The Leeward Islands are the most Northern group of Caribbean Islands known as the Antilles in the West Indies. These Islands extend from Puerto Rico stretching down to Antigua and the French Island of Guadeloupe. The principal Islands in-between are the Spanish Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, St Martin and St Barts, Saba, Eustatius, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Antigua and Guadeloupe.
All these Islands make exciting cruising destinations; the Islands themselves are mainly volcanic with lush vegetation and the climate is warm all year round with little variation in temperature. All the Islands are popular holiday destinations so are very tourist friendly and even if you’re not considering a sailing holiday there are many hotels and resorts to choose from.
Situated between Puerto Rico and the Anegada Passage this is one of the worlds best kept secrets for a holiday destination, referred to as the sailing capital of the Caribbean, with the most beautiful clear blue seas and starlit nights. There are plenty of anchorages to choose from and some of the best snorkelling and diving sites in the world.
The British Virgin Islands is also made up of many other smaller Islands Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Ginger Island, Cooper Island, Salt Island, Peter Island, Norman Island, Tortola and Jost Van Dyke.
The British Virgin Islands was also once a haven for many of the world’s most famous pirates. Black Beard, probably the most famous of them all, was known to lay in wait hidden from view within the smaller islands inlets and coves. His victims, the Spanish, English, Dutch and French would be pursued and their precious cargoes of gold and silver plundered.
The US Virgin Islands are located just 1,100 miles southeast of Miami. These Islands comprise of three Islands, St Croix, St John, and St Thomas. There’s something for everyone - beautiful Caribbean sandy beaches and beautiful clear blue waters with temperatures ranging from 77F during the winter months to 85F for the summer months.
St Croix is the largest of the Virgin Islands and has a unique Danish architectural Influence. Frederiksted and Christiansted are the two main towns of St Croix offering quaint pastel coloured shops and boutiques to wander and explore around. There are also many restaurants and bars and you instantly pick up on the friendly local atmosphere.
St John. This Island is two thirds national park and is a very lush green island with a rain forest situated within the Island; its coast lines have wonderful scenic views with many white sandy beaches such as Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, and Leinster Bay located on the north coast of St John.
St Thomas and down town Charlotte Amalie offer elegant dining, exciting night life, world class duty free shopping as well as a market open daily selling locally made produce. It’s a busy town with lots going on. There’s something for every one. St Thomas also hosts some of the best hotels and resorts in the world. You will find plenty to do and see and if you just want to sit and relax there are plenty of secluded beaches to choose from.
A low coral Island sits at the top of the Leeward Islands chain, a serene remote place of empty beaches untouched cays and reefs. This Island is part of the British Territories, 16miles long and 3 miles wide. The name Anguilla is a Spanish word meaning, eel. This is a wonderful place to visit and is home to a wide variety of marine life.
According to legend, St Martin’s border was defined when a Dutchman and a Frenchman stood back to back then walked around the island until they met face to face. The Dutch side is smaller supposedly because the Dutchman was fat, or slow, or drank as he walked. The border holds great symbolic value to the Islanders, making 200 years of peaceful co-existence and distinguishing two communities which are the same yet different. St Martin has a great deal to offer, fantastic restaurants and bars, hotels, and resorts. The main ports of St Martin are Philipsburg on the Dutch side and Marigot on the French. Simpson Bay is the biggest anchorage. This anchorage is almost like an inland lake and can be entered by passing under two of its bridges at certain times of the day. One bridge is located on the French side and the other bridge located on the Dutch side.
International renowned St Barts is a unique island with approximately 10sq miles of white sandy beaches. This tiny French island at the top of the Leeward Islands is less than half the size of Manhattan, hosting a range of designer names in its main shopping centre at Port Gustavia. This Island is a magnet for the rich and famous. There are only a few anchorages around St Barts; North West of the Island and South of the Island with the main port between the two.
The Dutch Island of Saba pronounced (Say-bay) is a small volcanic island. Its rocky slopes climb steeply out of cloud covered mountain scenery, a huge 820ft/250 meters above sea level. With rugged cliffs this Island gives refuge to an abundance of sea birds and sea life. This whole Island is a national park which means if you wish to scuba dive here you would have to dive with an established scuba dive company from Saba Island and not independently from your own yacht. The waters that surround Saba tend to be swelly at most times of the year and there are no inlets for anchorage only a few mooring bouys outside it’s main port (Fort Bay). With no beaches and high cliffs the main population on this island live relatively high up and has a population of about 500. This is very dazzling island with pretty red roof houses, winding steep roads and wonderful hikes leading to the very top of Saba.
These two lush green volcanic islands host an abundance of vegetation, tropical fruits and vegetables. St Kitts is the bigger Island with 100 sq miles area and there is a 2 mile of choppy sea separating the two Islands. The local population is small and very friendly with the main income being tourism, crop growing and sugar.
Shaped like a heart, 108-sq.mile 270sq.km flat island of volcanic rock, coral and limestone with a whopping 365 white sandy beaches and water sparkling in ever shade of blue, this leeward island of Antigua, for many, is the first taste of the West Indies with an airport large enough to accommodate international flights from all over Europe and US and the Caribbean.
Guadeloupe, along with its surrounding islands, Marie Galante, Les Saintes, and La Desirade St Martin and St Barts are all French Islands. The islanders, like Martinicans, have French citizenship and French passports and have the same rights as those living in France hence, Guadeloupe like St Martin is very diverse with hotels, resorts, restaurants and bars. The island is a popular holiday destination 555sq. miles 1,438sq km. It is one of the larger islands of the Lesser Antilles. The island is almost shaped like the wings of a butterfly with the main port and town (Ponte a Pitre) positioned almost between the two wings and there are many anchorages around Guadeloupe’s coast lines. Inland, one half of the island is relatively dry and rocky edged with white sandy beaches known as Grande Terre, while the other side Basse Terre is much more mountainous, luxuriant with vegetations and crisscrossed with crystal cold rivers.
Largest of the Windward Islands, 15 by 29 miles/ 25 by 46 km, Dominica lies between Guadeloupe and Martinique. From the air it has a dark presence with volcanic mountains disappearing into its dense cloud covered forests and valleys. With much of its surface still covered in some of the finest rainforest in the region, its 70,000 population live in scattered communities beside the sea, mainly on the sheltered leeward side or along the ridges.
A piece of France transported to the tropics, this beautiful mountainous island is famous for its exotic flowers, black and white sandy beaches and lush rainforests.
Lying between Martinique to the north and St Vincent in the south, this Caribbean classic is an incredibly beautiful and enchanting island, with a mixture of luxuriant tropical vegetation on a mountainous landscape, stunning beaches and typically Creole culture.
St Lucia is actually a pile of lava that reached the earths surface millions of years ago after a series of mighty eruptions. The sand shimmers in shades of snow white, cream, gray and even black. Inland the green luxuriant tropical rainforest covers at least one tenth of the 238 –sq mile (617-sq km) island and is home to a colourful assortment of wildlife such as the St Lucia parrot and pygmy geck,o as well as a wide assortment of tropical flowers.
Complementing the lower arc of the Lesser Antilles and the Windward Islands, between St Lucia in the North and Grenada to the south, only eight of the islands are inhabited accounting for a population of 113,000, most of whom live one St Vincent, the largest island at 18 miles (30km) long and 11 miles (18km) wide. The untouched islands of the Grenadines, encompassing only 17 sq miles (44 sq km) all together, are a heaven of natural beauty whose charms extend across some of the most beautiful beaches in the world into seas of many hues rich in marine life and perfect for sailors and divers.
To the south of the Grenadines, this aromatic island is known as the spice Island of the Caribbean, most famous for nutmeg. A colourful gem of an island, only 21 by 12 miles (35 by 20 km) in size it seems bigger that it actually is. Its fertility is largely thanks to the 160inches (4,060mm) of rain deposited on the island each year due to the trade winds. This creates lush and often impenetrable rainforest, streams that cascade down to the sea. The island is astonishingly fertile, bananas, cocoa, citrus, mangoes and coconuts grow in dense groves or by the road side. Known as the spice islands of the Caribbean, it is the nutmeg which gives Grenada its most delicious aroma. Nutmeg has been grown here since the 1780s. The main town of St George is regularly ravaged by natural disasters but has retained its picturesque charm and small town warmth against all the odds.
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