THE ISLAND OF BARBUDA
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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
More information on Barbuda is available from barbudaful.net
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.
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