Barbuda

I go to sleep on Antigua time and still keep waking up on London time. By the time I get used to the time difference I will be back home.

Yesterday our trip took us to Barbuda, Antigua’s tiny sister island. Situated 28 miles from Antigua, Barbuda used to be one of Princess Diana’s favourite hideaway places. An island still unspoilt, with a population of 1,600 and miles of sandy beaches. The journey takes an hour and a half on the catamaran. You can take the express ferry to make the trip or catch a flight, but tourists mainly take the catamaran trip. The trip is not suitable for babies and only available on Fridays. This week Friday is a public holiday for Antigua, it being VC Bird day, in honour of the late former prime minister, whose birthday was on the 9 December. When the tour guide mentioned pink sandy beaches, I was intrigued and had to check it out.

The taxi picked us up at 830 and took us to St John’s harbour a few minutes drive from the resort. We are early, but it also gives us enough chance to pick a good space in the shade for our trip. The trip got underway at 930 and after a brief stop to pick up more passengers at Dickenson bay, we finally got going. It certainly was a choppy ride. By 1130 we reach Barbuda and the catamaran docks and lets us out for a swim.

The sea is a bright shade of jade, set against a blue sky, the sands, a dull shade of pink, and the water is invitingly cool. The perfect beach you can imagine. The water is not crystal clear and I wonder if it was because the catamaran stirred up the sand as it docked, but this doesn’t deter me from having my best swim ever in the Caribbean seas. As I took a break from my swim and sat on the wet sand, I found out the reason for the pink hue. Tiny broken pieces of bright pink coral, which glistens in the sunshine.

Soon it’s time for lunch and we get called back into the boat. After lunch, those who were interested were taken to see the largest frigate bird colony in the world. It is situated in the lagoon and only accessible by small boats. We were told to just take the towel and cameras with us.

Frigate birds are the national birds of Antigua and protected. Birds with the largest wingspan in proportion to their body size. They wander widely in the Caribbean, but come back to the Codrington lagoon to nest every year. The mangroves offer a safe place for the birds. December is their peak mating season and the males are distinguished by their red throat pouches which they blow up to attract the females or when they get aggressive. Our guide gives us a short talk about the birds and after photo stops we are on our way back. The towel comes in handy, to shield us from the bird droppings, which just misses us and the water sprays as the jet engine hits the water. Our towel is soaked by the time we get back.

We wait for those who didn’t make the trip to finish off their swim and soon we head back. I make friends with a retired Canadian teacher sitting next to me. She and her husband are here for five weeks. They usually go on long breaks and we share our Caribbean stories.

The St Johns harbour is a colourful and pretty sight. I didn’t notice it on my way out in the morning. I guess I was looking forward to the pink sandy beach that I didn’t take much notice of this vibrant harbour as we departed this morning. So another day over and tomorrow we do the catamaran trip again, this time for a gentler ride around the island.

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