After you’ve set your clock to Vacation Mode and adjusted to the laid back atmosphere, it’s time to truly experience Barbados. Sightseeing is always at the top of everyone’s To-Do List, and there are a number of ways to get around the island. You could try your hand at “catching a bus” for a fare of BDS$2.00 (USD$1.00) per trip, or take a private taxi ride. However, if you want the freedom to explore at your own pace and experience an epic island adventure at the same time, then renting a car is definitely the way to go.
Here’s a list of DO’s and DON’Ts when it comes to driving in Barbados.
- Do Plan Ahead. Check with your hotel’s Concierge or Activities Desk prior to your arrival about renting a car. They may be able to provide you with rates and availability, or refer you to a reputable rental agency.
- Do Bring Your Driver’s License. In order to rent and drive a car legally in Barbados, you’ll need to get a visitor’s permit. These permits can be obtained from the Barbados Licensing Authority or from an authorized car rental company for only BDS$10.00 (USD$5.00). The minimum age for renting a car in Barbados is 21 years with at least 2-5 years driving experience, and drivers over 70 years will need to bring a medical certificate.
- Do Drive on the Left-hand Side. Also, our cars are commonly right-hand drive, so it might take a moment to get accustomed to the change.
- Don’t Forget To Buckle Up. Your safety while driving in an unfamiliar place is very important, and wearing your seat belt is mandatory in Barbados for both the driver and all passengers. If you’re traveling with kids under 5 years, they’ll need a car seat as well.
- Don’t Get Stuck in Rush Hour. Plan to make the most of your day by avoiding the rush hour traffic. Local rush hours are 7:00am – 8:30am and 4:30pm – 5:30pm.
- Do Follow The Speed Limits. Signs are located along the roads indicating the speed limits in the areas you’ll be driving in. In Barbados, the speed limits are usually 40-60km/h for city and rural areas and 80km/h on the highways.
- Do Approach Roundabouts with Caution. Roundabouts can be a bit confusing, but there are signs and road markings to help you out, and remember to give way to vehicles on your right. Barbados has narrow roads and the occasional blind corner so careful attention should be given when driving.
- Do Pay Attention to Pedestrians. Pedestrian crossings are marked with zebra-striped markings and are prevalent near stop lights and roundabouts. Persons travelling on bicycles also tend to stay close to the sidewalks as Barbados doesn’t have designated bicycle lanes.
- Don’t Drink and Drive. While Barbados doesn’t enforce a Blood Alcohol Consumption Limit, we cannot express enough that drinking and driving just don’t mix. We strongly recommend that you have a designated driver or make arrangements for a taxi to ensure you return to your home away from home safely.
- Do Use the Bus Stop Signs as a Guide. These red, white and black
bus stop signs let you know whether you’re heading ‘To City’ or ‘Out of City’.
- Do Fuel Up. As you explore our little island and head further North or East, gas/service stations can be few and far between. Make sure you’ve got a full tank before you start your adventure.
- Do Avoid Leaving Valuables in the Car. Be sure carry your belongings with you when out and about. Park in well-lit areas at night and lock the doors when in unattended areas.
- Don’t Be Alarmed at the Honking Horns or Flashing Lights. Many Bajans take to honking their horns or flashing their lights as a way to say ‘Hello’ when passing a friend on the road. Flashing lights are also often used when giving way to another driver, and in return, horns are used to say ‘Thank you’.
- Don’t Admit Liability. In case of an accident, call both the Police and the car rental company immediately.
And most importantly…
- Do Make a Day of It. Part of the fun of hiring a car is finding your way around the island and exploring spots off the beaten path. Pack a basket with lunch and snacks. Sing along with the radio. Enjoy the fresh breeze. Stop at a local rum shop. Take lots of fun and quirky pictures. Some rental cars come with a GPS unit, but in case there isn’t one, you can always refer to a map. If the map doesn’t help, you can always stop and ask for directions. Bajans are always willing to help – it’s part of our charm.