Having heard and read about the less populated and remote island of Barbuda, we were curious and sailed the 40 nautical miles north from Antigua. Compared to the other Leeward Islands Barbuda is very flat. We could not see land until we were about 5 miles near shore and it first looked like palm trees are growing out of the water before we could identify the beach. Being surrounded by many shallow and sometimes uncharted reefs we always had one of us on the lookout at the bow.
The first days we spent at Cocoa Point, which is a beautiful long sandy beach that invites for long walks. We celebrated Daniel´s birthday by snorkeling the nearby beautiful reefs which are full of marine life. Many big turtles roam around the boats occassionally surface to breath out loudly and wild horses and donkeys graze along the shoreline. When we were snorkeling and admiring the underwater world near the reef, we spotted a few barracudas. One of them decided to follow us slowly at a safe distance all the way back to the dinghy. It made us uneasy first but after some research we understood that this is a common behaviour of these curious creatures and rarely results in attacks if you do not provoke it. The wild feel to this part of the island unfortunately is being slowly impacted by quickly raised luxurious holiday resorts financed by foreign investors. From the boat we could hear and see the construction worker day and night. So far this has been one of the untouched cruising destinations you usually only visit by boat but who knows how long it will stay like this.
Next we sailed to Low Bay at the westside of the island to pick up Aubrey, our crew mate for the next weeks. Codrington, the only town on the island inhabited by ca. 1500 people and many free roaming horses, donkeys and goats can be reached by dinghy since hurricane Irma breached the sandbank and created a shallow opening into the lagoon. We did not see many frigate birds, which supposably live in a large colony near the lagoon. Having seen the rather high prices of local guided tours, we decided not to book one but to explore the island ourselves.
So we put on our hiking shoes (which we definitely were not used to anymore judging by our blisters the next day) and started walking to find the caves we previously read about. Asking locals in town for help only resulted in very vague and even wrong directions and mostly we sensed their disapproval for us walking so far. So we decided to take the main dirt road to the east coast of the island, which was a 5 km hike through a beautiful, rugged landscape. We ended up in Two Foot Bay and even found a little picturesque cave that we could climb up onto the flat top of the so called highlands, which raise to about 125 feet at the highest point. From here we looked for, but did not find the path leading to the mysterious Darby sinkhole so we decided to walk back the way we came. When we arrived at the crossroads where we suspected the path to the sinkhole based on satellite images, however, we decided to call it a day, get cold drinks and enjoy sunset and a bonfire at the beach with the other cruisers.
The night turned out to be a lot of fun. The group was a random mix of cruising families (some of which we have met before in Antigua), a young charter crew, and us. As always a lot of interesting and funny stories were shared, friendships made and cruising knowledge exchanged.
The next day we again sailed to the southern tip of the island and anchored in Spanish Point where we saw the clearest water so far. The reef next to the anchorage was full of fish and other marine life making it an excellent snorkeling spot.
Barbuda was definitely worth the visit and we enjoyed the different atmosphere and landscape the island offered compared to Antigua.