Staying Healthy in Barbados

Being well-informed prevents travelers from health and medical concerns when visiting Barbados

Photo credit: © Gary718 |

Health and medical considerations are always a concern when traveling abroad, but there's little to worry about in Barbados where health care is top quality.

Travelers visiting Barbados are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination if traveling from a contaminated locale. Although this the only health requirement visitors to Barbados must meet, a vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended since it is a frequently occurring disease on the island. Liberal use of mosquito repellent is also considered sound advice, as there have been occasional outbreaks of Dengue fever.  Visitors who would like the most up-to-date information or those with questions about specific requirements are encouraged to contact the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s 24-hour hotline at 888-232-3228.


If you are traveling with prescription medication, make sure to pack it in its original container, and double check that it is clearly labeled. Do not pack your medication in a pill box. Next to your medication, pack a prescription slip, or note from your doctor detailing the medication and its use. This will prevent confiscation as you travel through customs.

For health and medical treatment while staying in Barbados, first consult the hotel for recommendations in finding a medical clinic, dentist, or doctor. Many hotels keep doctors and dentists on call so in non-emergency situations, check with the concierge before making the trip to the hospital. You may also consider packing a Travel Medical Kit in the event that you encounter a small health concern such as a head ache, or a mild allergic reaction. Include in your kit the following items:

  • Painkillers including acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen;
  • Antihistamines;
  • Topical disinfectant;
  • Antacids;
  • Rubbing alcohol;
  • Bandages;
  • Thermometer.

If you need urgent medical attention, consider having a member of your party take you to the hospital in a taxi if possible because ambulance service in Barbados is notoriously slow and sometimes ill-equipped.

Hospital Address Telephone Number
Bay View Hospital St. Paul's Ave
Bayville, St. Michael
Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Lower Collymore Rock,
St. Michael
Woodside Memorial Clinic Woodside Gardens Bay St.

If an emergency vehicle is required, dial 511 immediately. Also, be sure to check if your insurance policy covers medical expenses incurred while traveling. Medical care in Barbados can be somewhat expensive, so if your insurance company does not provide sufficient coverage, you should obtain traveler's insurance before visiting the island. It is best that you have any paperwork from your own doctor if you may need it on your travels, including prescription information.


Medical expenses in Barbados can be costly, so acquiring proper medical insurance coverage is important. In fact, even if you do have insurance, many hospitals and treatment facilities require payment at the time of service. Most health insurance policies, except for Medicaid, Medicare, and certain HMOs, cover medical expenses incurred while traveling. Call your insurance company a few weeks prior to traveling to ensure that you have sufficient coverage. If your policy does not have a provision for medical care while traveling, consider taking out a special traveler's policy with an agency that your insurance company recommends.

Drinking Water and Food Safety

Drinking water in Barbados is piped-in and treated for sanitation. Piped-in water is usually safe to drink because it is filtered and chlorinated. However, the chlorination could cause mild abdominal upsets, so if you're prone to stomach problems, it may be wise to drink bottled water, which is readily available.

Cigatuera is a neurotoxin found in fish that normally feed on reefs. This toxin is not a problem in hotels and restaurants in Barbados as these establishments take extra precautions when selecting fish to serve guests, but be wary of catching and cooking reef fish yourself. Be particularly cautious of amberjack and barracuda. In fact, before heading out on a fishing expedition, ask for guidance on the prime spots to catch cigatuera-free fish. Symptoms of exposure to cigatuera include tingling in the fingers, mouth, and toes.

A few precautions should prevent many potential health hazards, and a basic familiarity with the medical procedures on the island should allow visitors to be prepared for any possible situation that may arise while in Barbados.


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