Home » THE ISLAND OF BARBUDA
Barbuda is one of those very few islands in the Caribbean that remains–and probably will remain for some time–so undeveloped as to seem positively deserted at times. With the exception of the guests of the island’s small number of accommodations, the population seems largely to consist of the graceful Fregata magnificens, or frigate bird. As the birds possess a marked preference for the northwest lagoon, Barbuda’s seemingly endless white and pink sand beaches are left to the peaceful wanderings of those lucky enough to sojourn here.
Activities on Barbuda are appropriately relaxed, including beachcombing (on the northeastern Atlantic coast), fishing and hunting and, at the island’s resorts, golf, tennis, snorkeling, diving, or simply soaking up the sun and the calm. Points of interest include the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, the truly noteworthy pink and white sand beaches, and an abundance of shipwrecks and beautiful reefs. Barbuda can be reached easily from Antigua, either by air (a 20-minute flight, twice daily) or by boat (in three hours). The island is home to the luxurious K-Club, Coco Point Lodge and Hotel Palmetto resorts, as well as to a number of other hotels and comfortable guest houses.
Barbuda’s history has been intimately tied to that of Antigua for centuries. The first early attempts to settle Barbuda (by both the British and French) were failures, and it wasn’t until 1666 that the British established a colony strong enough to survive the ravages of both nature and the Caribs. In 1680, four years before he began cultivating sugar on Antigua, Christopher Codrington was granted (with his brother John) a lease to land in Barbuda. With subsequent leases that granted them additional rights to the substantial wreckage along Barbuda’s reefs, they became the island’s preeminent family. For much of the eighteenth century the Codrington land on Barbuda was used to produce food and to supply additional slave labour for the Codrington sugar plantations on Antigua, and so the Barbuda’s fortunes rose and fell with those of its larger neighbour. Testament to the influence of the Codringtons remains today, both in the island’s place names and in its architectural remains. On Barbuda’s highest point (124 feet) are the ruins of the Codrington estate, Highland House, and on the island’s south coast still sits the 56-foot high Martello castle and tower, a fortress that was used both for defense and as a vantage from which to spot valuable shipwrecks on the outlying reefs.
Barbuda’s Frigate Bird Sanctuary
Barbuda’s Frigate Bird Sanctuary is located in the island’s northwestern lagoon and is accessible only by boat. The sanctuary contains over 170 species of birds and is home to over 5,000 frigate birds. Fregata magnificens, the most aerial of waterbirds, possesses the largest wingspan (four to five feet) in proportion to its body size of any bird in the world. It is also known as the man o’ war bird, and the comparison to warships is a particularly apt one–with its superior size and flight capabilities, the frigate bird harasses less agile flyers like pelicans, egrets, and cormorants until they drop their catch. The male frigate is marked by its red throat pouch, which it can inflates as part of its courtship behaviour and as a defensive display. Courting takes place in the fall, and chicks hatch late in the year.