Introduction to the Leeward Islands - 2005-2009
The Leewards are the first half of the chain of islands that run down the Eastern Caribbean between the Virgin Islands and Trinidad. They include Anguilla, St. Martin/St. Maarten, Saba, St. Barths, Statia, St. Kitts, Nevis, Redonda, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Iles des Saintes and Dominica.
The Leeward Islands span some 200 miles and include ten major islands operating as different nations. The variety is unparalleled. These islands have a rich history and are all individually different.
Antigua and Barbuda form an independent country that used to be British. Antigua has the oldest dockyard in the Caribbean now a national park, located at English Harbor and Named after Lord Nelson. Redonda, really just a very large rock is part of Antigua with no anchorages or access to the island. Barbuda is a beautiful unspoiled island with no paved roads, miles of beach, beautiful water, wild donkeys, horses and deer, and a frigate bird rookery. Much of the island is a park. Anguilla is British and has an interesting history. Montserrat a British colony, whose first European settlers were Irish, is also known as the Emerald Isle. It has the only really active volcano Souffriere that erupted in 1995 and is still spewing smoke and ash high into the air.
Saba and Statia are part of the Dutch Antilles, as is St Maarten. St. Martin/St. Maarten is the smallest island to ever be divided between two countries the French and the Dutch. . St. Maarten has duty free shopping, a lovely boardwalk area and is popular to cruise boats and tourists alike. An overseas collectivity of France, St. Martin is very European in style and has a lovely waterfront boardwalk and shopping area with a nice open market. St. Barths is a French free port and is considered the "Riviera of the Caribbean" because of its rich clientele. Guadeloupe includes Marie Galante and Iles Des Saintes and is part of France. It is divided by a river; the old section of the island is flat after being worn away by years of erosion, the newer section is mountainous.
Dominica became an independent island in 1978 after being ruled by first France and then England. It was discovered on a Sunday and named Dominica, (Latin for the Sunday) by Columbus in 1493. The rugged mountains of Dominica contain 8 potentially active volcanos, lush greenery and lots of wildlife; much to offer to nature enthusiasts. Nevis and St. Kitts form an independent nation.
Each offers a unique experience not to be forgotten.