For most travelers, Barbados is a safe and welcoming place to travel however, LGBTQ+ travelers should be aware of the country's existing laws against homosexuality. Barbados has a reputation of being one of the best family-friendly destinations in the Caribbean and the crime rate is particularly low. Yet, the U.S. State Department warns that there are still certain things that travelers should be aware of during their visit.
- Due to COVID-19, the U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 Health Advisory, which advises against international travel to any country.
- Prior to COVID-19, Barbados maintained a Level 1 Advisory, with the State Department indicating to exercise normal precautions and avoid high-risk areas like Crab Hill at all times, Nelson and Wellington Streets at night, and to use added vigilance if boarding "a non-reputable nighttime party cruise."
Is Barbados Dangerous?
Like in most places, crime and drugs are present in Barbados. Travelers, though, are not usually victims of violent crime and generally enjoy better security than local residents. Most hotels, resorts, and other businesses catering to tourists operate in walled compounds monitored by private security staff. By Caribbean standards, the Royal Barbados Police Force is a professional group, although response time is slower than that expected in the United States. Police stations, outposts, and patrols tend to be heavier in areas frequented by tourists.
On the other hand, high-traffic business areas commonly frequented by tourists are targeted for opportunistic street crimes like purse-snatching and pickpocketing. And when crimes against visitors do occur, they're often not reported by the local media out of concerns over possible backlash against the tourism industry.
Many tourists in Barbados complain about being harassed by people selling narcotics, which are illegal in the country. Drug-related violence, however, is usually confined to drug dealers and their associates, especially in more populated tourist areas that also tend to higher-level security.
Is Barbados Safe for Solo Travelers?
Barbados is generally safe for solo travelers, especially those that stick to the beaches and resort zones. However, the State Department does recommend "going out in groups and restricting nighttime activities to established safe and reputable venues." However, among the solo travel community, it has a good reputation for being safe and like many Caribbean islands, the locals are quite friendly to tourists. However, many female travelers report experiencing catcalling and street harassment.
Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers
Homosexuality is illegal in Barbados and in 2019, it was ranked as one of the world's most dangerous countries for LGBTQ+ travelers. While these laws are rarely enforced, especially if you're a tourist, they are currently being challenged by the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE). The island does have its own gay community and has even held an annual pride parade since 2018. Although Barbados has come along way and an interaction with the police would be a rare incident, LGBTQ+ travelers could still face hostility and prejudice when going out in Barbados.
Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers
Generally, BIPOC travelers report that Barbados is safe and welcoming. Barbados has a predominantly Black population that makes up 91 percent of the population. However, the island has a long and complicated history of slavery and colonization and some BIPOC travelers do express feeling uncomfortable in the hotels that cater to predominantly white guests, but others report more positive and welcoming experiences when staying in a vacation rental and getting to know the locals.
Safety Tips for Travelers
Here are some more general tips all travelers should consider following when visiting Barbados:
- Take caution when traveling outside of tourist areas, especially at night, due to the prevalence of unmarked and unlit roads. Don't travel alone and be sure you have a way of getting in contact with your hotel, a cab service, your travel companions.
- When using an ATM machine, try not to ever have your back facing towards any possible perpetrators.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, carrying expensive objects, or carrying large amounts of cash and don't leave any valuables unattended at the beach or your hotel.
- Lock your valuables in the room safe when possible to guard against possible hotel burglaries at less reputable hotels and keep the doors and windows of your room locked at night.
- The main roads in Barbados are generally adequate, but conditions worsen on smaller, interior roads, which are often narrow, have poor visibility, and are typically not marked clearly except by informal signs at road junctions.
- Hurricanes, like 2010's Hurricane Tomas, occasionally hit Barbados. Earthquakes also can occur, and the proximity of the Kick 'em Jenny volcano near Grenada puts Barbados at some risk of a tsunami. Learn the emergency plan at whatever residence you are staying in, whether it's a hotel, resort, or private rental.
Asher Fergusson. "The Worst (& Safest) Countries for LGBTQ+ Travelers" November 12, 2019.
Barbados Statistical Service. "2010 Population and Housing Census." September 2013