One of the main attractions on Barbuda is the Magnificent Frigate Bird Sanctuary, situated in Codrington Lagoon. It is a forty-minute boat ride into the mangroves (you MUST stay on the boat) from the village wharf by the Fisheries building, and is a spectacular sight even for non-bird watchers. They have few predators here and this nesting site on Barbuda has become 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 offence 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 wonderful local guides is worth the cost alone.
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, and with recent developments most of the south side of Barbuda is now likely to be developed. But ALL BEACHES on Barbuda are still open to ALL visitors as long as you 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.
Barbuda’s beaches are often very windy with strong swells so surfing is popular here at certain times of the year (Palmetto beach). The beaches can have spectacular waves and many have fast and dangerous currents at times, but there are also beautifully calm areas that are perfect for children or non-swimmers,with shallow water and rock pools filled with tiny fish and crabs (Coral Group), The beaches closest to the village are (River) or (Two Foot Bay) and a short boat ride takes you over to (Low Bay).
There are usually aerial displays provided by pelicans diving close to you on these beaches and everywhere you swim you will see fish darting about in the water. The beaches further afield also have great names – Fishing Creek, Rubbish Bay, Goat Island, Castle Hill...but you will need a tour guide to get to these and they are a long day out. However, the best, most visited of all is not too far and that’s Princess Diana beach.
If you would like a guide to the village and the beaches and how to get to them, you can buy a Village and Beach guide from the ArtCafe so just send us a message and we will print one off.
If you would like a human guide to take you on a wonderful day out, look at our tours page.
exploring the island
This picture of whales was taken while out at sea by Maverick Weatherhead, and dolphins have been seen in the lagoon and are regularly seen out at sea.
There are also huge caves to explore around Barbuda at Two Foot Bay and at the Darby Cave sink-hole, a forty-minute guided tour from the top of Codrington House into the bush.
In very dry weather the salt ponds at Spanish Point sparkle with crystalline sea salt that we collect and sell and in wet weather the same ponds are full of sea birds and fish.
As there are many fishermen and women on the island it is often possible to go out fishing with them. Many people have boats and if asked may take visitors for line fishing trips, bringing home barracuda, shark, tuna, and others.
Bone fishing is popular and catching lobster is also possible as they are a speciality of the island and can be caught by hand (with a lassoo) or in specially hand-crafted fish pots which are still made today.
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 when Coco Point was still open, in March 2012. This is reportedly one of the largest ever caught in Barbuda waters.
Visitors note that fishing may only be done from a Barbudan boat and we are currently implementing fish sanctuary zones that will incur heavy penalties if fishing is done in these areas. See our fishing page for more info on this.
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. All are mapped and protected by the Marine Areas Act. There are also modern boats that have tragically lost their way onto the treacherous reefs that surround Barbuda, a very flat and hard-to-see island.
There are local divers on the island who can guide visitors to dive the more accessible wrecks and it is sometimes possible to hire scuba diving equipment or fill tanks at the Fisheries building.
Wrecks are often in dangerous water and it is important to seek local advice and permission from Council before attempting to explore them. If you just want to see them on a map, the ArtCafe sells a good one.
village life and liming – the art of doing nothing
It’s easy to meet local people in Barbuda, mostly through everyday tasks, or by liming at the wharf or at basketball.
There are several small shops that sell groceries and fresh or frozen food. All supplies have to come by boat or by plane from various places, via Antigua, so Barbuda is very expensive for Barbudans and visitors alike. The best time to look for fruit and vegetables is when the boat comes in on Thursday night or on Saturday morning. You will see the shops become 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 – look for people selling out of a cool-box or vehicle. Our business page lists some fish sellers and other suppliers.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 a few variety stores selling essential household items and clothes, some of them have gifts and T-shirts. in the village there are only a couple of snack shops and bars ranging from rum shops, to bars with TV or pool table. The ArtCafe does bookable suppers and happy hours. Timbuk does food all day. 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 Green Door, see the moon come up or have a night under the stars at Frangipani Glamping, do Karaoke at Purple Haze, go horse racing, go to a church fund-raising breakfast – 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.