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.

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.


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).

The Windward Islands include

  • Martinique
  • Barbados
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Grenada

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,

By |2018-02-20T06:43:57-04:00February 16th, 2010|Islands, Travel Tips|11 Comments

About the Author:

Just a salty pirate looking to explore and document the wonders of the Caribbean. Professional blogger, rum judge, consultant, marketer, and consumer of blue water beauty.


  1. mm
    RumShopRyan February 17, 2010 at 9:03 am

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

  2. Surana October 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    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.

  3. mm
    RumShopRyan October 14, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Glad to help Surana!

  4. Leslod October 12, 2015 at 8:05 pm

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

  5. Wayne August 29, 2016 at 8:46 am

    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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  7. Christopher Plaza September 17, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Hello Ryan,i am 15 and i had home-work about The: Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, Windward Islands, Leeward Islands for Geography and without your website i would have got zero. So thanks a lot and keep up the good work 🙂

  8. stomp September 18, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    that is not accurate dominica is not part of the leeward islands and trinidad and tobago is not in the winward islands

  9. Bill September 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Is Barbados Windward or Leeward?

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  11. John Woudsma December 3, 2017 at 10:27 am

    How do you classify the Dutch ABC islands of Aruba,Curaçao and Bonaire? Are they Lesser Antilles?

Comments are closed.