Barbuda’s miles of beaches remain unspoiled perhaps because it’s not terribly obvious how to get there, and even if you have some information about how to get there, getting ahold of the people you need to contact isn’t always easy. Having just returned from our trip to Barbuda and Antigua, let me offer our experience in traveling, and fill you in on your options for getting to Barbuda.
Step 1: Get to Antigua
Before you get to Barbuda, you need to get to Antigua (ANU), unless you have your own sailboat, in which case, what are you doing wasting your time reading this blog? Chart a course!
For those of us without our own boats or captains to sail us there (or our own personal jet), the first step is getting to Antigua. We fly out of Chicago, so American/US Airways and United are our airlines of choice, both which fly to Antigua. I have an AA credit card, and have earned many flights with frequent flyer miles (they add up fast!), so we chose American. From Chicago, you fly to Miami (a 3-hour flight), and then the flight from Miami to Antigua is 3-1/2 hours. It goes fast on the way out, because when the cloud cover is thin, the views are spectacular.
Hopefully, by the time you get to Antigua, the new airport terminal will be in operation. It is scheduled to open next month.
Step 2: Options to get to Barbuda
You have three options in getting to Barbuda: (1) helicopter, (2) ferry, or (3) small airplane. All have their advantages and disadvantages.
Getting to Barbuda by helicopter is the fastest (they could take us directly to our resort’s helicopter pad) and most scenic, but unfortunately, the most expensive way to get there. It is a 30-minute trip from Antigua to Lighthouse Bay Resort on Barbuda, but the round trip cost was $1900 USD. Ouch.
At the other end of the cost spectrum is the public ferry. Barbuda Express Ferry costs approximately $90 per person USD. The down side of the ferry is the time. It takes 90 minutes to get to Barbuda’s ferry dock, then you have a 20-minute ride to the lagoon dock in Codrington. That’s on top of the time it takes to get from the airport to Antigua’s ferry dock.
The third option is the one we chose. Although I am not a good flyer (I have been known to grip the handrests on occasion), I like little planes. You can see exactly what the pilot is doing, the navigation devices reassure you that you are on course and doing fine, and you are not that far off ground so the views are amazing. The plane, an 8-seater, makes the trip over in 15 minutes to Barbuda’s airport, BBQ (love that airport code!). Plus, the cost is just a little more than the ferry, at $111.12 USD per person. At less than $450 USD to take the four of us over, I couldn’t justify the extra $1500 USD for the helicopter.
There are only two downsides. First, you have to wait for the flight. It flies to Barbuda at 4pm, and back from Barbuda at 4:30pm. Our flight got into Antigua at about 1pm, so we had a couple hours of down time. The only other drawback is that because it is a small plane, they weigh everything – – including you! You have to step on a scale with your carryons. You can see the numbers, as can the agent, but luckily, it is not announced to others in the airport! I chose not to look.
The most difficult aspect of scheduling the flight was that the airline’s website was not working properly, which made me a bit uneasy. The flight is operated by SVG Air / ABM Air. Their website didn’t even show flights to Barbuda, and I could not make the reservations online. Just send an email to Renee Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her the flights you want, and she will confirm your reservation. She will send you a form to complete which you can email or fax back.
In case your flight to Antigua comes in too late to catch the 4pm flight to Barbuda, they have an 8am flight as well (returning from Barbuda at 8:30), so plan to stay a night in Antigua and fly out the next day.
Step 3: Getting around on Barbuda
Our next stop was Lighthouse Bay Resort, so they greeted us at the airport, drove us to the dock which was just a few blocks away, and then their boat took us to the resort, just across the lagoon (about 10 minutes or so). If you are headed elsewhere on the island and do not have a resort person greeting you, I would make arrangements with one of the taxi operators on Barbuda ahead of time. You can find their contact information on the barbudaful.net website here.
It was a long day for us. We traveled from our home to Chicago the night before the trip, which was itself a 2-hour drive. We flew out on the 5am flight to Miami, and arrived at our resort in Barbuda approximately 12 hours later. It was long, but not terribly long, and to arrive on that long stretch of unspoiled beach for sunset was worth the journey.
Want to see what the flight was really like? Watch our video of the journey from Antigua to Barbuda! As we take off, you can see the new airport terminal in Antigua. Watch as we pass over Maiden Island and Long Island (home to Rosewood’s Jumby Bay!). As we approach Barbuda, you can see the southernmost point and the beach along the west coast, before we cross over the lagoon to the airport in Codrington. Enjoy!
Stay tuned for more posts from Barbuda and Antigua. Next up, we take a look at the natural beauty of Barbuda!
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