Barbuda & Antigua

I wanted to go to Barbuda the first time I went to Antigua in 2012, but the ferry was broken down and Barbuda wasn’t accessible within the 5 days I was there. Then hurricane Irma screwed things up in 2017 so badly that Barbuda was completely deserted for months. The island was in shambles, everyone had evacuated, and noone was sure if it or when it would get rebuilt.

Two Foot Bay Cave

Now in 2020 people have returned home, rebuilt their 300 roofs that blew away, and some still have the emergency shelter tents provided by the US government… I guess as it works well as a spare room. I finally got to go there on a new ferry that sails from the end of the airport, and booked a day tour to get from A to B and on a boat to the bird sanctuary without a headache.

Frigate Bird Sanctuary

We went to the Frigate bird sanctuary to see the puffy red necks, one guy got shat on, visited a pink beach at the edge of the lagoon and another guy lost his sand-coloured flip-flops. We went to some old caves and Two Foot Bay, had lobster lunch on the beach, and ended our day at Princess Diana beach, also slightly pink, beside an ocean so blue no picture could do it justice.

the perfect beaches were endless in Barbuda

Im glad I made it to Barbuda, but Im happier that everyone else that calls its a home made it back first. Its also great they’ve opened their lives to tourism again, slowly building up with the return of ferries and flights. I hope the wild donkeys and dirt roads never change, but that everyone gets to finish rebuilding their homes. I’ll certainly come back, for the peace and quiet, and wouldn’t mind keeping those beaches to myself next time either.

Montserrat: The Pompeii of the Caribbean

Like Saba, Montserrat is also very green, and used to be known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean. But since the 1995 eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano, the airport and port town of Plymouth were buried in ash and turned into a modern Pompeii. The capital city was abandoned, much of the island was evacuated, but 19 lost their lives, and hundreds upon hundreds of buildings were either buried under ash or washed away with one of many pyroclastic flows, which kept occurring until as recently as 2009.

the panoramic view of Soufriere Hills from the Volcano Observatory

So why would a tourist want to go there? Well for one, I´m Icelandic and we have volcanic eruptions all the time, so that wasn´t a deterrent. Secondly, driving around Plymouth (which requires an escort and police clearance) was tons more moving than Pompeii – these were people´s homes that are still alive today!

black sand tropical beach

I was supposed to take a ferry to Montserrat from Antigua, but the one day I had booked they decided to dock the ferry for maintenance. I was lucky enough to have pre-booked, so they offered to fly me instead, in a charter, and I was only one of 4 passengers going out to John A. Osborne airport, newly built in 2005 to replace the devastated Plymouth airport. I was even luckier flying back – as the only passenger in an 8 seater plane, I got to play copilot instead!

I helped fly myself back to Antigua

I walked down to Brades and Little Bay, saw black sand beaches that reminded me of home, then hitchhiked south to the Montserrat Volcano observatory. There I met a couple of nice Americans that invited me to Plymouth – all I had to do was add my name to the police registry when passing the no-travel zone!

A building still visible in Plymouth

We saw an abandoned hotel, what was left of the grocery store, and the new harbour they´ve built to export sand. The economy still relies heavily on British aid, but the future is bright: green energy from Icelandic technology should tap into the island´s geothermal power by 2024, and tourism has started increasing again. The mountainous hiking and black beaches around the island are still an attraction, although Soufriere is still an active volcano. Some daredevils have even rebuilt their homes in the no-go zone, because who knows, maybe it will be dormant for another 2 or 3 hundred years, as it was before 1995.