The Windward Islands are a collection of island countries located in the West Indies. They sit on the south end of the Lesser Antilles arc (a prominent volcanic area) on the east side of the Caribbean.
So, what countries are in the Windward Islands? The following countries are in the Windward Islands:
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent
- The Grenadines
If you’re looking for a Caribbean island vacation that strays away from the typical tourist destinations, the Windward Islands may be exactly what you are looking for. If you’re interested in learning more about the Windward Islands, read on.
What countries are in the Windward Islands?
The Windward Islands consist of several countries, as outlined below. The populations of these countries are primarily made up of people of African origin, as well as some people with Caucasian and Chinese ethnic backgrounds.
Dominica is a member of the Commonwealth and is known for its natural scenery, especially its mountain ranges. The largest of the Windward Islands, it is 47 kilometers in length and 26 kilometers wide. The capital of Dominica is Roseau, which is also its primary port.
A French territory, Martinique is approximately 80 kilometers in length and 35 kilometers in width. The country is known for its natural beauty, including rivers, mountains, and even an active volcano, Mount Pelee.
Saint Lucia is the second largest of the Windward Islands and is located between Martinique and Saint Vincent. Belonging to the Commonwealth, Saint Lucia is 23 kilometers wide and 43 kilometers long. Most of the population on the island live in Castries (the country’s capital) and View Fort.
Located approximately 160 kilometers to the west of Barbados, Saint Vincent is 344 square kilometers in size. The capital, Kingstown, is located on the southwest coast of the island and is the country’s main shipping port.
Grenada is an island nation consisting of three main islands (Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique) as well as several smaller, uninhabited islands. Often known as the ‘Isle of Spice,’ Grenada is known for its spices (such as nutmeg) and cultural diversity due to the different ethnic backgrounds of its residents.
The Grenadines is an island nation in the Caribbean that consists of approximately 600 islands. In an administrative sense, the Grenadines are split into half: north Grenadine and south Grenadine.
The northern Grenadine islands operate as part of Saint Vincent, while the southern islands are dependent on Grenada. Most of these islands are uninhabited, although some are used for basic agricultural purposes, including the growing of Sea Island cotton.
Why are they called the Windward Islands?
The Windward Islands get their name from their location.
They are on the path of the northeastern trade winds, otherwise known as ‘windward.’ In ancient times, traders would take ships across the sea to new places and were navigated by the wind.
This is where the name originated, as these tradesmen gave all of the islands east of Puerto Rico the label, ‘Islas de Barlovento.’ This is a Spanish phrase that translates to ‘windward islands.’
What is the largest Windward Island?
Dominica is the largest of the Windward Islands, and it is also the most northern. The country has an area of 750 kilometers squared, spanning 47 kilometers in length and 26 kilometers in width.
The population of Dominica is 73,925 people. Most of the population lives in urban areas (70.5%), such as the capital Roseau, while 29.5% live in rural locations.
Winward Islands History
The Winward Islands were originally inhabited by the Taino people, relatives of the Arawak people who were the traditional indigenous people of the West Indies.
Their residency dates back to 4500 BC, long before Christopher Colombus found the islands in the 15th Century. When Colombus arrived at the Carribean Islands, it was the Taino and Arawak people who he met.
The Taino people were taken over by the Carib people, who became the new primary group of natives on the Windward Islands. The Carribean is named after the Carib people, a group that lived on Dominica (the largest of the Windward Islands) and was very effective in war.
Carib people were initially able to hide from European settlers in the dense jungle, however many of the natives died after Europeans began settling on the island.
This was common in many European settled countries, as new diseases were brought into the country, and the indigenous people did not have the immune systems to fight them off. They were also killed through conflict with the European settlers and harsh living conditions.
The Windward Islands were formed in 1880, when Grenada, Tobago, St Vincent, and St Lucia were grouped to form one British colony. Tobago left in 1886 and amalgamated with Trinidad, and Dominica joined in 1939 after previously belonging to the British colony of Leeward Islands.
How to Island Hop Between the Windward Islands
There are so many options when planning a vacation to the Windward Islands. However, you don’t need to be limited to one location. It is easy to island-hop between destinations so that you can experience all the best the Windward Islands have to offer.
To get between islands, you will either need to take a plane or a ferry. Most countries have an international airport in or near their capital city where you can board flights to different islands. Ferries tend to run from the main ports, including Fort de France in Martinique and Castries in Saint Lucia.
The ferry services run on major routes several times a week, although ferries will not get you to every country. It is best to do your research and work out what ferry routes work for you.
Some services are more regular than others, and these services can also change. Tourists should contact the ferry companies directly for the most up-to-date information and to confirm that they run a service on the route you require.
Flights offer a better range of options and will allow you to move further around the Windward Islands. Some airlines even offer an air pass, which provides better value when island hopping. You will be able to use the pass for multiple destinations, which is perfect for island hopping.
Cruise ships also service the area and are an easy way to get between islands. Other options to island-hop include private yachts and even cargo ships.
- The Windward Islands is a group of islands in the Caribbean. It includes Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Grenada, and the Grenadines.
- They are called the Windward Islands because of their location. In ancient times, they were on the path of the northeastern trade winds, and sailors coined the name.
- Dominica is the largest of the Windward Islands. It is 750 kilometers squared in size and has a population of 73,925 people.
- The Taino people originally inhabited the Windward Islands. There is evidence of their life dating back as far as 4500 BC.
- The Windward Islands Colony was formed in 1880, after being founded by Christopher Colombus. It originally consisted of Tobago, Grenada, Saint Vincent, and Saint Lucia.
- It is easy to island-hop between the Windward Islands. There are a variety of flights and ferry services available to transport tourists between the islands. This is a great way to experience the best of each of the countries.