Most visitors stay either on the fashionable west coast north of Bridgetown or on the action-packed south coast. On the west coast, the beachfront resorts in St. Peter and St. James Parishes are mostly luxurious, self-contained enclaves. Highway 1, a two-lane road with considerable traffic, runs past these resorts; strolling to a nearby bar or restaurant can be a bit difficult. Along the south coast in Christ Church Parish, several hotels are close to the busy strip known as St. Lawrence Gap, convenient to dozens of small restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. On the much more remote east coast, a few small inns offer oceanfront views and get-away-from-it-all tranquillity.

In keeping with the smoke-free policy enforced throughout Barbados, smoking is restricted to open outdoor areas such as the beach. It is not permitted in hotels (neither rooms nor public areas) or in restaurants.

Room rates in Barbados may be twice as high in season (December 15–April 15) compared with those in the quieter months; however, special promotions and vacation packages are available throughout the year. Most hotels include no meals in their rates, but some include breakfast and many offer a meal plan. Some require you to purchase a meal plan in the high season, and a few offer all-inclusive packages.

Resorts run the gamut—from unpretentious to exceedingly formal—in terms of size, intimacy, amenities, and price. Families and long-term visitors may choose from a wide variety of villas and condos. A few small, cozy inns are found along the east and southeast coasts, as well as the northwest, and these can be ultraluxurious, fairly simple, or something in between.

Villa and condo complexes, which continue to crop up along the south and west coasts, may be the most economical option for families, groups, or couples vacationing together. Nonowner vacationers rent units from property managers, the same as reserving hotel accommodations. Apartments are available for vacation rentals in buildings or complexes with from three or four units to 30, 40, or even more.