SUPERYACHT DESTINATION GUIDE: THE WINDWARD ISLANDS
Last updated: 13/12/2019
The Windward Islands are a world-renowned yachting destination, offering some of the best of the Caribbean from beautiful white beaches to amazing emerald mountains, there is a myriad of hidden gems to be discovered.
The Caribbean is much revered amongst the yachtie community, and for good reason, the alluring scenery and laid-back lifestyle have continued to make these isles a special destination for all private and charter yachts. The Windward Islands and Leeward Islands highlight the best that the Caribbean has to offer, and are made up of a series of islands, each with their own unique personality – making them the ideal location for a superyacht to cruise.
Yachting pages enters the captivating world of the Windward Islands and takes a look at some of the different elements that keep yachties coming back year on year.
What are the Windward Islands?
The Windward Islands are a group of islands, located in the south of the Caribbean, starting at Martinique in the north, and stretching out to Trinidad and Tobago in the south. The isle lies at the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea, between latitudes 12° and 16° N and longitudes 60° and 62°W.
The Windward Islands get their name from early sailing ships crossing the sea who took advantage of the trade winds and ocean currents. These often brought sailors to the edge of the Caribbean Sea, near Dominica and Martinique.
The full list of islands that make up the much-loved Windward Islands are:
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Visiting the Windward Islands aboard a superyacht
The calm Caribbean waters make for an easy cruise through the Windward Islands, although slightly quieter and more remote than their northern counterparts the Leeward Islands, this makes for an abundance of stunning natural wildlife which makes for an incredible viewing either on the ground or aboard a yacht.
Explore the amazing tropical scenery, near-perfect beaches, remote anchorage and wonderful hidden coves for the ultimate yachting experience.
When to visit: Climate and attractions
The weather in the Windward Islands is a big contributor to the popularity of these islands amongst yachties. High temperatures and a tropical climate make these a firm favourite in the yachting community, with hot and humid summers and cool winters with minimal rainfall. Travelling between November and April will make sure you see the best weather and see the best of the beaches on your travels. Party season is in full swing from June to August, with the region becoming a hub of festivals and carnivals.
The waters surrounding the Windward islands operate with a consistent 10 to 25-knot winds, making for smooth and dependable sail.
The dry season alternates with a wet season, with eastern sides of the island receiving more rainfall, this is due to the north-easterly trade winds. It is worth noting that Hurricanes can be a threat from June to October.
What to do when in the Windward Islands?
If beach-combing is your thing, you are in luck because the diverse range of beaches around the Windward Islands mean that you will have no issues finding everything you want from a beach.
As you arrive into the calm, open waters on the approach to St Lucia, you will be greeted by a scattering of gorgeous beaches, beautiful vegetation, unique wildlife, lush flowers and vivid fauna, the ‘Helen of the West’ has long been adored by yachting enthusiasts.
St Lucia has a rich, diverse culture that has been shaped throughout their history, as a result you will notice a mixture of French, English and East Indian influences. The national dish of St Lucia is green fig and saltfish, a stunning blend of sweet and savoury, as many Caribbean nations, St Lucians also definitely know how to cook a plantain to perfection.
If you want to enjoy a stunning sunset, you will be well served to head over to Reduit beach, not far from Rodney Bay Marina. Stretching over 5 miles, the stunning shores and amazing view of historical site Pigeon Island National Park will make sure the end of your day is just as beautiful as the start.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Explore the enchanting natural wonder of the Tobago Cays, a small island chain of five uninhabited cays and reefs that are home to beautiful turtles and colourful fish. St Vincent offers a world of exploration to any inquisitive adventurer.
While no jet skis, waverunners or spearfish are permitted in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, this will give you a chance to leave those stored away while you dive into a real, idyllic Caribbean paradise experience.
In tandem with the natural beauty, charming locals and wonderful climate, the Grenadines allows for some of the finest sailing grounds, not only in the region, but worldwide.
If you are in the area and seeking exclusivity, the island of Mustique is a must visit. Over the past 50 years, the island has become one of the most sought-after destinations for royals, musicians and moguls alike. Visit the famous Basil’s bar for a rum cocktail or two, or perhaps even go shopping at some of the charming boutique stores located throughout the island.
Trinidad and Tobago
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is the southernmost isle located within the Windward Islands. The twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago have a wealth of unforgettable experiences to offer yachties.
Known as the birthplace of the soothing calypso music, Trinidad is well known for its extravagant parties as well as it’s marvellous marine wildlife. Commonly referred to as the ‘Rainbow Island’ because of the picturesque colourful environment that is created in the early months of the year during carnival season.
The island is littered with enticing golf courses, plush hotels and charming cricket grounds. Cricket is very popular in Trinidad and Tobago, with cricket legend Brian Lara having originally hailed from the isles.
Occupying the north west of Trinidad and Tobago, Chaguaramas has become synonymous with yachting. The marina has seen a myriad of changes since its initial conceptualisation as an American Military Base in World War II, it has now transformed into one of the finest selections of marine services and skilled workers to be found anywhere in the Caribbean.
If you’re a nature buff, you have to make sure you get a stop at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. The Not-for-Profit Trust was founded in 1967, becoming one of the first nature centres to be established in the Caribbean. It is widely considered to be a world-class bird watching destination, with a total of 159 species of bird being spotted here.
When you think of the words ‘tropical paradise’ chances are an image of the breath-taking shores of Barbados come flooding into your mind. Equipped with fine powdery sand, picturesque turquoise bays, friendly accommodating locals and a vibrant nightlife, Barbados has all the ingredients for both fun and relaxation.
Soak up some sun on the popular Rockley Beach and enjoy a locally brewed, world famous Banks Beer. Directly opposite the beach is the Quayside Centre, a small mall offering everything from delicious world cuisines to Barbadian crafts and giftware, there will be something at Quayside for everyone!
The quaint and scenic capital of Barbados, Bridgetown, is stunning to look at alone. From its uniquely pastel coloured houses and warehouses to the gorgeous blue seas, the city is not only beautiful but also rich in history. There is plenty of culture and antiquity to absorb when in Bridgetown, so definitely make sure to visit the isles.
Superyacht berthing: Ports and marinas in the Windward Islands
Rodney Bay Marina
Hosting a total of 253 berths with 32 megayacht berths within that, Rodney Bay Marina in St Lucia can cater to all your yachting needs with their wide range of amenities. The Marina can facilitate for vessels up to 285 ft (86.6m) and also gives access to fuelling, grey and black water pumps out as well as Chandlery services.
Rodney Bay is the largest marina in St Lucia, originally built in 1985, the hurricane-safe marina includes leisure facilities for guests including a swimming pool, a bank, a bar and a host of restaurants to explore and enjoy. Guests can also make use of the car hire and laundry services within the marina.
Around 10 nautical miles from Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, lies Chaguaramas, where the majority of boatyard and yachting services are located. There are a number of marinas and yards that operate a full service located around Chaguarmas, where Peake Yacht Services are based.
With storage capacity for over 350 boats, Peake Yacht Services are very well versed at handling all different type of water vessels. Catering for vessels up to 31 ft (9.45m) beams, Peake Yacht Services are specialists in many niche maintenances including vacuum consolidation and carbon fibre/kevlar repairs in.
Port Louis Marina
Located in the alluring lagoon just outside of capital city St. George’s, Port Louis Marina’s charming scenery makes it easy to identify all around the clock. The sleepy marina peers over the vibrant waterfront, with 170 berths for yachts with a max LOA of 300 ft (91.44m) and a max draft of 20 ft (6m).
The luxury marina has all the amenities to ensure that your stop is smooth and enjoyable. Water filling services, customs & immigration services, fuel docking, truck delivery, 24-hour security, free WiFi, a swimming pool, cable tv, provisioning services, bars and restaurants amongst a world of hidden gems.
Located in Glossy Bay on the island of Canouan, Sandy Lane Yacht Club is a recently opened ultra-luxury, full-service 120-berth marina accommodating superyachts up to 360ft (100m) LOA with a depth of 18 ft (5.5m).
Offering 120 berths with a depth of 18 ft (5.5m), the marina is the perfect berthing place for both yachts and superyachts.
Windward Islands yacht clearance and regulation
The different islands that make up the Leeward Islands are either completely autonomous or are politically aligned with France, the Netherlands or the UK, which can make bureaucracy complicated. Customs and borders authorities are usually directly together or side-by-side.
As the Windward Islands are comprised of a number of nations, it is mandatory to clear in and out of each one. You will be required to provide a list of required passports, crew list and ship’s papers, always bring the previous clearance with you. The customs charges vary from island to island and you are generally better served paying in cash, it is always a good idea to be aware of the currency an island trade with before stepping off the yacht.