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Antigua & Barbuda

Barbuda
 Barbuda, Antigua's "sister island" as they together form the state of Antigua and Barbuda, lies about 45 km to the North of Antigua and has about 1,500 inhabitants on an area of about 140 sq km. Most of them live in the village of Codrington and do not really feel "part of Antigua and Barbuda". 
A travel guide I've read says that Barbuda is "one of the very few Leeward Islands that Columbus did not discover". It is unclear to me how one could discover Antigua and not Barbuda, but maybe the visibility was bad and he was in a hurry. 

Barbuda is practically a wildlife resort because the population density is so low. There are only a few hotels/resorts (the late Princess of Wales is said to have spent some time there). The long, sandy beaches are protected by reefs which are littered by "a few centuries' worth of shipwrecks" 
There really are no attractions of note on Barbuda - you go there for a quiet and undisturbed swim (or snorkelling, or sunbathing) - although the occasional ruin bears witness to past fighting. The highest point in the "North-Eastern Highlands" is a majestic 125 feet, but there's also a natural cave 400 feet under ground, and several sink holes of interest to tourists and botanists alike - a few plant species are reportedly world-exclusive to this little island!  The most prominent inhabitant of Barbuda is the Frigate Bird; the island is home to the largest colony in the world. There's a Nature Reserve in a lagoon not far from the airport, and while there's not really a "scheduled" boat service, local fishermen are used to ferrying tourists around that for a fixed price (which, as far as I remember, is rather high - in the region of US$ 20 per person). 

There is a daily flight to Barbuda from Antigua, so you can go there on your own, but be sure to book ahead because there are less than 20 seats on the plane. The travel time is about 15 minutes. There's no scheduled boat service but I guess a few US dollars will easily persuade a fisherman to take you there if you want; that would then probably be a journey of about 2 hours. - If you wander into the village from the airport, you'll find a little café, and you can ask around for transport and/or accommodation.

Antiguans claim to have a different beach for every day of the year and their island's many beautiful soft, sandy beaches and coves certainly constitute its main attraction. This is where people come to relax and luxuriate in clear water that sparkles under hot sun. Low-lying and volcanic in origin, Antigua & Barbuda form part of the Leeward Islands group in the northeast Caribbean and have certainly adopted the notoriously 'Caribbean' way of life: this is a place to take things easy, to stroll around markets, gulp the fresh juices of coconuts and pineapple, and to meet friendly locals with plenty of anecdotes. 

Unsurprisingly, Antigua & Barbuda's way of life is governed by water, and any visitor will find that their stay is too. The ocean is crammed with crustaceans and tropical fish and offers huge scope for watersports. Those in-the-know will flock to Nelson's Dockyard in the English Harbour, which is at the forefront of Antigua & Barbuda's vast yachting and sailing scene.

Unlikely, but should you grow weary of Antigua & Barbuda's nautically-themed activities, the area also abounds with colourful bird and insect life. Barbuda is an unspoiled natural haven for wild deer and exotic birds and boasts the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. There are also national parks and blow holes to discover, including, of course, the Devil's Bridge, a natural phenomenon crafted by the colliding of Atlantic and Caribbean surf.

Antiguans are proud of their human history too, especially as it documents their release from colonisation, slavery and sugar plantations. This keenness to remember emancipation is apparent as towns proudly proclaim names such as Liberta and Freetown. Dow's Hill Interpretation Centre ensures visitors are also aware of the economic problems that catapulted the independence movement during the 20th century. In recent years, leadership has been dogged with allegations of corruption, and parts of Antigua are still devastated by the legacy of Hurricane Louis in 1995.
However, you will not find many Antiguans brooding on such difficulties. Neither should any visitor: instead, they should relax beneath a brilliant Caribbean sunset whilst quaffing rum punch or ice-cold fruit juice. Shirley Heights is the epicentre of all nighttime activity. With amazing views of the ocean, local music and a sizzling barbeque, this is where you dance the night away. Just as St John's Cathedral has had many incarnations over the years because of reconstruction, the persistent will find that Antigua & Barbuda has just as many incarnations as a destination. 

Harrison's Cave
- It is believed that Harrison’s Cave is the only cave in the world where running water is found along with colour crystal-like formations. The cave has large chambers, stalagmites, stalactites, lakes, streams and waterfalls.
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