Beautiful Barbuda

by Jax on January 24, 2015

‘Beautiful Barbuda’ is the tagline of the behemoth that is the Barbuda tourism authority – I’m kidding, everything about this beautiful island is on the small scale. The island comprises 62 square miles, mostly flat, with a population of under 2000. Everyone is friendly and it feels very laid back and safe.
Two foot bay The beaches – white, or verging on pink depending on the light – and the sea – turquoise are undisputably beautiful. Anchoring off is the only option and although with care you can land the dinghy on the beaches which shelve quite steeply, it is not the easiest place to get ashore. There is no quay, no dinghy dock.

We have been spending a few days here whilst waiting for a friend to arrive in Antigua. You don’t really need more than a day to see the island, but it’s a nice place to hang out and we’ve met some interesting people.

In the mornings we have been running barefoot on the beaches. In my opinion these are some of the best runs we have ever done. Adrian’s not so sure, but he does insist on running in the soft sand so it’s much harder work.

Barbuda has never been developed in the same way as other islands because generally land is held communally and cannot be sold to outsiders, but since joining Antigua (‘under pressure from the English’, aren’t we marvellous?) there have been attempts to develop the island. Resistance remains for the time being, but how long this can continue remains to be seen. There is very little commerce on the island. There is a brand new large edifice by the quay in Codrington which seemed to have very little purpose. When we enquired as to it’s function we were informed that it was a ‘fisheries building’ apparently funded by the Japanese in return for sale of fishing rights….but that it was a bit of a white elephant. We also noticed some lots for sale on Palm Beach on the west of the island.
Barbuda Plot

From the west coast Codrington Lagoon separates the coast from the only town and the rest of the island, and the only way to get across is by water taxi.
Fortunately for us ‘Goldilox’ popped up on the beach to offer his assistance. I asked him if he was called Goldilox because he had 3 bears, and he replied ‘yes, I’ve had 3 beers’. I liked him.
We negotiated a return trip across the lagoon and a visit to the Frigate bird sanctuary in the lagoon.

It is mating season for the Frigate birds, so we got to see the males inflate their bright red throat sacks to attract the females, and then they just sit around displaying their big red protuberance waiting to be chosen…
Male Frigate Bird
According to Goldilox, if they don’t get lucky when mating season is over they fly off to the Galapagos, or the Yucatan and try their luck there. All of the males head off, even those who do pair up, leaving the female to maintain the nest and bring up baby (they only lay one egg)…..such an enlightened species!
We were fortunate enough to see birds mating and when I pointed this out to Goldilox he told us that the movement the males make when mating is the same as humans….and then gave us a quick demo! So, I’m still not sure whether that was Goldilox imitating a mating Frigate bird, or Goldilox imitating a mating Goldilox!

When the birds are paired up, the males collect sticks for the females to furnish the nests. Goldilox demonstrated this by throwing some twigs into the water, within only a few seconds a bird would swoop in to retrieve the sticks, with other males in hot pursuit, they would then chase him back to his nest trying to wrest the twigs of him before he could touch down.

Goldilox also showed us the upside down jelly fish that thrive in the shallow lagoon. They don’t look like jellyfish until you turn them over. And they have no sting, as evidenced by the picture of the girl holding one of them.

Goldilox deposited us on the quay in Codrington and from there we cycled to Two Foot Bay where you can climb up through a cave onto the ‘Highlands’ (125 feet high at the highest point) for views over the north east coast. The roads are mostly unpaved, or are littered with potholes, but you will not be bothered by traffic, maybe the occasional donkey wandering across the road.
It is easy to get around by bike, but is not set up for tourism (there are only a couple of small exclusive resorts), so to make the most of it using a guide would probably be best. Doyle’s guides to the Leeward Islands focuses mostly on one guide, there are others – such as Goldilox – who are most helpful and also willing to negotiate on the ‘official’ prices mentioned in the guide.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dawn & Jonathan Pooley April 26, 2015 at 22:22

Hi Adrian & Jax.
I have finally managed to track you down! It is Dawn & JP from the Outremer 51 ‘Escapade’ – we met at Janet’s beach bar in Barbuda. I hope your trip is going well and you are enjoying the Caribbean. Where have you been since we last saw you in Barbuda? Are you still planning on heading up to the US? We have totally changed plans and are heading down to Trinidad to haul out for hurricane season and have not decided which way yo head after that – back up in tot he Caribbean or onwards towards Panama – we will see. The best plan is no plan right?
Keep in touch and hope to see you again somewhere.


PS – We were with Francois from Outremer at the BVI Spring Regatta – he says ‘Bonjour’!


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