Should you rent a car in BarbadosBarbados>Barbados

Barbados is often compared with Antigua as a Caribbean holiday destination. Whereas I would recommend getting a hire car in the latter, I don’t think it is such a good idea in Barbados. If you do rent a car in Barbados, it’s probably best just to do so for a day or two.

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  • Explore the island at your own pace . As I would say with a destination, a hire car will give you flexibility that other options cannot.
  • Beaches — there are plenty of excellent beaches near all of the popular resort hotels. Some beaches are even more spectacular than others. You may also want to do a particular activity that is much better one beach than another. For example, Crane Beach has a reputation as one of the Caribbean’s best surfing beaches. If you are going to be travelling to and from a beach like this each day, then you might well be better off with a hire car.
  • Scenery — we need not make the obvious point that Barbados is a beautiful island to explore. If you just stick to the main resorts and packaged attractions listed below, then you will not get to experience the island at its best. The St Andrews District, Bathsheba Rock, the Botanical Gardens, and Crane Beach are all top personal recommendations.
  • One day driving tour? I would recommend at least two days to appreciate them completely, although you can certainly do a mini island tour in one day. You can also do an organised tour by bus or minibus, or you could just ask a local taxi driver to take you round the island.
  • Reasonable roads — if you have tried hiring a car in an island like St Lucia, then you will find that the quality of roads in Barbados is vastly superior. Even though the island still has plenty of rugged terrain, it is relatively easy to drive around. Pot holes can still be a problem on the more rural roads.

Driving Licence Notes

Unlike destinations such as Antigua, St Lucia or St Kitts, you don’t need to worry about getting an expensive local driving licence before you can hire a car. On the other islands, this can set you back upto US$50. On Barbados, you still need a local licence, but it will only cost you US$5 for two months.

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Saving money by not renting a car in Barbados!

  • Cost — in our car hire comparison list, the lowest price of a week’s car hire in Barbados was around five times more than the equivalent hire car in Malaga. Although some of the other Caribbean islands were even more expensive, they don’t have the same level of alternative options that Barbados has. This makes getting a hire car here extremely poor value.
  • Tours — plenty of options are available for going on organised tours of the island. This sort of excursion might not be to everyone’s taste, but you will certainly see most of the island, and the tour guides are usually highly entertaining. Some people go for a tour on one day and then hire a car for another day after being given an introduction for the island.
  • Proximity — unlike some other Caribbean islands, most of the main resorts and attractions are relatively well connected to each other, as they span a short stretch between the airport and the capital Bridgetown. This includes the famous St Lawrence Gap resort area. You can easily travel between these places by bus, taxi or the local “maxitaxi” hybrid. Having a car is just not necessary. Even outside these more popular areas, the whole island is only 21 miles long and 14 miles across at its widest. There are only so many roads you can fit into such a small area!
  • Barbados Bus routes cover the whole island, with excellent frequency between the major towns on the island.

Other reasons to visit Barbados without a car

  • Rum — we don’t want to state the obvious, but Barbados is one of those destinations that has a strong association with having a good time, and drinks are extremely cheap, especially when compare to the other Caribbean islands! Many of the most popular attractions, including boat tours, rum tours and the legendary Harbour lights experience, also include unlimited free drinks. This simply does not mix with driving, especially not if you’re picking up a car after drinking the night before. This is a stupid idea at home, and it is even more stupid on holiday! If you are going to get a hire car in Barbados, then either severely limit your drinking the night before, or have a designated driver who does not drink at all.
  • Oistins — one of the most popular excursions is a Friday evening fish market at Oistins. This is easily accessible without needing a car, as it is situated between the airport and St Lawrence Gap.
  • Offshore excursions — even if you don’t want to go on one of the “booze cruises”, there are still numerous options for going on boat trips and also for going diving, and in most of these cases, transport will be provided to and from your hotel.

Short term rentals

You might well just want to rent a car for the day to explore the island, and this can easily be done locally. However, you might well get much better value by booking even short-term car hire in advance. Either way, we still don’t think it is worth getting a hire car for your whole stay in Barbados, unless you are staying in a villa, or doing an activity which makes you dependent on a car.

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Barbados is certainly one of those places where the whole appeal lies in relaxing and taking it easy. There is more than enough to do in Barbados without a car, and there is little point in having one for your whole stay if you are in one of the main resort areas. However, renting a car to tour the island for the day is well worth looking into, and it is worth looking at car hire booking options for arranging this ahead of time to get the best rates..

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Author: Carometer

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