Leeward Islands : Anguilla, Antigua, St. Barts, St. Kitts & St. Martin

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In the middle of the Eastern Caribbean archipelago, a few miles south of Martinique,lies the island of Dominica. Much of volcanic Dominica is blanketed by untamed rainforest that provides a verdant backdrop to whichever of the magical experiences on offer takes your fancy: trekking to a bubbling lake, soothing your joints in hot sulphur springs, getting pummelled by a waterfall, snorkelling in a glass of champagne, swimming up a narrow gorge — the list goes on and on.

The best part about a visit here is that it has been spared the ravages of mass tourism, because it lacks white sandy beaches. A few have honeycoloured sand, but most have dark grey or black volcanic sands. But of course, this makes it the ideal spot for an exclusive getaway. Few islands remain as unspoiled as Nevis, the quiet sister island of St Kitts. With over 40 excellent dive sites, Nevis is a great place for keen divers to break out the scuba gear.

Show Notes

Intoxicating natural beauty, sunny skies, warm waters and white sandy beaches combine to make St Kitts one of the most seductive spots in the Caribbean. At the centre of this visually stunning island lies a mountain rising to 3, feet. Here you can enjoy the volcanic landscape of its neighbour, Nevis, on the horizon.

Although St Kitts is small there are endless things to do: dine at some of the authentic and delicious restaurants, go shopping, or relax on the beach all day and save your energy for the nightlife. Saba rises majestically from clear azure waters, stretching her summit to caress the clouds. Saba is like no other Caribbean destination.

Most visitors come for the diving, which is some of the best in the world.

Leeward Islands flights - Lonely Planet

For such a small place it certainly punches above its weight: there are around 25 dive sites, which include underwater hot springs and lava flows that are home to over species of fish, turtles, sharks and coral. St Maarten, a spicy marriage of European and Caribbean cultures, is a world away from all your worries. The French side exhibits lavish elegance, historic buildings, sun-kissed secluded beaches, cosmopolitan boutiques, gourmet waterfront bistros and a wealth of sporting facilities. In the Dutch part, St Maarten delivers buzzing casinos and nightlife and a bustling duty-free shopping centre.

Be warned: you may develop island addiction, and even decide to buy your own a piece of paradise! With 33 exceptional powdery white beaches, seven marine parks, mouth-watering cuisine and contemporary international style, Anguilla offers up a plethora of exciting possibilities. Visit art galleries, tour historic sites and museums, get up close to the undersea world, or visit an offshore cay for a secluded afternoon picnic. Strict rules apply: no cruise ships, no package holidays and no jetskis, which has kept Anguilla sleepy, select, and unashamedly exclusive.

A wave of the hand conjures a glass of champagne, and lobster is always on the menu. Shoal Bay and Maundays Bay are stunning, as are the forty-odd beaches. Pyrat Rum, aged in oak barrels, is a local speciality. Ride on the beach from El Rancho del Blues stables, try the tasting menu at Pimms, the ultimate seafood restaurant, or chill out in style at the Belmond Cap Juluca, a luxury beachside resort on Maundays Bay. The Pumphouse has great blues singers, and there are two late bars with live bands at Sandy Ground. Visit the tiny port of Gustavia, where the local beach bars sell a dozen types of champagne and serve up fine French cuisine.

Large distances between the islands, and the fact that many bays are hard to reach, makes the area more suitable for advanced sailors. Sailors will also enjoy the islands from St. Martin to Antigua, in the northern Leewards with shorter hops, but scenically very different.

There are also wonderfully contrasting colours, styles, vegetation, architecture and lifestyles. Or you can sail amongst others to Antigua, St. Barths, St.

Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis. The flat island of Anguilla in the north has endless sandy beaches and — in stark contrast — a rugged volcanic island rising out of the sea.

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Martin: The northern part of the small island is French speaking, while the southern part is Dutch. Most islands belong politically to France, the UK or the Netherlands; a few of them are independent. The area is really only recommended for experienced sailors. The main centres for a sailing cruise are Guadeloupe, Antigua and St. Martin which all offer large yacht sailing fleets and a wide selection of catamarans. Hurricane season is from June to November. In summer, the winds blow from the east to the southeast between 5 to 15 knots and in winter from the east from 15 to 25 knots.

In winter with cold fronts you can have heavy seas, especially around Christmas, and the wind can reach up to 30 knots. The leeward side can be subjected to tropical storms between June and November. From December to April it only rains occasionally. Difficulty: Medium to hard, due to the large distances between some of the islands and strong waves between the passages. Night sailing is usually forbidden because of the large number of reefs, which need to be navigated with great care even during the day. It gets light at 6am and is dark by 6pm.

St. Martin x Anguilla x St. Barts 2019

Navigation: Tidal range is 40 cm. The current between the islands can reach up to 2 knots so caution is strongly advised. The cruising area around St. Martin is well marked and Anguilla rather poor. The American system applies here: green is starboard and red is port.

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  • Especially in waters around reefs you should rely on eyeball navigation. Anguilla is a water sports paradise, especially when it comes to snorkeling. The clearing in formalities in Road Bay a very stringent and only designated anchorages are permitted for use. Located in the center of Marigot and hidden is the Marina Port La Royale, with many shops and places to eat around the harbour. The Marina Oyster Pond is beautifully located and well protected by a number of reefs.

    The Fort St. Luis Marina Latest is well equipped.

    Getting around by air

    The main town always offers very good protection, no matter what the weather conditions. It also has lots of services, bars, restaurants and shops. Anchorage will incur a fee. If Gustavia is overcrowded, the fishing village of Corossol is a good alternative. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis: In the west of the island of St. In Basseterre on St. In strong contrast to the rather bare St.

    Chris Doyle’s Caribbean Sailors Guides

    Kitts stands the island of Nevis, with its lush green and picturesque Charlestown. Antigua: English Harbour is a hurricane hole. Make sure you pay attention to the Charlotte reef when sailing. The Shirley Heights Lookout in Falmouth Harbour provides a breathtaking view, where you can also enjoy a rum punch.

    To the west of Antigua are Deep Bay and Five Island Harbours which both provide excellent protection and safe moorings. If en route to St. Barths or St. There are also some very beautiful bays in the southeast, or in the east, the Hurricane Hole Nonsuch Bay.