Family Vacations to Barbuda

Family Overview - Barbuda
Barbuda's claims some of the most pristine beaches in the Caribbean (Erika Hunter Lloyd)

Barbuda Family Travel Tips

  • See local fishermen sorting their catch in the harbor.
  • Picnic on one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches.
  • Stroll deserted soft-sand beaches laced with tiny pink shells.
  • Watch graceful frigate birds circle and swoop down to feed their young.
  • Explore the cliffs and caves of Two Foot Bay.

An 18-minute flight, or three-hour ferry ride, takes passengers from Antigua to its sister island Barbuda. A required day trip for beach aficionados, bird lovers, fishing enthusiasts, and those who want a glimpse of the unspoiled Caribbean, Barbuda caters to seekers of sun, sand, and seclusion. With merely three major hotels (all upscale), a handful of guest cottages, and a population of 1,500 to 2,000 people, the island remains relatively untouched by the outside world. Most Barbudans live in or near Codrington, the major town, and fish for a living. Stroll by the dock in late morning to watch the fishermen sort grouper, tiger fish, and lobster as seagulls swarm above the boats.

The Frigate Bird Sanctuary, situated on the island's northwestern lagoon, provides a home for about 5,000 birds—the largest frigate bird colony in the Caribbean. Fregata magnificens, with wing spans up to eight feet and finely-honed flight skills, nest here. These pirates of the air harass pelicans, egrets, and less-capable birds until they drop their catch. Then the frigates swoop in and steal the other bird's food, thus their colloquial name, "man-o-war bird." From a boat, watch these giants land in the dense mangroves to feed their screeching young. In mating season, mid-August to November, the males puff out their scarlet neck pouches to the size of balloons to attract females.

Barbuda's beaches, especially those on the Caribbean side, are pristine, nearly deserted, powder-soft sands. Palmetto Beach, or 17-Mile Beach, is easily one of the Caribbean's most beautiful. Millions of rosy shells brought by the afternoon tide lace the shores with ribbons of pink hues. While the sands are beautiful, be cautious in the sea, as even calm waters may have strong currents. Before swimming anywhere, even on Palmetto Beach, ask your local guide if it's safe and always swim with a buddy. White Bay Beach, on the southeast side of the island, has relatively calm waters due to a nearby barrier reef. Along with no footprints, most beaches on Barbuda offer no snack bars or bathrooms. Therefore, bring a picnic lunch and lots of water, or stop first at a local restaurant for take-out food.

Guides may also take you to explore the cliffs and caves of Two Foot Bay, a national park. Brown sand, barrel cactus, crashing waves, and 140-foot rock ledges characterize the area.

Tip: Ahead of time, book a flight and a guide with access to a boat and a car. Some tour guides include Paradise Tours Barbuda, Lynton Thomas (268.773.9957); D & J Forwarders and Tours (268.464.9453; 268.728.0773); Byron Askie, owner of the Green Door Tavern (Green Door Tavern, 268.562.3134; cell, 268.773.6082); Mcarthur Nedd offers day trips and fishing trips, and he and his wife operate a guest house (268.460.0059 or 268.724.7490).
('s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 26 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 9 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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