This flat, 62-square-mile (161-square-km) coral atoll—with 17 miles (27 km) of gleaming white-sand beaches (sand is the island's main export)—is 26 miles (42 km) north of Antigua. Most of Barbuda's 1,200 people live in Codrington. Nesting terns, turtles, and frigate birds outnumber residents at least 10 to 1. Goats, guinea fowl, deer, and wild boar roam the roads, all fair game for local kitchens. There are a few very basic efficiencies and guesthouses, but most visitors stay overnight at the deluxe Coco Point Lodge or Lighthouse Bay (two other glam properties have closed). Pink Beach lures beachcombers, a bird sanctuary attracts ornithologists, caves and sinkholes filled with rain forest or underground pools (containing rare, even unique crustacean species) attract spelunkers, and reefs and roughly 200 offshore wrecks draw divers and snorkelers. Barbuda's sole historic ruin is the 18th-century, cylindrical, 56-foot-tall Martello Tower, which was probably a lighthouse built by the Spaniards before English occupation. The Frigate Bird Sanctuary, a wide mangrove-filled lagoon, is home to an estimated 400 species of birds, including frigate birds with 8-foot wingspans. Your hotel can make arrangements.
It's reachable by plane on ABM Air (www.abm-air.com)and by boat, the Barbuda Express (www.antiguaferries.com), although the 95-minute ride is extremely bumpy ("a chiropractor's nightmare—or fantasy," quipped one passenger).