31.05.2007 25 °C
In this entry, I am going to fill you in on Antigua's sister and neighbor, Barbuda. It is absolutely incredible in its own individual way! You just must allow time to visit on a day trip while in Antigua!
The Island of Barbuda is 26 miles north of Antigua. It is 15 miles long and 5 miles wide with a population of 1200. There are no paved roads, a few hotels, two of the region's most expensive resorts, the K-Club and The Beach House, along with a few restaurants.
The only settlement on the island is Codrington. Codrington consists of just a handful of streets. It is named after Sir Christopher Codrington, who leased the entire island from the British crown in 1691, with it remaining in the family's hands until 1872!
While sugar cane was the livelihood in Antigua, poor soil and an annual rainfall of around 38 inches, made sugar cultivation impossible in Barbuda. Therefore, Sir Codrington, introduced deer, wild boar, and guinea fowl for hunting, and cattle for raising.
For more information on Sir Codrington, see previous issues of "The Island Lover's Guide to the Caribbean", entitled, 'The Incredible Island of Antigua!'. http://www .TheCaribbeanContessa.com
I don't stay on Barbuda when I visit the region. I misplaced the number of my Swiss Bank Account! Ha! Ha! Although my overnight stays are in condos on Barbuda's lively sister, Antigua, a day trip to Barbuda is definitely one I never miss.
Barbuda is only a 15 minute puddle-jumper flight from Antigua. Roundtrip passage costs around $72 per person.
Many locals rent small four-wheel-drive Suzukis, which are the best way to get around the island of Barbuda. You need an Antiguan driver's license as discussed in our last issue of "The Island Lover's Guide to the Caribbean". The locals will meet you at the airport with these rentals and the prices will be negotiable.
Why should you visit Barbuda? You have to see the unbelievably gorgeous pink and white sand beaches; the snorkeling and shelling are incredible; and the diving is some of the best in the islands!
The beaches are often very quiet and deserted- something difficult to find on many of the more commercialized islands. My favorite beaches on this island are on the southwestern shore. They are protected by barrier reefs that keep the waters very calm, allowing for awesome swimming and snorkeling! They stretch uninterrupted for over 10 miles!
If you are looking to go shelling, the island's eastern shore is not so protected, and though the waters are often rough, it is an awesome playground for Beachcombers!
Wa O'moni Beach Park is an absolute "must see"! Wa O'moni is the Arawak name for Barbuda. This place is an Ornithologist's Dream Come True!
Wa'Omoni is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the world! You can see the birds, Fregata magnificens, sitting on their eggs in the mangrove bushes in a lagoon, via a small guided motorboat. These magnificent black birds have an 8 foot wingspan!!! There are also about 150 other species of birds including pelicans, herons, and tropical mockingbirds.
While in Wa O'moni Beach you must snorkel for lobster! The locals taught me how to catch them! It took several attempts before I gained enough nerve to grab one and actually hold on to it, but once I got the hang of it, look out!! What a rush!!
The snorkeling and/or scuba diving on Barbuda is unbelievable! There is more excellent snorkeling on the south end of the island around Gravenor Bay, and Palaster Reef, a protected marine reserve off Cocoa Point. Goat Reef, in the north, is known for its wreck diving.
One important headsup-- Barbuda does not have an organized dive operation, so you must take all of your equipment and charter a local boat.
For you history buffs out there, be sure to check out the Dividing Wall and Martello Tower.
The Dividing Wall is a wall built long ago to keep the African slaves from the Codrington family.
The Martello Tower was built 32 feet high and was used as a lookout along the south coast and for sighting in-coming ships. Once sighted, the information was then signaled onward to the village of Codrington.
In the northern part of the island, you will find Dark Cave where rare blind shrimp live in subterranean pools. I know what you are thinking--how do they know the shrimp are blind?! I had that thought too! However, I'm not going to tell you the answer to this one! You will just have to visit to find out exactly why they are called "blind shrimp"! : )
Moving a bit south, you will find Darby Sink Cave. This 70 foot deep sinkhole contains an unexpected abundance of palmetto palms and other greenery! You have to see this to believe it! Awesome!
If you visit Barbuda on a paid tour from Antigua, your meals will be included. However, if not on a paid tour ,and you find yourself getting hungry, stop by the Palm Tree Restaurant, owned and operated by Cerene Deazle.
Cerene serves typical Barbudan food such as conch, lobster, fish, deer meat, and chicken, as well as burgers and fries. The restaurant serves alcohol, and meals start at around $10.
In addition, Wa O'moni is a fairly new, fully air-conditioned restaurant with an extensive menu.
The owner, Jackie Joseph, serves lobster, jumbo shrimp--awesome by the way, the catch of the day, and salt fish. There are also salads, sandwiches, burgers, side dishes and desserts, together with champagne, wine, cocktails and soda.
One unique thing that Jackie Joseph also offers at Wa O'moni is that every guest is given a trivia card with five questions and answers about Barbudan history. A very fun way to enjoy a meal and learn a bit about their history!
While visiting Barbuda, you will quickly realize that Dominoes is often the game of choice! You will find the game everywhere! Eda's Joint in Eda's Mall will offer you traditional Barbudan food while playing Dominoes!
I have provided a number of fabulous options for your visit to Barbuda. I know you may not be able to participate in all of them in one day, but certainly try to fit in as many as possible! You will love the island!