Antigua's little sister island of Barbuda rises low on the sea 27 miles to our north. A natural wonder, this coral-fringed escape has long been famous for its tranquillity, crystalline waters, unique frigate bird sanctuary and endless pink sand beach...
CODRINGTON LAGOON NATIONAL PARK
Formed from coralline limestone, Barbuda is just 62 square-miles in size. It's much flatter than Antigua with a maximum altitude of 40 metres and an average elevation of 4 metres. Yet its most famous landmark, the Codrington Lagoon National Park is of national, economic and cultural importance. Mother Nature has continued to work her magic on any storm-damaged mangroves, helped in no small way by the Mangrove Plant Restoration Project funded by Team Antigua Atlantic Rowers.
BIRD WATCHERS' PARADISE
The lagoon is globally renowned for supporting one of the world's largest colonies of frigate birds. The birds continue to flourish, even though they have become a prized tourist attraction. The male frigate birds are particularly spectacular during the mating season, their wingspan nearly 3 metres and their scarlet throat sacs blown up to the size of balloons in order to attract their mates. The fluffy, young chicks are clearly visible to visitors, their ever-open beaks stuffed with fish by their swooping parents.
Other species of birds here in abundance include West Indian whistling ducks, brown pelicans, tropical mockingbirds, warblers, snipes, ibis, herons, kingfishers, oystercatchers and cormorants. Little wonder the park is considered a bird watcher's paradise.
Other wildlife include wild boars, red-footed tortoises and various species of sea turtle. The elusive fallow deer is emblematic on the nation's coat of arms.
SHIPWRECKS & ISLAND TREKS
Barbuda's waters are as clear as glass, and offshore there are as many as 73 charted shipwrecks, as well as coral reefs for snorkelling and scuba-diving. Deep-sea fishing and fly-fishing excursions can be arranged with foot trails, island treks, and camping trips also available. Interesting natural sites include Indian Cave, Darby's Cave and the idyllic Spanish Point.
THE CODRINGTON ESTATE
If you're interested in Barbuda's past, well worthwhile is a trip to Highland House, the historically important ruins of the Codrington estate. You might also like to visit the Martello tower and fort on the south coast. It was not only used for defence but also as a vantage point from which to spot valuable shipwrecks on the outlying reefs.
GETTING TO BARBUDA
Barbuda Express Ferry
A daily ferry departs Antigua from the bottom of Long Street, St. John's. Charters can also be arranged from Jolly Harbour. See website for departure times. A 90-minute trip.
Tel: (268) 560-7989/764-2291
Tropical Adventures Tour
A 'Barbuda for the Day' tour that includes a 90-minute trip on the Excellence power catamaran, lunch, open bar, 2 beach stops and Frigate Bird Sanctuary tour.
Tel: (268) 480-1225 www.tropicalad.com
BMN Airways/SVG Air
Twice-daily flights from Antigua at 7:15 am and 4pm. Flight time is18 minutes.
Tel: (268) 562-7183 or 484-1324/1416
WHERE TO STAY
Barbuda Belle Luxury boutique hotel with 6 beachfront bungalows. Tel: (268) 783-4779
Barbuda Cottages Eco-friendly beachfront cottages. Tel: (268) 722-3050
Gerald's Guest House Simple lodgings in the capital Codrington. Tel: (268) 726-0271
Frangipani Glamping & Guest House
Guest house and camp site on the Atlantic Coast. Anything from1-person pop-ups to 8-person tents available.
Tel: (268) 734-1410/776-5137
WHERE TO EAT
Timbuk One Tel: (268) 722-8085
Wanda Grill Tel: (268) 717-0501
Artcafe Tel: (268) 734-1410
Uncle Roddy's Tel: (268) 722-3050
Seafood including fresh lobster features predominantly on the menus. Venison and wild boar are also available in season.