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Die kleinen Antillen, Bild: Peter Hermes Furian / shutterstock

The Lesser Antilles at a glance

The Lesser Antilles are, in most cases, islands of volcanic origin and are located in the Caribbean. The islands are located in the eastern Caribbean Sea and stretch in the Caribbean Sea from the Virgin Islands to the Venezuelan coast. The islands belong to different countries, including European countries. The United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France are the European countries that are owned by these islands. In addition, Venezuela is the only South American country to have islands in its possession. Many of the small islands form an independent state, sometimes with very few inhabitants. There are countless islands belonging to the Lesser Antilles, of which 43 islands are inhabited. The Lesser Antilles, together with the Greater Antilles and Bahamas , form the West Indies.

The Lesser Antilles – But which islands are part of it anyway?

The Lesser Antilles are subdivided. For example, we speak of Windward Islands, Leeward Islands and Leeward Antilles, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The northern islands, i.e. those under the leeward, are the following islands

The Windward Islands include the following islands

Trinidad and Tobago forms a separate country and is not assigned to the Windward or Leeward Islands. Nor do they belong to the Leeward Antilles. In addition to the islands listed, there are other, smaller islands, which have not been specifically mentioned here.

Interesting facts about the Lesser Antilles

Foul Bay Beach, Barbados, Lesser Antilles
Foul Bay beach in Barbados, Image: Richard Semik / shutterstock

A passport valid for at least six months is usually sufficient for entry. The Lesser Antilles are located in the tropics. This means that there are no seasons, but rainy and dry seasons. From April to October, the weather is wetter and the chance of rain, thunderstorms and storms is increased. The dry season from November to March is the ideal time to visit and the weather is sunny, dry and warm. But even during the precipitation season, it does not rain continuously, but the weather is more likely to show itself with heavy downpours, which are over just as quickly as they occurred. Hurricanes must be expected from June to October, but the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are usually spared from the hurricanes and can even be visited all year round, as the weather there is actually always dry.

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Many of the islands have their own currency. However, you can also pay with the US dollar everywhere and if you are planning a round trip over more than one of the islands, you are better off with it anyway than with the different local currencies. The islands belonging to Europe also accept the euro as a means of payment.

What to see

The center of the islands is the French Guadeloupe with the capital Basse-Terre. The international airport is also located there and is therefore usually the gateway to the Lesser Antilles. Guadeloupe has white beaches and numerous hotel complexes where you can have a good time and relax. But lush rainforests are also part of the island, which offer impressive waterfalls. Guadeloupe even has a volcano that is still active.

The island of Martinique is known as the Island of Flowers. This volcanic island also inspires travelers with beautiful beaches and exclusive hotel complexes. Highly recommended is island hopping or a cruise to the Lesser Antilles. You can visit and get to know more than one island during your holiday. It’s definitely worth it because each of the islands has its own specialty and is unique in itself. It would be a shame to miss all this. However, you have to bring enough time, because as is so often the case in the south, things are more leisurely than at home.

On the water and in the water

Saint George's, Grenada, Lesser Antilles
Saint George’s, the capital of Grenada, Image: Claudio306 / shutterstock

The Caribbean is known for its breathtaking underwater world. Magnificent coral reefs and colorful fish delight snorkelers and divers. But surfers and other water sports fanatics also get their money’s worth and can practice their sport. Underwater scooters let you discover the marine world combined with a lot of fun and action. The warm water, the hot temperatures and the crystal clear water entice you to take a catamaran cruise, of which there are numerous offers. During the trip you can enjoy the refreshing breeze from the sea, see fish, dolphins and other sea creatures and relax wonderfully.

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Wonderful nature invites you to go on long hikes

If you like hiking, the islands are also the right place for you. The other rainforests with their colourful flora and fauna inspire visitors. The mostly still intact nature exudes adventure and you imagine yourself somewhere in the deep jungle. Of course, sun-seekers also get their money’s worth. The region boasts vast snow-white sandy beaches that, together with the palm trees in the background and the steel-blue waters, form a magnificent contrast that spreads paradisiacal feelings. A trip inland is always worthwhile. The locals are friendly and exude pure joie de vivre, which inevitably jumps over to you.

Other recommended activities and excursions

Saint Lucia, Lesser Antilles
Saint Lucia, Image: James R Schultz / shutterstock

To get around the area, renting a car is recommended. This makes it easy to get anywhere and can also visit places away from the tourist crowd. The big advantage is that you can stay in one place for as long as you like and don’t have to rely on a tour operator who follows your program and often leaves little time to enjoy the scenery.

Grenada is the spice island and fragrant spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon or vanilla grow on this island. The cultivation areas can be visited as well as the processing plants themselves.

What you can’t miss on the small antilles

Montagne Pelée, Martinique, Lesser Antilles
The Montagne Pelée on Martinique, Image: Petr Kovalenkov / shutterstock

Throughout the year, there are numerous festivals and events that are worth visiting. A special highlight is certainly the carnival from February to December, where the joie de vivre of the islanders is definitely expressed. Each island celebrates it at a different time.

Barbados has a big festival in April with a street festival, boat races and other competitions. There will be festivities, dancing and celebrating. In May, a large jazz festival takes place in St. Lucia. Reggae and salsa artists will also perform. Definitely worth a visit for music lovers and highly recommended.

The Caribbean is known for its excellent food with lots of fish and healthy food. Friends of culinary delights will certainly get their money’s worth in the region and it is definitely worth trying local dishes. The Caribbean is also known for rum production. Many distilleries can be visited and some have a remarkable story to tell. The oldest distillery is even operated with an old water mill.

The visit to the Lesser Antilles is definitely worth it. However, you should definitely bring enough time and not want to visit too much in too little time. Island life is a bit more leisurely and some people spontaneously want to stay longer in one place than originally planned. It’s good if you have a time reserve in mind.