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11 things you need to know about hiring a car in Barbados

Never Hired or Driven a Car in Barbados?
Here’s What You Need to Know!

You’ve booked your dream trip and you’ve decided that you will experience Barbados and see the sights with the freedom and flexibility of your own rental car. Follow these tips to make your journey one to remember…and to calm any nerves about driving in a foreign country. Don’t worry, rental cars are identified by special H(ire) plates, and locals are very accommodating to drivers of such.

  1. The cardinal rule: in Barbados we drive on the left hand side of the road. Don’t worry it’s dead easy – the cars are right hand drive.
  2. Just like in your home town, it is the law to buckle up in Barbados. This applies to all passengers, front and back.
  3. Choose your hire car in Barbados to suit your tolerance for the sun. It is very hot here, with some pretty intense sunshine between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. so most people will opt to get the air conditioned vehicle. For those who want to experience the tropics in her splendor can enjoy a roofless or convertible compact car. Mini Mokes, compact SUVs and top off cars are good fun, but remember to keep the roof up during peak hours.
  4. There are three main speed limits on the island: in heavily populated areas or the city the speed limit is 40km/h; most other roads have a limit of 60km/h; and the ABC Highway and Spring Garden Highway and short sections of Highway 2A have an upper limit of 80km/h.
  5. If you’re not from the UK, you may see these large circles in the middle of intersections (starting with the one when you’re exiting the Grantley Adams International Airport) and wonder what they are; they’re roundabouts. Remember: ‘the person on your right is always right’ i.e. you give way to traffic on your right in the roundabout. Road arrows and signs usually direct you around roundabouts, but generally if you’re taking the first left exit off the roundabout, stay in the left lane. If you’re going straight, on the major highways, you can use either lane; and to proceed to your right or return from whence you came, then you’ll need to stay in the right lane.
  6. In Barbados we have a saying: ‘all roads lead to town’. Now this may be a bit of a stretch, but it is a good rule of thumb.  Your rental car will have a map and, if you opt for it, a familiar GPS/Sat-Nav system for your ease of getting from place to place. However, for maximum enjoyment we recommend having a bit of ramble. You never know what hidden gem you’ll uncover in your journey. When all else fails you can always follow the red bus stops saying ‘To City’ or the white/red ones saying ‘Out of City’ to help guide you back to your desired location. Bajans are very friendly and will always offer directions to a lost tourist.
  7. There are a lot of pedestrian crossings (zebra crossings if you’re from the UK) on the roads here, so look out for them. It is correct to give way to the crossing pedestrians. Helpful hint: almost every roundabout will have a crossing on the entry to the circle and on the exit, especially on the larger highways.
  8. If you’re planning a trip in your hire car to the Northern or Eastern side of the island be sure to make sure you have enough gas in your car for the entire journey. On these more natural and untouched sides of the island the sight of gas stations becomes less common. We don’t want you to run out of fuel and miss dinner at your hotel.
  9. While we’re on the topic of petrol stations, in Barbados, we offer full service stations so there is no need to exit your car. Your fuel will be pumped for you. The price of fuel is the same across stations and brands.
  10. Bajans are quite liberal with their use of the horn. Short sharp blasts or a prolonged engagements usually indicate a warning. More rhythmical tones are more often associated with passing motorists who know each other or a gentle indication that the oncoming car will not be yielding to you.
  11. Another local idiosyncrasy is the flashing of lights at oncoming traffic. In Barbados this can mean a few different things: the person knows you, your lights are not on, your lights are on bright, and if you’re at a junction, it is an invitation to proceed first.

If you have any more great tips to share from your experience, please send them to us or post them on our Facebook or Google+ pages.