Beautiful Caribbean Holidays, the west indies resorts specialists
West Indies holidays guide with in depth travel information on the region. Find out the best countries to visit, the top attractions to see and the best west indies accommodation options for tourists. Make the most of your holiday to West Indies.
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The term Leeward Islands is derived from the course taken by most of the ships that sailed from Britain to the Caribbean. Driven by the prevailing trade winds (which blow east to west), these ships usually came first to Barbados, the island most to windward in the Caribbean. After winding their way through the islands that are most to windward, these ships ended their voyages at the islands most to leeward, or away from the wind. It’s a little confusing, given that most don’t use those expressions any longer, but it makes it easy to group the islands into convenient areas. These are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles, and include the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, and Water Island; the British Virgin Islands of Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada; plus Anguilla, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, Saint-Barthélemy, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda, Antigua, Redonda, and Guadeloupe.

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About half the Leeward Islands are low, flat, coral islands with dry desert vegetation. The other half, including Saba, St. Eustatia, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Guadeloupe (to the south and west), are tall, volcanic lands with lush tropical rainforests and volcanoes in various stages of activity. This is likely because the two island chains sit on two different tectonic plates. As a group or separately, the Leeward Islands are some of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Regardless of topography, flora or fauna, they all have comfortably high temperatures all year, and the diving, swimming, surfing, fishing, sailing, and snorkeling are incredible; the indigenous plants, animals and birds on all the islands are definitely time- and camera-worthy.

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The Windward Islands consist of Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. The area is called the Windward Islands (exposed to the wind) because ships in the 1700s bound for Jamaica followed the trade-wind passage, stopping at islands along the way. These islands are a north-south chain in the southern section of the Lesser Antilles; they are all volcanic rock formations.

Dominica. The “Nature Island” of Dominica (Domin-eek-ah) is home to 10 of the 20 active volcanoes in the Eastern Caribbean, and is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles. If you’re looking for soft sandy beaches, fun in the sun, crowds of boisterous tourists, and miles of shopping opportunities, stay away from Dominica. This place is an eco-friendly, nature-lover’s dream-come-true. But you have to be in fairly good shape to explore it all—it’s almost all mountains and rain-forests, with a few isolated black-sand beaches in the northeast, a bit like an ecosystem still in the process of forming.

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Martinique is still a French possession. The island is dotted with volcanoes, dormant but for Mount Pelée, which is the highest at 1,397 metres. Volcanic ash from Pelée has painted the beaches of the north in shades of gray and black, in sharp contrast to the ultra-white sands in the south. Often called the ‘Isle of Flowers,’ with botanical gardens tucked here and there in the rugged landscape, Martinique is a ‘something for everyone’ destination, with sophisticated pleasures, gastronomic delights, mind-blowing diving sites and sights, and extreme shopping therapy. Tropical conditions in Martinique have helped cover the island with vegetation, including lush tropical forests, savannas, fruits, plants, and flowers, plus the incredible mangrove forests; together this vegetation turns the island into a veritable Garden of Eden.

Saint Lucia is a little slice of heaven located where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean in the Lesser Antilles. A small volcanic island, it is more mountainous than most other islands in the Caribbean; the highest point is Mount Gimie, 950 metres above sea level that, with two other famous mountains, the Pitons, form the island's most famous landmark. This tropical island is a favorite honeymoon spot, and offers weary travelers relaxing beaches, mountains to hike, exotic plants, animals, and birds to watch and capture on film or canvas, and the Qualibou volcano, one of the few drive-in volcanoes in the world, with its boiling, rejuvenating sulfur springs.

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Of all the islands in the Caribbean, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is possibly the least well known, although the filming of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies there did help improve the island’s international visibility. The islands were awarded the 2011 Top 5 Islands of the Caribbean by Travel and Leisure World's Best List Awards; the 2009 Best Sailing & Yachting Island of The Year by Caribbean Travel World Awards, and the 2009 Silver Magellan Award Best Honeymoon Destination by Travel Weekly. For the most part, the dress code anywhere on this island nation is ‘barefoot casual;’ it is a little slice of paradise that’s perfect for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

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