Sail to a selection of the best of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles.
St. Martin / St. Maarten
The smallest island in the world shared by two countries. St. Martin/St. Maarten is big on shopping. You can also try your luck in one of St. Maarten's many casinos. Whether you go Dutch in Philipsburg or prefer Marigot's French touch, you're always welcome.
Anguilla is in the British Leeward Islands. Columbus thought this long flat island with its multitude of white sand coves looked like an undulating eel, so he named it Anguilla. The island has been a British colony/dependency since it was first settled in 1650. Except for a few half-hearted attempts at invasion by the French during the 18th century, the world has pretty much ignored the island. Recently, Anguilla has been discovered by the cognoscenti, who find the island's small upscale resorts an ideal retreat to get away from it all. Try the haute cuisine at Malliouhana, or the Arabian Nights ambience of Pimms.
This is where the slogan “life’s a beach” was coined. Anguilla’s thirty-three powdery white-sand beaches are excellent for walking, swimming or simply sipping rum daiquiris. The water in Anguilla is phenomenal: fading from cobalt blue to jade green to pale turquoise, the colors are otherworldly. You can stroll for miles and not see another soul ... truly blissful.
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. Shop in colourful Basseterre, play golf and tour old plantation houses. For the adventuresome there’s a brisk hike through the rainforest.
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.