6 things you must do on Barbuda

1. Visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary

A male frigate bird on Barbuda (Shutterstock)

Codrington Lagoon on Barbuda is home to one of the largest frigate bird colonies in the world. Each year up to 10,000 of these magnificent birds descend upon the mangrove swamp here to mate, nest and rear their young.

Known as the pirates of the seas, frigate birds have a wingspan of over seven feet and are incredibly garrulous and colourful.

The lagoon was declared a national park in 2005 and can reached by small boat and in the company of a guide. The best time to visit is between October and December when the birds are mating and the males inflate their extraordinarily bright red gullets to attract a partner.

Hurricane Irma destroyed much of the sanctuary, but the mangroves have recovered and the birds have returned. Keep an eye out for the random shipping container, picked up by the hurricane on another part of the island, and tossed right into the middle of the reserve.

2. Stroll along Princess Diana Beach

Princess Diana Beach. Deserted. As Usual. (Simply Antigua Barbuda/Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority)

When Princess Diana wanted to truly escape the world, she went to Barbuda. It was famously her favourite place to holiday, and one place in particular captured her heart: Coco Point Beach.

Regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, it is also one of the most secluded. Here, away from the relentless paparazzi, the Princess found peace. On July 1, 2011, on what would have been her 50th birthday, it was rechristened Princess Diana Beach.

Today, the beach is just as deserted and secluded. At certain times of the year, thousands of tiny pink shells wash up, giving the sand a royal, rosy blush.

3. Chow down at Robert DeNiro’s restaurant

Robert De Niro is waiting (noburestaurants.com)

Robert De Niro once dropped by Barbuda on day trip from Antigua. Legend has it that he asked the boat’s crew to stop on a particular stretch of sand while he went ashore. Thirty years later, he returned and now that same stretch of sand is home to his restaurant, The Nobu Beach Inn.

The Nobu Beach Inn is only open during the day, from Wednesdays to Sundays. It has the feel of a hideaway but is run to Nobu’s exacting standards. It has quickly become one of the world’s hottest restaurants, with guests sailing in from all over the Caribbean to sample the miso black cod and locally sourced sushi.

If you need to ask the price, you can’t afford it. But the food is truly exceptional. And if you’re really, really lucky, Robert De Niro might be waiting. He may even be talking Italian.

4. Explore Indian Cave at Two Foot Bay

The view from Indian Cave (Alamy)

The history of human settlement on Barbuda dates well before colonial times. Columbus found Arawak and Carib Indians living here when he landed on his second voyage in 1493. But there is also evidence of pre-Arawakan settlements dating back to the Stone Age.

Indian Cave on Two Foot Bay, in the northeast Barbuda, is the most accessible Neolithic cave to visit on the island. It has spectacular views across the turquoise seas as well as two Arawak Indian rock-carved petroglyphs. There are three chambers, including one filled with thousands of bats called, you guessed it, the Bat Chamber.

It is probably best that you visit with a guide, if only to avoid accidentally waking the cave’s local residents.

5. Conquer Martello Tower

Martello Tower (Alamy)

Located about five kilometres south of the town of Codrington, Martello Tower is the most intact historic sight on Barbuda. Squat and imposing, this 56-foot-high tower features thick walls and a raised gun platform.

The tower is all that remains of a 19th century British fort originally built to protect Barbuda’s first harbour, River Landing. It is the highest building on Barbuda and a popular site for weddings.

Time your visit right and you might be invited along as a guest. Or at least feature in some of the wedding photos.

6. Head to the highlands

Welcome to the highlands (Visual Echo/Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority)

Running along the east side of the island, the ‘highlands’ are the wildest and least developed part of the island. Fallow deer, first introduced by the Codringtons, roam free here, as do wild boars. This is where you’ll find the island’s famous red-footed tortoises and endangered whistling ducks.

As with everything on Barbuda, the term ‘highlands’ is relative. You won’t be scaling any great heights as you explore the coastline here. The ruins of Highland House, known locally as ‘Willybob’, mark the highest point on the island, barely 120 metres above sea level. But you will have this patch of paradise pretty much to yourself.

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