A Fortnight of Scenic Sailing in the Windward Islands
Do you often dream about the Caribbean climate with unsurpassed landscapes? Work tirelessly for that well deserved end of year break? Then this blog was written for you.
The Caribbean is a paradise for any sailor. The conditions for sailing are ideal, with constant winds (Alisios) blowing usually at 15 knots and with temperatures close to 30º throughout the year. You will also find that the water is at an ideal temperature all year round at around 26º, thanks to its eternal sun. It is a pleasure to bathe in its crystalline waters and relax, but if you desire to seek adventure, you can also practice aquatic activities surrounded by a fascinating landscape.
This destination is especially attractive for sailing as the proximity between the islands allow short hops between lagoons taking just a few hours. There are a large number of islands with many unique and fascinating features, which you can visit by boat. Discover all that the Caribbean can offer you, without doubt, you will be astonished.
Here we propose a route around the Windward Islands of Martinique, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent.
To rent a sailboat or a catamaran there, it is not necessary to have a license but you will need to provide a Nautical Curriculum (as in France). This means that you will have to present in writing, a summary of all your nautical experiences. If this experience is considered sufficient by the owner, you can board any boat, regardless of the length.
Before beginning this route…
To clarify that one of the peculiarities that occurs within the Caribbean and its surrounding islands, is that they belong to several countries. Therefore, every time you leave and/or enter a different island it is important to take into account the customs formalities.
If you decide to anchor overnight without having to tread solid ground, these procedures are not necessary. The only requirement is to raise a yellow flag, so that they recognize, and know that you are in transit.
Below you will find a very interesting 14 day sailing route, which accepts many variations due to the number of beaches and ports near the route.
Day 1: Marina du Marin, Martinique to Sainte Anne, Martinique (5.4 nm)
Day 1 of your sailing trip will start in the largest nautical base in the Caribbean, Marina du Marin, Martinique. It is just a 45 minute drive from the airport and therefore easily accessible straight after you land. Due to the large proximity of the marina, it has a lively atmosphere and holds countless boats. Here you will find an abundance of restaurants, leisure activities, services and shopping. This is the perfect place to stock up on any necessities ready for your two week charter.
After a morning at base preparing for your voyage, you can set sail on a short hop to Sainte Anne. This is a great place to anchor, as the shallow water provides a good holding. Sainte Anne covers the whole area below the beach off the resort Club Med Les Boucaniers, making it a great place to spend your first evening.
Day 2: Sainte Anne, Martinique to Baie des Anglais, Martinique (5.4 nm)
Day 2 will begin by exploring the wonderful Sainte Anne. If you’re lucky to be here around the Christmas period, you will be welcomed by Creole carols, roast suckling pig and a live nativity. Have a delicious breakfast at Basilic Beach and spend a few hours enjoying the glorious view whilst you listen to the waves crash amongst the rocks. Next, we highly recommend a visit to the world-famous Sainte Anne Bird Sanctuary. This sanctuary is the most important in the Caribbean for native nesting birds. Here you will also notice fascinating mangroves amongst you.
Sainte Anne itself is in fact a designated national park filled with wonderful hikes both inland and along the coast with spectacular views. After a long or short hike, have a walk into the extraordinarily pretty town of Sainte Anne. Let your eyes drift from its tall steepled church to the colourful Creole houses around you.
A large percentage of the local population here like to fish, and therefore the French influence in Sainte Anne means that you can have high expectations of the seafood here, perfect for a late lunch! We highly recommend the Acras de Morue (spicy cod balls) which are a Creole menu staple. For those of you who live on the adventurous side of cuisine, you may want to sample the local specialities of lambis (conch) and Creole boudin made from pig’s blood.
After a lovely day in Sainte Anne, head back to your boat and head into the tradewinds for the East Coast of Martinique. Moor at an attractive cove called the Baie des Anglais, which is just a short hop sail of 2 hours. This particular bay is what you may call ‘out-of-the-way.’ It is mainly sheltered due to a coral reef, classed as a natural reserve. You will find that the local fishermen here are wonderfully accommodating and only too happy to set up a lobster barbecue on the beach for visitors. Spend your evening here enjoying the atmosphere and absorb the true Caribbean vibes.
Day 3: Baie des Anglais, Martinique to Llets du Fancois, Martinique (14.57nm)
Start your day 3 by having a relaxing few hours in the bay of Baie des Anglais, before heading north along the Martinique coastline. The scenery here is picture perfect and magnificently unspoiled. Make sure you take advantage of this prime opportunity to stop for an instagram shot and tag @Nautalcom as we love to follow your adventures. Here you will also notice the seashore is lined with beautiful sandy beaches and coconut palms. As you approach Llets du Francois and the oh-so-famous Baignoire de Joséphine, take a dip in the 29° water, before sinking your toes into the powder-white sand on the beach. This place can only be described as a true paradise.
On the afternoon, grab a spot of lunch and rent kayaks. You can do this for just a small cost on the island and floating on the serene water is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Alternatively, if you crave a slightly less relaxing afternoon make sure you visit Paintball Island. This place is seriously fun with a 5* rating, perfect for families or a group of friends!
If pizza is your thing then an enjoy your evening meal at L’Italien. The food is simply scrumptious. End your evening with a couple of drinks before hitting the hay.
Day 4: Llets du Francois, Martinique to Havre du Robert, Martinique (3.9nm)
On day 4 make sure you spend a little time exploring Llets du Francois for the last time, and squeeze in any activities you may have not had time for the previous day. Enjoy a spot of lunch at La Ferme des Orchidées au Francois, and set sail for the Havre du Robert. En route you will cruise past the little quaint island of Loup Gaou. This deserted island is picture-postcard perfect with just 3 palm trees and coral pink sand. Anchor here for a few hours and enjoy the true stillness of this island.
When you arrive close to the Baie du Robert, you will have a choice of 2 anchorages. Ilet Madame is a sheltered isle, inhabited by only iguanes. Ilet Chance is your other option. This anchorage is special as it is covered in a mangrove swamp, inhabited by iguanas and resembles a luscious green paradise, with misshapen ancient brickworks, giving an atmosphere that you have gone back in time.
Beware of the coral on the inner part of the harbour when mooring here. If you need to top up on fuel it is possible in the south west. Take some time to explore the market here, where you will find french delicacies and some provisions.
Enjoy a quiet tranquil evening here on board your boat, appreciating the stillness and glistening stars above, before a big day of activities and sailing the following morning.
Day 5: Havre du Robert, Martinique a stop at Baie aux Trésors, Martinique and onto Tartane, Martinique (19.37nm)
Get ready for a change of scenery on day 5 of your sailing experience. An hours sail from Havre du Robert you will embark upon the glorious Baie aux Trésors, a new nature reserve situated at the tip of the point of La Caravelle. As soon as you enter this place you feel a sense of magic and adventure. Here lie the ruins of the Dubuc castle where a 17th century colony was supposed to have kept their hidden treasures. Maybe the children amongst the crew would enjoy spending the day hunting for them.
Next you will sail for 3 hours to Tartane. The moorings here are calm yet there is a lively atmosphere. Tartane is renowned for its fishing, but even more for its surf! The waves here are the best, so if you love to ride the waves then visiting here is an absolute must. In addition to this, there is spectacular scenery all around and therefore a great place to relax with a good book, absorb the Caribbean atmosphere and watch the surfers.
If you get the chance, be sure to take a stroll and appreciate the true beauty of the rich flora and fauna that the island has to offer, not to mention the panoramic views over the windward coast of Martinique.
Day 6: Tartane, Martinique to Saint-Pierre, Martinique (30.61nm)
Day 6 is going to be the most scenic of days. Sailing along the Martinique coastline will truly catch your eye with stunning panoramic views around you. As you sail towards Saint-Pierre you will cruise along the canal which separates Martinique from the Dominican Republic, with its various mesmerising landscapes. The tradewind is sure to drive you along for a 5 hour sail. As you approach Saint-Pierre you will instantly notice its wide sandy beach, and beautiful village located at the foot of the Pelée Mountain.
Today this village has no more than 7500 inhabitants as the eruption of the volcano in 1902 wiped out the whole population. The only survivor was a prisoner called Cyparis, who owed his life to the thickness of his cell wall. Three parallel streets now represent the essence of what is left of the pristine ruins of this town.
You have many options to choose from in the this town. If you prefer to explore by foot then be sure to explore the Volcanological Museum which portrays an exhibition of relics of the catastrophe. Make sure you also head to the beach and sink your toes into the black sand. This place really is something else.
Saint-Pierre is a great place to snorkel or scuba dive. In addition to the constantly warm water, you can also cruise a couple hundred yards off shore to see more than 10 shipwrecks just below the surface.
After a fun filled day, treat yourself to some fine dining at the La Table de Mamy Nounou.
Day 7: Saint-Pierre, Martinique to Les Anses-d’Arlet, Martinique (20nm)
As you’re now on the Leeward side of the island, day 7 will take you along sea as calm as millpond sea. Sail for 4 hours towards Les Anses-d’Arlet and of course once again, you’re bound to enjoy your surroundings on the way. Once you have grabbed a mooring buoy be sure to admire the gorgeous stretch of sand in front of the Anse dÁrlet Bourg. From the sea, a stunning 18th-century steeple church dominates the shore. You will notice this attractive fishing village has kept its sense of authenticity, with its colourful boats pulled up on the beach and its Creole houses. This is by far one of the best places to swim in Martinique.
For lunch, take a stroll further down the street, Anse d’Arlet has many beach restaurants and bars to offer. Here it is rarely difficult to find the perfect spot on this inviting paradisiac golden sand.
After lunch, take advantage of this dream site for underwater diving. As soon as you cast your eyes on these crystal clear waters, you won’t be able to resist the urge to dive straight in. If you’re lucky enough to own an underwater camera, this is the perfect spot to capture amazing shots of corals, starfish and other tropical fish. Turtles are also frequent visitors in this area.
Spend the evening catching up with your fellow sailors, sharing tales of the sea (over a cocktail or two) at the both atmospheric and picturesque Ti Sable.
Day 8: Les Anses-d’Arlet, Martinique to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia (30nm)
Day 8 is the day you will finally leave Martinique to explore the glorious island of Saint Lucia. Rodney Bay is the first place you will sail to and you’re in for a treat. Just north of Choc Bay, Rodney bay is along the Northwestern Coast of the island. The name was given to this place after a British naval officer George Brydges Rodney.
Rodney Bay Marina is the marina of all marinas. Here there is space for many boats with all the amenities you could ever desire on your sailing trip. Once you have a spot and you’re settled, be sure to take a stroll around the marina whilst drooling over the spectacular yachts surrounding you. IIf you’re lucky enough to be here in December you might stumble upon the arrival of the ARC. The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is a challenging sailing event that begins in Spain’s Canary Islands and terminates at Saint Lucia’s Rodney Bay Marina. This amazing 2700 nautical mile voyage is undertaken by more than 230 vessels and 1200 people each year. Saint Lucia also has its own festivals throughout the year.
Indulge all day…
Spend the afternoon making the most of the tax-free prices on a wide variety of famous brands and speciality stores. Saint Lucia’s only casino is located upstairs in the Baywalk Shopping Mall and offers all the excitement you might anticipate, along with regular entertainment.
If spas are your thing then you are absolutely spoilt for choice at Rodney Bay. They are located along the beachfront as well as any tiny zen hideaway. After a lovely relaxing afternoon, be sure to check out the large array of cuisine offered here, there is so much choice from barbecue, to Mexican, to Chinese, something is bound to tickle your taste buds.
As dusk rolls in and the dark begins to loom, Rodney Bay itself lights up and comes to life. Late night bars and clubs are filled with a busy mix of locals and visitors, so if you fancy digging out your dancing shoes then this is the place to do it. There are many regular karaoke and live music nights at various venues, and a lot of the music is uptempo soca and cool reggae.
Day 9: Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia to Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia (10nm)
Day 9 consists of just a short sail over to the wonderful Marigot Bay, also situated on Saint Lucia. After a big breakfast in Rodney Bay, head further along the Western Coast. Hugged by rainforest clad hills, here you will find a picture postcard creek with white sand, coconut trees and mangroves… A real paradise right? Its reputation provides a very popular anchorage, despite its limited waters.
The marina has 40 berths, and as it is an official port of entry, immigration and customs is usually a breezy affair. It is the perfect place to refill your tank as its duty free fuel is a trademark of offerings. Step off the boat into a quaint and intimate local of Capella. There is an abundance of bars and restaurants serving to-die-for cuisine. Marigot Bay is a playground for the rich and famous, so keep your eyes peeled for a mystery person with dark glasses and a floppy hat.
If you’re lucky enough to spend a Friday evening here, jump in a taxi to the south of Marigot. Each week they put on a great street party called ‘Jump Up’. Here you will find stalls selling barbecued fish and chicken, whelks and crabmeat, potent rum brews, and bottles of Pilton beer chilled in giant coolers. It’s a great way to make friends as it has large communal tables for socialising. There are also giant speakers with the sounds of Caribbean beats. Here, crowds gather to watch local exhibitionists strutt their stuff.
Alternatively, if you prefer to have a more sophisticated kind of evening, then we highly suggest you try either ‘The Hurricane Hole’ or ‘Chateau Mygo’. The Hurricane Hole is a very chic bar/restaurant popular with the yachting crowd. Chateau Mygo can be found on the large pontoon of the entry channel.
Day 10: Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia to Wallilabou Bay, Saint Vincent (44.65nm)
Ever dreamed of being a pirate— or perhaps Johnny Depp? Depp brings Captain Jack Sparrow to life (and back to life) in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. On day 10 you actually have a real excuse to dress up and play the theme tune… because you’re sailing to the real set where the film was made. Wallilabou Anchorage is situated at Wallilabou Bay on the west or leeward coast of the main island of Saint Vincent. So hoist those sails me hearties and embark on your voyage to the most remarkable place on earth.
Anchor in 10m, about 50m from the beach and put a line ashore round a coconut tree (this will be done by a welcoming committee) or you can also use a mooring. Once you’re moored, head over to land and you will notice at first glance that you’re in ‘Port Royal’, as it is called in the movie. The set has been well preserved and is constantly in the process of restoration. Visit the museum which is inside the main set, and try on the original costumes from the film for some cracking photos next to original features from the film.
Spend the evening dining in the hotel where the stars stayed, and maybe enjoy a tipple of rum if it’s a pirate’s life for you.
Day 11: Wallilabou Bay, Saint Vincent to New Sandy Bay Village, Saint Vincent (14.90nm)
Day 11 will take you to New Sandy Bay Village. This is just a short hop sail up the coast of Saint Vincent. Here you will find the sturdiest of anchorages. Other than being a great place to moor, you could also hire a car and explore more of the island.
After arriving here in the afternoon, we recommend you do just that. Explore the many remote leeward bays with black sand. If you are interested in active, eco friendly excursions then be sure to discover Saint Vincent’s natural beauty, sports opportunities on land and sea, as well as the richness of its history. Saint Vincent is renowned for its walking or hiking with well-defined jungle trails. You may even catch a glimpse of the rate Saint Vincent parrots in the Vermont Valley. Here you will also see an abundance of exotic flora in the Botanic Gardens, or you also have the option to delve into history at Fort Charlotte. Be sure to take a trip up to the active volcano La Soufrière.
Arrive back to your boat late in the evening and relax under the stars for another busy day tomorrow.
Day 12: New Sandy Bay Village, Saint Vincent to Sugar Beach, Saint Lucia (22.6nm)
On day 12, be sure to spend the morning taking advantage of the intriguing underwater landscapes. You can do this by both scuba diving or snorkelling in the waters by your boat. After lunch, set sail back towards Saint Lucia, to the wonderful Sugar Beach. The best and safest overnight anchorage here is Pitons Bay. It is the most photographed place amongst these islands due to its unbelievable beauty. When you arrive. be sure to check out its amazing reef for snorkelling and swimming before wandering along the magical white sandy Sugar Beach. There is a very large resort here, but luckily cruisers also share the beach.
Once you are ready for dinner, we seriously recommend you head to Dasheen restaurant at the Ladera Resort as it has the most spectacular view of the island. It’s worth jumping in a taxi, even for this short ride purely due to the steep hills. But steep hills can only mean one thing… out of this world amazing views! Perched high upon a cliff, the tables of Dasheen overlook Sugar Beach. This means you can keep an eye on—and admire—your beautiful boat whilst you dine. As you will instantly recognise from the menu, the food here is amongst the best in all of Saint Lucia. Be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment. A busy restaurant is always a good sign if you ask me.
After dinner. explore the resort and grab a cocktail or two, whilst absorbing your surroundings… you are in the most beautiful place in the world after all.
Day 13: Sugar Bay, Saint Lucia to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia (9.2km)
On day 13 you will be waking up to the most beautiful surroundings on this earth. How lucky are you?! I think I can speak for everyone when I say, you won’t be ready to leave this place just yet. Spend the day exploring the wonders of Sugar.
After lunch, set your sails back to the spectacular Rodney Bay. As this is such a great location, it would be rude not to visit once again and do all those things you didn’t get chance to do the first time.
Once you have arrived and moored, refamiliarize yourself with the area and enjoy the wonderful cuisine and abundance of activities. For your last night aboard the boat, you may want to make the most of your last night under the stars and toast a wonderful two weeks of sailing.
Day 14: Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia to Marina du Marin, Martinique (26.4nm)
Day 14 is your last day of sailing. Enjoy a hearty breakfast in the lively Rodney Bay. Afterwards set sail back to Marina du Marin, Martinique. Feel that breeze in your hair and thoroughly enjoy your last full day of sailing. We hope you had a great two weeks and have taken away many magical memories to last a lifetime.
Don’t forget to update us on your journeys and leave a comment below!
Alternatively if you would like to shorten your trip, check out our 7-day and 10-day sailing route in Martinique and Saint Lucia!
Until your next voyage…