Leeward Islands Travel

Leeward Islands: The Leeward Islands – Anguilla, Saba, Sint Eustatius, St Kitts, and Nevis, Antigua, and Barbuda – are a natural mosaic that for centuries has tugged mightily at the hearts of explorers, buccaneers, traders, and boaters. On this string of islands stretching south in an arc east of Puerto Rico, dreamy white-sand beaches are flanked by crooked palms and surrounded by turquoise waters.

The Windward Islands, the Leeward Islands, and the Leeward Antilles are part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. These island groups include many of the most popular tourist destinations in the West Indies. This collection of islands is diverse in terrain and culture. Most are very small and the tiniest islands remain uninhabited.

Leeward Islands Travel

The Leeward Islands are islands located in the West Indies at the convergence of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and are located between the Greater Antilles Islands and the Windward Islands. The islands derive their name from their location away from the wind.

Leeward Islands
English: Leeward Islands French: Îles sous le Vent
Total islands 30+
Major islands Guadeloupe Antigua and Barbuda Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Martin Virgin Islands
Highest elevation 1,467 m (4,813 ft)

Leeward Islands 

The Windward Islands include the southeastern islands of the Caribbean. They’re called the Windward Islands because they are exposed to the wind (“windward”) of the northeast trade winds (the northeasterly) from the Atlantic Ocean.

Leeward Islands

Within the Windward Islands is a chain that includes many of the smaller islands in this group. This is often called the Windward Chain and here they are listed from north to south.

  • Dominica: The northernmost island, the British government held this territory until 1978 and considered it part of the Leeward Islands. It is now an independent country and most often thought to be in the Windward Islands.
  • Martinique (France)
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
  • Grenada

Just a little farther to the east are the following islands. Barbados is more to the north, nearer St. Lucia, while Trinidad and Tobago are to the south near the coast of Venezuela.

  • Barbados
  • Trinidad and Tobago

What Are The Leeward Islands

Between the islands of the Greater Antilles and those of the Windward Islands are the Leeward Islands. Mostly small islands, they are called the Leeward Islands because they are away from the wind (“lee”).

The Virgin Islands

Just off the coast of Puerto Rico are the Virgin Islands and this is the northernmost part of the Leeward Islands. The northern set of islands are territories of the United Kingdom and the southern set are territories of the United States.

  • Outside of the Bahamas and Jamaica, the Virgin Islands are among the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
  • St. Croix is the largest of the Virgin Islands.
  • Though considered part of the Lesser Antilles, from a purely geological standpoint, the Virgin Islands are actually part of the Greater Antilles.

The British Virgin Islands

There are over 50 small islands in the British Virgin Islands territory, though only 15 are inhabited. The following are the largest islands.

  • Tortola
  • Virgin Gorda
  • Anegada
  • Jost Van Dyke

U.S. Virgin Islands

Also made up of around 50 small islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands are a small unincorporated territory. These are the largest islands listed by size.

  • St. Croix
  • St. Thomas
  • St. John

Northern Leeward Islands

As you might expect, there are many tiny islands in this area of the Caribbean and only the largest are inhabited. Working south from the Virgin Islands, here are the rest of the Leeward Islands, many of which are territories of larger countries.

  • Anguilla (U.K.)
  • Saint Maarten – the Netherlands controls the southern third of the island. The northern two-thirds are controlled by France and called Saint Martin.
  • Saint-Barthélemy (France)
  • Saba (the Netherlands)
  • Sint Eustatius (the Netherlands – in English Saint Eustatius)
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Antigua and Barbuda (Redonda is an uninhabited dependent island.)
  • Montserrat (U.K.)
    • Aruba (Netherlands)
    • Curaçao (Netherlands)
    • Bonaire (Netherlands)
    • Isla de Margarita (Venezuela)Guadeloupe (France)

      To the west of the Windward Islands is a stretch of islands known as the Leeward Antilles. These are farther apart from each other than the islands of the other two groups. It includes more of the popular destination Caribbean islands and runs along the Venezuelan coast.

      From west to east, the major islands of the Leeward Antilles include the following, and, collectively, the first three are known as the “ABC” islands.

    Venezuela has a number of other islands within the Leeward Antilles. Many, like the Isla de Tortuga, are uninhabited.

The Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands lo͞o´ərd, lyo͞o´–, lē´– [key], the northern group of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies, extending SE from Puerto Rico to the Windward Islands. The principal islands are the American Virgin Islands; the French island and the overseas debt. of Guadeloupe and its dependencies; the Dutch islands of St. Eustatius and Saba; the Dutch and French St. Martin; the islands of the independent states of St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda; and the islands of the British dependent territories of Anguilla, Montserrat, and the British Virgin Islands. Largely volcanic in origin, the Leewards have lush, subtropical vegetation, rich soil, and abundant rainfall. The warm, delightful climate is tempered by the surrounding water so that there is little variation in temperature. Most of the islands are popular tourist destinations. Products are mostly agricultural—fruits, vegetables, sugar, cotton, coffee, and tobacco.

Columbus first sighted the Leeward Islands in 1493, but settlement began only after the British arrived in the 17th cent. Sir Thomas Warner, sent to St. Kitts in 1623, was made governor-general of the yet uncolonized neighboring islands (Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, and Barbuda), and in the same year the Frenchman Pierre Bélain d’Esnambuc also established a colony on St. Kitts. By 1632, when the English had settled the neighboring islands, the sharp, three-way colonial conflict of England, France, and Spain had begun. The Spanish were forced from the struggle, but for nearly two centuries the islands were pawns in the Anglo-French worldwide wars. They changed hands with each fresh attack by British or French forces and were reshuffled in ownership whenever a new treaty was signed. Their final disposition did not come until the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815.

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