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Most visits to Barbados will be trouble-free. This island destination generally has a lower crime rate than its Caribbean neighbors, BUT it's not without dangers. However, since 2019 there has been an increase in gang-related gun crime, including robberies, shootings and sexual assaults, including in populated and public places.
Here are a few reasons to keep your guard up on your vacation.
The US Department of State advises its citizens to avoid the following areas: Crab Hill at all times, Nelson and Wellington streets in Bridgetow at night, use added vigilance while on non-reputable nighttime party cruises.
According to the OSAC 2020 Crime and Safety Report for Barbados in 2018, measuring crimes per 100,000 citizens, Barbados had 490 drug-related crimes, 325 residential burglaries, and 44 vehicle thefts.
Although visits are generally trouble-free, tourists are most likely to be victims of petty crime and crimes of opportunity.
Pedlars selling goods on the island are no worse than those in other Caribbean destinations or Mexico, but prepare yourself for the possibility of some intense hassling.
St. Lawrence Gap, on the southern coast of the island, is one place to take care particulary at night.
When driving, don't stop if flagged down, and keep cars doors locked
Women should travel in groups and avoid walking home alone at night. According to several 2017 visitor reports on TripAdvisor, female travelers should look out for harassment while walking on the streets, on the beaches, and particularly on St. Lawrence Gap (The Gap). Harassment includes local men making sexual remarks and sometimes stalking of female tourists.
In 2017, a British tourist was raped at Holetown Beach and another British woman was the victim of attempted rape while jogging near to her holiday apartment in Holetown. The latter victim claimed that her complaint was met with indifference by the local police.
Only use licensed taxis, and agree a fare in local currency before you set off as taxis aren't metred. Don't carry large amounts of cash or wear a lot of jewellery.
According to 2017 visitor reports on TripAdvisor, The Gap is one place where you can expect trouble. Many reports indicate that at night, this restaurant/bar/nightclub strip tends to attract hustlers who may offer you illegal drugs, and beggars who may pester you for money. Some reports also mention that some areas of The Gap are a bit run down, not well-lit at night, and may not be family-friendly. One visitor on TripAdvisor also mentioned that at The Gap, some taxi drivers can be aggressive and overcharge. Take care when walking alone at night or withdrawing money from ATMs.
If you are in a dangerous situation or fall victim to a crime in Barbados, call 211 for police, 311 for fire, and 511 for an ambulance. Also, you can always call your emergency assistance number on your travel insurance policy.
While Barbados is safer than the surrounding Caribbean islands, it shares loose border controls with its neighbors, which results in the international drug trade. The Caribbean islands serve as stopover points for illegal drug trading between the United States and Europe.
There are many reports on TripAdvisor of drug dealers approaching tourists on the street and on beaches offering to sell illegal drugs.
Local police in Barbados take the possession and use of marijuana just as seriously as other hard drugs. Also note that you are not covered by your travel insurance policy if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and you have an accident.
Barbados is far less prone to natural disasters than other Caribbean islands. It is subject to the hurricane season from June to November but hasn't suffered major damage since Tropical Storm Tomas in 2010. In 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a storm, leaving some without power, and a fair bit of destruction in its path.
Barbados is also prone to landslides, mostly affecting the Scotland district in the northeast.
When it comes to major illnesses, look out for dengue fever, Zika virus, and Chikungunya fever. All viruses are carried by infected mosquitoes. To avoid being bitten, wear strong insect repellent and long-sleeved clothing.
According to the CIA’s World Factbook, in 2016, the adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS infection was estimated at 1.3%, with 2,600 persons living with the virus in Barbados.
It's not a joke when people say the biggest natural hazard you'll encounter in Barbados is falling coconuts. Be mindful when walking under a tree bearing the fruit, and never try to climb the tree to get one down.
Generally, Barbadians are friendly and courteous people. In addition to popular holidays, Barbados also celebrates Crop Over in July and August. It's the island's biggest holiday with lots of food, street parades, and soca music.
However, there are some etiquette tips to consider while visiting this Caribbean island:
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