Leeward Islands

Information about Caribbean sailing vacations in the Leeward Islands

From St. Martin, your cruising ground can be focused on the cluster of varied islands around St. Martin or stretch as far as Martinique. You’ll find you can comfortably sail St. Martin, Saba, Anguilla and St. Barts in a week. To add St. Kitts and Nevis, plan on 10 days. And to add Antigua, plan on two weeks. You may also wish to consider some one-way sailing options. To sail south to Guadeloupe, or north to Tortola, it will take 12 days. If you want to sail to the island of Martinique, you should plan for a two-week adventure.
St. Martin, a romantic European heritage is unmistakable in this colorful blend of French, English, Dutch, and local culture, all set in a land where rich green volcanic peaks tumble down to sparkling waters and brilliant palm-fringed beaches. It’s a world of exhilarating sailing and diversions on shore, a chance meeting of cosmopolitan elegance and natural beauty.

European Influences And Caribbean Warmth:
French St. Martin is the smallest island on earth to be divided by two nations, creating an unequaled blend of sophisticated cultures and natural beauty. Visit the popular Orient Beach or the French town of Marigot with its historic Fort St. Louis. Set sail for St. Maarten’s Dutch side to Philipsburg for duty-free shopping and casinos. And surrounding St. Martin’s cosmopolitan areas are superb anchorages, great snorkeling, and wide-open sailing. Set sail to St. Barts, an island of high fashion and haute cuisine. Head north to British Anguilla for dazzling beaches and a reef that claims the unchallenged title of “Wreck Dive Capital of the Caribbean.”

Cloud-Piercing Peaks And Endless Beaches:
They stretch like sentinels, lush peaks crowned by a single cloud – the islands of Saba and Nevis. Between them, the steep spine of St. Kitts springs from the same volcanic past, supporting a superb rain forest. Sail east to Antigua and anchor off your choice of 365 stunning beaches, one for every day of the year. Press on to the ultimate harbor – Nelson’s Dockyard. Claim your rum ration, then sway to the unique local island sound of Zouk bands.

Columbus, Creole And Cousteau:
Although discovered by Columbus, Guadeloupe is a decidedly French island with both exquisite French and hearty creole culinary and cultural influences. Inland, it’s an island of rain forests and rocky cliffs with a butterfly-shaped coast including beaches of black volcanic sand. Jacques Cousteau was so impressed by the waters off Ile de Pigeon, that it’s now an Underwater Natural Park. To the south are the islands of Les Saintes with beaches, scuba diving, and a stunning scenic bay. Climb up Le Chameau, a tower with a wonderful view on the island’s highest point.
With 365 idyllic beaches–one for each day of the year–Antigua is the water sports Mecca of the Caribbean. Wind surfers, sailors, divers, and sun-seekers love this island of rolling hills and wide sweeping bays. You’ll feel the legacy of the British as you stroll along the boardwalk to Redcliffe Quay, a historic promenade of restored town homes and stone warehouses that have been converted into brightly painted cafes, shops, and restaurants. The Caribbean pulse is palpable everywhere.
People say that the ‘Nature Island’ is the only Caribbean landmass that Columbus would recognize today. Virgin rainforests stand proud and tall … Untamed rivers run wild … Hundreds of waterfalls cascade from glorious heights where some 160 species of birds fill the forest with song and color. Lucky for us, many of Dominica’s eco-sensitive tourist activities have been integrated into the lives of the locals–a nice change from the traditional tourist kitsch and glitzy resorts found on other islands.
Almost completely circular, Nevis’ green slopes rise in sweeping curves to the central and only 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: plantation estates and eighteenth century buildings decorated with gingerbread trim tell the story of a bygone era. An interesting zoning law states that no buildings may be taller than the palm trees. We love that!
the forgotten corner of the Leeward Islands:
The west coast of Saba is reasonably sheltered, provided the wind is not too far in the north and there is no strong ground swell coming down from the north. For small boats there are a dozen or more moorings scattered along the northern half of the wet coats, and you can find plenty of space to anchor in Wells Bay, to the north end of the moorings.
Saba’s coastal waters are a Marine Park. and there are only two places where you can anchor or moor. These are along the northern half of the west coast, and off the port at Fort Bay on the south coast. If the wind is east, or has the merest hint of south in it, the anchorage off Fort Bay will be uncomfortable at best.
Fort Bay is where the Park Authorities, the Port Office and Customs and Immigration are located. You can find also three dive shops, a bar and a gas station.
Saba boasts a number of marked hiking trails, however it is for diving that Saba is justifiably famous.
Because there is almost none polluted runoff that damaged so many of the Caribbean reefs, the coral encircling Saba is as pristine as the reefs in the rest of the Caribbean were perhaps 50 years ago.
The most famous sites for diving are the Pinnacles. These are a small group of seamounts that rise straight out of the oceanic depths to within about a hundred feet or the surface. The mounts are covert in an amazing variety of corals and sponges and seem to be liker a magnet for sea life of all sorts and sizes.
There are several dive companies operating out of Saba and any diving must be done with one or another of them. It is not permitted to organize your own dives. It is also reassuring that there is a decompressing chamber on the island, at Fort Bay. It is one of the few in the eastern Caribbean.
For more information about diving in Saba log on to: www.sabatourism.com/diving.html
There is a lot to see at Saba, above and below the water so it is well worth making the effort to visit.
Saba is ideal for the traveler looking for a secluded haven, in peaceful and friendly surroundings. Rising steeply from the azure sea, the tiny island in the Caribbean is a magical experience far away from the cares and worries of today’s hurried world………more at the official website of the Saba tourist board www.sabatourism.com
Saba Marine Park
In 1987, a marine park was established with permanent moorings, regulations of use and maintenance and a strong conservation attitude. At that time there were still few divers visiting Saba. The result is controlled diver impact and undamaged reef life, a powerful appreciation by locals and divers together of this pristine environment.

So complimented by this tremendous effort, the Dutch navy donated a four person recompression chamber, now backed up by volunteers from all the dive shops. All dive operations abide by the rules of the park and benefit from their ongoing research and education. Weekly slide shows are given to entertain and inform divers of Saba’s special marine life.

Saba’s Marine Park has received several honors and remains the only park of its kind in the worlds to be completely self-sufficient in its operation.

The park is situated around the entire island and includes the waters and seabed from the high-water mark down to a depth of 200 feet, as well as offshore seamounts. A zoning system is applied to get the best possible compromise between different uses of the marine environment.
The island’s commercial diving business which started in the early 1980s introduced SCUBA enthusiasts to the wealth of Saba’s underwater world. The establishment of the Saba National Marine Park assured the health of the undersea environment and thus the sustainability of dive tourism, today a major contribution to the island economy.
For more information about the Saba Marine Park log on to www.sabapark.org

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