Because of its unspoilt countryside many rare and endangered species still flourish on Barbuda, so wildlife and bird watching is popular. One of the main attractions on Barbuda is the Magnificent Frigate Bird Sanctuary, situated in Codrington Lagoon. It is a forty-minute boat ride from the wharf by the beautiful new fisheries building and is a spectacular sight even for non-bird watchers. In the mating season from September to April this rare bird displays a huge red breast to attract a female mate and they lay one egg on a nest built precariously on the mangrove. These birds cannot walk or swim; they soar high in the clouds and live solely on fish, which they often steal from other birds, giving them their local name Man O'War. They have few predators here and this nesting site on Barbuda has become one of the most important in the world for these endangered birds. Note - this area is a protected conservation area of special interest and as such all visitors must comply with local regulations and must use a Barbudan boat to visit the birds. It is an offense to use your own dinghy or boat to go into the sanctuary at any time and no one should visit the bird sanctuary after 6pm or enter the roped off areas. Anyone found breaching these regulations will be reported to the police, removed from the sanctuary and likely to be prosecuted. The local cost of a visit in a Barbudan boat is currently ony US$50 per boat of four people, plus US$12 for each person above that number and the information you will receive from the best local guides is second to none.
our spectacular beaches
Barbuda is one of the best natural beach destinations in the Caribbean, if not the world; it has unspoilt beaches on all sides of the island. Usually you will be alone on the beach, except for the hotel beaches but these are still open to all visitors as long as non-guests keep to the waterline. Most of the beaches have no facilities at all so it's important to remember to take plenty of water (freeze a bottle overnight) and find a place to keep out of the sun for some of the time. In some places when you have seen one beach you have seen them all, but in Barbuda each one is different, better than the last, and interesting enough to keep even the most cynical holidaymaker happy for hours. You will find all kinds of rubbish on the beach on the Atlantic side if you are a beach-comber, and you are likely to see sharks, turtles, sea birds and other wildlife close up too. It's possible to cycle fairly easily around Barbuda because it's flat but the roads are not very good. Barbuda's beaches are often very windy with strong swells so kite surfing is popular here at certain times of the year. The beaches can have spectacular waves and dangerous currents at times, but there are also beautifully calm areas such as Coral Group that are perfect for children or non-swimmers, with shallow water and rock pools filled with tiny fish and crabs. There are usually aerial displays provided by pelicans diving close to you on the beach and everywhere you swim you will see fish darting about in the water. The beaches have great names - Fishing Creek, Rubbish Bay, Two Foot Bay, Goat Island, River, Princess Diana beach - if you want a more detailed guide to the beaches and how to get to them you can buy a regularly updated Village and Beach guide from the ArtCafe so just send us a message.
This picture of whales was taken out at sea by Maverick, and dolphins have been seen in the lagoon and are regularly seen out at sea. There are also huge caves to explore around Barbuda. In one cave there are ancient drawings and in others it is possible to climb right through to the top of the Highlands and see for miles over Barbuda. Darby Cave (above right) is an extraordinary example of a sink hole and a popular trek with visitors - a forty-five minute guided walk from Highland House. In very dry weather the salt ponds sparkle with crystalline sea salt that is still collected for use by local people. In wet weather the same ponds are full of sea birds and fish.
On holiday weekends our beaches fill with Barbudans who take picnics and camping very seriously and bring music, food, and truckloads of people to spend the day by the sea. People camp for several nights - often in the caves - catching and cooking fish, deer, wild boar and land turtle, which are then shared by everyone. It's possible for anyone to camp on Barbuda but the Council has regulations regarding this. The ArtCafe has a beautiful beach campsite and can hire large or pop-up single tents and provide water and other essential camping equipment. If you do camp out please bring all your rubbish back to the village as the rubbish truck cannot reach these places.
diving and fishing
As there are many fishermen and women on the island it is always possible to go fishing. Many people have boats and if asked may take visitors for fishing trips, bringing home fish pots or line fish such as barracuda, shark, tuna, and others. Bone fishing is very popular, as Barbuda has some of the best waters for this in the area, and catching lobster is also possible as they are a speciality of the island and can be caught by hand or in specially hand crafted fish pots. The picture on the right shows Bill 'Captain Billy' Pierce with his two able assistants - Vanda Baker and Liz Pierce - showing off the 44lb barracuda they caught while reef fishing from Coco Point with George Jack in March 2012. This is reportedly one of largest ever caught in Barbuda waters.
Visitors note that fishing may only be done from a Barbudan boat and we are currently implimenting fish sanctuary zones that will incur heavy penalties if fishing is done in these areas.
Around the coast of Barbuda there are many hundreds of wrecks from different periods of the island's history, since the French, Spanish and British fought for control of the Caribbean, to modern boats that have lost their way onto the treacherous reefs that surround Barbuda, a very flat and hard-to-see island. Even recently some of our small cargo boats have come to grief - losing everything. There are experienced local divers on the island who can guide visitors to dive the wrecks and it is sometimes possible to hire scuba diving equipment. Wrecks are usually in dangerous water and it is important to seek local advice - and permission from Council - before attempting to explore them.
There are several small shops that sell every day groceries and fresh or frozen food. All supplies have to come by boat or by plane from various places, via Antigua, so Barbuda is expensive for Barbudans and visitors alike. The best time to look for fruit and vegetables is when the boat comes in on Friday or Saturday, you will see the shops become very busy as soon as it arrives and it sells out fast. Many people also grow and sell their own produce at different times throughout the year so buy it where you see it as it's all organically grown and the best fresh produce. Fish is brought in at the Lagoon Wharf nearly every day in good weather and the new Fisheries building can store it on ice. Locally produced meat is sometimes for sale from a table on the street; there are no butchers shops. The meat is very good and has none of the additives or hormones in mass-produced meat, but you have to clean and prepare it yourself. It helps to remember those posters showing where the fillet steak is on an animal before you buy it! There are several variety stores selling all kinds of essential household items and clothes, some of them have gifts and T-shirts.
liming - the art of doing nothing
It's easy to meet local people in Barbuda, in the village there are only a couple of restaurants, several snack shops and two or three bars ranging from rum shops to bars with TV and a pool table. Most cater for local people's needs as only a few guests from the hotels frequent them, but those that do enjoy their lively atmosphere and if you are staying in a local guest house you might want to go out for a beer or two and find out about the island from Barbudans themselves. Visit Byron at the wharf for ice cream at sunset, go and see the moon come up at Two Foot Bay, go to a church fund-raising breakfast, ask for a film at Jordans outdoor cinema, or go and sing karaoke at Kelcina's bar in Madison - there is plenty to do in Barbuda.
The best way to buy our delicious, locally made, freshly cooked food is to go out to a food fair or a fish fry at the weekend, as there are always people barbecuing on the street and the fish is straight from the sea. Local specialities include deer meat, land turtle, lobster, crab, conch, locally raised beef and lamb or goat, with side dishes of rice, fungi, or dumplings. Local drinks include soursop, ginger beer, sea moss, and tamarind juices. If you are a foodie you will love Barbuda; our cooks are some of the best in the Caribbean and win prizes wherever they go. See the Barbudan Rhyming Chef cooking on the beach at Coral Group.