Antigua, Guadeloupe, Îles des Saintes, Dominica
Antigua, in the Eastern Caribbean’s Leeward Islands chain, is where Admiral Horatio Nelson was stationed during the 1780s. The historic naval base—Nelson’s Dockyard at English Harbour—is unique for its national museum with restored officers’ quarters, capstans and artifacts from Nelson’s era.
Accessing this historical site is convenient for many charter clients because Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport got a new terminal in 2015, with direct flights available from many U.S. and European cities. The transfer from the airport to the charter yacht is less than an hour, putting guests in the heart of not only Nelson’s Dockyard, but also such historic sites as Shirley Heights and Fort Berkeley on Day One.
Day Two’s cruise to the uninhabited Green Island for a day of water sports gives charter guests access to a pristine beach as well as encounters with lizards, hermit crabs and birds on land—and good snorkeling underwater. The nighttime anchorage is at nearby Falmouth Harbour, where the marina hustle and bustle mixes with small and charming restaurants, live music into the wee hours and local joints offering fried chicken and rotis.
The next morning, cruise to the French island of Guadeloupe: a topographically diverse piece of land that, when seen from overhead, is shaped like a butterfly. Anchor on the northern end of the island in the sheltered bay just off Deshaies, a fishing village dotted with local eateries and bars. Visit a wild tropical river and a botanical garden. (For fans of the BBC One/France 2 comedy series “Death in Paradise,” some filming locations are here.) Nearby is Pigeon Island, where the main attraction is the underwater Cousteau Reserve. The charter yacht’s tender can take guests there for diving and snorkeling.
Next on the itinerary is Îles des Saintes, a small group of islands where the main town is Bourg des Saintes. It has “gingerbread houses” with red tile roofs, restaurants and shops, all ideal for a walkabout. Linked historically and culturally to Brittany, Îles des Saintes feels even more French than the popular Caribbean island of St. Barths. One well-known boutique is Maogany, with handmade fashions that often are dyed a distinct indigo blue.
From Îles des Saintes, cruise to Prince Rupert Bay at the north end of Dominica, which is part of the Windward Island chain. Christopher Columbus “discovered” Dominica in 1493. The French colonized the island in the 1690s, and the British took over in the 1760s. Dominica became independent in 1978. Arguably the wildest and most ruggedly beautiful rainforest island in the Caribbean, Dominica is an adventurer’s dream. A hike to the volcanic Boiling Lake—rife with waterfalls and rivers, and flora and fauna—is memorable.
Antigua’s English Harbour, on the south end of the island, was developed as a British naval base in the late 18th century. Nelson’s Dockyard is the only continuously working Georgian dockyard in the world.