The island of Barbados has a decent transportation system of both public and private drivers. With a little understanding of the system, you can get yourself anywhere on the island quick, safe, and most importantly cheap.
Each ride is $2 BDS ($1 USD) there are no transfers, it’s simply pay per ride. Routes and maps available in many places all over the island. If you’re not sure just ask the driver and he will tell you the correct bus to be on.
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Go Private for short rides
The private taxi vans are my favorite because a lot of them are customized similar to chicken buses in Central America. These are best used when between bridge town and Silver Sands area, anything further you will likely need a public bus.
As you hop on one the vans you will likely pay the guy who is sitting in the passenger seat. The drivers hire a money collector in order to keep driving and not worry about the money. The standard van seems to be about 3 rows deep and during busy times it amazes me how many people can cram in.
I think our record was 5 per row plus people on the floor. Also while riding you get to enjoy local Bajan radio! The standard radio consists of about 15 seconds fast beat “Reggae” or “Dance Hall”, followed by about equal time of the DJ screaming at you in a super thick accent.
The public buses can take you anywhere on the island. In order to get to most routes, you will need to make your way to the Bridgetown bus station. The main terminal for the large style bus located just on the south side of the main bridge into town, on Fairchild Street.
From there find your bus number and then the gates are located at the perimeter of the building. The secondary bus station for the smaller style buses located between Princess Alice Hwy & Cheapside Rd on the North side of town. In either station, as you enter the bus make sure to tell your driver where you are going to he can let you know where to get off in case you miss it.
Okay that’s great, now where to go??
Crane Beach – this was our favorite beach! The Crane is located on the lower east coast of the island. The sand here has a pinkish hue to it from the seashells. This is one of the only beaches with waves to play in. Another thing that was very cool about this beach was the challenge to get on to it. The road access takes you across steps build into the rocky cliff. The entrance added to the secluded feeling of the beach. The beach is surrounded by tall cliffs that look down onto the beach. Atop the cliffs is the oldest hotel on the island. Next door to the Crane Hotel is a new timeshare development. We fell so in love with this beach we actually looked at the timeshares. Really cool beach don’t miss it if you are a beach lover.
Mount Gay Rum tour – We had a nice time here the factory is located just a few minutes north of Bridgetown. You get to see the barrel aging rooms and they describe the how’s and why’s of their trade. I found it to be interesting, but then again I am into any kind of wine, beer, or liquor making.
Toward the end you got to sample, the samples are provided slightly chilled and with no mixers so you could taste the true flavors. You also got to sample some of their high-end 12-year rums. So if sipping straight rum isn’t your thing the samples may not be for you, or hey maybe it will sway your opinion.
At the conclusion of the tour you can have seeming unlimited samples for a period of time, we unfortunately, came pretty early in the morning and did not indulge as much as we could have. Honestly, I got Banks-ed out by the end of the trip, it is pretty much a standard lager nothing special and came skunky a few too many times.
Bathsheba – Up on the east coast, north of Crane beach are some huge rock formations that are worth a look. This could be done as part of a day trip to Crane beach. Another way to see Bathsheba is coming down from Cherry Tree Hill. This is possible by bus but we did not do this route we did it as a part of a day trip through our hotel.
Mullins Bay – Located on the west coast of the island on the northern end. This was another favorite beach of ours. Again much more secluded than the beaches on the southwestern tip of the island. The biggest downside to that beach was the fact you had to rent chairs, I hate renting chairs, and these were $10BZ each. So we sat in the sand and enjoyed the day. There is a restaurant at the top of the beach as well as some small convenience shacks.
Ostinin’s Fish Market – This is the place to be Friday nights for food and a party. Every night it’s a fresh seafood market with lots of stalls cooking up the day’s catch. Here I had some of the best seafood I have ever had. you get an absolutely huge portion with sides for about $12USD. You can get King-Fish, Swordfish, Marlin, Tuna, Shark, and the ever present flying fish all caught and cooked same day.
Next time I go to Barbados I will be here almost every night. On Friday nights in addition to the food, there’s lots going on. There is only one bar in the market grounds but that’s OK because it’s BYOB. You can bring what you would like in, or there is a small liquor store on the grounds that is reasonably priced. Great place to talk with locals or other travelers over some great food and cheap drinks.
When considering your next trip to the Caribbean give a strong look at Barbados!