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.
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 bird species 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. And there's other wildlife too including 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.
HOTELS & RESTAURANTS
If you'd like to stay a little longer, Barbuda Belle is a deluxe boutique hotel with six rustic yet ritzy bungalows and a seafood restaurant. If you prefer simpler lodgings, Gerald's Guest House in the capital Codrington might very well suit the bill. You can even spend a night under the stars at the full-service Frangipani Glamping and Guest House, while the new Barbuda Ocean Club is a private resort community at Coco Point. As for dining, fresh seafood and lobster regularly features on the menus. And now that Nobu Barbuda has opened its doors, you can even have it prepared Japanese style!
So, there you have it, Barbuda has something for everyone – natural beauty, a peaceful way of life and a history that’s as interesting as its wildlife.
GETTING TO BARBUDA
Barbuda Express Ferry
A licensed ferry departs Antigua from the bottom of High Street, St. John's. Charters can also be arranged. Drinks available during 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
Nobu Barbuda Tel: (268) 720-6628
Timbuk One Tel: (268) 722-8085
Wanda Grill Tel: (268) 717-0501
Artcafe Tel: (268) 734-1410
Uncle Roddy's Tel: (268) 722-3050