Barbados would be considered a small island at roughly 21 miles in length and 14 miles in width. Over this area, there are plenty of ways to get around.
There’s a solid public transportation system, taxis and of course, car rentals. You have choices! Whether you’re by foot off the beaten track like I often find myself, or by four wheels on the highway, there are multiple ways you can explore the island.
Public Transport on the Island
Being from London, I am a bus and tube girl at heart! I appreciate other destinations that allow me to travel independently without always having to rely on taxis because those costs very quickly add up!
In the capital Bridgetown, there are three bus terminals – Constitution River, Fairchild Street and Princess Alice.
Each of these terminals services a different coast of the island and house the different transport types that we’ll dive into below. The area you are travelling to will determine which terminal you go to board at. For example, for the South Coast you’ll go to Constitution River terminal, whereas to head East, you’ll want to visit Fairchild Street.
Let’s get into the different bus types you’ll find in each terminal.
Vans / ZRs
Pros: Will stop almost anywhere / music / smaller capacity
Cons: Will stop almost anywhere / Will reverse / Will overtake at speed / Will stop to talk to other ZRs
The Vans, affectionately referred to as ZRs due to the beginning of their license plates are all over the island. These white vehicles are owned by their drivers and hence each one operates independently.
There are different number vans that follow certain routes such as the number 11 that heads from Silver Sands to Bridgetown.
Yellow Bus aka The Reggae Bus
Pros: Fun music
Cons: Only stops at bus stops / travel in style /
Driving is a bit more controlled on the Reggae Bus than the ZR, but it depends on your driver to be quite honest!
Enjoy a larger more traditional bus experience in this elevated vehicle. These routes are more extensive than the ZRs and can take you across the island. Like the Oistins to Speightstown bus that voyages from the southernmost point of the island to the north.
You can get a lot of sightseeing in on this route for the same nominal fare, and with a soundtrack to accompany you – at your driver’s discretion of course!
Blue Bus aka The Government Bus
Pros: Charge cables and aircon on newer models
Cons: Silence / Exact fare required /
You will have a comfortable if slightly less exciting ride on this bus. These routes tend to voyage onto highways and travel across the island also.
Recent renovations see some of these bus types sporting aircon, USB charger cables, and electronic signs showcasing the upcoming stop.
If you’d like a safe and steady journey to your destination – this is the transport for you.
Driving on the Island
In Barbados, they drive on the left hand side – the same as in the UK. There are roundabouts galore here so you’ll feel right at home on the roads if that’s where you’re travelling from!
You can rent a car from $100 bajan (£37) a day, or take out a longer contract with a rental company for a better weekly/monthly rate.
There’s only 1 type of gas here so if you’re anything like me, you will find it perfect as there’s no chance of confusion at the gas station. The main difference at a Barbados gas station is that you do not pump yourself – friendly staff are awaiting at each platform to assist. You can pay the attendant directly in cash and head on off on your merry way without even having to leave the car.
Get some keys and hit the road – the whole island is your Oyster.
Pros: Faster than the bus / Safe delivery from door to door
Cons: Only cash payments / Costs add up!
You know what a taxi is like, so I won’t bore you. Much like anywhere else these can be picked up at Taxi stands or the sides of the road.
Locals will offer taxi services to you should they suspect you’re a tourist. You’re never too far away from one at any given time.
Pick Up App
Pros: Option to pay by card / Faster than the bus / Safe delivery from door to door
Cons: Costs add up!
This is the island’s recent answer to Uber – it works in the same way. Request your ride and before you know it, someone will be on the way to you. Of course, also accounting for Barbados timing!
The benefit of the app is it gives you a bit more security than taking a taxi at random, you get to see your driver ahead of time and see reviews they have received.
The app also facilitates card payments, which is the main reason I was drawn to it. It’s simple and easy to link up your card so you can take cashless rides which is a great alternative to cash only Taxi’s. Only slight problem there is that because you’re not physically parting with cash, it can feel like the rides are free. Please keep an eye on your emails for your ride confirmation receipts to remind you – these rides are not free!
Out here, you can’t use your card everywhere and for everything like you might be used to in your home destination. Cash should be reserved for essential cash purchases like bus fares, market visits and buying from local vendors. As such, I like to keep hold of cash as much as possible for the instances where card is not an option.
Pros: Another way to see the island / Exercise
Cons: Road safety / Roads not designed to faciliate this
Every now and then, someone will suggest cycling out here. Even though I spent two years living in the land of bicycles – I am not super keen to try it. I have had the heads up that this cycle tour around Barbados was an incredible experience, but I won’t be jumping on the saddle to try it out just yet.
Roads here are mostly smooth and conducive to cycling, but just like with any city a cyclist would need to be hypervigilant on the roads. Between the vans, and regular drivers on the road – there could be a lot of hazards to a cyclist out here. Pavement cycling too would be a strong no.
So these are the ways to get around Barbados. I mostly frequent vans and the reggae bus – often opting to let the blue bus pass me by when waiting at a bus stop!
Which transport mode sounds best to you?