Sailing a north/south route in the Caribbean due east of the Virgin Islands
This island is a nature lover's paradise. Here, the dueling Piton peaks serve as an inspiring landmark for sailors. You'll have a chance to visit waterfalls, hot springs, botanical gardens, and the world's only 'drive-in' volcano. Hiking boots are what you'll need for trekking tails through the Rainforest Preserve, a favorite for bird watchers. The forest is loaded with wild orchids, giant ferns and towering stands of bamboo.
Martinique is directly north of St. Lucia, northwest of Barbados and south of Dominica. Land mass is 420 square miles of which 15 square miles is water. The island is volcanic in origin. The population is estimated at approximately 390,000. Martinique owes its name to Christopher Columbus who sited the island in 1493 and later to return in 1502 naming the island Martinica.
Historically, Martinique's economy relied on sugar cane farming which has since dwindled. Today tourism is the main source of income as well as the export of bananas to France.
The island has quirky historical sites which compliment European flair and Caribbean beauty. It is fashionable and elegant with an abundance of flora. A leading destination for European vacationers, it offers gorgeous beaches, great food and a variety of accommodations. Tourism is an important economic base yet, so are banana farming, cane raising and rum to a lesser degree.
People say that the 'Nature Island' is the only Caribbean island that Columbus would recognize today. Virgin rainforests stand proud and tall. Waterfalls cascade from glorious heights where birds fill the forest with color and song. Dominica is a dream-like island, full of surprises. The steep mountainsides and lush jungle-like beauty might remind you of a Rousseau landscape. Glide through a steamy orchid-festooned rainforest in a fascinating boat ride up the winding Layrou River. Or, hike to breathtaking Trafalgar Falls and a bubbling lake.
Isle des Saintes, Guadeloupe
The Îles des Saintes (literally, "Islands of the (female) Saints"), also called simply Les Saintes, are a group of islands within the French overseas department of Guadeloupe. They are located about 8 miles southwest of Guadeloupe and as such belong to the Lesser Antilles. Their land area is 4.9 sq. miles and they had a population of 2,883 inhabitants at the 2005 census.
Marie-Galante is basically a rural island where sugar cane farming is everywhere, rooted in the local culture. Grand Anse refinery, a sugar factory, is located here. There are also three distilleries to offer you the world's best rum, a fabulous nectar of 59 proof. The local Ti Punch, sweetened with cane syrup, is a favorite aperitif, while pure old rum is served as a digestive.
There are many things to do here; try water sports or hiking, or discover the Island in an ox-drawn wagon. The traditional folk dances, tug-of-war's with oxen, and cock fights are all part of the natural rhythm of the Island's life. Those seeking night life will enjoy the piano bars and nightclubs that produce the mischievously wild and turbulent beat of the West Indies.
Montserrat Island, Lesser Antilles
Montserrat is a mountainous Caribbean island, part of the Lesser Antilles chain. Its Soufriere Hills volcano erupted in the 1990's causing significant damage to the south side of the island but leaving the north side unscathed. Black sand beaches, coral reefs, cliffs and shoreline caves remain intact.
Montserrat was the home of the famous recording studio founded by the Beatles producer, Sir George Martin, now deceased.
Tourists travel here to observe the devastating destruction of the south side.
Nevis, Leeward Islands
Almost completely circular, Nevis' green slopes rise in sweeping curves to the islands summit. From a distance, Nevis looks like a snow-capped mountain, but it's just clouds and mist hovering around Nevis Peak. Charlestown is a well-preserved village with plantation estates and 18th century buildings decorated with gingerbread trim. An interesting zoning law requires that no buildings be taller than the palm trees. Be sure to try the Calalloo soup while you are here.
Antigua, Lesser Antilles
Antigua and Barbuda is an independent nation in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies (Lesser Antilles), about 260 miles east-southeast of Puerto Rico.
The Lesser Antilles (also known as the Caribbees) are a long, partly volcanic island arc in the Western Hemisphere. Most of its islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, with the remainder located in the southern Caribbean just north of South America. The Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles compose the Antilles, which are in turn part of the West Indies along with the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.