They say the best things in life are free, but in Barbados, that’s not entirely true. In this sun-kissed part of the world, top hotel rooms can be pricey in peak season and meals in the best restaurants can also lighten your wallet.
Contrary to popular belief though, you don’t always need to re-mortgage the house or get a second job to stay beneath Barbadian skies. You can start saving your hard-earned cash by searching for your flights and hotels on Cheapflights.com. And once you’ve done that, here’s our guide to seeing Barbados on a budget.Plan your trip
When to go
While Barbados’ storm season runs from June to November, don’t immediately discount traveling during this time. Barbados is located just outside the hurricane alley, so while it may rain, you’re unlikely to see a hurricane. Peak tourism season, meanwhile, starts in mid-December and lasts until mid-April. Wedge your visit in somewhere between the two (so, late November or late April) and you should be able to get a better deal on accommodation.
Home to resorts like Sandy Lane, the west coast of Barbados has the capacity to bleed visitors dry. Visitors looking for more reasonably priced accommodation should turn their attention to St. Lawrence Gap and Bridgetown on the south coast. You can book apartment hotels for less than $550 a week here (especially when you’re searching on Cheapflights.com, you can always find some deals on there. But we might be biased).
Run by the Barbados Board of Transport, buses are frequent, cheap and pretty reliable in Barbados. Bus routes cross the island, and conveniently go past all the main tourist spots, including Harrison’s Cave and Oistins. The transport board website is also very helpful, listing all the bus numbers for each attraction.
Things to do
While the moneyed visitors to Barbados might hire a driver and an air-conditioned vehicle for an entire day in order to explore Barbados, those with a slimmer budget take the scenic bus tours run by Barbados Board of Transport. Dates, routes and special themes for tours are posted on the board’s Facebook page. Most trips depart from Bridgetown.
Speaking of Bridgetown, there are several things you can see in the capital that don’t cost a penny. Take a self-guided walking tour to experience neo-Gothic parliament buildings, UNESCO World Heritage architecture and National Heroes Square, which is home to the bronze statue of British Admiral Lord Nelson.
Beaches are also free in Barbados. Take a beach towel rather than renting a lounger, pack a picnic rather than do lunch in the waterside restaurants, and you can have a day out for peanuts. Mullins Beach on the west coast is a great place to watch the sunset. There’s a bar and restaurant by the beach that serves pretty pricey food and drink if you’re feeling flush but if you’re not in possession of a money tree, you can buy beer, rum and ice creams from a sand-side shack.
Accra Beach is a good choice on the south coast. This mile of salt-colored sand is home to a few beach huts where vendors sell beer and burgers. Another freebie experience can be found on the south coast a few miles from St. Lawrence, where a wooden seaside boardwalk traces a mile of coast from Rockley Beach to Hastings.
On the shopping front, the super-rich head to Broad Street in Bridgetown to buy emeralds, diamonds and other bits of bling. Those without money to burn visit Pelican Village and Craft Center on the outskirts of Bridgetown, where the Crayola-colored shops belong to artists and entrepreneurs selling souvenirs like carved wooden items and handmade artisan jewellery.
In terms of paid-for attraction on Barbados, the most costly include the Atlantis underwater submarine, which will leave a $100 hole in your wallet. Harrison’s Cave isn’t too pricey, at around $30 per person, and St. Nicholas Abbey, which features a rum distillery, costs about $20 to get in.
Food and drink
Two-course meals ring up for $135 at places like The Cliff in St. James, on the west coast. If you want to experience the island’s fine dining scene, try going out for lunch instead of dinner. Restaurants like Tides in St. James run special offers at lunch times, so you can enjoy two courses for around $40.
For a real bargain, though, head to Oistins on a weekend. Every Friday and Saturday night, the fishing village hosts a huge fish fry. Street food stalls, bench seating and plastic chairs fill the main square area and chefs make enough macaroni pie, jerk chicken, fried fish and rice and peas to feed the five thousand several times over. Towering plates of food can be bought for a handful of spare change.
For drinks, head to St. Lawrence Gap during happy hour. Most bars on the main strip run happy hours with deals like two-for-one cocktails.
Ready to hit the beach and enjoy the Bajan sun? Search for flights and hotels on Cheapflights.com now.Search for flights and hotels