Welcome to Barbuda. It's the part of Antigua and Barbuda that no one really seems to bother about. There are three ways to get to Barbuda from Antigua. You can fly by helicopter directly to one of the handful of resorts on the island. You can go by small plane to the airport which is a sandy strip in the middle of the island, or you can travel by boat. If you choose the latter this is where you'll arrive - the island's main dock. It tells you much of what you need to know and what you should expect to find on Barbuda -- mainly, not much of anything but island.
The first thing you're likely to see after the dock is the Martello Tower. It's a grand name but again, not too much here really. This was maybe garrisoned once briefly but it's sort of unclear. Barbuda's history is one primarily of pirates and failed attempts at agriculture.
Codrington is the capital town of Barbuda. Actually it is the town. You can't really miss it because the road goes through it. There is a small grocery, a pharmacy and a handful of eating establishments as well as a fickle gas station (the only one on the island).
When the road ends in Codrington you're at the lagoon. Most of the western half of Barbuda is inland salt lagoon protected from the ocean by a very thin strip of spectacular pink sand beaches. The lagoon is large but very shallow.
If you're in the lagoon, you've probably come to either fish or see the frigate bird sanctuary. The sanctuary is full of frigate birds. Like really really full of them. Every mangrove tree in the area is forced to support its own weight in nesting frigate birds and frigate bird chicks.
This is quite seriously a very impressive sight. Many people we talked to felt that a trip to Barbuda was four hours of vomiting (the ferry crossing can be rough) and the rest of the time was heat exhaustion. Even these people lauded the frigate bird sanctuary.
If you like remote islands and don't mind some rough seas there is actually a lot to see here. Two Foot Bay National Park covers the northeast coast of the island. The road going in is pretty amazing and looks like this.
Mostly there is just more isolated beach here but there are some impressive caves in the cliffs just inland. The rocks here are jagged and sharp and not suitable for beach footwear so if you're planning inland hiking on Barbuda, bring better shoes.
We climbed through a cave to get to the plateau up above two foot bay from where there are spectacular views of the beaches and the offshore reefs.
Apart from Two Foot Bay and the frigate birds the main thing to do on Barbuda is beach-related. This remarkable white sand beach is actually just down from the dock (you can see it in the distance). The water here was a touch rougher than at Dickenson Bay back on Antigua but it has the same ultrafine sand.
You can stay overnight on Barbuda of course. There are a couple of resort properties (most with three-night minimum stays) and a handful of small inns and rooms for rent in the Codrington area. We did not stay overnight, we used the Barbuda Express ferry to day trip to the island and since that left us 5 hours on Barbuda, we joined a tour in order to see as much as possible. If you chose not to go with a tour travel around the island may be a bit tricky. There is really only one road but there aren't many vehicles. On the other hand, distances are small. It's only a few km from the dock to the center of Codrington.