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Martinique – St Lucia: the perfect cruise in the West Indies

There are a few injustices which it is a good idea to put right. Martinique and St Lucia are often considered by cruisers as just a departure base and/or an essential stop before heading for the Grenadines. But these two islands have much, much more to offer!


Martinique, just like St Lucia, fewer than thirty miles away - there are exactly 22 miles between the port of Le Marin and the anchorage in Rodney Bay – are destinations where the majority of sailors only see the international airports. It must be said that Martinique is very easily accessible from both Europe and the North American continent, and that the port of Le Marin is an ideal departure base for going to visit the islands in the south of the West Indian arc. Numerous charter companies are based there, offering one of the largest concentrations of available boats. It is also very easy to get provisions here in large quantities before leaving for a couple of weeks’ cruising, and it is a spot well known for its technical services. In short, the ideal stopover, well-situated in the center of the Caribbean archipelago.

Most times, we only see Martinique’s airport and the marina at Le Marin, from where most crews leave as night falls, heading south towards the wonderful Grenadines. Yes, but as you go past St Anne, we advise you rather to head east, to discover Martinique’s windward coast, which is wild, quiet, yet so beautiful...

Whilst Martinique’s leeward coast offers some wonderful, well-known anchorages (from St Anne to the Anses-d'Arlet, via Anse Noire, and the bays at Fort de France or St Pierre), the windward coast is little-known, but is home to some of the most beautiful anchorages in the West Indies, and above all, some completely deserted, solitary anchorages... Cruisers who actually dare to venture between the ‘cayes’ and the lobster pots to enjoy the superb anchorages in the Baie des Anglais, Petite Grenade, Ilet Chevalier or the Baie du Robert to the full, not to mention the sumptuous Baignoire de Joséphine (only to be visited in the evening, and above all, to run away from, from 10 am onwards), are rare...

As for St Lucia, it has the attractive nickname of ‘the Jewel of the Lesser Antilles’. A name which is certainly justified, given the beauty of its landscapes. Wild and lush, the island offers a voyage back in time, in an atmosphere which is sometimes old-fashioned, but always pleasant.

Here you will be interested above all in the leeward coast, and you can enjoy cruising it using Rodney Bay as a departure base, and being at anchor every evening to take full advantage of the beach restaurants and the snorkeling. Rodney Bay is an excellent, well-protected anchorage, and offers access to a modern, well-equipped marina; it is also the ideal access point for leaving to discover the interior of the island. The Pitons is the other anchorage not to be missed on St Lucia. Petit Piton is easy to spot, 750m high, whilst Gros Piton rises to 800m; the anchorage at the small town of Soufrière in addition allows you to access the crater of the eponymous volcano, the only one in the world in which you can drive a car. An intense moment which you must above all not miss.

But the ideal for a nice week-long cruise is to combine these two destinations, to treat yourself to the best of the two islands without having the long passages to and from the Grenadines – especially the return trip, which is almost always to windward. A choice of cruise which is especially judicious, as the anchorages there are often deserted, calm and particularly pleasant, especially out of season. Because yes, cruising in the West Indies outside of the peak winter season is also a shrewd choice. Prices then are lower, and the weather is always very pleasant.



Getting there:

Easily accessible, both from Europe and North America, both Martinique and St Lucia have international airports. Martinique is situated around a hundred miles from the Grenadines (80 miles for St Lucia). This makes it the ideal departure base for the south of the West Indian arc and the Grenadines. 


The Caribbean Sea offers a wonderful and diverse cruising area. The charter companies have understood this, and there are a lot of charter bases here. From the Virgin Islands to the Grenadines, the string of West Indian islands offers numerous destinations... The best period for enjoying them stretches from December to June.


Valid passport. No health problems to worry about, apart from a bit of sunburn...

Official language:

French in Martinique, English in the other islands towards the south...


The Euro in Martinique, the East Caribbean Dollar in St Lucia (1.00 US$ = 2.70 EC$).

Not to be missed:

Martinique’s windward coast and St Lucia’s leeward coast. The deserted anchorages at the Baie des Anglais and Petite Grenade, or the picture postcard views at Les Salines or La Soufrière. A visit to the interior of the islands is a must, not to be missed!

The local charter companies:

ACM Caraïbes - Autremer Concept - Dream Yacht Charter - Mermer Location -  Oceans Evasion - Punch Croisieres - Régis Guillemot Charter - Sail Paradise - Sunsail - The Moorings …



 Good deals

If you want to cruise in the West Indies this summer, don’t fail to visit Dream Yacht Charter’s web site. The charter company is offering attractive reductions on numerous dates for its fleet of – amongst others – catamarans. An example? 21% reduction on a Lagoon 380, or again 23% off a Salina 48 in July or August. A good deal, not to be missed!

See it on: www.dreamyachtcharter.fr


Sailing in paradise

A former funboard shaper, based in Martinique for 20 years, Jacky Péan was one of the precursors of funboard themed cruises in the Grenadines. Today the former shaper has created ‘Sail Paradise’ and is offering three boats for charter, leaving from Martinique (Lagoon 450 and two brand-new 380s).

For more information: www.sail-paradise.fr



Before leaving to charter a boat, there is often a slight anxiety, especially concerning harbor maneuvers. Today, a very well-designed program exists which allows you to practice ‘as if you were there’. And the most incredible thing is, it works. The version specific to catamarans is incredibly realistic. You can practice and perfect, without risking damage to the hull or getting caught up in a mooring line. The best!

See it on: www.blue-2.at


End of management

This was the attraction at the International Multihull Show in La Grande Motte this year. The Lagoon 400 brought along by Kiriacoulis, to show the condition of a boat at the end of five years’ charter management. Sitting delicately on the beach, the boat was exhibited in an original way, and above all, demonstrated that boats leaving the charter management program are in perfect condition. A good point for those looking for a nice second-hand boat, as well as for those wishing to invest in the ingenious charter-management system. A (much) cheaper way to treat yourself to a boat...

For more information: www.kiriacoulis-france.com



You have a week ahead of you? It’s a bit short for sailing down as far as the Grenadines and coming back close-hauled. There then only remains the ‘one way’ solution: you leave your boat in the Grenadines and return home from there, or you stay in Martinique and St Lucia to enjoy the West Indies to the full... 

Day 1

After having taken possession of your catamaran, followed the briefing and taken on your provisions, it is time to leave and enjoy the warm waters of the West Indies. Leaving the marina at Le Marin is not always easy, and you must follow the channel carefully. Once you have passed the last buoy, you are in front of St Anne. A first stop is called for, for swimming and starting to enjoy the boat! It is also an excellent spot to spend the first night, to allow your bodies to adapt to the heat and the boat. Opposite you, several restaurants are waiting to welcome you. Why not take advantage? 

Day 2

Depending on the weather conditions, you have to make a first important choice: either you remain in Martinique for the moment, by choosing to sail north and enjoy the leeward coast, or you opt for adventure, and set off to discover the windward coast. Another option – leave directly for St Lucia, which you will reach in under 3 hours.

But the call of the windward coast is the strongest. You want authenticity, wild beauty and deserted anchorages, and...you are right!

After breakfast and a last swim, it’s time to leave. From St Anne, we head towards the Atlantic, leaving the Caribbean Sea, and discovering the wonderful Les Salines beach. Objective, the Baie des Anglais, an absolutely wonderful, completely wild place. To starboard, the Ilet Hardy is a nature reserve. Disembarking there is forbidden, and you use mooring buoys so as not to damage the seabed... Magic!

Day 3

Leaving the shelter of the Baie des Anglais, the Atlantic swell welcomes us to take us on a nice day’s sail, with a few compulsory stops in some perfect anchorages: Ilet Chevalier, Petite Grenade and the day’s destination, the Baignoire de Joséphine. A really exceptional place, where you must arrive quite late, and leave before 10 o’clock in the morning, to avoid the joyous, but noisy, presence of the day charter boats. 

Day 4

Early rise and quick departure to sail down to St Lucia – a nice, pleasant downwind sail along the coasts of Martinique.  A stop is advised at the Ilet Cabris or the Table du Diable if the sea state allows, before tackling the crossing of the St Lucia Channel. In the middle of the afternoon, you will arrive in Rodney Bay, where you will have to clear in. 

Day 5

We enjoy the anchorage, or take advantage of the day to visit the interior of the island. Then head for Soufrière Bay, an anchorage 16 miles away. 

Day 6

A visit ashore to the village and the volcano is recommended. It is then time to sail back up to Rodney Bay for the last night aboard. 

Day 7

Early start to cross the St Lucia Channel and return to the marina to Le Marin. On the way, a final anchorage in front of the Les Salines beach will allow you to take some of the most beautiful photos of the cruise...

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