Barbuda is part of the independent nation of Antigua and Barbuda. It's the Caribbean's last frontier, even though it is home to two of the region's most expensive and exclusive resorts: the K-Club, which is reviewed below, and the Coco Point Beach Resort, which we don't recommend because we think it has an exclusive, snobby atmosphere. Charted by Columbus in 1493, the island is 42km (26 miles) north of Antigua. Twenty-four kilometers (15 miles) long by 8km (5 miles) wide, it has a population of only 1,200 hardy souls, most of whom live around the unattractive village of Codrington. There's no lush tropical scenery, no paved roads, few hotels, and only a handful of restaurants.
So what's the attraction? The island's 27km (17 miles) of pink- and white-sand beaches -- almost like those of Bermuda. (We prefer the sands north of Palmetto Point.) Barrier reefs protect the island and keep most of the waters tranquil. Beaches on the southwestern shore stretch uninterrupted for 15km (9 1/4 miles); these are the best for swimming. The beaches on the island's eastern shore fronting the Atlantic are somewhat rougher, but they're good for beachcombing and shell collecting. The water temperature seldom falls below the average of 75°F (24°C).
Visitors gravitate to Barbuda to see fallow deer, guinea fowl, pigeons, and wild pigs. Anglers can also negotiate with small-boat owners to fish for bonefish and tarpon.
Day visitors usually head for Wa'Omoni Beach Park to visit the frigate bird sanctuary, snorkel for lobster, and eat barbecue. The frigate bird sanctuary is one of the world's largest and a very impressive sight. You can see the birds, Fregata magnificens, sitting on their eggs in the mangrove bushes, which stretch for miles in a long lagoon accessible only by small motorboat. Various hotels and resorts on Antigua arrange tours to the sanctuary. The island attracts about 150 other species of birds, including pelicans, herons, and tropical mockingbirds.
While you're here, look into the Dividing Wall, which once separated the imperial Codrington family from the African islanders. Also visit the Martello Tower, which predates the known history of the island. Purportedly the Spanish erected it before the British occupied the island. Several tours explore interesting underground caves on Barbuda. Stamp collectors might want to stop in at the philatelic bureau in Codrington (no phone).