Well… mostly the Leeward Islands. In April, we sailed for 3 weeks from St. Martin to St. Lucia. As you can see on the map below, St. Martin south to Dominica lies in the Leeward Islands, while our last two stops, Martinique and St. Lucia, are in the Windward Islands.
We started on St. Martin, which is what the island itself is called. The island is divided roughly 60/40 between the Collectivité de Saint-Martin, an overseas collectivity of France, and Sint Maarten, one of four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The four parts of the Kingdom (Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands) – are separate countries and participate on a basis of equality as partners in the Kingdom. Saba, our first stop after St. Martin, is part of the Caribbean Netherlands, and is one of three special municipalities (Bonaire and Sint Eustatia are the other two) that are located in the Caribbean, but are actually part of the Netherlands. Further confusing the issue, the designation “Netherlands” can refer either to one of the Kingdom’s constituent countries or to the short name for the Kingdom (e.g. in international organizations). The Kingdom of the Netherlands as a whole is a member of the EU, but EU law applies only to parts within Europe.
Clear as Caribbean mud, right?
We had planned to tour Saba for a day, but windy/rainy weather and a tight time schedule nixed that, so unfortunately, no pictures of Saba except the one below I nabbed off the net. We will definitely go back sometime soon to climb that peak!
We DID climb Mount Liamuiga (well, to the crater rim across from it) on St. Kitts, and it was a fantastic hike. This dormant volcanic mountain rises to almost 3800 feet high; we were probably a few hundred feet below it at the top of our hike. Unfortunately, we lost our camera on St. Kitts and didn’t have backups of this hike on our phone, so again, here’s some pics off the net that show EXACTLY what we saw!
To keep our schedule (i.e. to get to Guadeloupe on time to fetch Jake from the airport), we only sailed past Nevis and on to our next stop, and a new island for us, Montserrat. Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory, and is best known for the volcanic activity that has occurred starting in 1995.
Next stop, Antigua, part of Antigua and Barbuda, and a new country for us. The beautiful aquamarine colors just outside Jolly Harbour reminded us of Anegada in the BVIs.
Guadeloupe is a populous overseas French Territory. When you are there, you are actually in France. Its two main islands are Basse-Terre to the west and Grande-Terre to the east, which are separated by a narrow strait that is crossed with bridges. It is commonly referred to as a single island in the shape of a butterfly.
Another new country for us, Dominica, had long been on our bucket list to visit. It didn’t disappoint. Dominica is largely covered by rainforest and is home to the world’s second-largest hot spring, Boiling Lake. It rises to about 4,500 feet elevation. Average yearly rainfall along the windward east coast frequently exceeds 200 inches, and exposed mountainsides receive up to 350 inches per year. It supposedly has 365 rivers; we didn’t count them (but Shauna would like to someday soon).
Our last stop was Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia is an island nation recognizable for its 2 distinctive mountains, the Pitons, on its west coast. It’s known for its beaches and reef-diving sites, as well as its rain-forested interior. It’s home to quiet volcanic beaches and fishing villages as well as luxurious resorts, and the capital, Castries, is a regular cruise ship stop.