Yesterday I took a day trip to Antigua’s sister isle, Barbuda. Barbuda is about 90 minutes away by boat (90 minutes of sheer torture, but more on that later) or 15 – 20 minutes (I think) if you fly.
The thing with sister islands and a lot of Caribbean islands have them, think St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is that the smaller islands (the little sister if you wish i.e the island named second) often receive a lot less attention than the main island. So, with camera in hand I boarded the aptly named ‘Barbuda Express’ with the sole aim of experiencing enough and taking enough photos to write this blog.
The journey began in one of those idyllic ways which I swear can only be found in the Caribbean. And, no, I’m not biased at all :). The sun was high in the sky, the ocean breeze all-embracing and Bob Marley crooned in the background. The only thing that was missing was a icy cold beer. Except, I’d have difficulties drinking it. That’s where the the picture perfect get-away ended. The boat was rocking! And not the slow, lazy ‘rock you to sleep’ sort of waves that I generally associate with boating in the Caribbean. I mean, the boat was Party Rocking in the a way that would make LMFAO proud.
Ninety minutes, two barf bag offers, two motion sickness pills and falling asleep on my friend’s shoulder later – we finally docked. Thankfully, I managed to not need that barf bag after all… but just barely.
We had a short tour lined up before we were to gather at a beach bar for a lobster lunch before a bit of swimming or lazing on the beach. Barbuda is tiny. This might sound slightly hilarious coming from an Antiguan since Antigua is tiny by definition when compared to islands like Jamaica or Trinidad. There’s really only one village, one pharmacy and one supermarket. Get this despite all of this there are seven churches and about sixteen rum shops (bars). Entirely possible to be a religious drunk here, I guess.
Here’s a fun fact: if you are born in Barbuda and you are ready to build a house you don’t have to buy land. I kid you not. You pick a spot that suits you and it is yours. The privilege does not extend to Antiguans though. I left feeling very disappointed about that.
Unlike a lot of Caribbean islands, Barbuda was not formed by volcanic activity but it rather a limestone island. I got enough photos of rocks to make a Geology major salivate. But, I won’t post them all here. Because it is a limestone island it is very flat (once again I know, hilarious coming from an Antiguan). Seriously though, its highest point is so flat I’m not sure that it classifies as a hill … what’s flatter than a hill anyway? A hillette? I jest. 🙂
First up on our tour were the Indian Caves. These Caves were inhabited by the Caribs and the Siboneys who were the first inhabitants of the island. It took a bit of amateur rock climbing for which my ballet flats were definitely not prepared but once there it was worth it.
Further into the first cave we came across some hieroglyphics dated back to the time the Caribs occupied the island. It is known to be from the Caribs as the same sort of drawings were found in Dominica and St. Vincent where Caribs are still present. There weren’t many of them left but I managed to get a snapshot of one.
From that particular cave we took the two minute walk to a second cave where we climbed into and up out of so that we could get a better view of the lagoon. On our way there we stumbled across some seaside grapes. Just like that, I was seven or eight again. Seaside grapes do, I guess sort of, taste like grapes hence the name. They are slightly more tart and the skin is a bit rougher. Growing up, a perfect day at the beach would involve hunting for crabs and searching for grapes ripe enough to eat.
Once my walk down memory lane and photo snapping were complete we got back into the taxi where we were driven to a small dock, ushered onto a speed boat and were off to the mangroves. Our mission should we chose to accept it was to view Antigua and Barbuda’s national bird (the Frigate Bird up close). Frigate birds, sometimes called the Man of War birds, are distinctive by the red pouch the males possess. The females remain in Barbuda year round whereas the males fly off typically to Key West, Florida after mating season. I know, I know… that sounds like the punch line to some joke about women being left holding the babies and men being foot loose and fancy free. I guess that since Frigate birds have the longest parental care duration amongst birds the joke might fit.
Twenty minutes off Barbuda is the Frigate Bird sanctuary where these birds nest and after another stomach shaking, clothes soaking adventure I got to see them up close.
After gawking at the birds it was time for lunch. I was so hungry at that point I neglected to take a photo. It was delicious though, the lobsters were huge and well worth the wait. We ate with our feet in the sand and Caribbean breezes about us (along with pesky sandflies) and washed down the lobster with freshly made Tamarind Juice. The life!
Barbuda’s claim to fame is its long deserted beaches. The restaurant we ate at was on Pink Sand Beach, one of Barbuda’s most popular beaches. The name wasn’t just pulled out of a hat mind you. If you walked long enough down the beach you’d find pink sand. I was too full and lazy to do that. Sorry, I know I’ve been holding out one you but I’ve managed to find photos to back up what I’m saying. What can I say? No need to leave you hanging.
After swimming it was time to catch the Barbuda Express back to Antigua. Going home was a lot less eventful – mainly because I was sprawled off in quite an unladylike fashion – ( I jest, I was quite the dainty lady 😉 ) on the seat. It was a fun day. Time moved slowly, life was simple and Barbuda was as expected – gorgeous.