By Rental Car
If you don't mind driving on the left, you may find a rental car ideal on Barbados. You'll need a temporary permit if you don't have an international driver's license. The rental agencies listed below all can issue this visitor's permit, or you can go to the police desk upon your arrival at the airport. You must have a license from home and pay a registration fee of $5. Within a city or town, the speed limit is 20kmph (12 mph), going up to 60kmph (37 mph) on secondary roads, and rising to 80kmph (50 mph) on major highways. Because of frequent delays at airport counters, we suggest taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel and then calling to have your rental car delivered. A 15% tax is levied upon all car rentals in Barbados.
None of the major U.S.-based car rental agencies operate on Barbados, but a host of local companies rent vehicles. Except in the peak midwinter season, cars are usually readily available without prior reservations. Be forewarned that many local companies continue to draw serious complaints from readers, both for overcharging and for the poor conditions of their vehicles. Proceed very carefully with rentals on this island. Check the insurance and liability issues carefully when you rent.
The island's most frequently recommended agency is Drive-A-Matic, Lower Carlton, St. James (tel. 800/581-8773 or 246/422-3000; www.carhire.tv), which has a wide selection of Japanese cars. The agency is located 15km (9 1/4 miles) north of Bridgetown, near the main highway (Hwy. 1); it delivers cars to almost any location on the island, and the driver who delivers it will carry the necessary forms for the Bajan driver's license, priced at $5 per registered driver and valid for 2 months.
Another comparable company is Sunny Isle Motors, Dayton, Worthing Main Road, Christ Church (tel. 246/435-7979).
Taxis aren't metered, but rates are fixed by the government; one cab can carry up to four passengers for the same fare. Taxis are plentiful and easily identifiable by the letter Z on their license plates. Drivers will produce a list of standard rates ($25-$35 per hr.). To call a taxi, contact one of the following services: Paramount Taxi Service (tel. 246/429-3718), Independence Taxi Service (tel. 246/426-0090), Royal Pavilion Taxi Service (tel. 246/422-1260), or Lyndhurst Taxi Service (tel. 246/436-2639). A typical taxi ride from the airport to Bridgetown costs $18; to Holetown, along the western Gold Coast, $23; and to St. Lawrence Gap, site of many of the less expensive hotels, $13.
Take a bus only as a last resort, as the service is unreliable, in spite of the fact that many Bajans depend on this service to get to and from work. The nationally owned buses of Barbados are blue with yellow stripes. They're not numbered, but their destinations are marked on the front. On most major routes, buses run every 30 minutes or so. Wherever you go, the fare is BD$1.50, exact Barbados change required. Departures are from Bridgetown, leaving from Fairchild Street for the south and east, and from Lower Green and the Princess Alice Highway for the north going along the west coast. Call the Barbados Transport Board (tel. 246/436-6820) for schedules and information.
Privately operated minibuses, usually painted yellow, run shorter distances and travel more frequently. They are bright yellow with blue stripes, with their destinations displayed on the bottom-left corner of the windshield. Minibuses in Bridgetown are boarded at River Road, Temple Yard, and Probyn Street. The fare is BD$1.50, and unlike the larger, blue-sided government-operated buses, exact change is appreciated but not required.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.