The Best of the Lesser Antilles

The Best of the Lesser Antilles – The Lesser Antilles are a long string of islands that form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea. As far as beach travel goes, the Lesser Antilles should not be overlooked!  Many of these small islands are volcanic and tourists can split their time between beach activities and fascinating hiking and sightseeing in the interior.  Visit the French overseas territories Martinique and Guadeloupe for eco-tourism, beach sports, and a strong French influence over language, food and culture.  The Netherlands administers Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire and these luxurious islands have a reputation for good living.  Funky Trinidad and Tobago is a two-island nation with a strong music culture, fun carnivals and excellent diving opportunities. The British Virgin Islands have good beaches and beautiful mountainous interiors. The U.S. Virgin Islands have a resort for every budget.  The Lesser Antilles consists of three smaller island groups: the Windward Islands (Martinique, Barbados, Tobago, Trinidad, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, & Grenada), the Leeward Islands (St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, St. Martin, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, & Barbuda & Antigua), and the Leeward Antilles (Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Los Roques, & Margarita.).  You can also visit us on Pinterest. 

Windward Islands

The Windward Islands are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles island group in the Eastern Caribbean. They are so named because the trade winds touch here first, placing these islands upwind from the Leeward Islands.  The Windward Islands include Martinique, Barbados, Tobago, Trinidad, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, & Grenada.

Martinique Windward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesMartinique

Martinique is known for many things: food, culture, art, and, of course, world-famous rum distilleries. But few are aware of the extent and number of exceptional beaches in Martinique, from wide white-sand beaches to secluded coves and hideaways. Best Martinique Hotel:  Studio Dans de Tourisme Residence  Visit our Martinique Travel Guide here for Travel Planning.

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Barbados Windward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesBarbados

Barbados is home to many beautiful beaches. Barbados beaches are as diverse as the island, and there is a beach for everyone.  On the west coast, palms sway on white sandy shores while the azure waters lap gently at the shore. The more lively surf in the south and south-east are ideal for a host of water sports such as windsurfing, kite surfing and boogie boarding.  Along the east coast the beaches are wide and wind-blown. Here the shore is pounded by the Atlantic making it a delight for the surfers who come from all over the world.  And in the north, coral and sandstone cliffs rise straight out of the sea reaching up to a hundred feet in height. But even here, you’ll find the occasional sheltered cove.  Barbados is a coral island and its beaches are made from finely ground coral forming a clean fine grain. Best Barbados Hotel:  Yellow Bird Hotel  Visit our Barbados Island Travel Guide here for travel planning.

Tobago Windward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesTobago

The waters of Tobago are crystal clear and full of life. Whether you want to just relax and enjoy a boat trip, or enjoy fishing or kite surfing, the island has it all. Tobago is small, so no activity is far away from you, and it’s all accessible from wherever you’re staying.  If you want to lie on the beach all day but your partner wants some Caribbean sporting action, you can do that here.  Kite surfing and windsurfing are both popular water sports in Tobago.  Best Tobago Hotel:  Blue Water Inn  Visit our Trinidad & Tobago Travel Guide to plan your Tobago Vacation.

Trinidad Windward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesTrinidad

Trinidad is unlikely to be listed on the “top 10 Caribbean beaches” listings – though Grande Rivière was recently listed by British Airway’s High Life magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful in the world.  But there are countless beaches and activities to fill a day or weekend on a Trinidad beach. The four coasts are distinct, being on  three different bodies of water.  The most popular beaches are on the north coast: Maracas, Las Cuevas, and Blanchicheusse. The Atlantic waters can get rough between November and April.  Best Trinidad Hotel:  Courtyard by Marriott Invaders Bay  Visit our Trinidad & Tobago Travel Guide to plan your Tobago Vacation.

St. Lucia Windward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSt. Lucia

St. Lucia is a lush tropical island adorned with pristine sugar sand beaches and exotic black sand beaches. More and more vacationers are drawn to this little Caribbean hideaway, whose charm lies in its friendly atmosphere and its stunning seaside scenery.  All of the beaches on St. Lucia are public. A number of beachfront hotels and resorts are located on the north shores of the island.  Best St. Lucia Hotel:  Tet Rouge Resort  Visit our St. Lucia Travel Guide for more information on St. Lucia.

St. Vincent & the Grenadines Windward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSt.Vincent & the Grenadines

Just the name St Vincent and the Grenadines evokes visions of exotic, idyllic island life. Imagine an island chain in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, uncluttered by tourist exploitation; with white-sand beaches on deserted islands, sky-blue water gently lapping the shore and barely a soul around.  All beaches on mainland St. Vincent are public, and many of the best border hotels, where you can order drinks or lunch. Most of the resorts are in the south, where the beaches have golden-yellow sand.  Best St. Vincent & the Grenadines Hotel:  Bequia Plantation Hotel  Plan your St Vincent & the Grenadines Vacation Here

Grenada Windward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesGrenada

By visiting the mesmerizing island of Grenada, you can enjoy one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world. This beautiful island features more than 45 beaches full of countless opportunities for adventure, snorkeling, or just plain relaxing. Even better, all beaches on this island are public. That means no matter how exclusive or expensive looking the area, it is open for all to enjoy.  If you like to spend your time soaking up the sun, swimming in the cool seawater or snorkeling, there’s a lot to choose from in Grenada.  Best Grenada Hotel:  Petite Anse Hotel  Visit our Grenada Vacation Here for Granada travel information.

Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands – St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, St. Martin, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, & Barbuda & Antigua – have dreamy beaches flanked by crooked palms and lapped by cerulean waters.

St. Croix Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSt. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands)

St. Croix has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.  Many of the beaches are regarded as some of the most beautiful in the world.  Picture crescents of white sand lining secluded coves, crystal-clear turquoise waters – all with lush tropical hills as a backdrop…like the image?  Best St. Croix HotelThe Waves at Cane Bay Visit our St Croix Vacation Guide Here to plan your St. Croix vacation.

St. John Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSt. John (U.S. Virgin Islands)

Two-thirds of St. John is a national park. Its comfortable pace is perfect for enjoying the island’s world-renowned beaches such as Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Salt Pond Bay. All beaches on St. John are open to the public. It is illegal to collect shells from beaches in the Virgin Islands; shells are confiscated at airport customs.  Best St. John Hotel:  Concordia Eco Resort  Plan your St John Vacation Here

St. Thomas Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSt. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands)

St. Thomas’s beaches are renowned for their white sand and calm, turquoise waters. Chances are that your hotel will be right on the beach, or very close to one. All the beaches in the Virgin Islands are public, and most St. Thomas beaches are only 2 to 5 miles from Charlotte Amalie.  Best St. Thomas Hotel:  The Green Iguana Hotel  Plan your St Thomas Vacation Here

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St. Martin Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSt. Martin

As hard as it might be to believe, St. Martin has thirty-seven beaches on its thirty-seven square miles! Whatever your vacation style is, there will be a beach suited to your desires. For the action seeker, many beaches offer water sports of every description.  St Martin has a fairly relaxed attitude towards beach nudity. The island is the leading Caribbean destination for nudists. Topless sunbathing is the norm almost everywhere, except at some resorts catering to a mostly conservative American clientèle.  Best St. Martin Hotel:  Hotel Palm Court  Plan your St Martin Vacation Here

Anguilla Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesAnguilla

Anguilla has 33 pristine beaches and over twelve miles of stunning, white powder sand and tranquil waters ranging from aquamarine to cobalt blue.  Beaches of all kinds, from the long, gentle shoreline of Rendezvous Bay perfect for strolling, to the colorful beach bars that rest on the blinding white sands of Shoal Bay.  All of Anguilla’s beaches are public, uncrowded and unspoiled.  Every cove, bay and stretch of sand is marked by unique characteristics, such as rock and coral formations and picturesque tropical plants. There is a beach for everyone, for every kind of beach day, for every mood.  Best Anguilla Hotel:  Easy Corner Villas  Plan your Anguilla Vacation Here

Saba Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSaba

Saba is often considered a hidden gem of the Caribbean, retaining its unique beauty and simple way of life long after other islands have become packed with high-rises and crowds. Saba has largely been overlooked by international tourists perhaps because of its small size, but a more likely culprit is the island’s lack of beaches.  Best Saba Hotel:  El Momo Cottages  To plan your beach vacation to Saba, visit our Saba Island Travel Guide here

St. Eustatius Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSt. Eustatius

St. Eustatius, or sometimes called Statia, has  beaches that are small, narrow strips of volcanic sand. The best beaches are on the tranquil Caribbean side. Swimmers will find the beige and black sands of Orange Beach suitable for, while Crook Castle Beach draws beachcombers for the blue beads underneath the sands. Best St. Eustatius Hotel:  Golden Rock Resort  Plan your St Eustatius Vacation Here

St. Kitts, Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesSt. Kitts

The best beaches on St Kitts are on its south-eastern peninsula with pale sands, clear waters and a laid-back atmosphere despite the growing development in this area. The sea is calmest on the western, Caribbean side of the island, while the Atlantic coast is more wild and windy. Beaches in the north have grey volcanic sand and an austere appeal.  Best St. Kitts Hotel:  Imperial Bay Residences  Plan your St Kitts Vacation Here

Nevis Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesNevis

The locals will tell you that the best beaches on Nevis are on the northern and western shores. And, all the beaches are well-cared-for, public and free. And because they are never crowded, you might have an entire beach to yourself.  Probably the most famous and most popular beach on Nevis, Pinney’s Beach runs for about three miles and can be found on the outskirts of the capital, Charlestown. Choose to relax on the sand or enjoy a refreshing drink at one of the rustic beach bars or nearby Four Seasons Resort.   Best Nevis Hotel:  The Hamilton Beach Villas & Spa  Plan your Nevis Vacation Here

Antigua & Barbuda Leeward Islands Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesAntigua & Barbuda

There’s a beach for every day of the year on the Caribbean island of Antigua, many of them stunning sugar-white strands protected by coral reefs.   Take a ferry to “the last frontier of the Caribbean,” Barbuda, the sister island of Antigua, for undisturbed lounging on pink-and-white sandy beaches.  Best Antigua & Barbuda Hotel:  Buccaneer Beach Club  Plan your Antigua & Barbuda Vacation Here

Leeward Antilles

The Leeward Antilles includes the islands of Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Los Roques and Margarita.  The islands of the Leeward Antilles are mostly coral and fairly flat with little volcanic activity.  They lie on the southern boundary of the Caribbean Plate which is slowly moving towards and under the South American Plate.

Aruba Lesser Antilles Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesAruba

Platinum-blonde sandy beaches line its west coast, but the east coast is rugged, with craggy limestone cliffs, sand dunes, and crashing breakers.  Some of Aruba’s best white sugary stretches are found on the western and southern shores.  All of Aruba’s beaches are public, but chairs and palapas provided by resorts are the property of the hotels and for guest use only. If you use them at a hotel other than your own, expect to be charged.  Best Aruba Hotel:  Karibu Aruba Boutique Hotel  Plan your Aruba Vacation Here

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Curacao Antilles Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesCuracao

Curacao’s beaches are its best-kept secret. The best beaches are not the long, expansive patches of sand found in other islands, but rather smaller, more intimate beaches found in secluded inlets, called “bocas” in Papiamentu. Many of the best beaches are found at the west end of the island, which is fittingly named Westpunt, or “west point”.  The island claims to have 38 beaches in all, yet you’ll certainly find more along the secluded and rough coastlines of the eastern and northern coasts. Topless sunbathing and swimming is tolerated on most beaches in the resort areas, but not on resort grounds.  Best Curacao Hotel:  Villa Amalie  Plan your Curacao Vacation Here

Bonaire Antilles Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesBonaire

Bonaire has over 22 beaches. On Bonaire and sister island Klein Bonaire, the sands of some beaches are soft and blindingly white, while others are coarser and darker due to the high content of crushed shells and coral. But that’s a fair trade for having such spectacular reefs.  Best Bonaire Hotel:  The Bonairian  Plan your Bonaire Vacation Here

Los Roques Antilles Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesLos Roques

There is but one town on this collection of tiny atolls in the Caribbean Sea. Remote and romantic, Los Roques is more or less unknown to North American visitors but frequented by Venezuelans who know that its beaches and mangrove lagoons are unmatched.  Best Los Roques Hotel:  Posada Piano y Papaya Los Roques Venezuela For our Los Roques Travel guide, visit here and plan your trip today!

Margarita Antilles Lesser Antilles, The Best of the Lesser AntillesMargarita

Margarita has a big choice of beaches. There is one for everyone: With or without waves, with or without crowds, with or without wind, with or without hotels, with or without facilities (restaurants, shades, chairs…).  Margarita Island has a wide variety of outstanding beaches to suit all tastes.  Best Margarita Hotel:  Aquarius Hotel Boutique  Plan your Margarita Vacation Here

26 Comments

  1. Derek

    All these places look so beautiful!

    I would love to go to the ones with clear waters. I went to hawaii once and was paddle boarding and I saw something below me. I looked harder and it was a huge sea turtle swimming toward me. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

    Thanks you so much for all the information!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, it’s pretty cool when you see the sea life. I swam with a manatee once, freaked me out at first, but then I thought, wow not too many people see this.

      Reply
  2. larry

    These all look beautiful! I would love to go to any of these places on vacation. Now all I need is the time off of work! Thank you for all these options. Is their any language barriers on these islands? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      No, I don’t think you will have a language barrier at any of the islands. Thanks for visiting my site 🙂

      Reply
  3. Charlie

    Many years ago, I did a Windjammer cruise out of St Lucia. We sailed to St Vincent and some of the Grenadine islands. Some of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited. I would love to visit more of the islands.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You know Charlie, I think the beaches here are some of the best in the world…hands down!

      Reply
  4. Anna

    Oh boy I love all of them and I want to pack right now and go! Los Roques I think will be my first destination and then Grenada. Great article and lots of helpful info, I already bookmarked it 🙂

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks so much Anna. Thanks for visiting my site 🙂

      Reply
  5. Matt

    Wow, looks like you really did your research! So many nice beaches out there. Margarita looks like an aweseome place to visit and is probably my favorite among the list. Seems like it has so many options to choose from. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Matt!

      Reply
  6. Gary Tucker

    Hi
    Thanks for the thorough, comprehensive information. I’ve been thinking about going to the places for a vacation. The information you give not only tells you what each place is like but places you can go nearby and activities you can do. Everything you need! Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You’re welcome Gary. It’s definitely a passion of mine 🙂

      Reply
  7. TristaQuack

    Oh my goodness Martinique sounds absolutely amazing. I love the descriptions you have used in in your article. I also thought that you had a really great layout. Easy to use and absolutely love the layout and pictures you showed! I would love to see some more pictures to these places besides the amazingly white sandy beaches. After looking at this I have sooo many places I would like to visit! Add it to the list right?!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      That’s right Trista!

      Reply
  8. Daniella

    Hi Lea,

    What an attractive article, the pictures are so beautiful, it makes me want to travel right now!
    If I had to choose from all these fantastic spots, I would have tried the Bonaire in the Caribbean:)
    What language is spoken in the Bonaire? Isn’t French?
    Thank you very much for this excellent post!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You’re very welcome Daniella!

      Reply
  9. Janelle

    Oh my gosheroonie! So many beautiful places in the Lesser Antilles.
    I am a sailor from the South Pacific and once I’m done with combing all of these beaches I think I need to get over to your part of the world.
    The cruising and diving grounds look fabulous. Can you tell me which are the most popular areas for sailing. Although, once my husband sees this, he will want to explore them all.
    Thanks for the stunning images too.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh, do swing by and pick me up before you sail off! There are lots of great sailing places for sure. The choices are endless, you can sail around the islands of the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten / Saint Martin or St. Barts. The island of Nevis that is almost circular and surrounded by coral reefs, and the five beautiful islands of Les Sainte. Some like to sail the volcanic island of St. Eustatius, and the islands of Antigua and Barbuda.

      Reply
  10. Lefty

    umm, I’m getting to where i can’t visit your site anymore! makes me wish of places I’d rather be! such great detail into all the islands, yours is the ultimate travel guide. I went to aruba, curacao and bonaire with my family when I was around 13- what an incredible vacation! have been dying to get back to anywhere in the carribbean. Thanks so much for this 🙂

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are more than welcome, and thank you for coming back. I will keep updating and adding more beautiful destinations!

      Reply
  11. christinamk

    All of these places sound so incredible, it’s hard to choose a favorite! I think I would want to go to Bonaire and try kiteboarding. The beaches there are incredible too. But Aruba does sound like a lot of fun as well. This is an awesome list though. Each place has it’s own character and things it’s known for. Can’t wait for my next vacation!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you for visiting!

      Reply
  12. Jaron

    My wife and I love visiting the tropics and crystal clear water. The Leeward Islands look amazing. Going to be adding that to my list of places to see!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      They are amazing! Thanks for looking 🙂

      Reply
  13. Laura

    Thank you for this article I have been wanting to take a trip to the Antilles and have been trying to figure out where to go. Did not realize there is so much to it! I saved your site! Great information.
    Laura

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks Laura for visiting. Yes, there are so many place to go and they are all amazing!

      Reply

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