With a population of less than 1,500 people and only two open hotels on the island, Barbuda is one of the last islands in the Caribbean that allows tourists to really get a feel for what life on an unspoiled, underdeveloped tropical island is like. Because of the quiet nature of the island, planning your transportation to and on the island will be a little different than what you might expect.
To get to this island, you'll need to book a flight that will originate from Barbuda's sister island of Antigua, or you can sail yourself. In truth, most people who visit do so for just a few hours and get to the island via ferry, which you can read about here.
Transportation around Barbuda is typically provided to guests by the hotels they stay at, but if you're visiting on a day trip you'll want to know how else to get around. Bikes can be rented by GW Bikes, and taxis are another popular way to see the sites. Don't count on rental cars or buses to get you around on this island, but do count on a ferry to get you between Barbuda and Antigua.
There is a small airport on Barbuda called Codrington Airport (BBQ) which only sees a small amount of air traffic from V.C. Bird International Airport on Antigua, as well as chartered flights. Though charters can fly in from around the world, they typically originate in Antigua as well. Service with is irregular, and you may be better off allowing your hotel to arrange helicopter service for you. Flights last about 15 minutes from start to finish. Take a moment to review all of your options by reading this comprehensive guide to Barbuda Air Travel.
...service is irregular...
Sailing to Barbuda is not for the casual sailor. The waters are so flat that it is hard to see the coral reef until you are right up on them, and that is why there are over 200 wrecks that surround the tiny island. If you've got the skills to handle these perilous conditions, it is still in your best interest to get in touch with someone on the island for advice. There are no marinas on Barbuda, but you'll find anchorage opportunities at Coco Point and Spanish Point on the south coast, Low Bay and River Wharf on the West Coast.
When you arrive, you'll need to go through the Port Authority, Customs, and Immigration in the Village Wharf in order to gain clearance. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. To 4:30 p.m., but officials will be willing to meet with you on off hours if you call in advance and let them know when you'll be arriving. Learn more about the process here.
Rental cars are extremely hard to come by on Barbuda, and for the most part are completely unnecessary. The cost of maintaining a vehicle on the island simply makes it too expensive to make a rental car agency a feasible option. If you do happen upon someone who will hire a car out to you, information for which you can look up by clicking here, you'll need to have a local license in your name in order to drive, which you can buy on the island.
Taxis are typically found by the airport or the wharf, as drivers await arrivals. Drivers are a great source of knowledge about the island, and many times tourists end up hiring them to drive them around for the day on a tour of the area. Rates are set in advance by the Barbuda Council, so make sure to ask your driver to see the rate card before you take off. You can also get an idea of what it will cost you to hail a cab by reading all about taxis on Barbuda here.
The island of Barbuda is so small that a public bus system isn't really necessary. Instead, there is a privately owned collection of minivans that offer transportation around Cordington for less than $2(USD) depending on where you want to go.
The best way to get between Antigua and Barbuda for a day or overnight trip on either island is to take the Barbuda Express. The ferry leaves from Point Wharf in St. Johns, Antigua at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and returns from Barbuda at 3:45 p.m., making the journey in just an hour and a half. The cost is EC$110 one day or EC$220 round trip. You can call for more information about the ferry at 268-560-7989 in addition to reading our guide on the subject which can be found by clicking here.
Whether you'll be spending your entire vacation on the quiet island or you're planning a quick trip as part of your Antiguan getaway, it is important to know how you'll get to the island, and then how you'll get around when you arrive. Making your plans in advance will help you to avoid the extra stress of scrambling to find a ride at the last minute, something you should always want to avoid.
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