Car Hire in Barbados

To get a proper look at what Barbados has to offer, we recommend our guests hire a car. While public transport and taxis are available, car hire is a lot more convenient and given the size of the island, an easy way to get around.

Driving on the Left

Like many other former British colonies, Barbados follows the tradition of driving on the left side of the road. For visitors from countries where driving is on the right, this might require a brief adjustment period. It’s a good idea to take a few practice laps in the car park if you’re not accustomed to this setup to get a feel for the vehicle and its controls from the opposite side.

Speed Limits and Road Conditions

Speed limits in Barbados are typically posted in kilometres per hour and generally range from 60 km/h on open roads to 20-40 km/h in built-up areas. Roads in Barbados vary widely from well-paved highways to rural roads that can be narrow and winding. Watch out for the potholes! We lost a tyre once to a pothole – the hire company came straight out and replaced the tyre in the car park.

Watch out for the Rain!

When it rains, it RAINS!! It can become very hard to drive, the roads become rivers and you will not be able to see the potholes. Be prepared for this, try and stop safely if need be or just reduce your speed and keep safe.

Rainy road in Barbados the road is a river

Look out for the ‘H’ on the number plate

In Barbados, different cars have different numberplate letters at the start to symbolise their use, for hire cars it’s the letter H, for taxis it’s a Z. Here are some other special numberplates to look out for:

The vehicle for HM The King or her vice-regal representative the Governor-General before the country became a republic. (A single metallic crown emblem on black).
Coat of arms with a wreath of flowers – President (A single metallic emblem on black)
B – Mini buses (Blue on white)
BM – Public buses
BT – Tour bus
C – Commercial vehicles (excluding B, BM, Z, ZM & ZR)
CD – Consular and diplomatic vehicles (Yellow on blue)
D – Defence Force Vehicles
H – Hired rental vehicles (Blue on white)
HL – Hired Limousine. (White on red)
MP – Member of Parliament (Prime Minister bears “MP2”), other government-owned vehicles such as police force, civil service and government agencies (White on green)
ML – Vehicles owned by Government Departments, run by Statutory Boards.
Z – Taxis (Blue on white)
ZM – Maxi taxi
ZR – Private or contract buses or minivans (Blue on white)
MO – (preceded by up to 4 numbers) – Motor Dealers (Red on white)
SL- (also preceded by up to 4 numbers) – Special License Vehicles
International markings

How to Choose the Best Car Hire Service

Selecting the right car hire service requires a bit of forethought and consideration of your travel requirements in Barbados. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a provider and vehicle.

Types of Car Hire Services
In Barbados, you will find a mix of international car rental franchises and local car hire companies. International brands will tend to provide standardized services, which can be reassuring for many travellers. Local companies, on the other hand, might provide more personalized service and potentially better deals.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Car

  • Size of the Vehicle: Consider the size of your party AND the amount of luggage you will carry. Larger vehicles or SUVs might be a better choice if you plan to explore more hilly parts of the island found inland.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Fuel prices can vary, so opting for a fuel-efficient model will help keep your travel costs down. There are plenty of Hybrid options in Barbados car rentals and a growing number of EV charging stations in the country.

Insurance and Safety

  • Insurance Options: Check what types of insurance are offered with the rental. Standard options usually include collision damage waivers and theft protection. Make sure you understand what is covered and what your liabilities are in case of an accident.
  • Inspect the Car and Take Photos: Before setting off, conduct a thorough inspection of the rental car. Check for any existing damages such as scratches and ensure all are documented in the rental agreement. Take photos or a video of the car from various angles. This visual record can be invaluable if any disputes about the car’s condition arise when you return the vehicle. This step protects you from being held responsible for damages you did not cause.

Tips for Driving in Barbados

Navigating a new driving environment can be challenging, especially in a place as diverse as Barbados with its mix of urban and rural landscapes. Here are several tips to help you drive safely and confidently:

Navigating Local Roads

  • Be Prepared for Narrow Roads: Many roads in Barbados are narrower than those in North America and Europe, often with tight corners and limited visibility. Drive cautiously and be prepared to pull over to allow oncoming traffic to pass in particularly tight spots.
  • Expect the Unexpected: Livestock and slow-moving vehicles are common on rural roads, so stay alert and reduce speed accordingly. It’s also not uncommon to encounter sudden potholes – and when its raining its very hard to see these!

Local Driving Style in Barbados

  • Horn Use: In Barbados, it’s common to use the car horn as a friendly greeting or to signal passing on narrow roads, so don’t be surprised by the frequent honking. It takes a bit of getting used to – especially if you are from the UK, just a gentle push on the horn not an aggressive BEEP 🙂
  • Courtesy is Common: Barbadian drivers are generally courteous. They let each other out of junctions and are generally polite on the road.

Car Hire Companies In Barbados

Holetown Cars – located at 15 Jamestown Park, Holetown cars is just a 10-minute walk from Villa Sunnyside. If you prefer, they also offer a door-to-door delivery service, dropping off car at your doorstep. We have used Holetown Cars many times and highly recommend their services. They helped us when we were stuck with a flat tyre once in Bridgetown!

For those staying at Villa Sunnyside, we can provide an exclusive discount code, just ask us!

Contact Holetown Cars: +1 246-232-6124

white Rental car with the holetown cars logo on it writeen in black

Here’s a list of other car hire options to compare:

  1. Bajan Car Rentals Ltd. – With over two decades of experience in the car rental industry, this family-owned business operates as Car Rentals Barbados. Located in St. Michael, they are known for their professional service. Contact: 1(246) 429-4327
  2. Barbados Transport Co-op Society Ltd. – This cooperative brings individual taxi owners together to offer comprehensive transport solutions. Based in Christ Church, they provide a community-driven service. Contact: +1 246 428 6565
  3. BCR Car Rentals – A family-owned business in Christ Church, BCR Inc. offers a range of vehicle rentals, from local favorites to luxury cars for any occasion.
  4. Beep Auto Rentals – Located in St. Michael, they promise ease and reliability with a wide selection of vehicles. Contact: 246-834-2159
  5. Blessed Rentals Inc. – Operating out of St. Michael, this Christian-based company offers car rental services with a focus on ethical values. Contact: (246) 243-1894
  6. Caribbean Rentals – Dedicated to providing freedom of exploration, Caribbean Rentals in St. James offers top-quality vehicles and exceptional customer service. Contact: 1(246)537-7368
  7. Chelsea Motors – With over 35 years of experience in the auto industry, this family-run company in St. Michael offers a range of vehicles, from compact cars to fully-loaded options. Contact: (246) 228-0682
  8. Coconut Car Rentals – Since 1988, they have provided comprehensive services including visitor permits, insurance, and 24-hour emergency service in St. Michael. Contact: (246) 437-0297
  9. Courtesy Rent-A-Car – A longstanding provider in Christ Church, offering a range of vehicles from a fleet that started with just 30 cars in 1975.
  10. Direct Car Rentals Ltd. – Trusted for over 39 years in Christ Church, they offer a wide range of internationally recognized vehicle brands. Contact: (246) 420-6372
  11. Drive-A-Matic Car Rentals – The largest fleet in Barbados, based in St. George, they offer varied vehicles for rent in Barbados, St. Lucia, and Antigua. Contact: +1 246-422-3000
  12. Jones Car Rentals – Assist your exploration of Barbados with their varied fleet, located in St. Michael. Contact: 1(246) 42JONES (56637)
  13. Stoutes Car Rentals – Family-owned in St. Philip, offering SUVs, vans, and air-conditioned sedans for both short and long-term rentals. Contact: (246) 416 – 4456/57
  14. Suntours Barbados – The leading tours and transportation company in St. George, providing a variety of tours and vehicles tailored to meet every need. Contact: (246) 434-8430
  15. Top Car Rentals – Promising a seamless rental experience likened to a Bajan rum punch in Christ Church, they’ve been serving customers for over 50 years. Contact: 246-435-0378
  16. Top Class Car Rentals – Offers a wide range of professionally maintained vehicles in Christ Church, frequently updated to ensure the best quality.

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john, Lucy, Teddy & Margo at hunts gardenss
Lucy Bridge

I love to travel with my family. Over the years, we’ve found ourselves coming back to the magic of Sunset Crest. So much so, that we finally decided to take the plunge and buy Villa Sunnyside in 2022!