Back in the spring of 2017 I was fortunate to sail to the rarely visited island of Barbuda. Sadly, a few months later the island was hammered so hard by Hurricane Irma that every resident was evacuated to its sister island of Antigua. This was the first time in hundreds of years that the island was uninhabited. As we approach the six year anniversary of their hardship I want to focus this month’s Top 10 on Barbuda to celebrate the strides the locals have made in their recovery.
10. George Jeffery – Mr. George was my contact on the island and helped in every way possible. When we needed a water taxi across the lagoon from the anchorage off 11 Mile Beach to the town of Codrington, he was there. Frigate bird colony tour, check. A guide to the sinkhole, yep. Just general information, again he was the man. He can be reached at phone # 268-788-7067 or on the VHF with Garden of Eden call sign.
9. Codrington – This is the only settlement on the island and it sits on the lagoon instead of the ocean, making it impossible to get to it with the big boats. This is why a water taxi across the lagoon is needed. The cool thing about Barbuda is that the entire island is communally owned and has been since the day of emancipation. There is an elected council that everyone must get approval from before doing any improvements on the island, which in turn helps keep the island from being over developed.
8. 11 Mile Beach – As the name implies this beach goes on forever and it is absolutely gorgeous. When I was anchored off of it there might have been four boats all along the entire 11-mile stretch. The one caveat is not to be here if the north swell is rolling!
7. Bike Riding – There are several dirt roads around this flat island and a bike is the best way to explore the various sites. Besides a couple cars passing you, the only thing you have to worry about is the herds of goats getting in your way. 🙂
6. Highland House Ruin – From 1685 until the local slaves were emancipated in 1834, the entire island was owned by the Codrington family and used as a hunting retreat, to grow food for plantations on Antigua, and to sell slaves. Their great house is now the Highland House Ruins and it is worth poking around the foundations of the various buildings in this compound.
5. Gravenors Bay – Another beautiful bay on the southern coast due to the coral and reefs. This is a great bay to weave your boat in behind some patch reefs and find even more seclusion. The bay is protected from the north swell and wind from the southeast and north. If you want to take the dinghy a mile or so further south there is a large reef to explore. Otherwise hop ashore and walk the trails among the scrub bush and wild sage.
4. The Highlands – A few paragraphs ago I said Barbuda is flat and that is true…except for the Highland, which is a large oval area that is jutted up around 115 feet. From a distance I simply found the geology and topography very interesting. On top it is as flat as the rest of the island and home to the next two entries.
3. Two Foot Bay Caves – A couple miles along the road heading east from Codrington you will come to Two Foot Bay. The beach is nice, but wild. Due to it being on the windward side of the island, my favorite part of this area is the caves. There is one cave called the Indian Cave that has a sand bottom, holes in the ceiling for light, and some cool rock formations. One of the formations looks like a giant skull you can enter. Another cave is a bit higher up the cliff forming the Highland and provides a great view out to sea. My favorite of the caves is an angled shaft that takes you from the beach up to the top of the Highland. Incredible!
2. Darby Sinkhole – The Highlands is a hot and scrub brush filled arid plateau, but in the middle is a sinkhole filled with palm trees. There is no way you are going to find this gem without a local guide, but it is worth it for the view across the hole. Going down into the sinkhole is otherworldly and feels as if you are entering The Lost World. All around the rim is a 60+ foot cliff protecting this oasis.
1. Frigate Bird Colony – When you add the largest frigate bird colony in the Caribbean with a remote island you get a must-see location. It is against the rules to go without a local guide, so we had Mr. George take us to the far end of the lagoon to see these amazing birds. He informed us of several facts. First, the males have a large football size red sack under their throats they use to court mates. Second, the young males and females are indistinguishable until their second year when the males’ heads change from white to black. Third, they cannot land on the water, so they usually steal fish from other species of birds.
Captain Shane & Lily are currently in the Western Caribbean checking out the north coast of Panama from the canal to historic forts to the San Blas Islands. Join the adventure at svGuidingLight on the web or social media!