It’s the first week of August as I write this, and I am back in Trinidad after spending a few weeks in Vancouver for a break to visit friends and family. Obtviously our blogging efforts lagged once we started island hopping in the Caribbean in February, but we’ve really enjoyed our travels and there are some fun stories to tell.
We spent February through June traveling back and forth through the eastern Caribbean’s Windward and Leeward islands, also known as the Lesser Antilles (the Greater Antilles are the larger Caribbean islands… Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Jamaica). When European explorers first arrived in the Caribbean, they did so by following the tradewinds that blow east to west across the Atlantic, north and south of the equator. Sailing downwind, or with the wind, made for relatively quick and easy passages.
On the tradewinds route, the first islands that Europeans arrived at were the southern group of islands in the Lesser Antilles (Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, etc.) and as they curved north and west, sailing more or less with the wind, they found Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Kitts & Nevis, etc. The southern group of islands thus became known as the Windward islands (towards the wind) and the northern group as the Leeward islands (away from the wind). It does feel like a bit of a stretch to divide them up that way, since the islands are all fairly equally spaced along the north/south chain, and the wind blows more across the island chain than along it. Indeed, it’s this geography that makes the area such a popular destination for sailors, with steady east-to-west tradewinds allowing for easy travel north or south along the island chain, hopping an island at a time, generally without needing to sail at night.
And that’s what we did. From Antigua we sailed south to Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Martinique, then turned around and sailed back north to explore St. Martin/Sint Maarten, St. Barts, Statia, and St. Kitts & Nevis before returning for a second pass through Guadeloupe and Martinique before continuing south to St. Lucia, the Grenadines, Grenada, and finally Trinidad.
Rather than a blow by blow account of our back and forth travels, the blog posts that follow will focus on some highlights, stories, and impressions of these diverse and beautiful places and the wonderful people we’ve met along the way.