From the stunning drama of the Pitons to the captivating charm of Les Saintes. From hidden coves and secret beaches to exotic markets and lively cafés. Here’s the best of the Caribbean in one single voyage. Sandy beaches, turquoise waters, lush mountains, and beautiful waterfalls blend with the music, tastes, and joie de vivre unique to the Caribbean life.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Philipsburg was founded in 1763 by John Philips, a Scottish captain in the Dutch navy, and soon became a bustling center of international trade. Two historic forts bear witness to Philipsburg's strategic importance in St. Martin's history: Fort Amsterdam and Fort Willem.
The main shopping district, Front Street, is in the heart of the city. Philipsburg has a port that is home to many cruise liners and tall ships.
Barbuda is one of those very few islands in the Caribbean that remains so undeveloped as to seem positively deserted at times. With the exception of the guests of the island's small number of accommodations, the population seems to consist largely of the graceful Fregata magnificens, or frigate bird. As the birds possess a marked preference for the northwest lagoon, Barbuda's seemingly endless white and pink sand beaches are left to the peaceful wanderings of those lucky enough to sojourn here.
Activities on Barbuda are appropriately relaxed, including beachcombing (on the northeastern Atlantic coast), fishing, golf, tennis, snorkeling, diving, or simply soaking up the sun. Points of interest include the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, the truly noteworthy pink and white sand beaches, and an abundance of shipwrecks and beautiful reefs.
Barbuda's history has been intimately tied to that of Antigua for centuries. The first early attempts to settle Barbuda (by both the British and French) were failures, and it wasn't until 1666 that the British established a colony strong enough to survive the ravages of both nature and the Caribs. In 1680, four years before he began cultivating sugar on Antigua, Christopher Codrington was granted (with his brother John) a land lease in Barbuda. With subsequent leases that granted them additional rights to the substantial wreckage along Barbuda's reefs, they became the island's preeminent family. For much of the eighteenth century the Codrington land on Barbuda was used to produce food and to supply additional slave labor for the Codrington sugar plantations on Antigua, and so the Barbuda's fortunes rose and fell with those of its larger neighbor. Testament to the influence of the Codringtons remains today, both in the island's place names and in its architectural remains. On Barbuda's highest point (124 feet) are the ruins of the Codrington estate, Highland House, and on the island's south coast still sits the 56-foot high Martello castle and tower, a fortress that was used both for defense and as a vantage from which to spot valuable shipwrecks on the outlying reefs.
Dominica is an island republic in the West Indies, specifically in the Windward Islands. The island has 148 miles of coastline, and covers 751 square miles of land area. The population of Dominica is under 75,000. Roseau is the island's capital. Dominica is lush and beautiful, and is home to some of the friendliest people in the West Indies. The island is known as the spot for ecotourists, with many parks and places to mountain climb, nature walk or explore. The diving is great here, too, but the beaches are less attractive than on other islands.
Pigeon Island, St. Lucia
Pigeon Island National Landmark is one of the Caribbean's most historic spots, an important monument of St. Lucia's history. It offers a vivid representation of the cultural and historical monuments of international, civil, military and marine cross currents, characteristic of West Indian history. Pigeon Island offers lots of photo opportunities. You can visit the interpretation center, eat at Jambe de Bois restaurant, walk up to Fort Rodney and view historical ruins. A living museum within a natural setting, Pigeon Island is being nurtured through careful protection and intelligent development to serve the intellectual, cultural, and recreational needs of all who visit this historic site. The picturesque, 44 acre island reserve, grasslands, dry tropical forests, beaches and twin peaks, off the north west end of St. Lucia, was originally surrounded by water but was joined to the mainland by a man made causeway in 1972. The Landmark is perfect for an outing tailored to your specific needs - With or without a guide, the island is an easy and accessible location for relaxing or exploring. Whatever your preference, don't forget your camera for breathtaking photo opportunities.
Les Saintes, French West Indies
Just south of Guadeloupe, these idyllic tropical islands float like jewels in the Caribbean sea. Les Saintes are perfect for the kind of sailor who relishes unspoiled tropical beauty and the serenity that comes from doing next to nothing on a vacation. Only two of the eight little islands are inhabited, and Terre-de-Haut is the one travelers visit first. With superb beaches, lovely bays, great snorkeling and fascinating historical sites, this small island has a charming village with excellent restaurants, interesting shops and unique art galleries. The other populated island, peaceful Terre-de-Bas, is only a few minutes by boat from Terre-de-Haut. There are only 3,000 inhabitants in the islands. About half of them live on Terre-de-Haut with just a few dozen four-wheel drive vehicles on its roads.
Basseterre, St. Kitts
Unlike other islands where traditional lifestyles have been stamped out by mass tourism, St. Kitts boasts a thriving West Indian culture. Her lush and forested slopes rise gracefully to mist-shrouded peaks.
A worthwhile site for history buffs, the imposing 17th century fortress (Brimstone Hill) looms over green fields of sugar cane and banana trees. St. Kitts’ was the first successful colony in the British West Indies. Indeed, when viewed from the top of Brimstone Hill, the “Gibraltar of the Caribbean” appears to dominate everything in the Southern Sea.
Originally discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the island was named for his patron saint, St. Christopher. The British later shortened the name to St. Kitts. The island was colonized beginning in 1623, first by the French, and then by English settlers. Britain and France held the island jointly from 1628 into the 1700's, with periods of fighting. By 1783, the treaty of Paris ceded St. Kitts and Nevis to Great Britain.
Basseterre has been the capital of St. Kitts since 1727, and remains the capital of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis today. It offers elegant Georgian architecture and colorful shopping.
There was never any hope of lucrative sugar plantations in St.Barts. It was too dry, too steep, too rocky, and, finally, too small. Unsuitable for agriculture, the island was never coveted as a prize during the colonial wars of the 18th century.
The island did, however, have a serviceable harbor, and this allowed the town that grew around it, Gustavia, to play a key role in that intermittent conflict, a role that was to presage much of its future.
As a free port under Swedish rule, Gustavia provided a trade and supply center for the various warring factions. When a sea captain captured a prize or raided a settlement, he could sell the booty in St. Barths, and at the same time resupply his ship. Overflowing warehouses surrounded a harbor packed with ships from many nations, and a mercantile and architectural tradition was established that has lingered to the present day.
Today, the town has adjusted itself to satisfy the increasing number of visiting tourists. Restaurants, boutiques, and gift shops now line streets once busy with merchants, merchant seamen, and adventurers.