A Caribbean Soul: Lesser Antilles (Leeward Antilles)

The Caribbean offers a tropical smorgasbord (if there is such a thing!). The many islands have tastes of Europe (Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Portugal), Africa and the Americas while retaining their own unique pleasures. It’s easy to see why the Europeans fought so fiercely over ownership of the islands; many changed hands multiple times. (Tobago holds the record: it was passed around 22 times during the colonial period.)

It’s the diversity of influences and the consistency of beautiful landscape that keeps it interesting for travelers, including Jimmy who has documented many of his own trips to these islands over the years.

First, a little geography.

The Lesser Antilles include:

  •       the Leeward Islands: the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua, St. Martin (also known as St. Maarten), St. Croix, St. Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Montserrat and Dominica;
  •       the Windward Islands: Barbados, Martinique, Grenada, The Grenadines, Sts. Lucia and Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago;
  •       the Leeward Antilles just north of Venezuela: The “ABC islands” of Aruba, Bonaire Curacao; nearby Islas de Margarita and Tortuga are sometimes included.

View Lesser Antilles in a larger map

Unlike the Greater Antilles, which are made up of continental rock, the Lesser Antilles are mostly volcanic or coral islands. This gives them different looks, and of course a different experience for divers.

As for music, the steel band tradition is common across many Caribbean islands, but especially the Lesser Antilles.

Let’s start in the southwest and then sail our way counterclockwise through the Lesser Antilles. The only Leeward Antille that Jimmy has sung about (so far) is Aruba.


In “African Friend” (from the album “Son of a Son of a Sailor”), Jimmy sings:

Business in Aruba concluded
He now had a little money to spend
That’s how I came to meet my African friend.

Top activities in Aruba include scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. But tourism is the main pillar of the Aruban economy, and there are many other sports and adventure tours available, including windsurfing, sailing, hiking, horseback riding, SNUBA, 4×4 safaris, snorkeling tours, paintball and even a submarine ride. Party buses and boats transport revelers in the evening.

Now, let’s sail east to the Windward Islands.

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