A trip to Barbados is most likely on most people’s bucket list but is it an expensive place to travel to and enjoy a vacation?
Most island nations are not that affordable on a global comparison but some Caribbean islands are much more affordable than others, is this Caribbean island one of those? Let’s find out!
Join me as I answer the question, “is Barbados expensive?” and look at everything from how much it costs to get there to the hotel, food, accommodation, and transport costs too!
Barbados is generally an expensive place to visit especially when compared to places like India, Southeast Asia, and South America. But, what are the average costs for a trip to Barbados? Let’s take a look!
As with a trip to anywhere, a trip to Barbados, which is hailed as an expensive Caribbean Island, can cost a lot if you want it to, but there are ways to make it a lot more affordable too.
An average cost for a week in Barbados excluding your airfare will be around $2000 per person, and that is doing it all mid-range. This price includes everything from accommodation to food, drinks, transport, and activities like snorkeling.
But, you can do a week trip to this stunning island for around $600 per person, again excluding your airfare, if you want to live on a tight budget. Chances are though, you won’t get the most out of your trip, but I guess that comes down to the type of person you are.
If you want to have an extravagant holiday, Barbados is a great place to do it! You can stay in 5 star luxury and do private activities that will blow your mind and spend over $10,000 per person per week if you want to!
Again, the average price is around $2000 per person per week which is manageable for some people but certainly not for all.
Flights to Barbados range in price depending on the time of year and where you are flying from. If you fly from the south-eastern US your flight will be a lot shorter and therefore your tickets will be more affordable.
But, if you fly from Europe, then your tickets are likely to be more expensive. On average, flights to Barbados cost between $450 and $1500 but if you plan ahead you can usually find one for under $1000 or less no matter when you want to travel.
That being said, if you are coming from Canada, expect to pay around $1600, and if from as far away as Australia, more around the $4000 mark. If you are traveling from Australia, maybe just go to Fiji instead? Haha.
Considering flights are one of the most expensive parts of travel costs, the better the deal you can find, the better your travel costs are going to look. Find a deal and your Barbados costs will go right down!
Accommodation along with flights will be your biggest expense, and in Barbados, quite likely the biggest chunk of your holiday spending.
The average hotel price in Barbados is about $150 a night but that is not to say there aren’t any budget-friendly options out there. Let’s take a look and see what all the various accommodations cost so you can plan your accommodation budget properly!
Hostels in Barbados do exist but they don’t have a very good reputation and if you are planning on booking something like a hostel, you are best off reading the reviews beforehand. Once you have read the reviews, chances are you are going to be happy to spend a bit more money in order to enjoy your stay.
You can find a guest house to stay in or a hotel apartment for around $28 per night which is the most affordable accommodation you are going to find. Options like this all provide private rooms and kitchen facilities, which can help cut your food costs by a load!
There are lots of Airbnb rentals in Barbados and these can cost anywhere from $17 a night for a room to over $1500 a night for a luxurious house. On average, you should expect to spend around $400 a night for an entire place to yourself though.
That being said, you can find a lovely house or apartment to stay in for around $150 a night that will give you the amazing experience you probably want from a stay on this beautiful island.
By renting an Airbnb you can also save money on your food budget since cooking at home is always a much more affordable way of living than eating out the whole time.
There are a large range of budgets when it comes to finding a hotel room In Barbados and it depends on whether you are looking at luxury hotels or budget hotels.
Hotel rooms in a budget option can cost as little as $60 per night which isn’t bad, especially if the price includes breakfast – but chances are it won’t. Also, if you are planning on booking a hotel, make sure it is within walking distance to the beach as that is a large part of going to Barbados and it will help your transportation costs go down a bit.
You can spend up to around $450 per night for a hotel room at a luxury resort, particularly on the more popular west coast of the island. But there are some deals you can sniff out in order to spend around $150 a night, close to the beach, and with good amenities.
When living on an island, it is common knowledge that most food is imported as the climate and the salty soil don’t give rise to much fertility and therefore food has to come from elsewhere.
If you are staging at one of the many all-inclusive resorts you won’t have to worry about your food budget as it is built into the price but if you are not, you are going to have to eat out or make food in your kitchen.
The best way to eat cheaply in Barbados is by going to the supermarket and making food at home which is why vacation rentals with a kitchen can save you a bunch of cash. But, you are on holiday after all and therefore eating out at some point is going to happen.
The most cost-effective way of eating out is eating local and you will have a way more authentic experience at the same time.
Fresh fish is naturally a staple on the island and flying fish, called cou cou, is the national dish. It is cooked up with an okra and cornmeal coating and served with a side and should only cost around $7, a bargain for fresh fish!
Another option is street food and it is incredibly affordable also. The most famous dish you can find on the street is a chicken roti and you can buy one for just $1. If you want a snack or need to load up for a picnic on the beach, grab some of these and everything else on offer.
Macaroni cheese, pie, is another island staple and it is done to perfection plus it is very filling. You can grab a healthy portion of it for just $10 at a local restaurant.
As you can see, by finding some local hidden gems you will be saving money in your daily budget when you visit Barbados and have a way more cultural experience too.
There are fine dining options available too when you can splash $50 on a fresh lobster and blow your daily budget out the water. But, since you are on vacation, you don’t have to save money every day, and can have some luxury for one night.
Barbados isn’t the biggest island in the world at around 400 km in length but it is not the smallest either and to explore Barbados properly and make the most out of your vacation, you are going to need to use some transportation.
You have the choice of using public transportation, local transportation, or renting a car. Some of these options are outright cheap while others are more expensive.
The buses in Barbados come in many forms and include public buses run by the Barbados Transport Board which are bright blue with a yellow stripe – this is the only public transport service on the island.
Other buses include the reggae buses which are privately owned, play loud music, stop a lot, and are a load of fun. And the last type of bus are the smaller white vans with a ZR license plate.
Getting on a public bus will cost you about $2 bajan dollar, which is around $1 US dollar at the current rates. The other buses aren’t much more expensive either so the cheapest way to travel around the island is using the bus system, and it is very safe too.
Your other option is hiring a car and you only need to do this if you are staying somewhere remote that isn’t a hotel. The bus system does cover the whole island but you will probably have to trek a while to find a stop in a remote area and thus this is when hiring a car makes sense.
If you are staying at a hotel, your transfer to the hotel from the airport will be arranged and they will also offer transfers to parts of the islands you want to see, so you are covered in this case.
On average, a car costs around $44 a day to hire without insurance, and you will need to add around $15 per day if you want the insurance on top of that! You also need to take into account fuel prices and Barbados is one of the most expensive places to buy fuel, plus in the current climate it could cost up to $10 a liter.
To save some of your budget, stay somewhere with good public transport links like Bridgetown or the south coast of the island. The north and the east coast tend to be the most remote places as they are hit hard by bad weather and waves during the low season.
The great thing about Barbados is that every peach is publicly owned meaning you can access all the beaches on the island for free. This means you can reduce your activity budget by a load by simply spending days at the beach which will cost you nothing.
If you want to bring your snorkel gear with you then you can snorkel off the beaches for free too and you will see a plethora of wonderful sea creatures too. But, if you want to see the best snorkeling that Barbados has to offer you have better get on a boat.
For a single person to join a catamaran cruise around the island is about $100 and this includes lunch and drinks too. I did this in Barbados and it was an awesome day out, the food was amazing, you saw a lot of the island, and you stopped to snorkel reefs, shipwrecks, and more.
Another way to keep your entertainment budget low is by seeing some local music. The reggae in Barbados is excellent and it will cost you nothing to pull up a chair and listen to some local artists doing their thing.
Other great activities to keep you entertained are surfing for just a $25 board rental, scuba diving, and deep sea fishing. You can explore the amazing interior around the hilly areas and see old colonial houses, botanical gardens, and lots more.
Alcohol can be expensive in Barbados, as it depends on where, when, and what you drink. Drinking at home, the self-catering route is the most affordable way to do it and you can buy a beer in a liquor store for $4 a bottle.
That being said, you are in the Caribbean and you should probably drink some rum. The oldest and one of the most delicious rums in the world in my opinion is made in Barbados, Mount Gay Rum.
Mount Gay is very affordable since it is made on the island and you can even go and visit the brewery. A bottle of this delightful rum shouldn’t put you back more than $20, so it is very affordable overall.
When drinking out, you should expect to pay US and UK prices. Cocktails will be around $10-15 each and they only get more expensive the closer you get to the beach.
That being said, pretty much every bar in Barbados has a happy hour every day so time your drinking sessions right and you can cut your alcohol budget in half.
Wherever you go on vacation, it is worth adding about an extra 10% to your total budget. This should cover anything that goes wrong, anything extra you might need or want to do while you are there, have to replace a pair of broken sunglasses, for example.
Other expenses specific to Barbados are minimal and include tipping and travel insurance. Tipping is very much customary and everyone who provides you with a service will be expecting a 10% tip and not giving it is pretty much sacrilege.
Tourism is one of the largest economies in Barbados and the locals providing the amazing experiences you have do depend on them.
Travel insurance is a given and it is simply something worth having. You never know when things are going to fall apart. You might step on a jellyfish or your flights might get canceled, in any case it is best to be covered.
Overall, Barbados is a pretty expensive place to travel to but you can make it a lot more affordable if you want to. Beach days, swims, snorkeling from the beach, and eating local is all very affordable on a western salary and you can top it off with some free reggae at the end of the night.
Just make sure you are staying on the south or west side of the island and you will have cheap transport and lots of affordable places to eat and shop. Also, get as good a deal on flights plus accommodation as you can, and your budget will come way down!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!