Business opening hours
As a general guide you can expect the following:
- Banks: 8am – 3pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8am – 5pm on Friday.
- Shops: 8.00/8.30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday, and 8.30am – 1pm on Saturday. Some will also be open on Sunday in high season.
- Supermarkets: 8am – 8pm Monday – Saturday and Sunday mornings in high season.
- Pharmacy: 8am – 7pm Mon – Thurs; Friday 8am – sundown; Sat 8pm – 8pm approx; Sun 9am – 12pm.
Casual, light comfortable clothing is appropriate during the day as well as in the evening and the emphasis is on very casual clothing at all times.
Beachwear should not be worn in the streets or stores. You should also be aware that it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing. Nude bathing is illegal.
Credit cards and currency
Major credit cards are accepted by most hotels, car rental companies, and shops. The Barbados dollar (BD$) is the local currency in Barbados and is tied in value to the US dollar. It is advisable to exchange currency at the bank, as the most favourable exchange rates may not be obtained elsewhere. Many establishments will accept payments in US Dollars with change being given in local currency. However please note that smaller establishments, especially in country areas, may only accept BD Dollars.
We suggest you take US$ or £GB and exchange them for local currency. Obviously, travellers cheques are safer than cash.
ATM machines are widely available.
We can arrange car or 4×4 hire for you when you book your holiday, or our agents will be pleased to arrange car or 4×4 hire for you locally. They will arrange all the necessary permits and licences as well as insurance and your vehicle will normally be delivered to and collected from your accommodation. There is a good network of paved roads but, like most Caribbean islands, the signposting system leaves much to be desired. Please note that driving is on the LEFT. You will need to take your UK driving licence with you!
Buses and taxis
There is a comprehensive bus service which covers the whole island with a flat fare of about Bds$1.50 for all journeys. Although cheap, buses are crowded during the rush hours.
There are many licensed ‘mini vans’ that run around the island picking up tourist and locals. You will recognise them by their ZR license plate. They have a few fixed schedules but there are many of them and service is frequent. The rate is Bds$1.50 and is not recommended for the nervous passenger as ZRs stop frequently, often abruptly and move quickly to pick up the maximum paying passengers in the shortest time!
Taxis do not have meters but fares are regulated by the Government. Listings are available from the Tourist office. Please ask the price before travelling.
Barbados runs on 110 volts. Please consult your accommodation fact sheet (which we will send out with your tickets), for more details about plugs and sockets etc at your particular hotel or villa.
Barbados has the best and most extensive healthcare system in the Caribbean. All hotels will offer necessary assistance and direct you to the nearest doctor, clinic or specialist. Pharmacies are very well stocked with all usual medications. There is a large and high-quality hospital in Bridgetown. We advise you to take sufficient supplies of any medication that you normally take and as always, make sure you have adequate medical insurance before you travel.
Mosquitoes and other pests
While Barbados has very few creepy crawlies and the like, tropical places do produce tropical insects, and mosquitoes can be a nuisance. We suggest you take precautions by using repellent creams and sprays both day and night.
The water is of excellent quality and is fine for drinking from the tap. Locally bottled water is also available.
Safety and security
Barbados is a very friendly and relatively safe place, but it makes sense to take reasonable precautions against crime wherever you travel. Be particularly careful on isolated beaches and when visiting the island’s fun ‘jump-up’ street parties. Crime of any sort against tourists is very rare, but we still advise visitors to use taxis after dark whenever possible. Restaurants will always offer help with calling taxis to and from their premises.
We also advise all our clients travelling anywhere in the world to consult the Foreign Office website for detailed up-to-date travel advice. Visit www.fco.gov.uk for information and feel free to talk to our staff for clarification of any information the web page contains.
Local calls are inexpensive and telephones are readily available. Many European mobile phones will work in Barbados however it is advisable to check with your service provider before travelling to confirm roaming facilities and texting options. Some villas provide cell phones for your use while you are on the island and the bigger hotels have in-room phones. Phone cards for use locally or overseas are available through the Cable and Wireless telephone company.
Internet services are available at all of the hotels and at many internet cafes.
Tax and tipping
There is 15% VAT on meals at hotels and restaurants. Tipping is customary for good service (10% tip is appreciated) but check if the service charge has already been included on restaurant bills.
There are a number of different churches from all major denominations on Barbados and visitors are welcome at services.
Lock up as you would at home. Most hotels have safety deposit boxes and we advise against taking valuables to the beach or leaving possessions on view in your hire car. The police emergency number is 911 in Barbados.