Self guided island tours around Barbados

Barbados is the perfect island for a self guided island tour, there is SO much packed in to 166 sq.miles! From beaches, to rum shops, gullies and beautiful architecture, you can see it all in one day on the road if you're driving yourself. This is something that Bajans also enjoy, as we often discover new little spots with every tour, as well as visiting some of the old favourites when friends and family come to visit us. Together with my friends, I've been planning island tours for over 15 years now, so I thought I would share some ideas with you on here.

Some quick facts:
  • We drive on the left side of the road due to our British colonial past. Most cars are right hand drive because of this.
  • You need to be 21 or older to rent a car in Barbados
  • Car rental companies typically require between 2 and 5 years driving experience. If you're over 70 years old, you will need a medical certificate.
  • Bring your drivers license with you. You need this to be issued a local driving permit.  
  • For a full list of tips for driving in Barbados, check out this link.

Embarking on a self guided island tour may seem a bit daunting at first, with our narrow roads and slightly dodgy signage, but as locals we are so used to seeing tourists driving around that most drivers will 'give you an ease' and also help you out if you're ever lost. 
Fun fact: Barbados has one of the world's most dense road networks, but this statistic often includes narrow, derelict 'cart roads' in sugar cane fields that lead you to if you're seeing a road show up on Google Maps but it looks like it leads to a field, it probably does.

Driving yourself allows you to set the pace and change your plans as you go along - you can also check out some of the lesser known spots, while also avoiding the crowds and traffic associated with the bigger tour groups. If you're not up for renting a car for whatever reason, you can also get around using public transportation. You can read more about how to do that here, which also includes a public transport schedule.

I'm starting this series with one of the easiest and most popular routes to take on a self guided island tour, which includes some of the nicer roads and scenic spots that are easy to access with a car. I'll be adding more specific maps to this series as I go along, so if there are certain spots that you want me to include in future maps, please let me know.

1. A 1 day, self guided island tour around Barbados with your own car:

This tour can start at any of the points on this map, depending on where you are staying. This tour is straightforward and an easy starting point for anyone who wants to give a self guided tour a go. It shows the lesser known side of the island, while also showing you the lush interior. I've planned this out so that you're not rushing around like a lunatic, with enough time to drive at your own pace and actually enjoy the places you are visiting. Feel free to improvise and change things up at bit as you go along! I would suggest packing a cooler with drinks and snacks, and then stopping at a rum shop or certain suggested stops for a bite to eat.
  • Head North on the highway, to check out Animal Flower Cave. Here you can have a coffee, or something to eat at the restaurant. You can either take a tour down in to the caves (Depending on whether it's low tide or high tide) or just hang out on the cliffs and enjoy the view.
  • After North Point, you can head over to Cove Bay and check out the view of the East Coast from Pico Tenerife. 
  • Head towards St.Nicholas Abbey and Cherry Tree Hill, for more scenic views of the East Coast.
  • Stop by the Morgan Lewis Windmill on your way down
  • Cruise along the East Coast 
  • TIP: on your way down to Soup Bowl, you can stop at Round House for food and drinks
  • Check out the famous surf spot, Soup Bowl
  • Head inland to St.John's Church, which also has a beautiful view
  • Stop at the Village Bar for some local food and some drinks
  • Head to the West coast to have a beer on the beach
  • End the tour on the beach just in time for the sunset. Have a dip in the sea or enjoy a drink at any of the bars on the beach.

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