Barbuda consists largely of two limestone slabs, the western one level and only a few feet above sea level. The eastern one has been uplifted, and tilted slightly. Starting at sea level on the southern end, it rises to about 40 meters. There is little good soil, much of the island being covered by sparse low scrub.
On the north-west part of the island there is a large, shallow lagoon, bordered by a miles-long beach. The lagoon is home to the large and impressive frigate bird colony. The beach continues uninterrupted to the south end of the island. On the eastern Atlantic side the beaches may be narrower, but there are scenic cliffs and eroded coral rock and reefs.
- Codrington is the only town on the island. Nearly all the 1500 residents live in this village. Until recently the streets were unpaved and unnamed, but that may be changing. Herds of goats wander the environs, rounding themselves up and returning home at night. Tourist amenities are modest and tourists are few, but those who venture here will be met with hospitality and will leave with an affection for this little island.
Barbuda is part of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, being joined with Antigua when the islands were granted independence, but the islands have little in common. Internal affairs are largely governed by the elected Barbudan Council. Barbuda has a population of only 1500 or so, and few tourist facilities in spite of its miles of beautiful beaches. Nearly all the small stores, restaurants and guest houses are locally owned--what you spend here stays here. The economy is largely dependent on sand mining (the sand is exported to Antigua for construction), and tourism. The Barbudan Council has started a truck farm on the site of the old plantation to provide employment and fresh produce. The official currency is the EC dollar, but US dollars are used for rooms, tours and car rentals.
Most of the residents are descended from slaves owned by the Codrington family, who raised food here for the slaves in the sugarcane fields of Antigua. When slavery was abolished, the land was given to the Barbudans, and continues to be held in common. No one can own land, but Barbudans may apply for sites upon which to build homes. Others, such as resorts, may lease land.
The language is English.
The Barbuda Express offers ferries from Antigua. The ferry docks at River Wharf, some distance from the only town, but an easy walk to almost-empty beaches.
Winair serves the airport in Codrington from Antigua. The exclusive Coco Point Lodge has its own landing strip and arranges charters.
Outside of Codrington, there is one road on the island, plus several unmarked tracks. Paving of roads and streets has begun. A number of residents offer transportation by car or boat. Tours may be booked directly or as part of an excurion package from Antigua. Visitors staying in Codrington may want to rent a car, a process involving no paperwork, as there are no beaches within walking distance. Lynton Thomas, 268 720 9957, 721 2796, has 4WDs for rent. A temporary drivers license may be had for a few dollars and traffic is extremely light except when workers are being driven to and from the sand mine and resorts. Watch for trucks on the southern end of the island between Martello Tour and River Wharf. Bicycles may or may not be available for rent.
- Barbuda hosts a huge frigate bird colony, making it one of the few places in the world to view frigate birds at very close range.
Take a tour of the frigate bird colony. Tour the other sights on the island--none are stunning, but all are part of the history. You will visit the ruins of Highland house, where the Codringtons looked over their fields, a cave reaching from the beach to the uplands, Martello tower with its free and easy access to a spectacular beach.
Visit Art Cafe, where Claire Frank paints tropical critters on silk and where you can learn about Barbuda and get information about accommodations.
Walk on a beach that goes for miles without another person in sight (bring shade and water).
Sit and watch the goats go by.
- Martello Bar and Grill, ☎ +1 268 460-0137, +1 268 783-8624. On the beach not far from the ferry wharf, Can provide food if you call ahead.
There are a few modest restaurants in Codrington.
- It's a Bit Fishy (On River Road between Codrington and Martello Fort, near gas station). Beach-style restaurant/bar with fresh seafood. Local fish, local owners, everything but the beach.
- It's A Bit Fishy, Barbuda, River Road, Codrington, ☎ +1 268 772-3525. Seafood Grill and Bar... and more.... Karaoke, DJs, healthy seafood, not so healthy cocktails!
- Coco Point Lodge, ☎ +1 268 562-5598. The most American accommodation on the island with single rooms, suites and two to four bedroom cottages. This all-inclusive resort is absolutely amazing.
- North Beach - Barbuda, ☎ +1 268 721-3317. This tiny, secluded place consists of four cottages and a pavilion miles from the nearest house and accessible only by boat. Guests may go a week without seeing another person besides the owner or helper (both Barbudan). Expensive but memorable.
- Lighthouse Bay, toll-free: +1-888-836-5427. The newest resort on Barbuda, it opened in April 2008. Luxurious facility on the narrow strip of beach between the lagoon and the ocean.
- Barbuda Cottages, ☎ +1 268-722-3050. The first self contained 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom solar powered beach house, located only steps from the ocean on the South West coast of Barbuda.
- In Codrington, there are several modest guest houses.
Barbuda is said to have little crime, although there was a rash of burglaries in May 2007, and four tourists on a yacht were murdered in 1994 (these are said to be the only murders in a century or so). Bottled water is available at several small stores There are a tiny pharmacy and a small hospital.