[Kyle]We decided for our last full day in Barbuda to spend it snorkeling the many reefs surrounding our anchorage (which we still had all to ourselves). We loaded up the dinghy with supplies and provisions, and spent the day anchoring near various reefs using the dinghy as a base camp to explore all the adjacent reefs, move on and repeat!
We spent a whole day doing this. Further out from the beach, but still behind the protection of the main reef system we were able to find several large, diverse colorful reefs, filled with many different corals (soft, hard, fan, etc) and LOTS of multi-colored fishes darting in and out. Highlights were 2 large sting rays; and a family of 8 spiny lobster defending their small overhang, and looking as scary as they could muster (Unfortunately the camera batteries had died by the time we got there, and luckily these lobsters have no claws so it was as much amusing as threatening - they deter most predators by making a noise with their legs!).
Coral reefs are such endlessly fascinating places, with a seemingly unlimited number of nooks and crannies to peer into. The more you look, the more you see colorful creatures of all types in places you had first assumed were empty. It's easy to spend hours examining a small patch and observing the lives led below.
We returned to Footprint to get the boat ready for the return trip to Antigua, but even then I could not resist swimming back out to a couple of our local reefs for one last look, finally being forced home by darkness. What a beautiful place Barbuda is!
The next day we arose early to exit at first decent light; Maryanne piloting us out through the reefs. Once we got into open ocean, we had a nice fast reach back to the relative hustle and bustle of Antigua and English Harbour.