Lesser and Greater Antilles / Windward and Leeward Islands – What is What?

Up, down, north, south, Lesser Antilles, Windward islands; it can all be a little confusing. Let’s set sail and figure out this mystery of the geographical names of the Caribbean Sea. (Photo via (www.definitivecaribbean.com)

Which islands are in the Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles?

The West Indies are composed of the islands of the Caribbean Sea and can be divided into the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.

The Greater Antilles are the four largest islands in the northwestern portion of the Caribbean Sea and include. It’s simple, just look at them on a map. They are called the Greater Antilles because they are so much bigger than the rest of the Caribbean islands.

Greater and Lesser Antilles

The Greater Antilles islands include

  • Cuba
  • Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic)
  • Jamaica
  • Puerto Rico.

The Lesser Antilles include the smaller islands of the Caribbean and are divided up into the Windward Islands and Leeward Islands. The Lesser Antilles chain starts in the Virgin Islands and wraps the eastern Caribbean all the way down to Trinidad and Tobago.

The Lesser Antilles islands include

  • The Virgin Islands
  • Anguilla
  • St. Martin (Guadeloupe (north part) and Netherlands Antilles (south part))
  • Saba (Netherlands Antilles)
  • St. Eustatius (Netherlands Antilles)
  • St. Barts
  • Antigua
  • Barbuda
  • St. Kitts
  • Nevis
  • Montserrat
  • Guadeloupe
  • Dominica
  • Martinique
  • Saint Lucia
  • Barbados
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Grenada
  • Trinidad & Tobago

Which islands are in the Windward Islands and Leeward Islands?

The Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands are part of the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Sea.

The Windward Islands are southeastern islands of the Caribbean. They’re called the Windward Islands because they’re exposed to the wind (“windward”) of the northeast trade winds (northeasterlies).

Windward and Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles

The Windward Islands include

  • Martinique
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Grenada
  • Trinidad
  • Tabago

The Leeward Islands are the northwestern islands of the Lesser Antilles. They’re called the Leeward Islands because they’re away from the wind (“lee”).

The Leeward Islands include

  • Virgin Islands
  • Dominica
  • Guadeloupe
  • Montserrat
  • Antigua
  • Barbuda
  • St. Kitts
  • Nevis
  • Anguilla

Does that clear things up a bit for you? If not here is a link to Caribbean Magazine they go into a bit more detail.

Over and out from somewhere south,


  1. Hi Ryan…Nice post – I see you have used an image for our website and was wondering if you could credit us? You can see it here – http://www.definitivecaribbean.com/islandmap.aspx

    I have been following your blog for some time now and have joined your Facebook Group as well as Following you on Twitter, so it would be great if you felt like joining us too!

    Best – Alexander

  2. Hey Alex,
    Great to hear from you. Sorry about the photo. I sometimes do google image searches and just grab some some photos to put into posts. Bad habit I know. I have gave your site credit.

    I have been following your blog on RSS, facebook and twitter for sometime now as well. I love your island travel guides. Keep up the good work.

    If you ever want to work together on something just let m know. Would be happy to cross promote and brainstorm with you.


  3. Hi Ryan…

    Yeah, great idea – I’ve just been reading about Partnership Relations, which is all about trying to get like-minded souls to help you promote each other!

    What shall we do?

    Our main point of focus is definitivecaribbean.com and within that we have our island guides which we do free of charge, then accommodation and service reviews for which we charge an annual subscription fee. I wonder what your favourite island/hotel is and whether you’d like to write a post about it and link to our guide/review as the best source for information on it? (If it is, lol…if it isn’t then perhaps we could work out a way of you posting something to help us update our guide/review with recommendations from you and your readers?)

    We already have something along those lines here – http://definitivecaribbean.blogspot.com/2010/01/help-us-update-our-guides-to-st-maarten.html

    From our part, can you think of how we might be able to help you out? I was thinking that we could write something on our blog about what you actually do and perhaps offer a prize from your shop in return for our users helping you out with something or signing up for something that you are trying to promote?

    RE the picture…not a problem…I usually embed my images straight from the site I find them on so that it links back to the source…that’s ok, isn’t it? lol…One thing though, the text says the image is from definitivecaribbean.com but you have put the link going to our blog…could you have the link going to our main home page or map page as that is where it comes from? Thanks.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what we might be able to do for you.

    Best – Alexander

  4. I like your ideas. Let me do some brainstorming tonight and I’ll get back to you. Have a great day Alexander.

  5. HI, I’m 11 and I was doing home work on the different groups of islands.
    I searched ALL websites and I couldn’t find any information,then I came across this one.
    It gave me what I needed and much more.
    Thank you.

  6. Glad to help Surana!

  7. I still think your hot RYAN!!!!!!!!!!! THANKS

  8. Aww, thanks!

  9. RumShopRyan says:


  10. Even though I’m 52 and have lived in Barbados all my life, I discovered just recently that there’s also the “Leeward Antilles” which consists of all the islands in the southern Caribbean from Aruba to Margarita. I thought I should mention this because I’m sure most people would assume that “Leeward Antilles” is just another name for “Leeward Islands”.

    Incidentally, Pixabay is probably your best bet to avoid image copyright violations. I use it all the time.

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