Barbuda is part of the independent nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Charted by Columbus in 1493, the island is 42 km north of Antigua. Twenty-four kilometers long by 8 km wide, it has a population of only 1.000 hardy souls, most of whom live around the unattractive village of Codrington. There’s no lush tropical scenery, no paved roads, few hotels and only a handful of restaurants. So what’s the attraction? The island’s 17 miles of pink and white-sand beaches, almost like those of Bermuda. Barrier reefs protect the island and keep most of the waters tranquil. Beaches on the southwestern shore stretch uninterrupted for 15 km; these are the best for swimming. The beaches on the island‘s eastern shore fronting the Atlantic are somewhat rougher but they’re good for beachcombing and shell collecting. The water temperature seldom falls below the average of 24° C.
Visitors gravitate to Barbuda to see fallow deer, guinea fowl, pigeons and wild pigs. Anglers can also negotiate with small-boat owners to fish for bonefish and tarpon. Day visitors usually head for Wa’Omoni Beach Park to visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, snorkel for lobster and eat barbecue. The frigate bird sanctuary is one of the world‘s largest and a very impressive sight. You can see the birds, Fregata magnificens, sitting on their eggs in the mangrove bushes, which stretch for miles in a long lagoon accessible only by small motorboat. Various hotels and resorts on Antigua arrange tours to the sanctuary. The island attracts about 150 other species of birds, including pelicans, herons, and tropical mockingbirds.
While you’re here, look into the Dividing Wall, which once separated the imperial Codrington family from the African islanders. Also visit the Martello Tower, which predates the known history of the island. Purportedly the Spanish erected it before the British occupied the island. Several tours explore interesting underground caves on Barbuda. Stamp collectors might want to stop in at the philatelic bureau in Codrington. The island is a 15-minute flight from Antigua’s Bird Airport. Barbuda has two airfields: one at Codrington and the other a private facility, the Coco Point Airstrip, which is some 13km from Codrington at the Coco Point Lodge.