Once thought of as a holiday haven for only the rich and famous the tropical islands of the Caribbean are actually accessible to people on all budgets. None of them more so than Barbados.
1. Visit in low season. Hurricane season runs from June to October in Barbados but there are a few months either side where prices on flights and accommodation are lower and you still get good weather. Rain may be more frequent but showers are over quickly and there is still plenty of sunshine to go around.
2. Shop around for the best deal. If you can be flexible on dates Skyscanner is a great tool for finding the cheapest dates and months to fly. Sometimes prices can vary from day to day depending on where you are looking and at what time, so it is worth keeping an eye on flight prices over a few days. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly direct to Bridgetown from the UK and have sales throughout the year which are well worth waiting for.
3. Back away from the beach. Properties situated back from the beach or further inland are much cheaper than those right by the sea. Beaches are public and transport is good across the island so staying further in will not hinder your holiday, and can save you quite a bit of money. Look also for apartments that allow access to the facilities in neighbouring hotels, and check the area of St. Lawrence Gap which has some cheaper accommodation options and lively nightlife.
4. Take the bus. You don’t need to hire a car to get around on the island, buses are frequent and an experience in themselves. You can travel the whole length for $2 on a local bus. There are buses to and from the airport that reach all over the island and if you give the driver a smile he will give you a shout when it is your turn to get off.
5. Explore the island on foot. Join a free National Trust walk and hike the island with friendly locals with all the best advice on what to do and see on their beautiful island home. Bear in mind these walks are taken seriously and proper footwear, clothing and suncream is a must – !
6. Visit local haunts for the best food at the best price. Rum shacks, food carts, and local markets are the best places to go if you are looking for authentic Caribbean food, friendly faces and the best island atmosphere. Try Bay Tavern in Martin’s Bay, St.John, Sand Dunes restaurant and bar in St. Andrews and the Golden Anchor in Holetown for fresh fish and DIY rum punch (bought by the bottle – !)
7. Party with the locals. If you are looking for nightlife without a hefty price tag head to Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday night for happy crowds, delicious food, music and dancing that lasts late into the night.
8. Shop smart. Look out for local weekend craft and farmers markets. Here you can find souvenirs that are more unique and at a better price than in the Best of Barbados souvenir shops you will see across the island. If you want an easy go-to for gifts to take back, chocolate rum cake is always a popular choice with friends and family at home – !
9. Hit the beach. Nearly all beaches on Barbados are public, so you don’t have to pay top dollar for a beach front hotel. The beaches on the west coast are calm and crystal clear, whilst those on the east are Atlantic facing with big waves, popular amongst surfers. I would recommend Carlisle Bay for turtle spotting in the clearest waters, Bathsheba for surf and Bottom Bay for peace and quiet.
10. Head to happy hour. Many bars and restaurants have daily happy hours. Hunt down the best deals in your area and enjoy delicious cocktails whilst watching the sun go down.
And with money to spare… I would strongly recommend making time for a visit to Hunte’s Garden. This is a really beautiful space set up in a gully in the middle of the island by horticulturist Anthony Hunte who warmly welcomes all his visitors with a large shot of rum. The $15 entry cost goes towards the upkeep of the garden and is money well spent on really special place, showcasing the island’s nature at its best.