Maxwell Beach Barbados
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Maxwell Beach Barbados

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Barbados Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

430 sq km (166 sq miles).

Population

284,996 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

663 per sq km.

Capital

Bridgetown.

Government

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state

HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason since 2018.

Head of government

Prime Minister Mia Mottley since 2018.

Electricity

110-115 volts AC, 50Hz. American-style plugs with two flat pins (with or without round grounding pin) are standard.

Fringed by white sandy beaches, sapphire seas and colourful coral reefs, Barbados is the archetypal Caribbean retreat. Off the beaten path this is not: Simon Cowell, Wayne Rooney and Will Smith are amongst the many celebs that have popularised the island, which, alas, has the a-list prices to match.

First time visitors can be forgiven for heading straight for the sand. Barbados is endowed with 113km (70 miles) of glorious beaches, which range from calm coves to surf-pounded shorelines. Most tourists flock to the Platinum Coast to the west, which is lined with luxury resorts, spa hotels, sophisticated restaurants and manicured golf courses, all lapped by the limpid Caribbean Sea.

Never played golf? Not a fan of high-end resorts? Then fear not. The altogether quieter south coast has some of the island’s best beaches, while the east coast, pummelled by the Atlantic Ocean, is less developed and attracts mainly surfers, who quench their thirsts in local rum shacks.

Although Barbados’s interior is unremarkable compared to some of its Caribbean neighbours there is much to see. And the best way to see it is by hiring a motorbike or a jeep and taking to the road, calling at crumbling sugar mills, rum distilleries and traditional churches that look like they’ve been lifted from England. Finish up in the colonial capital, Bridgetown, which, along with the nearby garrison, was awarded World Heritage Site status in 2012.

Combine these attractions with the island’s indelible laid-back vibe, its passion for rum (over 1,500 rum shops dot the island) and calypso-infused festivals, and it’s no wonder people return to Barbados time and time again.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Barbados on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Barbados.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. Information about the pre-departure tests which Barbados provides can be found in the Barbados Travel Protocols. Further information can be obtained by phoning (+1246) 628 4150 or emailing travelprotocols@visitbarbados.org.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be transferred to the Government’s quarantine facility, Harrison’s Point, for assessment. You can stay there for no cost until you have recovered. Conditions at the government quarantine facilities are generally basic and not necessarily equivalent to a tourist hotel with the associated services. Alternatively, you have the option of requesting to self-isolate at your own expense at a government-approved isolation hotel, villa or property until you have recovered. Strict rules are in place for this self-isolation. The option to self-isolate in an approved hotel, villa or property is not a right – the decision will be made by healthcare professionals. Further information can be found in the Barbados Travel Protocols.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Barbados

Everyone should comply with the measures put in place in Barbados to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Details of these measures can be found at the Barbados Government Information Service website and the Visit Barbados Travel Protocols.

All persons arriving in Barbados are required to wear face masks at all times whilst on airport grounds. Persons will also have their temperature taken.

In moving around Barbados, follow social distancing protocols.

Masks are mandatory in all public spaces, including out-of-doors unless you are exercising. You can expect to have your temperature taken and you may be asked to supply your contact details when entering some premises. Regular washing of hands is encouraged and you can expect to be asked to clean your hands using hand sanitizer on entering a building.

You may be required to quarantine and/or undergo a further COVID-19 test at any stage of your stay if the Barbados authorities deem that you have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual or mandatory monitoring highlights potential COVID-19 symptoms.

You should follow the Barbados Government Information Service on Facebook or on their website and monitor the Barbados Travel Protocols for further details as plans are subject to change at short notice.

The Barbadian authorities will seek to prosecute people who breach COVID-19 protocols, including those who break quarantine protocols, which may result in a fine and/or prison sentence.

The Government’s COVID protocols are subject to regular change. There is currently a curfew in place. Indoor parties are prohibited. There are restrictions on size of gatherings outdoors.

Accommodation

Not all hotels and private rentals have re-opened or fully re-opened to the public. If making a booking, you should check whether there are any coronavirus restrictions or protocols to observe.

Healthcare in Barbados

The Barbados Ministry of Health and Wellness has a coronavirus hotline staffed by public health officers 24 hours a day and can be contacted on +1 246 536 4500.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Barbados.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Barbados

We will update this page when the Government Barbados announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Barbados national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines. The Government of Barbados has stated that British nationals resident in Barbados are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Government of Barbados Ministry of Health vaccine website.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Barbados, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of violent crime including armed robbery, sexual assaults and gang-related shootings.

Since 2019 there has been an increase in the murder rate, primarily gang related and involving guns. Some incidents have taken place in populated and public areas. You should remain vigilant at all times and in all locations.

You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Take care when walking alone off the busy main roads and when withdrawing money from ATMs. Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark.

Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late night street parties, especially during the festival season.

Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables and travel documents in a safety deposit box or hotel safe. You should check that the hotel safe is securely fixed before using it to store your items.

The local police have advised residents and visitors against wearing visible gold jewellery due to a spate of robberies particularly in Bridgetown and other popular tourist areas.

Road travel

Driving is on the left. To drive on the island you must get a local temporary driving licence. The car hire companies will usually help with this. You must present a valid UK driving licence.

Take care when driving on the roads as there can be potholes and speed bumps.
Observe the speed limits. You should take extra care on minor roads and in rural areas where there are narrow roads and blind corners. Pedestrians often walk on the roads and indicators are not always used.

Take extra care when driving at night as some roads are unlit. Road signs and hazards may not be easily visible.

Don’t stop if you’re flagged down by pedestrians. Keep car doors locked when driving. Don’t place personal belongings and valuables where they can be easily reached and consider putting everything in the boot of the car or on the floor of the back seat.

In the event of an accident, call the police and don’t move the vehicle.

Taxis aren’t metered. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations. Agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. You can often pay in US dollars as well as Barbados dollars.

Public transport is available and cheaper. Minibus drivers might drive above the speed limit.

Air travel

You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes lists of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices – IATA Operational Safety Audit and IATA Standard Safety Assessment. These lists aren’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Barbados.

Swimming

Take great care at all times when swimming. Currents can be deceptively strong, including on some of the popular beaches on the south and west coasts. Some beaches don’t have lifeguards and/or warning flags and drownings have occurred.

Swimming isn’t recommended on many of the east coast beaches where currents are particularly strong. You should monitor all beaches carefully and obey any local warnings.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Barbados, attacks can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Barbados set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Barbados

Barbados has published travel protocols setting out its entry requirements in relation to COVID-19. Visit the Visit Barbados website for full details. You should read these before your departure and monitor the pages on a regular basis as the requirements may change at short notice. Masks should be worn at all times during your travel to Barbados and your passage through the airport. Social distancing and hygiene protocols are in place.

Arrive with a COVID 19 negative test

All travellers from the UK must present on arrival a valid COVID-19 PCR negative test result taken no more than 3 days in advance of your flight’s arrival. Please note that the test can be taken at any time during the day 3 days prior to the date of your arrival in Barbados. (For example, if your flight arrives at 10pm on Saturday, you can take a test at any time on the Wednesday prior to this.) You should check the protocols to confirm and understand all requirements. Relevant test accrediting bodies and standards authorities include: ISO 15189, CAP, UKAS or the equivalent.

All passengers are also required to submit an Embarkation/Disembarkation (ED) card 24 hours prior to travel, to which they should upload their negative test result via Travel Form. The BIMSafe app can also be used.

If you arrive in Barbados from the UK without a valid negative PCR test, you may be denied entry to the country. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test. On arrival all passengers are also subject to a health screen.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

Barbados will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Quarantine for unvaccinated arrivals

On arrival, you will be quarantined at approved facilities (a designated holding hotel, approved villa or a government facility at your own expense).

You will be required to undergo a second PCR test 5 days after arrival.

You will need to remain in your hotel room and may be required to wear an electronic tracking bracelet until you receive the results of your second test. If the result of that second test is negative, you will not be subject to further quarantine. The government aims to return results within 48 hours. Return times can sometimes be longer than this. See the Barbados Travel Protocols for further details.

Quarantine for vaccinated arrivals

From 8 May a new protocol is in place for fully vaccinated individuals (2 doses administered more than 14 days prior to arrival) who have not visited high risk countries including India, South Africa or Brazil in the previous 21 days.

Details of what the Barbadian authorities will accept as proof of vaccination can be found in the Barbados Travel Protocols. If you are unable to provide sufficient proof that you have been vaccinated then you will be treated as if you are unvaccinated.

On arrival, you will undergo a rapid PCR test either at the airport or at your government-approved accommodation. You will need to remain on the premises of your accommodation and follow the quarantine rules until you receive the results of your second test. The government aims to return results within 24 hours but it is recommended that you book two nights’ accommodation. See the Barbados Travel Protocols for further details.

If the result of that second test is negative, you will not be subject to further quarantine.

If you test positive for COVID-19 at any point during your stay in Barbados, you will be required to self-isolate. You will first be transferred to the government isolation facility for at least 24 hours. Conditions at the government quarantine facilities are generally basic and not necessarily equivalent to a tourist hotel with the associated services. Alternatively, you can request to self-isolate at your hotel, apartment or villa, or government approved isolation property under strict stipulations that must be signed and adhered to. This will be at your own expense for non-nationals and non-residents. You will need to remain at your designated accommodation until the Barbadian authorities are satisfied that you have recovered. This may mean a mandatory stay of several weeks in Barbados. Upon recovery, tourists can continue their holiday or return home. The option to self-isolate in an approved hotel, villa or property is not a right – the decision will be made by healthcare professionals. See the Barbados Travel Protocols for full details of isolation options, facilities and requirements.

If you are deemed to have been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case, you will be required to quarantine at approved facilities. See Barbados Travel Protocols for full details.

You can find full and definitive details of the protocols at Visit Barbados website and are advised to read and understand the requirements carefully before departure.

You should monitor the Visit Barbados website on a regular basis as the Government of Barbados may change the requirements without notice.

See the Barbados Travel Protocols for procedures for:

  • arrivals from high risk countries (India, South Africa, Brazil plus others) – stricter protocols are in place.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British passport holders don’t need a visa to visit Barbados.

On entry, you will normally be granted a specified period to stay. If you wish to stay longer, you must apply and pay for an extension of stay through the Barbados Immigration Department.

It’s an offence to overstay the entry period or to work without a work permit.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Barbados.

Departure tax

A departure tax of BDS$55 (US$27.50) applies for all passengers over 2 years old leaving Barbados. From 1 October 2018, an additional fee has been added. Passengers flying outside of the Caribbean region pay US$70 per person, and those flying within the Caribbean pay US$35 per person. Most airlines include the cost within the ticket price. If in doubt, you should check with your airline or tour operator.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website

There are severe penalties for all drug offences. Pack all luggage yourself and don’t carry anything through customs for anyone else.

It’s an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.

Local attitudes towards the LGBT community are mostly conservative throughout the Caribbean. Public displays of affection (such as hand-holding or kissing) between opposite or same-sex couples are uncommon. Certain homosexual acts are illegal. LGBT travellers should be mindful of local attitudes and be aware that public displays of affection may attract unwanted and negative attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Barbados on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Barbados.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate
of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Local medical care

The UK-Barbados reciprocal healthcare agreement terminated with effect from 1 October 2016. For more information see the NHS Choices website. Medical treatment in Barbados can be expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 511 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. Before choosing to be treated at a private facility, you should check their policies on pre-payment. Private clinics may not accept medical travel insurance as payment for treatment.

The main government hospital can cope with many types of treatment but serious cases may mean emergency evacuation.

Health risks

UK health authorities have classified Barbados as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. There is currently a spike in dengue cases.

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Barbados. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Hurricanes

The hurricane season normally runs from June to November. You should follow and monitor local and international weather updates from the US National Hurricane Centre and follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders.

See our Tropical Cyclones page for advice about how to prepare effectively and what to do if you’re likely to be affected by a hurricane or tropical cyclone.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are a potential threat and tremors are felt occasionally in the Caribbean, In the event of an earthquake, you should follow the advice of the local authorities. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, visit the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Volcanoes

You should monitor the alert level of the underwater volcano ‘Kick’em Jenny’, located 5 miles off the coast of Grenada. Observe any maritime exclusion zones and follow the advice of the local authorities in the event of increased activity or an eruption.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.