Barbuda: the last Caribbean wilderness

By Claire Frank, a Travel Professional

Read more on Antigua and Barbuda.

Overall rating:4.7 out of 5 (based on 9 votes)
Enjoyable
4.555555
4.6
Useful
4.666665
4.7
Inspirational
4.444445
4.4
Recommended for:
Beach, Cultural, Eco, Expensive

Barbuda isn't an easy island to get to - but if you want to see how the Caribbean was before tourism took over, book your flights now and be blown away by the most beautiful beaches in the world.

It is an effort to get to Barbuda. The flights are always busy so you can’t get a seat; the plane is late some days and early others; they leave your luggage behind; the ferry is for the impoverished or foolhardy. The three shops are expensive and there is nowhere affordable to stay on the beach. For these and other reasons Barbuda still only has a handful of visitors a year.

The determined traveller, usually someone who has been to most of the Caribbean islands and is crossing them off their list one by one, will find a way to get here. And yacht people who have the experience to get through the dangerous reefs that have wrecked boats off Barbuda’s shores for centuries will make it.  But that is about all. Unlike its sister island Antigua, there is no mass tourism here.

Barbuda is a large space with a few people in it. The village of Codrington is the centre of any activity and it is here all fourteen hundred or so residents live. Along the coast three hotels, two of them closed and up for sale, bring in a few more visitors each season but this is hardly noticed in the village - except for a few weeks' work as a chambermaid or barman, it barely makes any difference to a Barbudan. The few guests rarely venture into the village except to visit the Magnificent Frigate Bird colony by boat on the lagoon, and the old ways still exist: fishing, hunting, growing vegetables and raising animals are a part of local life. Beaches are for pulling up the boat, not for lying around on.

Visitors to Barbuda usually fall into two categories: people who say, ‘It’s rubbish - there's nothing there,’ and people who say, ‘It’s fantastic - there's nothing there.’ If it's natural beaches you're looking for, Barbuda’s are second to none. If it's bars on beaches you're looking for - go somewhere else. The beauty of this island is in its natural state – no one wants to braid your hair on the beach, or take you in a taxi ‘on safari’ or sell you a T shirt or a coconut leaf hat. People smile and say hello and if they short-change you in the shop they run after you in the street to give it back.  If you stay in the village in a local guesthouse (US $75 - $100 per night) it will introduce you straight away to the life of the island, and if the owner happens to be having a party you are sure to be invited.

The downside of this is that some of the facilities that visitors have come to expect on their holiday are not always available. Hire cars are expensive and limited. There are often shortages of everyday things and power cuts that leave you with no water in the shower, covered in soap.  But if you want to see how the Caribbean was before tourism took over, book your flight, be patient with the airline, don’t worry about your luggage and make the effort to get to Barbuda.

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More information on Barbuda: the last Caribbean wilderness:

Author:
Claire Frank
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
Guide rating:
4.666665
Average: 4.7 (9 votes)
Total views:
418
First uploaded:
8 December 2008
Last updated:
1 year 4 weeks 4 days 23 hours 38 min 46 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Beach, Cultural, Eco
Budget level:
Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
beaches, nature, eco-tourism, independent travel

Claire recommends

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1. Coco Point Lodge
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2. Lighthouse Bay
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Community comments (10)

0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Visited again recently - not much has changed - just as beautiful and worth the effort.

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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I have visited Barbuda in the past. Reading Claires article brought back great memories. Claire tells you how it is with no frills attatched. The island is a beutiful unspoilt paradice and you should go out of your way to visit it. There are little enough places untouched by tourism that you can afford to miss this one.

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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Claire writes interesting reviews, that you feel are honest and insightful. Not the usual, which makes a nice change. Very helpful

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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Enjoyed reading this!

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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I visited Barbuda 10 years ago with my family and was overjoyed to read that very little has changed on the island. My children still talk of the friends they made and the many adventures they experienced. Ones that have never quite been matched by subsequent camping holidays in Wales.

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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Such a good description of an unusual destination. I have been on several occasions and the amazing thing is that when you go a second or third time the Barbudans remember you and welcome you as one of their own!

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4
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I have recently travelled to Barbuda and this is exactly how it is. It is true Barbuda has natural beauty, its beaches are untouched. The people are very friendly but there aren't very many places to stay. Worth the effort.

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1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

A very honest guide to the island written by someone who has good knowledge and a love of the island. I would like a little more info on the places to stay,food and ways of travelling around the island.

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2 of 2 people found the following comment helpful.

Barbuda is a very small island but has great wildlife and beaches. Many people are put off by the lack of facilities but it is a great place to embrace the simple life and for children to run free. It may be a little expensive but it is the perfect place to really get a feel for the caribbean.

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2 of 2 people found the following comment helpful.

Looks and sounds fantastic. When can I go?!

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