Destination guides: Great Bird Island, Antigua
Perfectly embodying the dream image of a tropical paradise, Great Bird Island is one of Antigua’s numerous offshore islets, situated 3 kilometers North-East of the mainland. Although privately owned (by a British businessman), the 20 acres islet is open to the public and visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year who come here for various reasons: the rich fauna and flora, the bright and colorful coral reef barrier surrounding the island and the tropical fish species living in the turquoise waters that caress its sandy white beaches, the quietness of this secluded heaven and the dramatic landscapes.
However, only a few of the tourists putting their step on the island remain overnight as the accommodation possibilities are extremely scarce. The 24 bungalows of Bird Island Lodge distinguish themselves by the high quality services provided in total simplicity and with a profound respect for the environment. Although the air conditioning systems tourists are accustomed to are replaced by fans and rooms are not equipped with TV sets or telephones, the comfort of your holiday will not be dented. The 80 employees of this exclusive holiday resort will make sure you enjoy your stay and that nothing stands in the way of your relaxation. Each bungalow has a terrace from which guests can take a look, over the patio gardens, at the rocky coastline scenery.
The miniature paradise baptized by the sailors who arrived here in the 18th century because of the variety of birds who live here is the perfect holiday spot for those who want to escape the stressful pace of life involved by modern civilization and have the tranquility they need in a peaceful atmosphere and surrounded by a rich wildlife. The deserted beaches, where tourists can lie in the sun surrounded only by birds and turtles, make the Great Bird Island an exclusive honeymoon destination.
Bird watching lovers will find here a lifetime opportunity for admiring the twenty endangered species whose natural habitat is sheltered by this tiny island. Seven of them can be seen only here. But birds are not the only inhabitants of this territory, which was previously known as the Island of Cows because of the dugong or sea cow – a large marine mammal which finds its rest on the islet’s beaches. Hawksbill turtles come here, from October to February, to dig their nests in the sand and lay their eggs. Moreover, while walking on the beach, it is almost impossible not to spot one of the giant 200 year old tortoises.
Once you are on Great Bird Island, a snorkeling session at 30 meters from Hirondelle Beach is a must-do if you don’t want to miss the opportunity for discovering the amazing underwater life. For the brave and adventurous, 500 meters from the beach at North Point, where the waters reach 2000 meters in depth, is the perfect place to dive or to try fishing, but always remember to respect the marine ecosystems.