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Lifestyle Caribbean takes you on a personal eco-tour of the proud islands of Antigua and Barbuda.

The north and east of Antigua have been carved from limestone rock, and with that you will see many reefs, rocks and little islands off-shore. Quite a few of these islands are large enough to be habitable. One of them is the private Long Island, also known as ‘Jumby Bay’, where one of the Atlantic’s best scientific sea turtle studies

The nation of Antigua and Barbuda has an intriguing and distinct ecological makeup. Keeping in mind that the country is actually made up of two larger islands and an unusually large collection of smaller ones, you will understand why its fascinating and different environments come together into something so beautifully unique in the Caribbean.

Let’s start with a geographical description of the country to give you a better idea as to why the natural side of the county is so fascinating. Firstly, the two main islands. Antigua and Barbuda sit on the same continental shelf with about 26 miles of shallow waters connecting them. On either side of the islands and their connecting shelf, the water drops off into abyss-like depths that contain a massive variety of life. Many people forget about Redonda, which is a small island about 30 miles to our west which is also part of the county. It sits on its own continental shelf and makes up the massive triangular territorial and ecological zone connecting Antigua, Barbuda and Redonda.

The three islands are different to each other in almost every aspect. Antigua is made up from limestone and volcanic rock with a slice of clay between them. Having both limestone and volcanic rocks on the same island is unusual and helps give it unique habitats. Barbuda is totally made up of limestone rocks with nothing above 38 meters above sea level on the island. Caves, beaches and mangrove habitats provide a wealth of ecology that has yet to be properly documented.

Redonda is the most unusual in terms of its geographic makeup and is simply a huge volcanic mass of rocks pushing up from the sea. With its steep rocky cliffs and high top it supports a very interesting variety of plants and animals with its bird life being the most impressive.

Antigua is the largest island within the country. There are more bays and coves than any other in the Caribbean, and they say we even have 365 beaches. In the south, the volcanic side of the island, the landscape is hillier and as a consequence, often wetter. This has led to very different territorial eco- systems, with one area called Fig Tree Drive being described as the rainforest. Visitors can take taxi and jeep tours through the area to get a better look at some of the lush and tropical vegetation that one would expect in a rain forest. Although there are no perennial streams or rivers, you will see some little ones in that area during wetter periods.

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