Look for the animals at The Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Located in a mahogany wood covering 4 acres, most of the animals are free to roam in this natural environment.
You can wander through their habitat and try to spot the Green Monkeys, Peacocks, Brocket Deer, Macaws, Parrots, and plenty more.
They do have a reptile area as well, where you can see Iguanas, and Turtles along with some Snakes. Adults are $15 USD and children are $7.50 USD.
Where to stay in Barbados on a budget
On the west coast of Barbados (also known as the platinum coast) is where you can find many of the islands’ deluxe hotels and large fancy private villas, so staying on a budget in this section would be more difficult.
The south area of the island offers better value accommodation and you will be located in an area, like St. Lawrence Gap, that is lively, with plenty to do. This small street in the Christ Church district is home to a host of hotels, restaurants, and shops, as well as bars and dance clubs along the beachfront.
If you are backpacking Barbados has plenty of hostels/guesthouses available to those who are after cheap and cheerful basic accommodation. Mostly located on the south coast, although there are a few others scattered around.
Many of the hotels on the island offer all-inclusive packages, which means that food is already accounted for in your price.
This can be a good option, if you have booked your flights and hotel well in advance to lock in cheaper prices, then you can concentrate on activities that you would like to do or the souvenirs you might purchase, without having to spend extra on food.
Alternatively, you can choose to have half board rather than all-inclusive if you know that while staying at a hotel on holiday, you are more likely to enjoy a lie in, or get up early and go out—but still want the comfort of knowing that your evening meal will be provided by the hotel.
Airbnb’s rental listings are a great place to find affordable accommodations if you prefer the option of self-catering. You can buy food and drinks at local supermarkets, saving you the more expensive costs at restaurants.
Cheap tours to do in Barbados
There are several budget-friendly activities that you can enjoy in Barbados without spending lots of money. Some highlights include snorkelling, historic walking tours and taking in the sites of the island. Many of these activities are free or reasonably priced.
Mount Gay Rum Tasting – If you like rum, then this could be the ideal tour for you. You will get to visit the Mount Gay Rum Visitor Center where a guide will take you through how they make rum in the manufacturing process, before giving you a chance to sample some of this famous rum.
If you love the beach and the ocean, then taking part in snorkelling will be the ideal activity for you. Harbour Lights Chair & Turtle Snorkel Tour allows you to have the comfort of a sunbed and umbrella on the beach at the Harbour Lights beach club but you will also get to go snorkelling in Carlisle Bay with the chance of spotting some turtles.
There are also many options to see marine life but on a glass bottom boat! Turtle and shipwreck snorkel tour is on a glass bottom boat from Bridgetown to Carlise Bay, allowing you to enjoy a complimentary drink whilst watching the turtles and colourful fish, without having to get wet.
There are many opportunities to take part in a walking tour around Barbados. This Historic Walking Tour will help you to learn all about important historical landmarks and more.
You will be educated on the culture of the city of Bridgetown, ensuring you do not miss anything during your trip.
If you are interested in military history, then this Walking Tour is ideal. You will walk around the Garrison Historic Area and learn about the British military occupation from the 18th century, via an audio headset.
St. Nicholas Abbey
If you are interested in learning more about the 17th-century property and grounds that is St. Nicholas Abbey, then why not hop on the St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage House & Rum Tour.
This self-guided tour allows you to make your way through the great house and experience some of the artifacts and history of this 17th-century property. Afterwards, you can enjoy a complimentary drink in the artisan distillery where you can see how the rum is made onsite.
Alternatively, you can take a train ride around the grounds of the abbey on the St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway Tour. This narrated tour will educate you on the history of St. Nicholas Abbey and you will get to see the Great House, along with the woodlands and plantation fields.
If you are feeling active then getting out onto the water in a kayak might make your afternoon memorable. This Kayak Tour from Colony Club Beach to Folkestone Marine Park is great fun!
You will be able to enjoy the beautiful clear waters as well as spot some corals, sea turtles, parrotfish and plenty more as you paddle along in your kayak.
Barbados still has plenty to offer, without having to spend a fortune. There are plenty of beaches for you to explore over the island, with lots of walking trails to keep you fit and earn those rum punches in the evening. It is a beautiful island, with lots going on, so there is plenty for you to enjoy. So go ahead and plan a trip to Barbados!
Recommended budget tours in Barbados
- Harbour Lights – Beach Chair & Shared Umbrella
- Historic Walking Tour of Bridgetown Barbados
- Chocolate Factory Tour in Barbados
- Mount Gay Signature Rum Tasting in Barbados
- Walking Tour of Historic Bridgetown
- Barbados Shore Excursion: Carlisle Bay Turtle & Shipwreck
- Harbour Lights – Turtle & Shipwreck Snorkel Tour
- St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Great House and Rum Distillery Tour
- Sunset Turtle Spotting Clear Kayak Tour
- Private E-bikes Experience in St Philip