The third main island that comprises the country of Antigua and Barbuda, Redonda is a few things its name and national identity suggest it’s not.
Columbus christened the island Santa Maria de la Redonda, the Spanish adjective “redonda” meaning “round,” because, it seems, he thought the term aptly described the shape of the island.
It does not.
Redonda is, in fact, more oblong, measuring about a mile long and a third of a mile wide. Columbus arrived here around 8pm back in 1493, though, so I guess we can give him a pass on the misleading name.
Perhaps more curious, though, is Redonda’s close association with Antigua and Barbuda.
The tiny island became part of the country in 1967, long after it had ceased holding tangible value as a center for guano-mining. (More on the historic importance of guano mining in the Caribbean here.) From the mid-1800’s through to WWI, a small group of miners were stationed in Redonda to collect the then-valuable bird droppings. Ever since then, though, Redonda has remained uninhabited.
Rugged, small, remote, lacking natural resources of any value, and devoid of citizens, Redonda still had to fall under some country’s jurisdiction during the late-60’s as independence took hold across the Caribbean.
Somehow, that country came to be Antigua and Barbuda, this despite the fact that Redonda lies closest to Montserrat, a mere 14 miles away.
Nevis, just 20 miles to the northwest, is the next closest with Antigua and Barbuda, a good 35 miles away, placing a distant (literally) third.
You’re not liable to visit Redonda as landing here by boat is virtually impossible. But, if you see it while sailing through the area or visiting Montserrat or Nevis, just know that you’re looking at the most far-flung corner of Antigua and Barbuda… and it’s not round.