Visit small harbors and unspoiled ports in the Leeward Islands. End your trip in historic Antigua and luxurious St. Barts.
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.
Charlestown was built in a protected area on the Leeward side of Nevis, situated between Fort Charles and the Fort Black Rocks. Most of the original buildings were destroyed over time by earthquakes, leading to the common practice of building a series of wooden upper floors over a stone ground floor. It has a population of 1500. It is the main centre for government,education,trade and business in Nevis.
The city is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. Charlestown has many important buildings such as the Post Office, Treasury Building, Court House,Public Library,Police Station and the Alexandra Hospital. At the northern end of town is the Bath Hotel and Spring House, which were famoushealth resorts during the 19th century. There are also two museums, the Museum of Nevis History and the Nelson Museum. Memorial Square commemorates all Nevisian soldiers who died during World Wars I & II. There is one mall, the Cotton Ginnery Mall which supplies most of Nevis resident's shopping needs.
Cabrits National Park is at the north end of the island, north of Portsmouth on a peninsula. The park protects tropical forest, coral reefs and wetlands. There are hiking trails and an English garrison called Fort Shirley.
Terre de Haut, Iles des Saintes
The Saints are an archipelago of 8 volcanic islets, tropical hideaways scalloped by white sandy beaches and sheltered coves. The 17th century Fort Napoleon is impressive, with fine views over the islands and surrounding seas. A charming and seductive atmosphere pervades Iles de Saints. It's enough to make you want to buy your dream villa and leave the world behind.
Deshaies, a town of just 3,500 inhabitants, is filled with charm. It is undoubtedly the quietest village of Guadeloupe. It is situated on a plunging hillside along a small bay, protected by the mountain. The small Creole cottages offer you the colors and the softness of the Caribbean lifestyle.
Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Falmouth Harbour is the home of the Antigua Yacht Club, the host club for yachts sailing in Antigua Race Week and the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. It is situated on the south side of Antigua, at the opposite end of the island from St. John's the major cruise ship port on Antigua.
During the race & regatta weeks, Falmouth Harbour is filled with some of the most beautiful classic yachts, and the speediest of racing yachts. The races are held just outside the harbor entrance, ranging up to 8 miles offshore. These races are international events, attracting the best of the big yacht sailors from around the world.
Right next door to Falmouth Harbour is English Harbour, and the famous Nelson's Dockyard, Naval Base for the British Caribbean fleet during the great age of sail, from the late 1700's until it was abandoned in 1889. Nelson's Dockyard has since been restored. You can see the capstans used to warp ships into the sheltered anchorage, the remains of a sail loft, shore batteries for the protection of the ships in harbor, Clarence House built for soon-to-be crowned King William IV when he was captain of H.M.S Pegasus, one of the ships in Horatio Nelson's fleet. Around the harbor you can find Shirley Heights and the colonial observation post for the harbor, now a good vantage point to watch the racing yachts maneuver.
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.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten (return)
Return for disembarkation.