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Is Barbados safe to visit? Everything you need to know

Is Barbados safe to visit?
Is Barbados safe for tourists?

Yes! Barbados is safe!

How do I know?

I’ve traveled solo to Barbados and explored this popular Caribbean island for a week.

Barbados is one of the safest Caribbean destinations. Known for its stunning beaches, turtles and the birthplace of rum and Rihanna.

I felt safe exploring the Land of the Flying Fish and here is what you need to know about safety in Barbados.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARBADOS:
Meridian Inn (I stayed here)
Southern Palms Beach Club (top location on Dover Beach)
South Gap Hotel (on the beach and close to Gap)
Sugar Bay Barbados (great location and close to Carlisle Bay)
OceanBlue Resort (I stayed here)

TOP EXPERIENCES and TOURS IN BARBADOS:
Turtle and shipwreck snorkeling (my favorite)
Catamaran cruise with lunch and snorkeling (top-selling tour)
Harrison Cave tour (I did this)
Barbados food tour (incredible food tour)
St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway (I did this)


I planned my own Barbados Itinerary. Used a bus, rented a car, and visited many Barbados beaches, seven wonders of Barbados, and Bridgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Therefore, I feel confident to share why I believe Barbados is a safe place to travel.

If you are visiting Barbados, continue reading.

Below you will find Barbados safety tips, safety stats, emergency contacts, and other things for staying safe in Barbados.


Is Barbados safe to visit


Is Barbados safe for your tropical island vacation? Read my Barbados safety travel guide covering everything you need to know about Barbados travel, safety tips, Bridgetown, Barbados hotels, and hidden Caribbean destinations gem! Don't miss out on exploring Barbados beaches, swim in the Caribbean Sea and more caribbean travel! Click to read my Caribbean island blog post! Barbados flag | Barbados travel | Windward islands | Rihanna #caribbean #barbados #tropicalisland #travelsafety


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Barbados is considered safe to visit, with low levels of violent crime reported. Exercise normal precautions and stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Remain alert to avoid petty theft and opportunistic crimes, especially in crowded areas and tourist hotspots.
  • It is advised to stay away from Crab Hill, Nelson Street, and Wellington Street in Bridgetown.
  • Always swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards and pay attention to the flag system on Barbados beaches. Avoid swimming at red flags and stay alert for dangerous currents.
  • Stay informed about potential natural hazards, mosquito-born diseases, health, and hygiene-prone diseases like traveler’s diarrhea.

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ESSENTIAL BARBADOS TRAVEL RESOURCES

Do you want to travel more?

Then get ready to experience Barbados like never before!

I’m sharing a list of my trusted Barbados travel resources. From accommodations to tours, transport, WiFi, and more, I’ve got you covered.

Save both, time and money, by tapping into these expert recommendations.

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What is the crime rate in Barbados

While no destination is 100 % safe, Barbados has a moderate crime rate according to the data provided by Numbeo. Making it one of the safest Caribbean islands to visit. I had no safety issues on my solo trip there.

With a population of more than 300,000 people, Barbados relies heavily on tourism, bringing 17,5% of GDP per capita to Barbados’ economy.

crime rates in barbados from data on Numbeo
Crime rates and Safety in Barbados | Source: Numbeo, How safe is Barbados?


Barbados is a popular winter-sun destination.

It attracts tourists from around the world, including solo travelers, families, cruisers, honeymooners, and international travelers, with a significant number coming from the UK, United States, and Canada.

To protect tourists, the island has strict laws and regulations, which are enforced by Barbados police. Additionally, as many people and businesses rely on tourists, locals are friendly and helpful.

I noticed the welcoming nature of the Bajan people myself since there was always someone willing to help me.

One of Barbados beaches with lounge chairs and umbrellas for shade.
Is Barbados a safe place to travel? Absolutely! Just look at the beach and lounge chairs waiting for you.


13 Tips for staying safe in Barbados

This coral island is a relatively safe destination to visit.

But as with any destination, exercise normal precautions, especially against petty theft in tourist areas and son’t carry illegal drugs.

Follow advice from international travel advisories and local media. Combine that with local tips and with things you should know before visiting Barbados.

Here are some tips, to ensure your safety during your trip.

1. Avoid dangerous areas in Barbados

Don’t explore neighborhoods with a higher crime rate. 

Crime rate in Barbados is moderate. But there are bad areas, mostly, around Bridgetown that have a higher crime rate than the other parts of the island.

Areas that should be avoided are:
• Crab Hill
Why is Crab Hill Barbados dangerous? Crab Hill is a small village in the north of Barbados, that got its name after many crabs in the area. It is close to Animal Flower Cave & Restaurant, or around 15 miles (24 km) north of Bridgetown.

There are no major tourist attractions, and the village is more exposed to poverty and violence.

• Nelson Street  and Wellington Street in Bridgetown
Nelson and Wellington Street should be avoided at night. Wellington Street starts at The Boatyard Beach Club and then goes ‘inland’ or away from the beach. Nelson Street is perpendicular to Wellington until Fairchild St.

Streets are full of dive centers and stores. They are poorly lit and there are recorded accidents of tourists being hassled here.

Board of The Boatyard Beach club in Barbados Carlisle bay
Is Barbados worth visiting? Yes, especially spending the day at Boatyard in Carlisle Bay.


2. Stay away from manchineel trees

Every part of the tree is poisonous and contact will cause blistering or burning of the skin.

I never knew these trees existed.

So, getting this travel advice turned out to be invaluable for my Barbados trip! The fruit has a sweet scent, but it’s nicknamed “little apple of death” or “beach apple” due to its poisonous nature.

These trees are found on beaches and around the island on almost all of the Caribbean and South America. Most of them have a warning sign on them or are painted with a red ring. Don’t be under the tree when it rains.

Eating the fruit of the Manchineel can cause death, as just tasting it will cause blistering and swelling of the throat. If you come in contact with any parts of the tree, get medical attention right away.

I saw a couple on the West coast of the island, all with a sign and a red circle around the tree trunk.

BARBADOS FUN FACT
The Carib Indians used the sap of manchineel trees to poison their arrows. They also tie captives to the trunk of the tree, ensuring a slow and painful death or poison the water supply of their enemies with the leaves.


is Barbados safe to visit

sign on a manchinel tree
Is Barbados dangerous for tourists? It will be if you touch a poisonous Manchineel tree.

is Barbados safe to visit

3. Don’t travel without travel insurance

Have travel insurance for the whole duration of your trip.

I never travel without a travel insurance. It is a must every time I’m outside of my home country. And you should have one as well.

Insurance will come in handy if an airline loses your luggage, if you get dengue fever, get stung by jellyfish, or touch a poisonous manchineel tree.

Medical expenses are never cheap, so it is good to know that travel insurance has your back. You never know, you might even get sick while on a food tour in Barbados. Have a look at SafetyWing, which covers people from all over the world.

In case of emergency contact your health insurance or dial 911.

The main hospital in Barbados is Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown: (+1 246) 436 6450.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS IN BARBADOS
• Primary emergency number: 911 (it will connect with police, fire and medical services)
• Police: 211
• Fire: 311
• Ambulance: 511
• Police hotline: (+1 246) 429 8787
• Queen Elizabeth Hospital: (+1 246) 436 6450


is Barbados safe to visit

4. Be wary of pickpocketing and snatch-and-grab

Don’t leave your stuff unattended.

Always know where you have your wallet and phone as opportunistic petty crimes can occur in crowded places and beaches. Avoid carrying it in back pocket of your pants.

I always carry a small amount of cash with me, and leave all my valuables in a hotel safe. My phone is in a crossbody phone case on and I close backpack after every use.  

Lock doors and close windows of your hotel rooms. If you will be renting a car, lock it and don’t leave valuables inside. 

Use caution when handling your money or when giving your phone to strangers to take your photos.  I usually ask other tourists to take my photos but if it doesn’t feel right, do not do it!

Savvy on the bay on Carlisle Bay
Is Barbados expensive? Have a look at the prices in Savvy on the Bay. | Anja On Adventure

is Barbados safe to visit

5. Respect local customs and traditions

Dress appropriately to avoid accidentally offending locals.

The majority of the population in Barbados is Christian, very traditional, and somehow conservative.

When visiting religious places, cover your shoulders and knees. When in Bridgetown and outside of your hotel (not beach) wear loose-fitting tops and shorts. Don’t show cleavage and have your midsection covered. Bring a smart casual, not over-revealing, summer dress.

Can you wear a bikini in Barbados? Yes, you are allowed to wear a swimsuit on a beach, resort, beach bar, and hotel pool. Avoid walking in swimsuits outside of those areas, like in villages and towns.

I was wearing a bikini at the hotel pool and on the beach. When exploring the island and in public places, I dressed modestly, wearing nonrevealing shorts, skirts, and dresses. I was covering up when entering restaurants and bars, since many have dress codes.

Nude bathing and topless swimming are illegal on all the beaches in Barbados, as well as camouflage, army/military/combat type of clothing or print. The army and the police are the only ones who can legally wear them on the island. 

FRIENDLY REMINDER
Barbados authorities can arrest you if you are nude bathing or swimming topless. Same if you are wearing military patterned/ camouflage clothes.


is Barbados safe to visit

6. Don’t have too much fun in the sun

Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.

Because of the trade winds and gentle breeze throughout the day the strength of the sun can be very deceptive. The UV Index in Barbados is very high on most days, with values between 9 and 11. This means you can get burned through clouds.

Use plenty of sunscreen and limit your time in the sun during the peak hours. Stay in the shade, wear a hat, protect your eyes, and drink plenty of water.

barbados beach with loungechairs
When on the sun, always wear sun block, sunglasses, and a hat!

is Barbados safeto visit

7. Stay protected from potentially dangerous land animals

Always use mosquito repellent and keep your distance from wild animals.

Mosquitos in Barbados can potentially transmit dengue fever and zika virus. So use mosquito bite prevention measures at all times. There is no yellow fever in Barbados.

There are no venomous spiders and snakes, like in Australia.

There is a small population of giant African Land Snail, that should NOT BE touched, just like manchineel tree. Snail carries the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, or dangerous rat lungworm, known to cause meningitis in humans and other animals.

I’ve encountered many mongooses, that just casually ran away. They rarely attack humans but will do so if they feel threatened. Mongoose bite is painful and can lead to infection.

Another animal that you shouldn’t come too close to is monkeys in Barbados. Barbados green monkeys are cute and do their own thing. You can see them at George Washinton’s house, and in forests around the Island. It’s better to keep a safe distance from them.

I saw them at George Washington’s house and Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Both times they ran towards me. I screamed and scared them away because. I know the monkey bite is painful as I was bitten by one in Ubud, Bali and had to get a tetanus booster shot.

dangerous land animals in barbados


8. Use safe transportation options

Transport options in Barbados are reliable, efficient, and safe.

The island is small, so getting around is easy and safe. Roads are well-maintained roads and there is a variety of transportation options, including taxis, buses, and rental cars.

I mostly used reggae buses, but also rented a car, traveled by taxi, and walked around. 

Taxis are safe, just make sure to agree on a price before getting into one.

Local buses have designated stops along their routes. You just wave at the driver and pay with cash on the bus. I was using reggae buses most of the time. They get crowded and some don’t pay attention to the speed limits. It’s an experience.

I like to explore on my own so I rented a car for a couple of days. They drive on the left side of the road in Barbados. Their roads are maintained but do know there are traffic jams around Bridgetown during rush hours.

If you don’t feel comfortable with any of those, you can join any of the incredible tours.

safe TOURS

SAFE AND FUN ACTIVITIES and TOURS IN BARBADOS:
Turtle and shipwreck snorkeling – my absolute favorite and the one I recommend to everyone.
Catamaran cruise with lunch and snorkeling – first one + catamaran cruise.
Harrison Cave tour – it was interesting to visit a cave on an island, seven wonder of Barbados.
Barbados food tour – to try something local and unique.
St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway – I loved it, and the plantation and their distillery tour.

BOOK A SAFE tour or activity


9. Stay informed about extreme weather and natural hazards

Understand there is a risk of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and strong currents.

Hurricane season in Barbados is between June and November. Even though Barbados is outside of the hurricane belt, it occasionally still gets hit by one. The last time that happened was in October 2023, when Hurricane Tammy hit Barbados. Tammy was classified as a category 2 hurricane. The last category 5 hurricane was named Janet and hit Barbados in 1955. 

If you plan to visit Barbados during hurricane season, monitor storm warnings. To avoid hurricane season completely, plan your Barbados trip in the months between December to May. Which is the best time to visit Barbados.

Earthquakes in Barbados are infrequent and have a small magnitude. Tsunamis have affected Barbados in history, with the last one detected in 1969 caused by an earthquake in Guadeloupe.

In the unlikely event of an earthquake or tsunami warning, follow the evacuation routes marked all around the island. Leave everything behind and seek higher ground.

Barbados Marine Information to take caution when swimming | Barbados Meteorological Services
Travel Barbados warnings and dangers to take caution when swimming. | Barbados Meteorological Services


is Barbados safe to visit

10. Walk in well-lit areas after dark

When walking at night, stay in well-lit areas where other people are around. If possible, walk in groups.

Avoid dangerous areas, like Nelson Street and Wellington Street in Bridgetown, and be mindful when walking in St. Lawrence Gap. Consider using taxis or trusted hotel transportation to get back to your accommodation. 

The only time I used a taxi was when going home from the Oistins Fish Fry. I didn’t feel comfortable taking a bus and then walking to my OceanBlue Resort at night. Other times and during the day I was using busses.

road sign at Oistins at night
Is Barbados safe to travel alone? Road sign at Oistins. | Anja On Adventure

is Barbados safe to visit

11. Always pay attention to the flag color on the beach

Follow the flag rules on Barbados beaches and enjoy a safe swim on a beach with a lifeguard.

While the beach might seem perfect for a swim, be aware of the risks associated with strong currents and rip tides. Pay attention to travel Barbados warnings or dangers as rip currents may appear even on popular swimming beaches on the West and South of the island.

During my time in Barbados, there were two days in Carlisle Bay with green flags, but the last two days the weather was shifting, and flags changed from yellow to red on my last day there.

It is not advised to swim on the beaches in the East. Those are popular among surfers because of the large waves and strong currents. One of those is Bathsheeba Beach.

To indicate the safety of the beaches for swimming Barbados uses a flag system. On most popular beaches, like Miami Beach, Dover Beach, Carlisle Bay, and others there is also a lifeguard on duty.

What do beach flag colors mean:
Red over Red – Beach closed, extremely dangerous conditions, avoid swimming.
Red – High hazard, dangerous conditions like strong currents or rough surf, don’t swim.
Red/Yellow (half-half) – Recommended swimming area with lifeguard supervision.
Yellow – Medium hazard, swim with caution.
Green – Low Hazard, calm waters, safe to swim.
Purple – Marine pests present, like jellyfish, stingrays, or sharks, alert for swimmers and surfers to get out of the water and avoid swimming.

WHAT TO DO IF CAUGHT IN A RIPTIDE OR RIP CURRENT:
• Stay calm and do not panic.
Do not fight the current.
Swim PARALLEL to the shore to escape the rip tide/rip current.
Signal for help if needed by waving your arms and shouting.
• If you can’t escape, float or tread water and save energy until help arrives.
• Once out of the rip tide, swim back to shore at an angle, not directly against the current.


is Barbados safe to visit

12. Know marine animals are living in the sea

If you see a purple flag, get out of the water.

Barbados is generally safe from potentially dangerous marine animals. Chances of seeing sharks in Barbados close to the beach are low but not none. Usually, there are occasional tiger sharks spotted in the North beaches in the Atlantic Ocean. They normally don’t hunt people but will attack if they feel threatened.

Barbados has stonefish. They are found close to the reef between rocks or they lay motionless at the bottom, half covered in the sand or mud. Stonefish are among the most venomous fish.

Stonefish are not dangerous if you swim by them but try not to step on them. Their spines have a highly toxic venom. Sting is very painful, and it will cause swelling and numbness. To avoid the sting wear water shoes but if you step on one, seek medical attention.

Sea Urchins or “cobblers” appear at certain times of the year. Please tread carefully as you do not want to step on them. I haven’t seen any in February but I’ve stepped on one in Croatia.

During certain times of the year, Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish are seen in the waters around Barbados. They are not as deadly as irakundji or box jellyfish but do have an excruciatingly painful sting. During the jellyfish season, the beaches are closed and it is advised to not go into the water.

Luckily, I haven’t seen any dangerous marine animals during my holiday in Barbados.

portuguese man-o-war jellyfish on the beach
Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish on a beach. | Anja On Adventure

is Barbados safe to visit

13. Make sure to book your stay in safe accommodation

Book well-rated hotels, close to tourist areas.

Always try to stick to places that are close to the main road and main tourist areas. Book your hotel along the South and West coasts of the Island. Those are the best areas to stay in Barbados. I stayed at Meridian Inn and OceanBlue Resort.

Some of you may be fans of holiday rentals. But when I travel solo, I always opt for a hotel or resort. Usually, they are within walking distance to the attractions, their staff members are helpful with organizing transport and possible tours. Plus I feel safer in a place with a reception.

safe hotels

BEST and SAFEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARBADOS:
Meridian Inn – close to Dover Beach and St. Lawrence Gap, great for budget travelers.
Southern Palms Beach Club – top location on Dover Beach, great for families.
South Gap Hotel – on the beach and close to Gap, perfect for solo travelers and families.
Sugar Bay Barbados – great location and close to Carlisle Bay, perfect for couples and families.
OceanBlue Resort – close to Surfer’s Point, for couples and solo travelers.

BOOK A SAFE HOTEL

is Barbados safe to visit

My room at OceanBlue resort
My room at OceanBlue Resort in Barbados. | Anja On Adventure


Emergency Numbers in Barbados

Barbados is safe for tourists, but as with any destination, it is always better to minimize the risk and be prepared for the worst.

Just in case, here are some important emergency contacts:
• Primary emergency number: 911
Like in the United States, it will connect you to police, fire, and medical services.

• Police: 211
• Fire: 311
• Ambulance: 511
• Police hotline: +246 429 8787
• Queen Elizabeth Hospital: +246 436 6450
• Embassy/Consulate:

I always keep emergency numbers saved on my phone and a piece of paper. In a place, that is easy to reach and find. I also include a phone number to the nearest embassy or consulate.

Don’t forget to pin the one you like more!


Stay safe in Barbados with trusted Barbados travel resources

Do you want to stay safe during your Barbados trip?

Then get ready to experience Barbados like never before!

Use my trusted Barbados travel resources for planning your trip.From accommodations to tours, transport, WiFi, and more, I’ve got you covered. Save both time and money by tapping into these expert recommendations. Say goodbye to stress and hello to savings and hassle-free Barbados holiday!


BEST and SAFEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARBADOS:
Meridian Inn – close to Dover Beach and St. Lawrence Gap, great for budget travelers.
Southern Palms Beach Club – top location on Dover Beach, great for families.
South Gap Hotel – on the beach and close to Gap, perfect for solo travelers and families.
Sugar Bay Barbados – great location and close to Carlisle Bay, perfect for couples and families.
OceanBlue Resort – close to Surfer’s Point, for couples and solo travelers.


SAFE AND FUN ACTIVITIES and TOURS IN BARBADOS:
Turtle and shipwreck snorkeling – my absolute favorite and the one I recommend to everyone.
Catamaran cruise with lunch and snorkeling – first one + catamaran cruise.
Harrison Cave tour – visit the limestone cave on an island, one of seven wonders of Barbados.
Barbados food tour – to try something local and unique.
St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway – I loved it, and the plantation and their distillery tour.


turtle in Barbados
Turtle in Barbados as seen on swimming with turtles tour. | Anja On Adventure


Is Barbados safe FAQs

Yes, Barbados is generally safe at night, in tourist areas and popular neighborhoods.

It is essential to take common-sense precautions such as avoiding poorly lit or secluded areas. Stay away from dangerous areas, Nelson Street and Wellington Street in Bridgetown, travel in groups, especially if venturing out late at night.

Is Barbados safe to travel around? Yes, Barbados is generally safe to travel to.

Even though Barbados is safe to visit, travelers should take all standard safety precautions, such as avoiding isolated areas, securing your belongings, and avoiding bad areas. Additionally, staying informed about any travel advisory or local regulations.

Yes, you can wear a bikini in Barbados.

Bikinis are commonly worn on the island’s beaches in hotels and resorts. Topless and nude swimming is illegal. When visiting towns or dining at restaurants cover up with appropriate clothing.

Barbados is not dangerous for tourists.

It has a low level of crime rate but it is still advised to apply common-sense precautions to ensure your safety. These include avoiding isolated areas, staying aware of your surroundings, and securing your belongings.

Can I drink tap water in Barbados? Yes, the tap water in Barbados is very safe to drink.

The island has a well-maintained water infrastructure and tap water is treated to meet international standards and the World Health Organization’s drinking water guidelines. Bring along a reusable water bottle that you can refill at restaurants and hotels. I was drinking tap water all the time and didn’t have any issues.

Yes, Bridgetown, is generally safe but avoid bad neighboorhoods.

Like any urban area, it’s essential to exercise caution, especially at night. Stick to well-lit and populated areas and avoid displaying valuables openly. Stay away from Nelson Street and Wellington Street at night.

Yes, Barbados is safe for solo female travelers.

To minimize the risk of anything happening, follow common safety precautions. Avoid walking alone at night, dress in loose clothes, use trusted transportation, and go on tours with well-known tour operators. Stay in trusted hotels and let the staff know about your plans if anything should happen.


Is Barbados safe to visit for tourists? Final thoughts

Absolutely! Barbados is safe to visit.

Barbados is often considered one of the safest destinations among the Caribbean islands for solo female travelers. However, as with any travel destination, It is advised to follow common safety precautions and to stay informed about local conditions.

Personally, I found Barbados to be very safe for females and felt safe for the whole duration of my trip. However, during my visit, many swimming beaches in the West were closed due to strong currents and big waves. 

I’ve met a lot of families during my time there as Barbados is a family-friendly Caribbean island. Most of them were  Canadians, followed by Americans and people from Great Britain. In case you are wondering, Barbados is safe for American tourists.

But, is Barbados safe for LGBT?
Barbados should be safe for LGBT+ travelers. As of December 2022, same-sex relations are legal in Barbados, although attitudes towards LGBT individuals may vary. Show affection with caution as some social stigmas may still exist.

Now that you know Barbados is safe to visit, have a look at my Barbados itinerary, and things you should know before planning your trip to Barbados.

No matter if you are exploring the historic sites of Bridgetown, swimming with turtles on Carlisle Bay, or soaking up the sun on Crane Beach. Always be mindful of your belongings, avoid walking alone at night, and opt for reputable tours and hotels.

If you are still concerned about safety, have a look at my Barbados travel guide, and Barbados blogs on whether it is safe to swim and if there are sharks in Barbados. You can also read other guides comparing Barbados vs. Zanzibar and Barbados vs. Seychelles.

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About the author: Anja

Photo of author
Anja is a travel blogger and the founder of Anja on Adventure travel blog. Originally from Slovenia, she was also living in Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, and Fiji. She loves traveling to tropical destinations, as well as beach destinations with endless summer. But you can also find her eating her way through Italy or Mexico, learning about ancient cultures in Easter Island, visiting bucket list places in Peru, or taking road trips through the USA. She is passionate about world cultures, travel, maps, and puzzles. For the past 15+ years she has been traveling the globe, as a solo traveler, and as a tour guide. Her goal is to visit every tropical destination in the World. Anja On Adventure is here to provide helpful travel guides and personalized itinerary ideas to travelers that she has gathered from first-hand experience.