Today was a whirlwind of action, starting at 5:30am when we woke up to get ready for our flight to the island of Barbuda. The Winair flight was uneventful, but it was my first flight on a DeHavilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter. Its a larger plane that it appears from the ground. The airport at Codrington, Barbuda is a small 3 room building adjacent to their small ramp, but they had quite the impressive fire engine for a four-flights-a-day strip. Once on the ground we set out to find a taxi rental, which was easier said than done in the off-season. However, its a very small community (population 1200) so it took no time for some locals to call around and find someone with a car to rent. We ended up with a Toyota RAV-4 and a great guide named "Glass" who, at one time was a widely-known Calypso artist named Golden Locks. Glass not only found us a car rental, he found us a place for breakfast and then provided the boat (his own) for a water tour of the Frigate Bird Sanctuary.


IMG_5240.jpgWhile it was not mating season (October) we did see a large number of juvenile Frigate Birds. The males, when in mating season, display a large, air-filled red sack on their throats to attract females.

Floating in BarbudaAfter visiting the sanctuary we got back to the car and headed off to find a beach. For shore snorkeling we were recommended Coco Point Beach and Spanish Point. We arrived at Coco Beach first. The beach access was at the end of a massive, but defunct resort called K-Club. The resort itself is at least a mile in length along an amazing arc of white sand and azure waters. The water here is the clearest water we have ever had the pleasure to swim in. The locals describe it as "gin clear". They even had good snorkeling to boot. It was in all aspects, a perfect beach. To make things even better, all 4 miles of the beach were completely and utterly deserted.


After sunning, tanning and snorkeling for about 2 hours we headed off to find the second recommended beach, Gravenor Beach and Spanish point. We drove down the road which gradually got worse and worse. The cutoff track to the actual beach was barely a road at all, merely a track on the solid rock. We eventually arrived and found that it was not nearly as nice as the previous beach, and we were still at least 3 miles from Spanish Point on dubious roads. So we bailed and backtracked to the west to find the reknowned "Pink Beach".


We overshot the drive and ended at the end of the road near the super-posh "The Beach House" resort (closed) and found the surf a bit rough. We called our friend Glass for directions to the Pink Beach and eventually found it. It was indeed a pale pink, but like the last stop, the surf was too strong and the water clarity was not that of Coco Beach. So we headed BACK to Coco Beach for another round of sun and snorkeling.


Snorkeling in BarbudaIt would have been a perfect day at the beach if it wasn't for Jenn and I succumbing to whopper headaches. It was a top 5 bad headache for me, so it made it very hard to enjoy this perfect beach. I managed to get another dose of snorkeling in.


We all felt that we had gotten our fill of sun, despite there still being a few hours left before our return flight to Antigua, but we decided we should explore Codrington. The heart of the island is the town, but it does not get a lot of tourist activity, as they tend to remain at the few resorts. We found the town quite nice, and everyone we encountered was extremely friendly. We had some early dinner of fried chicken, cheeseburger and barbeque chicken and ate it at the wharf. We then went on a mission for cool, fresh juice and/or ice cream, but were unsuccessful in our endeavor. It is just too hard to come by during the off season. We ended up snacking at a nice little restaurant adjacent to the airport.


The return flight was uneventful.



Just some postscript:



The night prior to the flight, I was preparing all of my camera gear, including my old Coolpix 885 digital camera. This is the only camera I have that is equipped with an underwater housing. Its been a great little camera, having been snorkeling on 2 cruises, Costa Rica and Belize, and now, two trips to Antigua. It did suffer a small leak on the second cruise which has led to slightly odd behavior ever since then (sort of like it had a stroke and now has some lingering issues). Anyways, I found that none of the three batteries I brought for it worked. I think the heat of the car trunk and sitting in the camera bag on the beach destroyed their internals (though my canon batteries seem to be fine). So I was pretty upset that I was going to the epic snorkeling destination of our trip and I would be without a camera (for some reason, for me, snorkeling without a camera just isn't the same). So I resigned to the fact the camera was essentially dead. The next morning I had a brainstorm: would my new Sony Cyber-shot point and shoot fit and work in the Coolpix case? So I stuck it in there, and holy cow, by some twist of fate, it fit, and the shutter release button actually worked! I had to hold the smaller camera in with some wadding, but it looks like it would work. The Sony even has custom white balance settings specifically for underwater use. Shazam. So I got to test my hack at Coco beach, and it worked. Worked great in fact. I need to tune the settings, but its nice to know that I don't have to re-invest in a underwater housing for the Sony.



Another interesting postscript. The airport code for Barbudas airport is "BBQ". How awesome is that? I flew from Antigua to BBQ and back? Which is better than the flight to St. Maarten which was printed on my boarding pass as "ANUSXM".



Oh, and what is up with the title of this blog post? Just about every single prepared snack or canned/bottled drink we've consumed while we are here was manufactured in Trinidad and Tobago. Chips, cookies, juices, sodas, you name it. They are the snack monopoly of the west indies. I must visit Trinidad.