Warning: As of September of 2017, Barbuda has been decimated (90% of buildings destroyed) by Hurricane Irma. It's best to avoid traveling to the island until rebuilding efforts have taken place.
Barbuda consists largely of two limestone slabs, the western one level and only a few feet above sea level. The eastern one has been uplifted, and tilted slightly. Starting at sea level on the southern end, it rises to about 40 meters. There is little good soil, much of the island being covered by sparse low scrub.
On the north-west part of the island there is a large, shallow lagoon, bordered by a miles-long beach. The lagoon is home to the large and impressive frigate bird colony. The beach continues uninterrupted to the south end of the island. On the eastern Atlantic side the beaches may be narrower, but there are scenic cliffs and eroded coral rock and reefs.
Barbuda is part of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, being joined with Antigua when the islands were granted independence, but the islands have little in common. Internal affairs are largely governed by the elected Barbudan Council. Barbuda has a population of only 1500 or so, and few tourist facilities in spite of its miles of beautiful beaches. Nearly all the small stores, restaurants and guest houses are locally owned--what you spend here stays here. The economy is largely dependent on sand mining (the sand is exported to Antigua for construction), and tourism. The Barbudan Council has started a truck farm on the site of the old plantation to provide employment and fresh produce. The official currency is the EC dollar, but US dollars are used for rooms, tours and car rentals.
Most of the residents are descended from slaves owned by the Codrington family, who raised food here for the slaves in the sugarcane fields of Antigua. When slavery was abolished, the land was given to the Barbudans, and continues to be held in common. No one can own land, but Barbudans may apply for sites upon which to build homes. Others, such as resorts, may lease land.
The language is English.
The Barbuda Express,  offers ferries from Antigua. The ferry docks at River Wharf, some distance from the only town, but an easy walk to almost-empty beaches.
Outside of Codrington, there is one road on the island, plus several unmarked tracks. Paving of roads and streets has begun. A number of residents offer transportation by car or boat.  Tours may be booked directly or as part of an excurion package from Antigua. Visitors staying in Codrington may want to rent a car, a process involving no paperwork, as there are no beaches within walking distance. Lynton Thomas, 268 720 9957, 721 2796, has 4WDs for rent. A temporary drivers license may be had for a few dollars and traffic is extremely light except when workers are being driven to and from the sand mine and resorts. Watch for trucks on the southern end of the island between Martello Tour and River Wharf. Bicycles may or may not be available for rent.
Take a tour of the frigate bird colony. Tour the other sights on the island--none are stunning, but all are part of the history. You will visit the ruins of Highland house, where the Codringtons looked over their fields, a cave reaching from the beach to the uplands, Martello tower with its free and easy access to a spectacular beach.
Visit Art Cafe, where Claire Frank paints tropical critters on silk and where you can learn about Barbuda and get information about accommodations.
Walk on a beach that goes for miles without another person in sight (bring shade and water).
Sit and watch the goats go by.
There are a few modest restaurants in Codrington.
Barbuda is said to have little crime, although there was a rash of burglaries in May 2007, and four tourists on a yacht were murdered in 1994 (these are said to be the only murders in a century or so). Bottled water is available at several small stores There are a tiny pharmacy and a small hospital.