Barbados is a Caribbean island, rich in culture and has beautiful sceneries. With coral reefs to explore, Barbados is a popular resort getaway and long a favored destination for package tourists and adventurers alike.
Today Barbados is a cosmopolitan country, a nation of beaches that can be visited for its parties and its relaxing credentials alike. With its friendly, warm, and open atmosphere, a visit to Barbados is one that will suit just about any traveller out there.
However, it’s not all paradise in this island nation. Not only is there the threat from mother nature – in the form of hurricanes, especially – but there is also a rise in crime rates and the risk of petty theft and pickpockets in Bridgetown, the country’s capital city.
There is a lot about Barbados that could put you off, but we are here to help you out with this epic guide to staying safe in Barbados. We’re filling it with all the tips and information you’ll need for a safe, secure, and altogether amazing time on this Caribbean island.
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How Safe is Barbados? (Our take)
Whilst there’s usually no need to worry about any trip to Barbados, that’s not to say that Barbados is without any crime at all.
In fact, there has been a rise in gang-related crimes recently, which often involves guns. There are also warnings for tourists regarding petty crime and scams in the capital, especially.
Tourism is a very important part of the island’s economy. It has been attracting tourists for many years now, with its resorts and luxury getaways.
People are often drawn to this island as it prides itself on being one of the safest in the region, yet crime rates have fluctuated in recent years. There was a worrying spike in the murder rate in 2019, and this is thought to be gang-related.
Luckily, the Royal Barbados Police Force has over 1,000 members; unarmed police patrol high-incident areas, in the hope that tourists will feel safe and protected.
Generally, Barbados is pretty safe. But to get into the details of what makes Barbados ticks, let’s take a look at the vital statistics…
There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, and this article is no different. The question of “Is Barbados Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on the parties involved. But this article is written for savvy travellers from the perspective of savvy travellers.
The information present in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing, however, the world is a changeable place, now more than ever. Between the pandemic, ever-worsening cultural division, and a click-hungry media, it can be hard to maintain what is truth and what is sensationalism.
Here, you will find safety knowledge and advice for travelling Barbados. It won’t be down to the wire cutting edge info on the most current events, but it is layered in the expertise of veteran travellers. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practise common sense, you will have a safe trip to Barbados.
If you see any outdated information in this guide, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. We strive to provide the most relevant travel information on the web and always appreciate input from our readers (nicely, please!). Otherwise, thanks for your ear and stay safe!
It’s a wild world out there. But it’s pretty damn special too. 🙂
Is it Safe to Visit Barbados Right Now?
As we’ve mentioned already, the crime rate of Barbados has been slowly rising in recent years. While this could be worrying, it is mainly an issue between gangs and violent crime is unlikely to affect any visitors to the country.
Pickpockets in Bridgetown can be an issue for tourists. Currently, the areas around Swan and Broad Streets are known for their scams and pickpockets, as is St Lawrence Gap.
Natural and seasonal issues, on the other hand, could pose even more of a risk to tourists.
The hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November. During this time, Barbados could be hit by the strong winds and heavy rains that a hurricane brings. The U.S. National Hurricane Centre (nhc.noaa.gov) monitors international weather, and is a good place to check for evacuation orders and other information.
Another natural threat is the underwater volcano, Kick’em Jenny, which is just 5 miles off the coast of Grenada. It’s important to pay attention to any increased activity or eruptions, as these could affect Barbados. Similarly, earthquakes do affect the Caribbean and are a potential threat to visitors’ safety in Barbados.
Zika virus and dengue fever are also currently a threat in Barbados; these, as well as Chikungunya virus, are spread by mosquitoes, so it is important to take steps to avoid being bitten.
With all this in mind, you might think that it’s not safe to visit Barbados right now, but it’s the exact opposite. As long as you use your travel common sense and stick to the local rules, you’ll have a perfectly safe trip to Barbados.
Safest Places in Barbados
Some places in Barbados are safer than others. However, we do have to say that you’ll be absolutely fine in pretty much all parts of the island, as long as you use your common travel sense. To make planning a bit easier, we’ve listed the three safest areas to stay in Barbados.
Of the South Barbados resorts, Oistins is one of the most laid-back and safest. Here you will find both tourists and locals mingling and enjoying the colourful décor in the street. For a first time traveller, Oistins is a great way to ease yourself into the destination. The beach is also a little more peaceful than the larger resorts. You can find a few highly reviewed tour companies here that will help you explore the island safely.
Speightstown is right at the end of the highway connecting Western Barbados with Bridgetown. It’s a bit more upmarket and more expensive than other neighborhoods, but it also offers more safety. With exclusivity comes peace and quiet, making this a firm favourite with families visiting the area.
Bathsheba is located on the east coast. It’s not a single city, but more like an area with loads of charming little villages. It’s quite off-the-beaten-path, but hardly sees any crimes. If you want a real adventure and to get to know the local culture, Bathsheba is a great place to start. There are less tourist resorts here as well, so you might even score a welcoming guest house instead.
Places to avoid in Barbados:
While most places on the island are pretty much safe, there are definitely some areas that you should avoid. Most pickpocketing is being recorded around the popular sights, so keep an eye open. Apart from that, crime rates in the capital city Bridgetown are the highest in Barbados. Note that the city is generally safe, but has a few sketchy areas. Here are the main places you should avoid:
- Any dark and secluded side street – especially at night
- Crab Hill – at all times
- Nelson – at night
- Wellington Streets – at night
Staying away from these areas will add another level of safety to your trip. That being said, always make sure to stay aware of your surroundings, no matter where you are.
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Barbados is a safe island to visit that also happens to be very fun, too. However, that isn’t to say that Barbados is a theme park; this is nevertheless a real country where things could happen if you are not careful. To ensure that you stay as safe as possible, we have decided to share with you some of our best safety tips for travelling to Barbados.
- Be careful withdrawing money from ATMs – Make sure you do so in a safe, not isolated, area busy with people; avoid doing this after dark. Use a moneybelt to keep your cash secure.
- Don’t walk around in isolated areas alone – This includes beaches and areas away from busy main roads, and especially at night.
- Don’t carry around valuables with you – Things like smartphones, expensive electronics and SLRs will make you stand out like a potential target to thieves. To be on the safe side, leave them at home.
- Pay particular care to wearing “visible gold jewellery” – Local police have specifically warned against this, both for residents and visitors, and goes for Bridgetown and other popular tourist spots.
- Only take licensed taxis – More on this later, but this is a good way to put yourself at risk.
- Be careful during festival season – These big parties can also attract opportunist thieves, so be vigilant.
- Be very careful when you’re swimming – The currents can be really strong; even popular tourist beaches on the south and west coast can be hazardous to swimmers (people have drowned).
- Don’t swim at east coast beaches – Currents here are particularly strong; look-up local warnings and obey them.
- Do not get involved in drugs – There are severe penalties for any and all drug offenses
- Leave your camouflage clothing at home – It is actually an offense for adults, and children, to dress in camouflage
- Cover up against mosquitoes – There are several mosquito-borne diseases in Barbados, so covering up, using DEET, avoiding stagnant/still water – all especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active – is important
- Stay aware of the weather forecasts – Paying attention to the weather means not suddenly finding yourself stranded in a hurricane; pay particular attention from June to November (hurricane season).
- Know that earthquakes can affect Barbados – You should research what to do before, during and after an earthquake and heed local advice
- Don’t leave belongings unattended – Whether this be lying around your hotel room, on show in your car, or left on the beach as you swim, it’s not a good ide..
- Keep your room secure – There are some amazing places to stay in Barbados, just remember to lock windows, doors and use the room safe or hotel safe if there is one.
- Stay away from the manchineel trees – You’ll find these on some beaches. The fruit is poisonous but even the sap, which can drip on you, can cause blisters. They are usually marked by red spray paint
- Be culturally aware – It’s important to understand more about the country you’re visiting before you arrive, so do some research
- Report crimes and scams to your hotel – If anyone has been hassling you or trying to scam you, the police – or your hotel – will be able to deal with it
- Get yourself a sim card – It’s helpful for getting around and keeping in touch with people
- Dress down – Looking like a wealthy tourist, especially if venturing out of resort areas, may single you out as a target
For the most part, Barbados is safe. It is not exactly a country that we would deem dangerous. Like everywhere in the world, however, there can be risks. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home, basically.
If you’re thinking about travelling solo in Barbados, you should do it. More and more people are heading by themselves to this Caribbean destination, finding time to relax on its sandy beaches, exploring its magnificent nature, or hitting the surf.
We’ve compiled a few pointers to help you stay safe and secure when you solo travel in Barbados.
- It is important to do your research about the area in which you’re thinking about staying. Though generally safe, finding the right area in Barbados that suits you is something you should really spend some time doing.
- Plan some activities. This way you will be able to get out and enjoy Barbados, but without the onus on yourself to explore and learn about everything by yourself. Again, however, you need to ensure that you research guides and tour companies thoroughly.
- That said, you shouldn’t do too much. Leave space in your schedule for downtime – days when you can just chill out on the beach and hang around your resort pampering yourself.
- Don’t go completely off-grid. Solo travel doesn’t mean that you have to cut off contact with everyone back home. Take time to keep in touch with your friends and family; this will help keep you grounded, stave off homesickness, and also means that people know your whereabouts.
- It’s not a good idea to walk around by yourself in isolated areas. Being by yourself in quiet areas could really lead to you becoming a victim of crime, so find a travelling buddy to explore the island with or opt for tours when it comes to Barbados’ less trodden routes.
- If you are going out exploring by yourself, however, you should really tell somebody where you are going. It’s much safer having someone know where you’re going and what you’re doing.
- Ask at your hotel or a local, if there are places you should be avoiding. Likewise, you should ask if there hidden gems you should be seeing that would really enrich your trip.
- Travel as light as possible; it will also be much more comfortable that way if you plan to hop around the island.
- Have emergency contacts saved in your phone and have them written on a piece of paper, in case your phone runs out of juice.
- Speaking of which, you should keep your phone charged at all times – in case of emergencies.
- If you do decide to go out by yourself though, don’t drink too much. The risks of drinking way too much far outweigh the benefits, and can easily lead to poor decision-making, putting yourself in unsafe situations, or simply being unable to find your way home.
This idyllic island is actually quite a haven for solo travellers. Not only is there a laid-back lifestyle, but there is also a lot on offer for many different types of traveller.
Is Barbados safe for solo female travellers?
Barbados may not be on the top of every solo female travellers’ wish-list. There are the romancing couples, the high-priced resorts, the well-trodden nature of the island in general and a lack of other women travelling by themselves in Barbados.
However, none of that means that it’s not safe to travel to Barbados as a solo female.
In fact, it can be done quite easily – and we have some curated tips for solo female travellers in Barbados that will walk you through just how you can go about it (and stay safe in the meantime)…
- Research your accommodation and book very carefully. Pay special attention to reviews left by solo female travellers, and only opt to stay at places that have been favourably reviewed by other women.
- You shouldn’t feel that staying at an all-inclusive resort is a cop-out; this is a safe option and a good one for women travelling by themselves for the first time especially.
- Be careful with going out partying by yourself. If you want to go out and enjoy the nightlife that Barbados has to offer, it’s best to gather a group of people together or go on an organised bar crawl or tour.
- Ignore any over-the-top attention you may receive from men on the street; it’s not a good idea to react in any way, just keep moving.
- Walk around confidently with your head up. Looking lost or vulnerable could lead to you being more of a target, so be confident and act like you know where you’re going – even if you don’t.
- Dressing down, or dressing casually, and being aware of how what you’re wearing is fitting in with the surrounding environment, is something to think about.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s from the police or local people, most people are very friendly and will be happy to help you with directions or anything you may ask for.
- Be very careful if you are going out somewhere isolated. Even if you want to just go out for a jog from the apartment you’re staying at, it’s important to note that the quiet areas are riskier for people by themselves, especially women.
- Know where you’re heading. Simply going for a wander may put you at risk or lead you into a bad situation.
- Meet up with local ladies or other travellers by getting involved in online forums before you go and Facebook groups like Host A Sister.
- Tell close people where you are. This is very important; just like any destination in the world, it is crucial that somebody you trust knows where you are and what you are doing at all times.
- Be careful during busy times, like Crop Over Festival, when there are lots of people partying and getting drunk. Make sure to watch your drink.
Though it may not seem like it, considering the lack of hostels with female-only dorms and things like that, Barbados is a fine place to travel solo as a woman.
Like anywhere in the world, however, being a lone female traveller comes with more risk than it does for your male counterparts. Although you can keep your wits about you, like you would do at home, it’s always different in a new country.
More About Safety in Barbados
We’ve already covered the three main questions, but there is loads more to know about safety in Barbados. Read on for more detailed information on how to have a safe trip to Barbados.
Is Barbados safe to travel for families?
Barbados is a brilliant place for a family holiday. With all those resorts, villas, condos and mid-range hotels, there is a huge selection of family-friendly accommodation on offer across the island – a good place to start.
While it is true that it is not always the cheapest place to travel, especially if you have children with you, Barbados is nevertheless a family-friendly destination.
However, it is important to note that not all accommodation is set up with children in mind; some resorts and hotels will be adult-only and won’t accept children.
For beach days, most beaches around the island are safe for playing on. However, not all are safe for swimming. Only swim where there are lifeguards around. The east coast is not a good idea for novice swimmers and children, as the offshore currents are strong.
The nature of Barbados can be something of a menace when you plan on visiting with children.
First of all, mosquitoes can be more than just a bother, but can be dangerous for children; avoid you and your family getting bitten by covering up and using repellent.
Exposure to the sun can be brutal as well, especially to small children. Limit your time in the sun – this goes doubly for when the sun’s at its hottest after around midday – and definitely apply sunscreen, cover up with T-shirts and wear sun-hats.
When it comes to weather, when you visit Barbados is something to consider. November, for example, is known as shoulder-season; it’s not hurricane season, it’s still warm – but blazingly hot – and prices will be cheaper.
Is it safe to drive in Barbados?
While it is safe to drive in Barbados in general, drivers should certainly take care in doing so. It isn’t all easygoing, but the experience of driving abroad is something that we very much recommend.
Driving in Barbados can be confusing, especially in the countryside. The highways aren’t very clearly marked, so it’s easy to miss your turning. Expect to be going off things like landmarks as opposed to consistent highway markings and signage.
Secondary roads are usually paved, but not always, and in rural areas, they can be very narrow with blind corners to look out for. It’s a good idea to have a physical map with you, as well as your smartphone GPS, to help you get around. That said, a friendly local will probably be able to help you if you do get lost.
It’s not a good idea to stop if a pedestrian is trying to flag you down – to be on the safe side. When you are driving, keep your car doors locked; anything valuable should be out of sight, and reach, of any potential break-ins.
Know that you drive on the left in Barbados (like the British) and also that small-children must have child seats. It’s a given anyway, but you should be wearing a seatbelt.
In general, though driving in Barbados can be done, we recommend that only experienced drivers tackle it. Otherwise hiring a driver, or using taxis, to get around is the way to go.
Is Uber safe in Barbados?
There is no Uber available in Barbados, nor is there any other ride-hailing platform on offer.
Sleep safe! Choose your hotel, hostel or Airbnb ahead of time so you’re not last-minute booking a less-secure place.
Are taxis safe in Barbados?
Taxi service in Barbados is pretty good. There are so many taxis to choose from, they operate 24 hours a day, and – lacking meters – you know you won’t get messed around because the rates are fixed by the government.
The only bad news about taxis in Barbados is the importance of getting in a licensed taxi. Unlicensed taxis do operate and it is not advised, at all, that you hop into one of these.
To ascertain that a taxi is licensed or not, look at the numberplate: this will have “Z” on it. On the roof of the car, there will also be “TAXI” sign.
Being a taxi driver is an important income for many of the Bajan (Barbadians) who choose to drive taxis; outside of high tourist season, it can be hard for drivers to get a fair wage, so it’s good to keep this in mind when you’re taking a taxi.
It is also possible to hire a driver per hour or for the day, for a negotiated price.
It is important to understand that there are excess fees (not a scam) when it comes to the taxis in Barbados – excess luggage, for example, being one of them.
Is public transportation in Barbados safe?
The public transport in Barbados is easy to use and fairly safe, though there isn’t that much of it – it consists mainly of buses.
The bus network, however, is far-reaching and you can pretty much get to wherever you need to get to on the island just by riding the bus. It’s efficient and not greatly expensive, either.
First of all, the government-owned public buses are the main way to get around. These are large buses which are blue with a yellow stripe.
These buses can take visitors to popular sites around the island and are very comprehensive. In fact, they even have their own online route-finder to make things easy for visitors.
Another type of bus that you can use while in Barbados are privately owned minibuses. These are yellow with a blue stripe.
Thirdly, there are route taxis, also known as “ZR vans”, which are white with maroon stripes; they can also be identified by the “ZR” on their number plates.
These are a bit more of an experience than riding the regular public bus; though they run the same routes as the public bus, they can be crowded, break suddenly, and tend to stop a lot. They also blast loud reggae music while travelling at high speed.
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Is the food in Barbados safe?
Bajan cuisine is a big mix of many influences: Irish, Indian, British, Portuguese, African, Creole – it’s all there.
There is necessarily a lot of deliciousness to enjoy if you to choose to explore the culinary world of this Caribbean country. To help you explore this island nation’s food like a pro, we are sharing with you our top tips on getting to know the food in Barbados…
- Follow the locals. Your guidebook may be leading you to places that are more convenient than authentic, so go to places that look as though they are local favorites.
- Avoid typical touristy restaurants. Tourist traps like this tend not to have hygiene as their top priority, either.
- Try to avoid things that look as though they have been sitting out in the sun for a while (especially if they are not covered).
- Don’t be afraid of a humble food truck or food shack. As with before, just make sure it is busy with locals.
- Wash your hands; do this before you eat and at least you won’t be the one making yourself ill.
- Note that one of the biggest causes of getting ill in many countries is resort food. Buffets may be very convenient and the easy option, but food that has been sitting around in metal trays for who knows how long is not the most trustworthy of things.
- Bring along some anti-diarrhea medication and rehydration sachets – just in case. Your stomach may not be able to handle the change in diet, the new ingredients and spices used in Bajan cooking.
- There is a lot of fish and seafood on offer in Barbados, which is great, but just make sure that what you’re eating is fresh. If it smells or tastes off, stop eating; food poisoning from seafood is the worst.
The food in Barbados is much loved by the islanders, and you will soon fall in love with it, too. Often made with fresh local produce, with a distinct Bajan flavour, there are a whole lot of interesting dishes to explore when you’re here.
Can you drink the water in Barbados?
Tap water is safe to drink all over Barbados. It follows World Health Organisation regulations, and some claim it is the purest water you can find.
While the jury may be out on the purity, it’s definitely safe to drink. Bring along a refillable water bottle and refill where and when you can instead of buying unnecessary plastic bottles of water and contributing to the plastic problem that we are currently facing.
Is Barbados safe to live?
It is important to know that living in Barbados is very different to visiting Barbados on vacation. You may have work to do, so you won’t necessarily be able to chill out all day, and there will be everyday annoyances, paperwork to fill in, shopping to do, and all the things that can make a place very everyday and mundane.
That said, the relaxed mindset – though charming on vacation – may be a little hard to get used to as a constant in your life. There’s a slow pace, people don’t rush around, and things may take a while to get done.
There are small tight-knit communities on Barbados where everybody seems to know everybody, which could be hard to get used to. It is also very densely populated, and is actually the 18th most densely populated country in the world.
The weather, the warmth and blue skies, maybe great, but there is another side to the coin. There can be heavy rains during the wet season and, from June to November, there is the threat of hurricanes, which can be devastating.
Although the crime rate is low compared to other islands in the area, violent crime is not unheard of. Robbery and burglary can also take place, which is yet another reason to ensure that where you choose to live is safe and secure.
At the end of the day, it is important to do your research. Make sure that you are talking to other people online who have made the move, checking out good places to live and people you can meet up with.
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Is it safe to rent an Airbnb in Barbados?
Renting an Airbnb in Barbados is very safe. In fact, if you don’t want to stay at the all-inclusive resorts, an Airbnb home will be the safest options. Not only are you protected by the booking process of the company, you can also check on reviews and ratings from previous travellers.
You can find Airbnbs all over Barbados, but most homes are located in Bridgetown. You can choose from plenty of awesome private rooms to spacious and stunning beachfront studios all to yourself.
If you’re worried about safety, some vacation rentals in Barbados come in gated communities with a security guard, so you can always look for these types of accommodation when choosing a place to stay.
FAQs on Barbados Safety
Planning a safe trip to Barbados can become a bit overwhelming at times. To help you out, we’ve listed and answered the most frequently asked questions on how to stay safe in Barbados.
So, is Barbados Safe?
That’s a clear yes from us. Barbados is one of the safest places in the Caribbean. Most visitors to this island nation will be staying in resorts and will be unlikely to see, let alone be affected by, any of the island’s serious crime.
The most important thing is to research the guides and tours you will take, as well as the accommodation you will be staying in, and remember that Barbados is not a theme park. You should still be sensible…
Have you been to Barbados before? Let us know about your travel experience in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!