Experience Barbados on a Budget
Barbados is a truly magical place to visit with its warm climate, soft, sandy beaches and lush, tropical waters. It’s these things that have attracted the rich and famous to the island for decades and which have given it a reputation for being an expensive place to take a holiday. However, while Barbados is certainly a place where one can enjoy luxury, it doesn’t necessarily have to cost a fortune. Here, we’ll look at how you can experience Barbados on a budget.
Visit out of season
Whatever time of year you visit Barbados you’ll find a warm welcome and warm weather; however, the island is primarily a winter destination and from December until April, the number of visitors increases dramatically.
If you want to save money, visit from May to November where you’ll find reductions of up to 50 per cent on flights and accommodation as well as reduced prices at many of the island’s attractions. The cheapest time to visit is during September and October, though do avoid the October half-term school holidays.
Being small, nowhere is very far away on Barbados, so while you might want to hire a car or go on an organised tour to explore some of the island’s great sights, you don’t need to do this if you are just wanting to travel to the local beach or want to visit one of the main towns like Bridgetown or Holetown.
If you are staying at a hotel or resort, you’ll often find they have a regular shuttle service that will drop you off and pick you up. Alternatively, you can save money by using the regular public buses. There are three types to choose from, government and privately-operated buses and privately owned shuttle buses, known as ZR vans.
While we thoroughly recommend you splash out on a meal or two at one of the island’s top restaurants, you won’t want to eat all your meals in such lavish surroundings. Luckily, Barbados is full of places where you can pick up exceptional food at great prices. You’ll find plenty of beach shacks, street stalls and small eateries serving up a wide selection of delicious foods.
While you are here, make sure you try out some of the fabulous Bajan dishes on offer, such as macaroni pie, pudding and souse and cutters. You should also take a visit to Oistins Friday Fish Fry.
As you are likely to spend quite some time chilling out at the beach, you’ll be pleased to know that there are no private beaches in Barbados. This means you can pick your favourite spot without the need to pay. And if you don’t want to hire a sun lounger or sunshade, just take your beach towels and find shade under a palm tree (though avoid any with coconuts!)
The other great thing about the beaches is that there is plenty of marine life close to the coast. This means you won’t need to fork out for a boat trip to see the wonderful array of tropical fish that inhabit the waters off the west coast. However, if you want to swim with the turtles and dive among the shipwrecks, a boat tour is an awesome experience.
While you can take a picnic to the beach, you’ll also find that many beaches have food shacks serving cheap food and drinks and there’s always a coconut seller on hand to buy refreshment straight from the nut.
Seeing the sights
Barbados has many scenic places to visit and while some of them charge an entrance fee, not all are expensive to enter and many others are free. It costs nothing to stroll around the World Heritage Site of historic Bridgetown and its garrison, nor do you need to pay to see many of the fascinating natural features of the island. One of the best ways to do this is to go on one of the free, Sunday hikes organised by the Barbados Hiking Association. It costs nothing and you’ll get to see parts of the island that many tourists miss out on – and you’ll have a local guide who will tell you everything you need to know about the places you are visiting.
Where to stay
If you are a one-time visitor looking for basic, cheap accommodation, the best places to stay are on the south coast. For those who want a little more luxury, the west coast is the destination you should head for.
The ideal way to find high-quality, west coast accommodation at an affordable price is to consider fractional ownership of a luxury apartment or a villa. This way, you get an outstanding holiday home, together with all the benefits of private resort membership, all for a fraction of the price. You can then return year after year and make additional income from leasing out the property at other times.
As you can see, visiting Barbados doesn’t have to be overly expensive. Arriving in low season and making careful choices about where you eat and visit and how you travel can cut the costs dramatically. And, should you wish to be a regular visitor to the island, purchasing fractional ownership of luxury accommodation, such as the stunning apartments and villas here at the Royal Westmoreland, can save you a great deal over the long term.