Barbados is a warm Caribbean island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Caribbean Sea on the west. This island paradise has gorgeous national parks, wildlife reserves, botanical gardens, and beach destinations everywhere you turn.
Barbados is visited by nearly one million tourists every year who experience the warmth of the Bajan people, delicious Caribbean flavors, and epic seaside resorts.
But is Barbados safe enough to explore with peace of mind? Nothing derails a vacation quite like feeling unsafe during your trip. Well, we think, yes, Barbados is a safe place to visit, and below, we’ll explain the many reasons why.
Is Barbados Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes, Barbados is a safe destination to visit. Still, there are certain times of year and neighborhoods to avoid to ensure your safety in Barbados. The US Department of State lists Barbados as a Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions.
Barbados as a whole is a safe destination to explore during a beach vacation getaway. The Bajan people are commonly described as warm, friendly, and polite.
In fact, you’re likely to hear greetings and salutations every time you enter and exit a store or meet someone new. It’s considered polite to return the greeting.
Some tourists feel unsafe because Barbados’s crime rates have elevated in recent years and its location in the Caribbean means it’s a potential target for hurricanes. Not to worry, we have all the insider tips you need to book a Barbados vacation that is pure bliss below.
Crime in Barbados
Crime is a concern for many tourists, so the news tend to focus more on the dangers than the safety of a place. So, while you’ll hear that the crime rates in Barbados have increased in recent years, Barbados is still a safe place for tourists.
In fact, Barbados has an overall lower crime rate than the US. Barbados has a large police force for an island of 166 square miles. The violent crime rates in Barbados are typically lower than in the United States.
However, the murder rate has gone up in recent years due to gang-related violence, especially in particular neighborhoods. That said, tourists typically don’t venture to these areas during their beach vacations.
Pickpockets and petty theft is the main concern tourists might have regarding their safety in Barbados. Like any destination around the globe, thieves go to crowded areas or completely isolated places for opportunities to steal.
The best way to avoid crime is to be mindful of your surroundings and keep your valuables out of sight. Moreover, you can choose a hotel or resort with 24/7 security staff or stay in a vacation rental in a gated community for additional peace of mind.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
Though Barbados is generally safe, some neighborhoods would be prudent to steer clear of during your time there. According to the US Department of State, the main ones to look out for are:
- Crab Hill
- Nelson Street (Bridgetown)
- Wellington Street (Bridgetown)
Bridgetown is safer during the day than at night. If you want to explore the city, do so with a reputable tour provider and during daylight hours to avoid any potential for unpleasant scenes.
There isn’t much of a nightlife scene in Bridgetown anyways, so you’re more likely to be in safer areas enjoying your vacation when the stars are out.
Sickness in Barbados
Getting sick on vacation is a quick way to put a downer on your day. There are a few things you should be aware of to avoid catching anything icky while on the island. The three main ones are:
- Travelers’ diarrhea
- Hepatitis A
- Dengue Fever
Travelers’ diarrhea is probably the illness you’re most likely to encounter on your Barbados vacation. Travelers’ diarrhea can be brought on by the food or drinks you eat and your own digestive history.
Pack some medication for nausea and diarrhea in your toiletries, just in case. Hepatitis A causes mild fevers, nausea, and pain. If you drink or eat food contaminated by the virus, it is transmitted to you.
Hepatitis A can come from ice cubes made with unpurified water, improperly washed food or raw/undercooked shellfish from water contaminated with Hepatitis A. Your best bet to stay safe is to get your Hepatitis A (and B while you’re at it) shot before your trip if you don’t already.
Dengue Fever is a virus spread by mosquitos that causes fever and severe flu-like symptoms. These symptoms present themselves up to ten days after the initial bite.
So, you may feel ill upon your return home rather than sick on your vacation. Stay safe from Dengue Fever by wearing insect repellant and long-sleeved clothes when in areas with mosquitos.
Dangerous Land Animals in Barbados
While you won’t be chanting “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” there are animals to look out for during your Barbados trip to keep you safe.
Mosquitos are a traveler’s biggest concern since they can carry Dengue Fever, Zika virus, or other dangerous diseases. Protect yourself by wearing insect repellant and covering your skin when in areas with these buzzing biters.
Giant African Land Snail carries a parasite that can cause severe brain damage or meningitis.
Luckily locals helped to control the Giant African Land Snail population with a snail bounty program that brought the population back to a healthy number. A mongoose may look like a cute ferret or squirrel, but these adorable creatures are ferocious.
Luckily, a mongoose is unlikely to attack unprovoked. If you see one, just steer clear, and you should be fine. Barbados green monkeys are another deceptively cute yet ferocious animal in Barbados.
This small monkey has a quick and painful bite that is sure to derail your vacation. Just like mongooses, Barbados green monkeys are unlikely to attack unless provoked. Barbados has no venomous snakes, crocodiles, and no known venomous spiders.
Dangerous Marine Life in Barbados
Now that we’ve covered the land animals, your next question is probably is it safe to swim in the water in Barbados? The answer is yes, but there is some marine life to look out for.
Stonefish are sneaky predators with sharp spines on their backs. These fish hide under the sand on the ocean floor and, if stepped on, release a deadly toxin. Don’t fret; there is an antidote, but you’ll want to hail the lifeguard right away to get treatment.
Sharks are uncommon in Barbados, but sometimes tiger sharks are spotted off the coast. Keep an eye on the beach flag, or ask the lifeguard if there have been any shark sightings lately.
Man O’ War Jellyfish are known to flock to the waters around Barbados during certain times of the year when the water conditions are favorable to them. These jellyfish have long tentacles that sting with a painful bite, though they are not life-threatening.
Hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November. Barbados is an island in the Caribbean Sea and is prone to heavy rains, high winds, and dangerous waves between June and November.
Luckily, the National Hurricane Center makes it easy to find information about incoming hurricanes and tropical cyclones. An upside to traveling during hurricane season is that hotel rates are at their lowest and tourist attractions have fewer crowds.
If you book your Barbados trip between June and November, take the precaution and opt for travel insurance that covers weather-related cancellations and delays.
If you do experience a hurricane during your Barbados trip, have an evacuation plan in place and educate yourself about the safety zones nearest to you.
Things to Consider
You can’t enjoy yourself if you’re worried about your safety, so we’ve gathered tips and local advice to keep you feeling secure throughout your entire Barbados getaway.
Follow the Flags
Barbados beaches use a flag system to keep swimmers safe from dangerous water conditions. Just like a traffic light, green means go ahead. If you see a yellow flag at the beach, this means to swim with caution.
A yellow flag indicates anything from moderate currents, algae or dirty water, jellyfish, or sharks. Furthering the traffic light analogy, a red flag means stop. Red flags symbolize very strong waves or a dangerously high amount of jellyfish, algae, or sharks.
Don’t Pack Camouflage
In Barbados, it is illegal to wear or pack camouflage clothing. Camouflage is exclusively reserved for the military in Barbados. Wearing camouflage could have you arrested because it is considered impersonating an officer.
If you do pack camouflage clothing, it might be confiscated upon arrival at the airport.
Drive on the Left Side of the Road
It might look dangerous at first when you notice all the cars are driving on the wrong side of the road, but as a former British colony, Barbados uses the English way of driving.
Take it back to your elementary school days and be sure to look both ways before crossing a road; if you look the usual way, you might not see a car coming.
Public Nudity Is Illegal
Barbados is a conservative country, so nude beaches in Barbados do not exist. It’s illegal to go topless or bottomless on the beach, so avoid doing so if you don’t want to catch the police’s attention.
If you’re concerned about tan lines, opt for a vacation rental with privacy and lots of sun. There are lots of amazing options to choose from for beachside vacation homes and private getaway spots.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions, we have the answers. Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about safety in Barbados below.
Are tourists safe to walk around at night in Barbados?
We don’t recommend making a habit of strolling around Barbados at night. Still, tourists can safely walk around certain parts of the country after dark. That being said, if you find yourself out after dark, do so with caution and awareness of your surroundings.
Walking around at night in Bridgetown or Crab Hill isn’t recommended, where crime rates are higher. Nighttime provides more opportunities for thieves and pickpockets to catch you off-guard without a passerby observing.
What vaccinations do I need to visit Barbados?
The CDC recommends visitors to Barbados have their routine vaccinations like:
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
- Flu (influenza)
Other recommended, but not mandatory, vaccinations include:
- Hepatitis A & B
- Yellow Fever (especially if doing a cruise)
Before you travel anywhere, it’s best to consult with a healthcare practitioner about what vaccinations you need. Depending on what activities you plan to enjoy while in Barbados, some shots might not be necessary for your trip.
Do I need travel insurance for my Barbados trip?
While there isn’t a legal requirement for tourists to have travel insurance for their trip, we recommend that you purchase travel insurance before you head to Barbados.
Travel insurance is a great way to keep your finances and trip safe, especially if you are traveling during the hurricane season between June and November.
Select a travel insurance policy that covers hotel cancellations, weather-related changes, and expenses for injuries or illnesses. This way, should anything happen, you have the peace of mind that you have coverage and support.
Can same-sex couples visit Barbados safely?
Yes, even though same-sex marriage is outlawed in Barbados, same-sex tourists can feel safe visiting this Caribbean island.
Barbados has many openly gay residents, but the general public is conservative about same-sex relationships. It’s best to avoid passionate public displays of affection when strolling around town.
Are taxis safe in Barbados?
Taxis are a safe and affordable mode of transportation around the idyllic island of Barbados. Keep in mind that taxis on the island are not metered, so fares need to be prenegotiated with the driver before getting in.
Luckily, rates are mandated by the government based on distance, so the pricing is more or less consistent.
Keep in mind that cars drive on the left side of the road in Barbados, so don’t be alarmed if your taxi driver seems to be driving on the wrong side of the road.
So, Is Barbados Safe to Visit?
Now that you know the ins and outs of all things safety in Barbados, what do you think? Is Barbados a safe destination worth checking out for your next vacation? We stand by our yes!
Travelers far and wide enjoy visiting Barbados and come home with amazing experiences. While there are crimes in some areas, not all areas are ridden with thieves and criminals, especially the places you’re likely to stay in.
Follow the flags to ensure you don’t have visitors swimming with you in the ocean, and book your trip between December to May to avoid hurricane season.
With just some preplanning and precautions, you’ll discover that Barbados is a safe destination that’s a home away from home. Safe travels!