Barbados on a budget

I’ve found heaven on earth! Beautiful Barbados. I’ve been so lucky to travel all over the world, from Hawaii to Sydney to the Amalfi Coast, and this was the first place that would take my breath away numerous times a day.

Barbados is not cheap. Flights are pretty affordable from the UK (we paid around £300 with BA) – here’s my guide on bagging cheap flights.

Accommodation is pretty decent too (I’ll go into it properly below), but I found food be a big expense, so you need to be careful.

I know this sounds dramatic, but every time I looked at this view, it took my breath away

We spent three weeks in the Caribbean, and one of those weeks on a Carnival Cruise which was ridiculously cheap, and saved us a ton of money. Here’s the Carnival Cruise blog post detailing that part of our trip.

Where to stay in Barbados?

Absolute heaven on earth

I’m going to keep this really simple. You have the east coast which is really cheap, but doesn’t have those beaches you imagine the Caribbean to have. Even if you did go in the water, it’s all rocky and the water is rough. It’s quiet though, and still gorgeous, so it’s an option.

In reality, most will choose to stay on the west/south coast somewhere. I stayed right in the north by Speightstown and right down south by St. Lawrence Gap.

Honestly, it’s ALL beautiful. Everywhere on that coast has stunning beaches, so don’t worry about that. I preferred the south as an area. There was a bit more to do, with restaurants and bars (though it was still quiet).

The Airbnb Apartment from the beach.

In the south of Barbados, it’s mostly AirBnb’s, then you get to the middle bit and you get the big hotels, around where the Boatyard is.

Then as you go up north, you get the really fancy resorts, but there’s not a lot to do outside those resorts.

St. Lawrence Gap – Air BnB

We picked to go over at Easter, right at the end of the season, so don’t know if it gets busier, but it was perfect for us. If you’re the kind of people who want to go clubbing/want a load of nightlife – Barbados probably isn’t for you.

This was outside our apartment. Take me back!

We couldn’t get over how quiet Barbados is. It’s not remotely like the resorts in Spain with packed beaches and loud clubs and bars.

My big plan to was to split where we stay in two as we had quite a bit of time on the island, so we could experience different things.

We got a stunning Airbnb on the beach and it was so much more affordable than staying in a hotel. To stay on the beach, depending on the time of year you go, I’ve seen decent ones for around £80 – £120 per night. We spent around £100 per night in the end for ours, but it’s not on Airbnb at the moment. That said, we did nearly book this one.

I really think it’s worth spending a bit more to be on the beach if possible. It was incredible looking out of the window and seeing the most beautiful ocean.

The first morning I woke up about 6 am and this was my view.

We were about a 10-minute walk to St Lawrence Gap, which you couldn’t just get to via the beach, but had to go on the back roads.

It’s not a great walk, and sometimes the pavement disappears, so you’re sharing the road with the drivers, but generally, felt pretty safe.

Before coming, I read all sorts of things about tourists in the Caribbean being targeted by criminals etc – didn’t see anything like that at all. We also weren’t bothered on beaches like we did were in Bali etc.

All in all, it was super relaxed and the people were really nice.

Getting around Barbados

I know every seems to think it’s really easy to get around Barbados, but we didn’t. We’re pretty big walkers, so felt really comfortable walking up and down the coast to different beaches, but I did not like those mini buses.

Find happy hours to keep drink prices to a minimum. Banks and rum punch is typically
cheap though!

Well, I say minibuses, they’re more like minivans. They drive up and down super quickly, and are very cheap ($1 or $2 per person). They’ll play a horn noise at you to catch your attention, and you squeeze in.

And I mean squeeze in. They pack people in whether there is enough room or not. People didn’t have seats, just stood there crouched over! And they drive faster than I’m comfortable with. But – they are the best way to get around I suppose.

Can you believe this beach?!

We on the other hand (because we’re wimps), we preferred to use a private taxi driver. The guy who picked us up at the airport (use the official rank!), was nice, so he gave us his card and we Whatsapp’d him whenever we wanted to go somewhere. It’s a pretty standard way of doing things there.

The taxi drivers will also try and get you to do day trips with them where they take you around the island. We thought about it, but hired a car for a day which was cheaper.

Next time we go, I might be a bit braver with busses etc – but we were a bit nervous and didn’t know what we were doing. Typically though, never felt like people were trying to rip us off.

Down on the south end of the island there is the boardwalk with cool bars and restaurants on there where we ate banana pancakes and repeatedly said to each other for two weeks ‘it’s incredible isn’t it?’.

The boardwalk

It’s worth remembering that you can sit on any beach you like – they’re all public – even if it’s outside a fancy hotel.

This does mean it’s really not that hard to find a spot with no-one else around. OR – find a slightly busier place where you can hire a bed and umbrella for about $5.

Eating in Barbados

Now THIS is where we spent all our money. It’s not cheap, and we’re used to London prices.

Every time we ate out, we were spending at least £100 and even more in really nice restaurants.

Banana pancakes at the Blue Pineapple restaurant and bar

That said, there are loads of cheaper BBQ huts around the place where you can get grilled fish/meat with potatoes/salad which costs around £10 – which was honestly incredibly delicious.

Fast food wise, the only international one was KFC which we didn’t get a chance to try, BUT – I kept hearing that KFC in the Caribbean is loads better than the KFC’s in the UK.

We tried the local fast food joint, Chefette, and I don’t know if we went to a bad one or what, but it was GROSS. We left it.

Make sure you take a waterproof pocket for your phone so you can take pictures in the sea

So after spending a load of money at a restaurant on the first night, I said ‘We’re off to a Supermarket in the morning – I’m not spending that kind of money every day!’

We went to the big supermarket across the road from our Airbnb and I couldn’t believe how expensive everything was. Milk was about $7 USD – £5.50 GBP! Cereal £5!

Frustratingly, we found a much better supermarket at the end of the trip where food was much more affordable. I’ve taken a million pictures in there so will get a blog post up with the price of foods in the supermarkets ASAP.

So shop around (there aren’t a lot of shops to choose from!), and bring things like teabags with you which cost a fortune in Barbados.

Rockley Beach

Barbados is surprisingly chain free, so don’t expect Starbucks, or big shopping malls. Trust me, I’m a big shopper, and struggled to buy anything!

What to take with you to Barbados

I wrote a whole post on what I took away with me on the Carnival Cruise, but have Barbados specific ideas.

  • The big one, take snorkels and inflatables with you. Again, not a lot of shops around and what I did see, wasn’t great and very expensive. Snorkelling is the best thing to do on the island, with incredible water and turtles swimming around.
  • Take twice as much sunscreen and aftersun with you than you think you need
  • Teabags and coffee
  • Trainers – you’ll probably spend most of your time in flip flops, but if you’re going to do the caves at all, you’ll be grateful you brought proper shoes.
So much incredible food – from roadside fish fry to fancy restaurant dishes like this from Primo restaurant
The restaurants in St Lawrence Gap are beautiful, but not cheap. We were sat looking over the sea watching the turtles swim around
We hired a car for a couple of days to explore the island. Worked out about £100 a day, and was easy to drive around (frankly, it’s one big road looping around the island).
Always taking the opportunity to eat seafood at Champers restaurant

Cobblers Cove

After returning from our cruise, we stayed north(ish) of Barbados in Cobblers Cove. Again, I’ve been really lucky to have stayed in some seriously fancy hotels, but this was right up there.

Lowering the tone in one of the fanciest hotels in Barbados
Our room on the top floor

It’s BEAUTIFUL. Every single bit of it, and the little details, such as free welcome cocktails and personalised letters from the owner on arrival were appreciated.

I booked Cobblers Cove via Hotels.com and OK, it’s a lot more than an Airbnb at £225 per night.

The hotel had a load of water sports like sailing/jet-skiing you could do for ‘free’
My boyfriend trying out sailing for the first time

THAT SAID – You got breakfast included (it was super fancy with Champagne and crab etc), so we filled up there. Then around 4/5pm there was ‘free’ afternoon tea with cakes and sandwiches.

The best bit was all the ‘free’ watersports available with tuition that came with the cost of the room. Harry more than made the money back utilising private jet skiing/sailing lessons etc.

It was HOT so gave up trying to control my hair

The place was heaven, but I did feel a little isolated and the restaurant is really expensive, so couldn’t afford to eat there every night. Speightstown is 10 minutes away, but I didn’t rate it. It’s fine.

The hotel room had an outside-ish living room

Animal Flower Cave

As I’ve said above, we hired a car for a couple of days to drive around the island and see the attractions that we couldn’t walk to, or would be a faff by bus.

When you get to Animal Flower Cave, you’ll see some stalls (with pushy sellers!), beautiful views and a bar/restaurant (which is amazing).

In the cave there are little animals that look like colourful flowers in the rockpools. The guide will point them out to you/let you touch them – but you wouldn’t notice them on your own probably.

It costs $10 USD/ 20 BDS/ £8 GBP to enter the cave, and honestly, I’d been worrying about it because I heard that the steps were hard work.

If you aren’t good on your feet, this cave is going to be too much for you.

The east side of the island looks completely different

Luckily, I had read you need to take trainers with you to climb down into the cave, because there would be no chance I’d be OK if I was wearing flip flops.

The steps down are deep and cobbley, but were fine for me, but a bit of a push getting back up. I was glad I had been going to the gym.

I took my swimming costume down into the cave, because there is a big warm pool, which you can swim around in, but when I got down there – there was no chance was that happening.

It’s rocky and slippery (surprising, in a cave, yeah?! ha!), and if my boyfriend wasn’t super steady on his feet and holding my hand the whole time, I wouldn’t have been able to walk around down there at all.

Yeah, there was no chance of me getting anywhere close to the opening of the cave

I’m pretty fit, but not a small girl – so just felt very uncomfortable. There was no way I was physically going to be able to get dressed/undressed in there to go swimming. Standing up took a lot of concentrating for me.

But if you’re like my boyfriend, he was totally fine and could zip around the cave quite happily.

Breadfruit tacos!

The restaurant outside is open plan and on the cliff, with such a pretty view. The food was incredible – especially the breadfruit tacos!

Harrison’s Cave

It’s fair to say that Harrison’s Cave is the biggest attraction (that’s not a beach) on Barbados. It costs $30 USD/ $60BDS/ £24 GBP (adults) $15 USD/ 30 BDS/ £7.50 GBP (children) to enter.

Once you get there, you take a big lift down into a gully floor, which is luscious, has a bar/shops etc and you wait for your time to go into the cave.

You get taken into a couple of rooms where you watch an educational video, then get a safety talk.

Then you board a tram of sorts (no seat belts or bars) after being given a hairnet and helmet.

A guide then drives you around the caves, giving you info, then lets you get out every now and then to take a picture

It’s really impressive in there and such a nice change from the other kind of attractions you see around Barbados. It’s COOL – which was so welcome.

It all feels very safe and professional – and anyone can get involved as it’s very accessible. It’s really worth doing.

Hot! ha!

St. Nicholas Abbey

St. Nicholas Abbey is a rum distillery, and has literally never been an abbey! We wanted to go see how/where rum was made in Barbados.

Entry is $23 USD/ 45 BSD / £18.30 GBP – which I thought was a quite a lot.

It’s a lovely place to visit, but you don’t really see any rum being made and it wasn’t until I sat down afterwards that I thought it might not be worth the money.

It’s not that I didn’t have a nice time there, the tour was good and the grounds are pretty – but it’s pricey.

If you do want to buy GOOD rum in Barbados, St. Nicholas Abbey says it’s the only place to buy single source rum – but it’s not cheap!

The east shore is so pretty, we stopped at a restaurant on a cliff to get beer and a chicken sandwich.

Oistins Fish Fry

If you want to know where all the locals are partying, it’s Oistins Fish Fry in the southern part of Barbados.

We got a taxi down there on a Friday night (which is the best day), and it’s honestly a bit nuts.

Ostins Fish Fry is NUTS

We’re slightly wimpy Brits, so felt a bit overwhelmed initially, but it was nothing a couple of rum punches couldn’t sort out. Beware they are strong!

There are wooden shacks with BBQ, music, booze where you order and eat on wooden tables, while couples dance together and young boys try to pick up the young girls by showing off their dance skills on stage.

Everyone is really lovely down there, and quite relaxed. We didn’t feel unsafe, but maybe a little out of our comfort zone?

Though we had to get one of those minivan taxis we’d been avoiding on the way back!

You won’t find chips/fries anywhere on the island! I know that’s a weird thing to point out, but I know parents with kids who might find that useful. Sides tend to be potatoes, salad and macaroni cheese.

The tuna was always super good (not too fussy on the flying fish) – but it’s a good opportunity to try new things. It’s all super tasty, and not spicy at all.

It’s about £10/£15 a plate and if you want to keep costs low, drink Banks beer and rum punch which is a load cheaper than everything else.

Hunte’s Gardens

One of our favourite places with visited was Hunte’s Gardens, which is a must-do when you’re in Barbados.

It’s a tropical paradise in a crater on the east side of the island, that will cost you $15 USD/ 30 BBD / £12 GBP to enter.

As you walk in there is music playing in the background, and you take a path down into the gully where you see loads of different mini gardens.

The garden was created by Anthony Hunte and is maintained by him and one other gardener (which is a massive job!). You can meet him too as he sits in one of the buildings, serving drinks.

There is a shop in Huntes which I think is one of the best places to get souvenirs on the island, with lots of local crafts – in fact, ended up buying some art which I took home!

Make sure you bring cash along with you though, as they don’t take card.

Welchman Hall Gully (monkeys!)

For a country with a load of monkeys in it, we were a few days before leaving and I was frustrated I didn’t get to see any!

I saw online that Welchman Hall Gully was the best place to spot them in the wild. It costs $14 USD/ 28 BDS / £11 GBP to enter.

Harry thought he could hear something creeping up on him… he was right

There are feeding times where you’ll see monkeys, but the time we had got there, we had missed all that and they were closing in an hour.

But we thought we’d do the walk anyway and hope for the best.

Ok – but what would you do confronted by a load of monkeys?

There was nothing. No monkeys and no other people either, it was almost creepy to be honest. We’re not used to that kind of silence living in a big city!

Then deep into the gully, something caught my eye. It was a monkey up in a tree looking at us.

My boyfriend and I start following it to get a good picture, then in front of us at the path – monkeys, happily walking towards us.

Then they were behind us… they were everywhere. We were surrounded! We didn’t know what to do! ha. We slowly walked through them, but it was a bit weird.

Nutmeg

They were super cute though. Oh, and I found some nutmeg which I took back to Blighty (but accidentally put in the wash!) ha.


If you want to ready more about my trip to the Caribbean, get out this:

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