The Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands lie like a ‘backbone’ framing the Caribbean Sea, luring sailors, cruise ships, and charter yachts to their shores for their close to perfect climate, a staggering array of diverse cultures, customs, cuisines and experiences, watersports and myriad attractions.
The term 'leeward islands' is derived from the course taken by most of the sailing ships that voyaged from Britain to the Caribbean. Driven by the trade winds, these vessels normally encountered Barbados, the island most to windward, as their first port of call.
The Windward Islands are the south-eastern islands of the Caribbean and simply called windward because they're exposed to the wind of the northeast trade winds. They include the islands of Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines and Grenada.
Dominica is the dividing line between the Windward and Leeward islands.
After progressing through the Windward Islands, these ships rounded off their voyages with the islands to leeward.
The Leeward Islands are called leeward because they're away from the wind or downwind (in the "lee"), and they include the Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Maarten (St Martin), Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla.
The climate of the Windwards is marine, and the extreme tropical heat is greatly tempered by the steady trade winds and daily sea breezes. A dry season alternates with a wet season, with the eastern sides of the islands receiving more rainfall because of the prevailing northeasterly trade winds.
The climate of the Leeward Islands is drier than the Windward Islands to the south but does vary from island to island and even in different parts of a single island; rainfall increases with elevation and in more southerly latitudes. Trade winds are a refreshingly soothing tonic to the tropical heat.
For charter yacht guests, both groups have their charms and innumerable reasons to chart a course and explore.
Contact your charter professionals at Luxury Charter Group to organize your next yachting holiday in the Caribbean.
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