Bird-watching at Barbuda’s Frigate Bird Sanctuary is often a highlight for visitors to the island. // © 2014 Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
Feature image (above): As Barbuda is visited less frequently than its sister island, Antigua, its beaches remain quiet and crowd free. // © 2014 Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
One of the buzz phrases in travel nowadays is “the need to disconnect,” and one of the best places to do it in the Caribbean is the 17-mile-long island of Barbuda.
Travelers, especially honeymooners, come to Barbuda to dial down the stress and to take a break from the constant ping and chatter of technology. Barbuda is about 26 miles north of Antigua and is essentially one long pink sand beach after another, perfect for long walks along the shore.
Getting to Barbuda takes an extra step. Most travelers first fly into Barbuda’s sister island, Antigua. If they’re not seduced by Antigua’s colonial history, 365 beaches and high-end resorts, they can continue to Barbuda via ferry on the Barbuda Express. The ferry travels back and forth daily between Barbuda and Antigua, and the trip takes about 90 minutes. Another option is to book a flight on Antigua Barbuda Montserrat Air (ABM Air), which flies into a small airstrip in the laid-back Codrington, Barbuda’s main town.
Your clients will have a range of accommodations choices on Barbuda, from modest guesthouses to more luxurious digs such as the Lighthouse Bay Resort and the all-inclusive Coco Point Lodge. While the beaches of Barbuda are the main draw, there are intriguing excursions and sights on the island.
Codrington Dividing Wall
The Caribbean’s heritage of slavery is one of darkest chapters in the region’s history. Barbuda was no exception, and for a long part of its history, slavery was central to the island’s economy. The most powerful man in Barbuda during the colonial period was Sir Christopher Codrington, who leased the whole island of Barbuda from England. Codrington built a huge “Dividing Wall” to separate the Codrington family from the slaves who worked for them. The wall still stands as a reminder of this period in Barbuda’s history.
Frigate Bird Sanctuary
The number one attraction on Barbuda is Frigate Bird Sanctuary, located in a lagoon in Wa-Omoni Beach Park, which can be reached via a 40-minute boat ride. The lagoon is a safe haven for thousands of mating frigate birds (a type of seabird), giving visitors a chance to see the birds up-close. The male frigate birds (also known as man of war birds) have a wingspan of 7 feet and can be identified by their inflated red gullets that they display to attract a mate. The park is also home to 150 additional bird species including pelicans, tropical mockingbirds, ibis, herons and kingfishers.
Located in the northeast part of the Barbuda, Indian Cave is a Neolithic cave with two Arawak Indian rock-carved petroglyphs. Indian Cave is sometimes referred to as “The Caves at Two Foot Bay.” It’s advisable for travelers to arrange the services of a guide, either through their hotel or in Codrington. The cave has three chambers, and one is the named the Bat Chamber — for obvious reasons. If your clients shiver when thinking about being in a small, dark cave with thousands of bats, advise them to pass on Indian Cave.
Martello Tower is a historic British fort built in the 19th century on the remains of a different fort (one from the 18th century) that was thought to have been constructed by the Spanish. The fort was originally built to protect River Landing, which was Barbuda’s first harbor. Today, very little remains of the original fort, except for the 56-foot-high tower with thick walls and a raised gun platform. Martello Tower is the highest building on Barbuda and an island landmark popular as a site for weddings.
Pink Sands Beach
Barbuda’s pink sand beaches are one of the big draws on the island. Pink sand is formed by the sea relentlessly crushing millions upon millions of seashells. The phenomenon can best be seen at Pink Sands Beach, a showy stretch of almost 8 miles of pink sand. On most islands, a beach like this would be crowded with tourists. On quiet Barbuda, there’s a good chance visitors will have parts of the beach all to themselves.