For a limited stay in the Lesser Antilles as a tourist a current passport is sufficient for anyone coming from the USA or the EU.
Exception Tourists arriving in the USVI must have biometric passports. Yachtsmen will also need to obtain a visa from a US Consulate before arrival (see USVI: Useful Information).
All international airports have immigration and customs services. For those coming in by sea these services are represented in ports, marinas and the most frequented anchorages.
Note In certain islands local customs and tax laws can affect a boat’s length of stay. At the end of a given period of stay (varying between 3 and 6 months depending on the island), import taxes are levied.
Caution Over and above the usual import taxes, some islands (Guadeloupe, Martinique) have additional levies (harbour/sea dues). These affect all goods imported from overseas, including those from metropolitan France or from overseas departments with their own customs regimes.
Drugs There are strict controls against drug-trafficking and use (Virgin Is – No Tolerance).
Animals In most of the islands the temporary import of domestic pets is subject to specific, often complex regulations (a declaration, vaccination certificate, import authority).
Long-distance flights The Lesser Antilles are pretty well served. The thirty main islands have ten international, long-haul airports connecting them to Europe and N America plus several services to S America.
Time zones The permanent official local time in the Lesser Antilles is GMT -4. For the majority of EU citizens that means GMT -5 in winter and -6 in summer.
Inter-island flights The islands not served by long-haul airports mostly have small airports or airstrips with regular interisland services either by local airlines or air taxis. Services don’t always dovetail for making international and inter-island connections. We recommend you check with your airline or travel agent.
Transatlantic services For lovers of long ocean voyages some ships (container liners and fruit carriers) do take limited numbers of passengers starting from European ports (Le Havre,
Inter-island services Inter-island passenger services are well developed. Vessels, some of them high speed, offer regular services between the islands in the same group.
Post and telecommunications
In islands with fully developed infrastructure and services, there are good postal services in all the main towns. The same islands either have service centres (Cable & Wireless, etc.) for telephone and fax services, or phone boxes. The latter are usually card phones: either credit cards, or local phone company cards. For mobile phone network coverage see the section on Mobile Phones in the chapter Sailing in the Lesser Antilles.
Internet Connections are available in many establishments. See the Services Directory for further information.
US$ in theVirgin Is (BVI and USVI) EC$ (East Caribbean dollar): the official currency of the ex-British islands with the exception of Barbados (the EC$ is pegged to the US$ at US$1=EC$2.7).
The US$ is also accepted with no problem. B$ (Barbados dollar): the Barbadian currency. The US$ is also accepted. The euro is the official currency of the French islands. In the dependencies of St Martin and St Barthélémy the US$ is as widely used as the €. NAF (Antillean florin or guilder): the official currency of the Dutch islands, although the US$ is the more widely used unit.
Places to stay and eat
In the ‘tourist’ islands the range of places to stay runs from the most luxurious and expensive to the most basic rented rooms. In these islands the prices are pretty much identical to those in Europe and the USA. In the less developed islands there is the occasional luxury hotel complex and some very basic establishments, but there’s little in the mid-range.
Restaurants Thanks to local produce and external influences, Antillean cuisine is varied (and often spicy), but it is not of uniform quality throughout the islands. American influence is strong in the Virgin Islands as is British in their ex-territories, but in the French islands Antillean cuisine comes fully into its own thanks to its happy marriage with French and Indian cuisines.
These are numerous but dependent on each island’s natural characteristics and the level of development of its facilities.
Land sports Golf is found everywhere and there are a large number of courses. Tennis and horse-riding are similarly ubiquitous. Walkers are well provided for thanks to the footpaths and tracks (called ‘traces’ in the French islands) which criss-cross the hills and country parks.
Water sports In this ‘sailing paradise’ pleasure cruising is the main sea sport, but a rich underwater world has also led to keen development of diving and diving clubs as well as marine reserves. Protected lagoons combined with steady winds have greatly encouraged windsurfing and, more recently, kite surfing.
For more details, consult each island and the Guide