The picture-perfect Leeward Islands make up the central region of the 700 mile long chain of spectacular isles that are scattered across the Caribbean Sea. They are named due to the prevailing winds blowing north – they are in the ‘lee’ of the wind. Blessed with year round balmy temperatures, they consist of St Martin (St Maarten), Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Dominica, Guadeloupe, St Kitts and Nevis, Saba and St Barts.
A luxury yacht charter in the Leeward Islands delivers guests an unrivalled experience remarkable for vistas of volcanoes, tropical landscapes, pristine palm-lined beaches and azure waters teeming with marine life, and a zesty blend of French, Dutch and British cultural and culinary experiences.
Your Captain and crew will have local knowledge of the main sights of interest and share with you the idyllic Caribbean sojourn, revealing hidden gems and intriguing local cultures and customs, all tailored to suit how you wish to enjoy your luxury charter yacht experience.
The seven main islands are:
St Martin (St Maarten)
St Martin Island is an island divided in two halves: the northern half belongs to the French and the southern half belongs to the Dutch and forms part of the Netherlands Antilles, and more than 120 nationalities.
St Martin has something for everyone, whether you're into watersports, diving, sunbathing, golf or deep-sea fishing, the tropical climate and dependable trade winds provide ideal conditions for all types of leisure pursuits all year round.
St Martin is the only destination in the French West Indies that can truly lay claim to a tax-free status. With no customs duties, VAT or other indirect taxes to pay, the island offers unbeatable prices on a whole host of items.
Saint Barthélemy, known as St Barts, embodies a seductive blend of European sophistication, natural beauty, and relaxed island charm.
Considered the Caribbean's most sophisticated island, it attracts the jet-set, many of whom have palatial residences nestled among the manicured gardens or yachts bobbing at the marina, yet St Barts retains myriad charms for visitors of all persuasions. It's a popular inclusion in any yacht charter itinerary in the Leeward Islands and the home to the very famous St Barts Bucket Yacht Regatta.
This French-speaking island is renowned for its powder sand beaches, chic hotels, designer boutiques and high-end dining, but there are plenty of activities to suit people seeking a gentler, less flashy experience.
The best beaches include Anse des Flamands, for the scenery, Baie de St-Jean, for the beachside dining, and Anse de Grand Cul-de-Sac, for watersports. The capital city, Gustavia is a treasure trove of boutique shopping and bistros, as well as its elegant, star-studded nightlife. On the opposite side of the island, St Jean is a small slice of St Tropez-style boutiques and bars that operate at a less hectic pace. Not far from St Jean, the charming village of Lorient is the site of the island's first French settlement. Today's visitors will find here a fantastic surf beach.
The most northerly island of the Leeward group, Anguilla is everyone's dream of a tropical island: white sandy beaches, crystalline waters, tranquil bays fringed with palm trees and fanned by soothing breezes.
Just as the beach defines Anguilla, beach restaurants epitomise its dining. If you like sophisticated cuisine served in relaxed, open-air settings, this is the ideal place to enjoy "liming", as the locals refer to their favourite pastime of spending the time engaged in relaxing, enjoying the scenery and superb food, washed down with rum punch.
Saba is known as the "Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean" with a population of just 1,600. This is where visitors can truly unwind and marvel at the simple pleasures of island life: idyllic gingerbread houses and well-kept gardens of each charming Saban village, hiking trails among her lush rainforests rich in tropical fruit trees, orchids and palms, the Saba marine park for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts, and a variety of pleasant bars, restaurants and pubs.
One of two "sister islands", St Kitts and Nevis, offer visitors a brilliant Caribbean experience, from their picture-perfect beaches and volcanic mountains to friendly locals and layers of history to explore. For the watersport lover, there are aquatic activities aplenty, with deep-sea fishing, diving and windsurfing on offer.
In the south of St Kitts, you'll find hidden nooks ideal for snorkelling and two standout restaurants: Carambola and the Shipwreck Bar & Grill. For wildlife spotters, the Great Salt Pond is the habitat of the island's greatest concentration of green vervet monkeys.
Nevis via Montserrat
Before heading to Nevis, the coin shaped island at the base of St Kitts, enjoy a detour to the volcanic island of Montserrat.
Before it was devastated by the eruptions of the Soufrière Hills Volcano in 1995, Montserrat was a carefree little island. Today, visitors mostly head to Montserrat for day trips which offer jaw-dropping views of the destruction.
Nevis is dotted with brightly coloured houses and boasts more monkeys than people, unspoilt beaches, and its compact capital, Charlestown. History here centres on the British military giants, Horatio Nelson and Alexander Hamilton, former famed residents.
For the adventurous, nature trails take you into the verdant upper reaches of the island's volcanic peak, which stands 985 metres (3,232ft) and is the highest point on the island.
Antigua and Barbuda
The largest of the British Leeward Islands, Antigua boasts an amazing 365 beaches – one for each day of the year. Most of the beaches are located inside the protected waters of the island's Caribbean side, such as Curtain Bluff, Rendezvous Bay, Windwood Beach and Mamora Bay, home of the world famous St James Club.
The main sights not to miss in Antigua are St John's, Sandy Cove in Nonsuch Bay, Nelson's Dockyard at English Harbour, the spectacular views from the famous lookout at Shirley Heights, Falmouth Harbour, Darkwood Beach, the wild and remote Devil's Bridge on the north eastern point and Half Moon Bay, considered one of the island's most beautiful beaches.
Barbuda is a natural paradise, with thriving wilderness and flora and fauna like no other island, and part of a three-island state along with Antigua and Redonda.
On Barbuda you will find a small village community and central capital of Codrington village on a large island that is virtually untouched by tourism. It is world renowned for its beaches which are natural, many miles long, some glimmering with pink sand.
Barbuda has the deep blue Atlantic on one side with wild beaches full of driftwood and shells, and the Caribbean Sea on the other, perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and watersports, and abounding in turtles, rays, barracuda and tropical fish.
Ask your Luxury Charter Group charter specialist to plan your next charter vacation in the Leeward Islands.
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