15 November 2021
Reading time: 5 minutes
- Practical information for your boat rental in the West Indies
- Why go to the West Indies?
- What are the main sailing areas?
- The best anchorages in the West Indies
- Which itineraries to follow for your rental?
- What are the weather conditions?
"Sailing in the West Indies is great! There is a profusion of paradise islands and the sailing conditions are ideal". These are the words of Antoine, a Filovent customer, who sailed with his family on a Bali 4.3.
The West Indies form an archipelago of 32 islands with different sailing areas: the Lesser Antilles including the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands, the Greater Antilles, the Lucayan Islands and the Cayman Islands. On the agenda: white sandy beaches, lush jungle, warm, crystal-clear, turquoise water. Let yourself be seduced by the beauty of the landscapes and the relaxed and idle atmosphere of this Caribbean region.
1. Practical information for your boat rental in the West Indies
Average rates depending on the season and the size of the boat
The table below gives you an order of magnitude of the average prices of your boat rental. These prices can change according to the season, the availability, the model, the age of the boat...
|Type of boat||High Season|
December and January
February, March, April and May
June, July, August, September, October and November
|Mono-hull (35 feet /≈2 cabins)||€3,800||€3,400||€3,000|
|Mono-hull (40 feet /≈3 cabins)||€4,000||€3,700||€3,300|
|Mono-hull (45 feet /≈4 cabins)||€4,300||€4,000||€3,500|
|Catamaran (40 feet)||€7,000||€6,000||€5,000|
|Catamaran (50 feet)||€14,000||€12,000||€10,000|
The different starting bases
For your cruise in the West Indies, you can start from various bases according to the navigation zones you choose. Chooser to depart from:
- Tortola if you want to sail in the British Virgin Islands;
- Saint-Martin to cruise the Banc d'Aguilla;
- Bas-du-Fort marina for sailing in Guadeloupe;
- Le Marin for discovering Martinique;
- Port Louis on Grenada Island, for sailing in the Grenadines archipelago.
2. Why go to the West Indies?
The West Indies form a vast archipelago stretching from the Caribbean Sea across the Atlantic Ocean, to the Gulf of Mexico . Within the West Indies, a distinction must be made between: the Lesser Antilles (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Grenadines, British Virgin Islands), the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola), the Lucayan Islands, and the Cayman Islands.
In the West Indies, the beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see invite you to relax and escape. You will be seduced by the idyllic landscapes offered by the coasts with their warm and crystalline waters, and their palm trees. The islands also offer holidaymakers a wealth of discoveries. Tropical forests, waterfalls, volcanoes… adventurers and lovers of lush nature will not be outdone!
Finally, traveling to the West Indies also means being immersed in a culture with a strong cultural, historical, and culinary heritage. Colourful and full of life are the words that will come to your mind when you're in contact with the traditions and the local population.
3. What are the main sailing areas?
Guadeloupe includes islands and islets including two major islands Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre. Neighbouring islands such as Marie-Galante, the Saintes archipelago, la Désirade, and the islands of Petite-Terre are attached to Guadeloupe.
The landscapes of Basse-Terre are mountainous. The island is covered by a vast rainforest and is also home to a volcano, the Soufrière. The island's marine biodiversity is also lush as shown by the Cousteau Reserve located in Bouillante. This protected marine area was discovered by Captain Cousteau in 1959. He was immediately amazed by the beauty of the place and decided to create a protected area. In Bouillante you may be lucky enough to encounter a pod of dolphins during your cruise. "With patience and observation, it is possible to see a pod of dolphins. We were lucky, and sailed for one hour with dolphins on both sides of our boat. It was magical!"Antoine, who sailed on-board a Bali 4.3, told me.
Grande-Terre is mainly comprised of plains, arid plateaus and rocky coasts. As its topography is lower, it's in Grande-Terre that you'll find the big seaside resorts of Guadeloupe with their white sandy beaches. Among the beaches of Grande-Terre, you'll find Raisins Clairs beach in the South-East, and Caravelle beach, certainly the most famous of the island. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy braving Grande Vigie point at the Northern end of the island. You will be immersed in lush vegetation and once you arrive at the end of the point, you will see turtle rock in the distance and waves breaking on the rocks.
Martinique has plenty to offer: sandy beaches and turquoise waters, exotic forests, hiking in Mount Pelée, an idyllic walk in Balata Garden … The island's must-sees are: Josephine's Bathtub, the most famous of the shoals, and the Caravelle peninsula, a nature reserve since 1976. Don't forget to stop in Fort-de-France bay, one of the most beautiful in the world, from the deck of your boat you can admire the green mountains of the Massif of the Pitons du Carbet in the background.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent is an island located in the Lesser Antilles and is comprised of a myriad of small islands (Bequia, Mosquito, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Canouan, Baliceaux…) constituting a part of the Grenadines archipelago.
The Grenadines archipelago is characterised by yacht-filled harbours, a few chic and private islands, and volcanic landscapes. The iconic stop on your Grenadine Islands cruise is Tobago Cays. It's an archipelago of 5 islands connected by a horseshoe-shaped coral reef. "The landscape is fantastic. Being in the middle of a lagoon surrounded by fish and turtles is simply an unforgettable feeling" Lionel, who sailed on an Oceanis 31Q, told me.
The British Virgin Islands
Small paradise of the West Indies, the British Virgin Islands belong to the United Kingdom Overseas Territories. This archipelago is comprised ofabout fifty islets and islands 16 of which are inhabited, such as Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, and Tortola.
This archipelago, discovered by Christopher Columbus, was abandoned by the Spaniards who were looking for richer lands. The British Virgin Islands thus became the ideal hideout for pirates who roamed the seas to attack the Spanish fleets. This archipelago was in fact home to the most famous of pirates: Edward Teach, also called Blackbeard.
On-board your boat, discover these islands rich in wild country and beautiful white sandy beaches swept by turquoise waters. Some places of interest are to be visited. Stop first at Tortola which contains the capital of the archipelago, Road Town. From mountains in the heights, to exotic vegetation, and sandy beaches, Tortola will dazzle you. Nature lovers can go and lose themselves in the tropical forest where lizards, monkeys, coconut and mango trees are king. Hiking enthusiasts can attempt to climb Mount Sage. Finally, for beaches, we advise you to go Brewers Bay or Apple Bay, fine sandy beaches popular with surfers. The second must-see stop on your British Virgin Islands cruise is Virgin Gorda. The island is particularly known for these Baths, huge granite rocks that line the beaches in the South of the island. This geological formation is most impressive in Devil's Bay where the rocks form stairs. Finally, your discovery of the British Virgin Islands can end on a high note with a stopover at Jost Van Dyke, an island named after a pirate. Its coastline consists of tropical beaches and in the centre of the island you'll find high hills. The most beautiful white sandy beach is at White Bay. The anchorage is very pleasant because this beach is divided into two parts: one side enlivened by bars and another, quieter side, which is perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
This archipelago, little known in the West Indies, is comprised of a main island, Anguilla, and small deserted islands such as Prickly Pear, Scrub Island and Dog Island.
Before setting sail, take time to visit Anguilla Island. In its capital, The Valley, delve into the island's past by visiting the museum that traces the history of salt mining. A stopover in this archipelago equates with relaxation and an oasis of calm. For beach lovers, head to Meads Bay, Captain's Bay or Maundays Bay. The scenery offered by these beaches is picture-perfect. This archipelago is home to many island pearls including Sandy Island. This small island, in the shape of a triangle, is surrounded by sand and will offer you a unique moment.
4. The best anchorages in the West Indies
Anchorage at Pain de Sucre beach on the island of Les Saintes
The anchorage at Pain de Sucre beach was recommended to me by our local partner, Antilles Sail. This beach is one of the most beautiful in the Saintes archipelago with its clear water, extraordinary seabed, golden sand and a volcanic hill in the background. Relaxation will be the order of the day!
Anchorage at Green Island in the East of Antigua
This anchorage was recommended to me by Lionel: "It is well-sheltered, not very busy, and the setting is idyllic. The seabed is quite rich, which is ideal for snorkelling."
Anchorage in the coves of Arlet
There are two coves in Arlet where you can anchor: Petite Anse and Grande Anse, in the South-West of Martinique. These anchorages are done on buoys and anchors are prohibited here. At the bottom of both bays you will find beautiful beaches rocked by waves of clear water.
Anchorage in Simpson Bay, South-West of Saint-Martin
Famous for its impressive lagoon, Simpson Bay offers its visitors a protected environment with very rich flora that you can admire from your boat.
5. Which itineraries to follow for your rental?
Itinerary 1, for one week, to discover Guadeloupe - Total distance covered: 126 nautical miles
This itinerary was recommended to me by our local partner, Antilles Sail.
- Day 1: Bas-du-Fort marina → Marie-Galante (25 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
- Day 2: Marie-Galante → Saintes Islands (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
- Day 3: Les Saintes islands → the leeward coast South-West of Basse-Terre (25 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
- Day 4: The leeward coast → Pigeon Islets (6 nautical miles - 1 hour sailing time)
- Day 5: the Pigeon Islands → Îlet à Cabrit island (25 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
- Day 6: Îlet à Cabrit island → Bas-du-Fort marina (25 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
Itinerary 2, 10 days from Martinique - Total distance covered: 300 nautical miles
This itinerary was recommended to me by our local partner, Mermer Location. To have time to discover in depth what Martinique has to offer, it is better to take a 10-day cruise and not a one-week cruise as that can be done in the Mediterranean.
- Day 1: Le Marin → Rodney Bay to St. Lucia (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 2: St. Lucia → Bequia (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 3: Bequia → Mayreau (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 4: Mayreau → Tobago Cays (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 5: Tobago Cays → Union Island (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 6: Union Island → Petit Saint Vincent (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 7: Petit Saint Vincent → Saint Vincent (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 8: Saint Vincent → South St. Lucia (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 9: St. Lucia → Arlet Coves in the South-West of Martinique (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
- Day 10: Arlet Coves → Le Marin (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
Itinerary 3, one week to discover Anguilla - Total distance covered: 99 nautical miles
This itinerary was recommended to me by our partner, Dream Yacht Charter.
- Day 1: Saint-Martin Marina → Anguilla (12 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
- Day 2: Anguilla → Dog Island (9 nautical miles - 1.5 hours' sailing time)
- Day 3: Dog Island → Tintamarre (22 nautical miles - 3.5 hours' sailing time)
- Day 4: Tintamarre → St Barth (20 nautical miles - 3.5 hours' sailing)
- Day 5: St Barth → Ile Fourchue (6 nautical miles - 1 hour sailing)
- Day 6: Île Fourchue → Simpson Bay (18 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
- Day 7: Simpson Bay → St. Martin Marina (12 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
Itinerary 4, one week to discover the archipelago of the British Virgin Islands - Total distance covered: 76 nautical miles
This itinerary was recommended to me by our partner, Dream Yacht Charter.
- Day 1: Tortola → Norman Island (8 nautical miles - 1.5 hours' sailing time)
- Day 2: Norman Island → Gorda Sound, East of Virgin Gorda (22 nautical miles - 3.5 hours' sailing)
- Day 3: Gorda Sound → Cay Marina (16 nautical miles - 2.5 hours' sailing)
- Day 4: Cay Marina → Monkey Point (3 nautical miles - 30 minutes' sailing)
- Day 5: Monkey Point → Green Cay (9 nautical miles - 1.5 hours' sailing)
- Day 6: Green Cay → Peter Island (13 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
- Day 7: Peter island → Tortola (5 nautical miles - 1 hour sailing)
6. What are the weather conditions?
We advise you to take your cruise in the West Indies when it's winter in Europe because the temperatures and the sailing conditions are mild. Indeed, from November to May, the climate in the West Indies is tropical with mild temperatures, rare rains and regular winds, the Trade Winds, which facilitate sailing. Trade winds are winds blowing from East to West and which can reach 25 knots. Temperatures are between 25°C and 30°C all year round.
I would like to thank Antoine Lafont and Lionel for their time, testimonies and photos that perfectly illustrate this article. A big thank you also to our local partners, Antilles Sail and Mermer Location, for their valuable advice.