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By John Sage

Barbados disabled access presents some of the biggest challenges in the Eastern Caribbean with limited options of things to do for wheelchair users visiting the island. Much of the tourism industry is centered around water activities, and unfortunately, very few of them are wheelchair accessible. Furthermore, steep hills, lack of accessible restrooms, and rough terrain are a few of challenges that disabled visitors will need to overcome in Barbados.

While there are several accessibility challenges in Barbados, it is definitely possible to have an enjoyable time during your visit here. The best way to prepare and avoid the worst of the challenges is to book an accessible Barbados tour that includes the most accessible venues of the island. You can visit one of the accessible beaches with beach wheelchairs, explore the magnificent Harrison Cave, see small historic churches, and stop for photos at one of the several breathtaking island viewpoints. The boardwalk in Bridgetown is also accessible to wheelchair users.

I was tempted to give Barbados disabled access a 4 Star Sage Accessibility Rating because the island has wheelchair accessible vans, but I couldn’t quite do it. Compared to other islands, I found Barbados to have a very limited amount of options of accessible things to do and see, so I gave it a 3 Star Sage Accessibility Rating instead.


View Barbados accessible shore excursions


Best Aspects of Barbados Disabled Access

Can experience the whole island in a single day – Cruise passengers who spend a day in Barbados don’t have to limit themselves to a single region or experience. The island is small and you can drive around it in a one day shore excursion if you desire. You can easily visit historical churches, relax at an accessible beach and explore the unique, breathtaking Harrison Cave – all in one day!

Accessible port exit – The Barbados cruise port and welcome center offers good accessibility. Appropriate ramps and grab bars have been installed to ensure easy access for wheelchair users. The surfaces are mostly flat and smooth, and most of the shops inside the welcome center has ramps. There is also an accessible restroom available.

Left photo below shows ramp leading into the main entrance to the port arrivals hall for easy access. The dock area is flat and smooth with no steps or steep inclines to reach your ship (see photo on the right below).


No tenders – Unlike Grand Cayman and Belize, cruise passengers will love that the Barbados disabled access scene doesn’t include any cruise tenders.  Cruise ships at piers mean wheelchair users, mobility scooter users, and other disabled guests can easily get ashore.

Harrison Cave – The Harrison Cave is a wonderful place to visit. It is a beautiful, unique piece of nature that you won’t find elsewhere. While the wait to board the tram can be long, it is still worth the visit. The venue is fully accessible with a flat, smooth welcome center, elevators down to the cave site, a flat, paved waiting area with a botanical garden and small vendor shops, as well as fully accessible restrooms with grab bars. The tram has a ramp that makes it easy for wheelchair users to board it. Only one wheelchair will fit per tram.

The welcome center is equipped with ramps (see photo on the left below), and it also has a fully accessible restroom available (photo on the right).


The accessible tram has a long ramp to enter for wheelchair users (see photo on the left below).


Accessible Vans – Unlike many other small Caribbean islands, Barbados has more than 1 accessible wheelchair van on the island. This means that several wheelchair visitors have options to visit the island at the same time without having to use standard vans.


Worst Aspects of Barbados Disabled Access

Infrastructure – Barbados isn’t as picturesque as other islands such as St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. Lucia, which will be come apparent as you make your way around the island. While it does have several fascinating things to see and do (especially Harrison’s Cave), all the highlights are spread across the island and requires you to use an accessible vehicle to reach them. Barbados is not ideal for walking tours. A lack of road repair and sidewalks makes it challenging.

None of the major attractions are within walking distance of the ports – To reach the top attractions in Barbados you will need to book private transportation.  There are no accessible public transportation options available.

Viewpoints – Unlike many other Eastern Caribbean islands such as St. Lucia and St. Kitts, the viewpoints in Barbados do not have great accessibility. Many of them have lips or small steps, and the few flat ones are on steep hills or with uneven ground. There are still a few good ones to see though, including Cherry Hill Top.

View and vendors at Cherry Hill Top. The mountain is steep but the area where you stop and take photos is wheelchair accessible.


Water activities and boat tours are not as accessible as other ports – While disabled visitors might be able to go on a boat tour, the famous swim with turtles and catamaran excursions are generally not accessible. There are a few special beach wheelchairs available on the island, which means a beach excursion is possible for wheelchair users who are able to transfer to it.


View Barbados accessible shore excursions