Left Side Driving in Barbados

If you were not familiar with left side driving in Barbados, would you let it deter you from discovering beautiful secluded beaches, quaint seaside bars, a breathtaking countryside, and great local hot spots? 

I think not. 

One of the many joys of vacationing is the freedom to explore your destination to your heart’s content, and there’s no better way to do so than by renting a car.  

Ok, I totally get it.  For some, driving in Barbados could be challenging with the left side driving and the right side steering.  

If this is a major concern, here’s a suggestion.  When you make your reservation, request a mini driving lesson when you arrive in Barbados before your rental agent hands over the vehicle keys.  

Your safety comes first, and it will help you ease into left side driving in Barbados.
 

Driving in Holetown, Barbados West Coast

Driving in Barbados - Let's Hit the Road

There’s nothing like being on the open road, especially when driving in Barbados.  It’s exciting when you’re not sure where you’ll end up and what you’ll see and discover.  

Barbados has highways that connect the north to the south, with secondary arterial highways running from east to west.  A highway rotary connects each leg of the highway.  

All major highways have four lanes.  All other roads and secondary highways are two-laned with the exception of Bridgetown, the capital, which is unidirectional.  

Rotaries are named after prominent Barbadian or historical figures.  In areas where there is inadequate signage, these rotaries act as connecting points to facilitate navigation.  

For an additional fee, GPS navigational systems are now available through your car rental agency.

Nevertheless, you should always keep a few maps handy. Maps are readily available at any hotel or tourist desk, or you can get maps from your rental agent.  Most times the agent will place the information in the vehicle’s glove compartment.

Barbadian drivers are very patient when encountering  “H” license plates ("Hired" or rental vehicle) on local roads and assume that a visitor is lost if he/she is driving slowly. Not only will you not be honked to death, but most times drivers will assist.

Here's what you'll need to drive in Barbados

To be issued a Barbados driver's permit, you must be over 25 years old, have a current driver's license, and least 4 years of driving experience under your belt.  Cost of the permit is US $5 and it is valid for 2 months.

That’s it.

Early Sunday morning ride along the West Coast of Barbados

Here's what to do if you get lost..

Sooner or later, you will pass a local bus stop (within the mile).  It will display a “To City” or “From City”.  If it says the latter and you decide to continue on your route, you’ll end up “deeper in the abyss”, if you know what I mean. 

If it says the former, make a u-turn and follow the road in the opposite direction.  The pole signs for Bridgetown will be displayed and this will ultimately direct you to the nearest rotary.  Locate your rotary on your Barbados map and this will give you a clearer indication of your position.

If you’re not the adventurous type and you would rather get from Point A to Point B in the blink of an eye, a GPS rental system is recommended. Cost is approximately US $5 per day.  This would also eliminate the need to ask for directions, as below.

Local Bus Stop

Parking in Bridgetown

Finding a parking spot or an affordable parking garage in and around a city area can be a major headache. 

Not so in Barbados.  Indoor parking garages and outdoor parking lots (rate based) take the aggravation out of parking in Bridgetown, and parking is dirt cheap.    

On street city parking is not recommended for a few reasons.  Parking spots are small and rules are enforced, so don’t think you can just grab a spot.  You might end up getting a ticket.
 

BTI Multi-Level Parking in Bridgetown

Parking Lots and Garages in Bridgetown

  1. BTI – Multi-level parking - US $.75 per hour – Princess Alice Highway
  2. City Centre Parking, Chapel Street (adjacent to St. Mary’s Church) – US $1
  3. BTI – Multi-level parking - US $.75 per hour – Cavans Lane
  4. Carlisle House parking lot – Adjacent to Black Pearl Jolly Roger Cruise Ship
  5. Library parking lot near Central Police Station

* Zoom out and click on the map pins to identify the garages and lots listed above


Parking at the Airport

Grantley Adams International Airport has one main outdoor parking lot with long and short term parking, and 24 hour operation.  Access to the parking area is through the lift-arm system.  

Parking rates are extremely low at US $.50 for 30 minutes, US $1 for one hour, and US $6 per day.  Pay stations are available in the departure and arrivals areas for settling parking fees.

Barbados Safe Driving Tips

  1. Remember to buckle up!  Seat belts are required in Barbados and carry a fine of US $250 if not in use. If the driver is wearing a seat belt and the passenger is not, the passenger will be fined. 

    Child safety seats are mandatory for children under the age of five riding in the vehicle and carry a fine if there is no child seat present.
  2. ALWAYS REMEMBER “LEFT”.  When making turns, bear to the left, keep to your left, think "left" at all times.
  3. Alcohol is prohibited when driving.
  4. Make sure you get the hang of rotary driving before you travel on the highway.
  5. Highway speed limit is 85 kilometers or 55 miles per hour. Exercise caution when driving in Bridgetown as posted speed limit signs may not be always visible.
  6. Remain calm when driving in Barbados.  Some of the local roads are quite narrow, especially in the countryside, and sometimes it feels like you are a bit too close to oncoming traffic.  
  7. Do not leave valuables in clear sight in your vehicle.  This tip may be a matter of common sense, but oftentimes visitors inadvertently leave valuables behind.  You don't want to attract the wrong kind of attention.
  8. Pay attention to where you park your vehicle.  There are shaded parking areas on many beaches.  If you decide to park under a tree, make sure there is no falling fruit, which could cause injury to you or your vehicle.

Once you get the hang of it, left side driving becomes easy.  Before you know it, you will be on your way to a great adventure!

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