Did somebody say “roooad triiiiip!” ?? With its rugged East Coast, tropical West Coast and green, hilly central region, the petite and beautiful island of Barbados (a.k.a “Bim”) is a dream to explore when you have a rental car. At only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, you can drive around the entire island in a matter of hours. Driving in Barbados really is easy and quite enjoyable!

Check out this short video of our little road trip along Barbados’ East Coast

Do you need to Hire a Car in Barbados? Is it worth it?

In our opinion, yes you should definitely opt for renting a car in Bim if you want to make the most of your trip. You will see and experience much more than you bargained for. We spent 7 days in Barbados as a family of three, and we hired a little Suzuki Swift for 3 of those days – it cost us $80 USD per day, which is expensive for such a small car. We paid this high price because we were in a hurry to get out on the road and we quickly booked it through our hotel (The Hilton Barbados Resort). If we were a bit more organised, we would have hired a car 1 or 2 days earlier with TravelSupermarket for $65 – $70 USD per day. Anywhoo, we’ll definitely rent a car again when we return to the island.

Suzuki Swift Car Rental in Barbados
Here’s our little Suzuki Swift parked up on the roadside on Barbados’ East Coast (Bathsheba)


Is driving in Barbados easy or difficult?

Based on our own personal experiences, we had no problems as visitors to this beautiful island and we’ve answered the most common questions about driving in Barbados (below)… However, we’ll let you be the judge on whether it’s easy to drive there 🙂

What side of the road do they drive on in Barbados?

In Barbados, they drive on the left side of the road, just like we do in the UK. The steering wheel is also located on the right-hand-side of the car. Apologies to our American and mainland-European readers!

Does sat-nav work in Barbados?

Yes, it sure does! As a visitor, satellite navigation will be your saviour. During our trip, we used our iPhones with the Google Maps app everywhere we went! Don’t forget to pack your smartphone car mount, we use a Belkin car mount everywhere we travel and it works with all smartphones.

Do people drive fast in Barbados?

In comparison with the fellow Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Antigua, we found that people in Bim drive at a much more relaxed pace… quite slow at times!

What are the roads like in Barbados?

Barbados has proper roads and highways with clear road markings, roundabouts, traffic lights, street lights and sidewalks/pavements. If you’re driving in the countryside or up in the hills, you’ll need to watch out for potholes in the roads.

Do car rental companies in Barbados provide child car seats?

Yes, they do. We paid $10 USD extra to rent a child car seat for our daughter who was 3 years old at the time of our visit.

How long does it take to drive from Barbados’ West coast to the East coast?

It takes approximately 32 minutes to drive from Pebbles Beach on the West Coast to Bathsheba on the East Coast.

How long does it take to drive from Barbados’ South coast to North Coast?

It takes approximately 56 minutes to drive from Enterprise/Miami Beach (near Oistins) on the South Coast to the Animal Flower Cave on the North Coast.


To build excitement for your pending road trip around Barbados, count down the days, hours, minutes & seconds until your trip with our CAN’T WAIT! Vacation & Holiday Countdown app 😊

Barbados Countdown Card for iPhone and Android (CAN'T WAIT! App)


So what do you think? Are you ready to hit the roads in Bim? Here are our top picks for the coolest places to visit and most fun things to do when driving your rental car around Barbados…

1. Martin’s Bay Fish Fry (On Thursdays)

Parking facilities: Yes, a car park at the Bay Tavern Restaurant
Distance from Bridgetown to Martins Bay: 32 minutes drive (12 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Martins Bay: 35 minutes drive (13 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Martins Bay: 36 minutes drive (14 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Martins Bay: 29 minutes drive (11 miles)

Nat Eating Fried Fish at Martins Bay in Barbados
Nat Enjoying her Fried Snapper at Martins Bay Fish Fry – Look at Those Views!

One of the most vibrant places to drive to in Barbados for a music-and-food-filled day out is the popular Martin’s Bay Fish Fry on the east coast. We say popular, but it’s not an obvious spot for tourists, as you’ll probably be the only tourist(s) there! For years, people have been migrating to this beach every Thursday for their huge fish fry. You can buy your meal from the Bay Tavern restaurant, which serves fried snapper, flying fish, fried chicken, goat meat, macaroni pie and more delicious Bajan dishes. This is the perfect place to go if you want to enjoy some local Bajan cuisine with a stunning view of the Atlantic ocean.


2. Barbados Wildlife Reserve

Parking facilities: Yes, there is a car park on site, with parking spaces under the trees for shade
Distance from Bridgetown to Barbados Wildlife Reserve: 32 minutes drive (15 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Barbados Wildlife Reserve: 39 minutes drive (16 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Barbados Wildlife Reserve: 40 minutes drive (19 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Barbados Wildlife Reserve: 49 minutes drive (24 miles)

Little Girl Kid with Tortoise at Barbados Wildlife Reserve
Our Daughter Loved Barbados Wildlife Reserve, Especially Meeting the Roaming Tortoises Up Close
Baby Green Monkey in Barbados Wildlife Reserve
You Will Also See Loads of Barbados’ Famous Green Monkeys (Baby Ones Too!)

The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is a protected area that’s situated amongst 4 acres of mahogany wood forest in the northern parish of Saint Peter. As a visitor, you can enjoy strolling freely through the reserve at your leisure and see several animals up-close, such as red-footed tortoises, green monkeys, deer and peacocks as they roam free. Is there a zoo in Barbados? No, but this reserve (established in 1985 by a Canadian primatologist and his wife) is even better because the animals aren’t locked in cages. The reserve’s main purpose is to help protect native species and their habitats, some of which are endangered.



3. Carlisle Bay

Parking facilities: Yes, there’s a car park at Bayshore Beach and also parking along the street at Pebbles Beach
Distance from Bridgetown City Centre to Carlisle Bay: 6 minutes drive (1 mile)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Carlisle Bay: 12 minutes drive (3.5 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Carlisle Bay: 21 minutes drive (9 miles)

Pebbles Beach on Carlisle Bay, Barbados - Birds Eye Drone View (Best Beaches in the Caribbean)
As Seen From Our Drone… A Full, Birds-Eye View of Carlisle Bay (Pebbles Beach, Brownes Beach and Bayshore Beach)
Little Girl Kid on Pebbles Beach Carlisle Bay in Barbados (Family Fun)
Pebbles Beach on Carlisle Bay: Just LOOK at That Water! It’s Warm and Shallow, Perfect for Families with Kids

As we stayed at The Hilton during our Barbados trip, we didn’t have to drive here as it was on our doorstep (walking distance). However, no matter where you stay in Bim, we would highly recommend spending some time at Carlisle Bay as it’s one of the most beautiful shorelines on the island. The bay itself is comprised of three beaches – Pebbles Beach, Brownes Beach and Bayshore Beach. It’s easily accessible for drivers as there’s plenty of parking, both roadside (at Pebbles) and in a car park (at Bayshore). For food and drinks on Pebbles Beach, our favourites are the Jamaican food truck and also the small cafe outlet serving snacks, soft drinks and a lethal rum punch!



4. Rihanna’s Childhood Home

Parking facilities: No “official” parking, but you can park your car along the street
Distance from West Coast (Carlisle Bay) to Rihanna Drive: 8 minutes drive (2 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Rihanna Drive: 25 minutes drive (6 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Rihanna Drive: 33 minutes drive (12 miles)

Rihanna's Childhood Home in Barbados
This is Rihanna’s Colourful Childhood Home in Barbados

Barbados is the island where music superstar and billionaire entrepreneur Robyn Fenty a.k.a Rihanna was born and raised; and you can see that it’s a place she values deeply. Rihanna grew up in a bungalow in the Parish of St. Michael (Bridgetown to be precise), where she lived between the ages of 5 and 16 before relocating to the United States and launching an incredibly successful music career.

As a tourist, you can take a tour of Rihanna’s childhood home in order to learn about her humble beginnings and her island life when she was young. Visitors will see her bedroom, kitchen, living room and more things that provide an insight into how Rihanna grew up in Bim.


5. Bathsheba and the East Coast

Parking facilities: There is plenty of street parking along this coast
Distance from Bridgetown to Bathsheba: 28 minutes drive (11 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Bathsheba: 36 minutes drive (12 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Bathsheba: 37 minutes drive (15 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Bathsheba: 38 minutes drive (16 miles)

Bathsheba Beach with Rock Boulder & Palm Trees
The First Thing That Catches Your Eye as you Drive Along Bathsheba Beach are the Large Rock Boulders in the Sea

If you’ve watched our short tour of Barbados’ rugged East Coast on YouTube, then you’ll see how different the East Coast is to the West Coast (e.g. Carlisle Bay), which is more calm and family-friendly. Bathsheba Beach and the East Coast are home to some serious waves, so the sea here is suited to surfers rather than swimmers. So much so, that annual surfing competitions are held on Bathsheba Beach. We wouldn’t recommend coming here for a relaxing swim, but you can enjoy the on-site restaurant, striking views of the ocean and marvel at the huge, free-standing rock boulders.



6. Harrison’s Cave

Parking facilities: Yes, there is a large car park on site
Distance from Bridgetown to Harrison’s Cave: 22 minutes drive (8 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Harrison’s Cave: 29 minutes drive (9 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Harrison’s Cave: 30 minutes drive (12 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Harrison’s Cave: 38 minutes drive (17 miles)

Tram Tour Through Harrisons Cave in Barbados
Us on a Guided Tram Tour of the Harrison’s Cave Tunnels – Admiring the Stalagmite and Stalactite

We found Harrison’s Cave to be a really unique tourist attraction as we’d never taken a tram ride through an underground cave system before! To start our visit, we parked in the large on-site car park which was pretty-much empty. Most of the guests there had arrived on a pre-booked guided tour. If you don’t fancy driving here, you can also pre-book a guided tour of the caves, which includes hotel pick-up and return. Whilst admiring the centuries-old stalagmite, stalactite, underground pools and waterfalls, you’ll also learn the history of this underground cave system which was first documented in 1795.


7. Bottom Bay

Parking facilities: Yes, on the road (end of Bottom Bay Road)
Distance from Bridgetown to Bottom Bay: 35 minutes drive (16 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Bottom Bay: 36 minutes drive (15 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Bottom Bay: 28 minutes drive (12 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Bottom Bay: 19 minutes drive (7 miles)

Bottom Bay Beach in Barbados. A Perfect Picnic Spot
Bottom Bay is Considered to be the Perfect Picnic Spot. Photo: wikimedia.org

Fancy a picnic with a view? A hidden gem on Barbados’ south east coast, Bottom Bay is a stunning beach with strong waves lapping onto its powdery white sand. Please note: Bottom Bay is not recommended for swimming because the waves here can be extremely dangerous, and even experienced swimmers who choose to do so should take great caution!

The beach itself is encircled by high coral cliffs, providing a spectacular view of the coastline. A popular picnic spot, Bottom Bay is also becoming more attractive as a residential location, with numerous houses springing up on the cliffs overlooking the beach and ocean. Residents have excitedly reported seeing turtles and whales in the waters below.


8. Welchman Hall Gully

Parking facilities: Yes, there is a car park on site
Distance from Bridgetown to Welchman Hall Gully: 24 minutes drive (9 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Welchman Hall Gully: 30 minutes drive (10 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Welchman Hall Gully: 31 minutes drive (12 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Welchman Hall Gully: 37 minutes drive (16 miles)

Welchman Hall Gully Tropical Preserve in Barbados
Welchman Hall Gully. Photo: wikimedia.org

Welchman Hall Gully is like the Grand Canyon of Barbados – a collapsed cave, which is home to a plethora of natural wonders. It is here that the Grapefruit is thought to have first grown! This tropical forest is home to large troops of green monkeys and is located directly in the centre of the island (St. Thomas Parish) – so it’s easy to reach by car from all coasts. Following the path from the car park into the gully is a narrow ravine lined with a variety of tree species and moss-covered rocks, taking you past some magnificent shallow caves draped in vines. Barbadian green monkeys are often seen in groups at the end of the trail. This gully also features a kids adventure park with a child-friendly zip line, a swing rope, a tight rope and a treehouse.



9. Animal Flower Cave and Cliff Top Restaurant

Parking facilities: Yes, there is a car park on site
Distance from Bridgetown to Animal Flower Cave: 42 minutes drive (19 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Animal Flower Cave: 48 minutes drive (20 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Animal Flower Cave: 50 minutes drive (22 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Animal Flower Cave: 58 minutes drive (27.5 miles)

Animal Flower Cave & Cliff Top Restaurant in Barbados
A small section of Barbados’ Animal Flower Cave. Photo: wikimedia.org

Situated in the parish of St. Lucy, the Animal Flower Cave and restaurant can be found at the northernmost point of Barbados, but it’s still easily accessible by car.

The cave’s name is derived from the colourful sea anemones that can be found in the pools within the cave, which are closely related to coral and jellyfish. If you fancy a swim, then some of the pools in this cave are definitely deep enough to swim in, with a maximum depth of 8-feet. Another interesting and captivating feature is the cave’s walls, which are covered with a variety of interesting formations that have been tinted brown and green by the oxidation of iron and copper.


10. Miami Beach / Enterprise Beach

Parking facilities: Yes, there is a small area to park your car by the sand, or you can park along the street nearby
Distance from Bridgetown to Miami Beach: 13 minutes drive (5 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Miami Beach: 23 minutes drive (7 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Miami Beach: 10 minutes drive (2 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Miami Beach: 13 minutes drive (5 miles)

Miami Beach (Enterprise Beach) in Barbados
Miami Beach / Enterprise Beach. Photo: Loozrboy on Flickr

If you’ve been to Miami Beach in Florida and Miami Beach in Barbados, you’ll realise that they’re not even remotely similar! Barbados’ version – with its sheltered, Northern stretch known as Enterprise Beach – is much more of a locals beach. Located on the south coast, close to Oistins town, Miami Beach offers sun worshippers a beautiful view of the sunset. Visit this beach to experience a local vibe without flocks of tourists.



11. Farley Hill National Park

Parking facilities: Yes, there is a car park on site
Distance from Bridgetown to Farley Hill: 32 minutes drive (15 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Farley Hill: 39 minutes drive (16 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Farley Hill: 40 minutes drive (19 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Farley Hill: 48 minutes drive (24 miles)

Farley Hill House & National Park in Barbados
Farley Hill House & National Park. Photo: wikimedia.org

Farley Hill National Park was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1966, which is the same year that Barbados gained its independence from the United Kingdom. This popular national park in the parish of Saint Peter sits on the site of Grenade Hall Plantation, which was established in the 17th century. Prior to becoming a national park, the impressive development of Farley Hill House and its gardens started in 1818 and continued for about 5 decades. It was widely regarded as the most luxurious mansion in all of Barbados. The house was eventually destroyed by a fire in 1965 and its ruins are the main attraction here. If you’re visiting as a family with kids, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a children’s playground on the property.


12. Hunte’s Gardens

Parking facilities: Yes, a small car park is available on site
Distance from Bridgetown to Hunte’s Gardens: 22 minutes drive (9 miles)
Distance from West Coast to Hunte’s Gardens: 28 minutes drive (10 miles)
Distance from St. Lawrence Gap to Hunte’s Gardens: 30 minutes drive (12 miles)
Distance from Airport / South Coast to Hunte’s Gardens: 31 minutes drive (14 miles)

Hunte's Gardens in Barbados
Photo: Alex Dixon on Flickr (Creative Commons Licence CC BY-SA 2.0)

Horticulturalist Anthony Hunte created this unique botanical garden in the 1950’s. The tropical garden sits on an old sugar plantation, occupying a sink-hole-like gully in the parish of Saint Joseph. As you wonder through the palm trees with Anthony Hunte himself – rum punch (or tea/coffee) in hand – prepare to wowed by captivating tales, as you learn about this ornately designed and majestically transformed garden.

 

Plan Your Road Trip, Vacation or Holiday to Barbados

Excited? Count down the seconds until your Barbados trip with our CAN’T WAIT! Holiday & Vacation Countdown app !

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