- Full Itinerary
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Stretching from north to south between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, lies an arc of tropical island gems ringed by turquoise seas and sandy beaches. Uplifted by ancient volcanic forces, verdant, lush Caribbean rainforests cloak many of these sun-kissed islands, while those with limestone soils feature seasonally dry forest. Due to their relative isolation from any large landmasses, these islands host a highly threatened collection of birds found nowhere else in the world. Collectively, there are thirty Lesser Antilles endemics plus forty-five or so Caribbean specialties.
We travel along this stunningly beautiful island chain, getting you close – very close – to spectacular wildlife, including often critically endangered single-island endemics like the Whistling Warbler in St. Vincent; the majestic Imperial Amazon in Dominica; the dazzling Purple-throated Carib and bemusing Grey Trembler on St. Lucia; the flame-breasted Montserrat Oriole on the “Other Emerald Isle”; and rarest of them all, the unassuming Grenada Dove, still found serenely walking the pathways in the only area of suitable habitat remaining on the “Spice Isle” of Grenada – all while traveling to some of the most picturesque holiday destinations on the planet. In addition to the charismatic birdlife, we also hope to experience some of the island culture and cuisine. Accommodations are locally owned and either on the coast with plenty of beach opportunities, or forested areas with pools to relax by.
Find yourself away from the exotic beach destinations on the coast on an epic birding and wildlife adventure, quite unlike any other on the planet, and sure to leave you with long lasting and wonderful memories. By joining us on this incredible island odyssey, not only will you have the opportunity to see an array of little-known endemics and regional specialities – many of whom sadly run the gamut from threatened to critically endangered – but of also contributing directly to their conservation. Naturalist Journeys will be donating a portion of the tour price to BirdsCaribbean – a leading organization in the region dedicated to protecting the last remaining habitats of many of these species and encouraging locals to become involved in wildlife conservation. BirdsCaribben even operates a training program for local islanders to become guides – some (such as Lystra on St. Vincent and Anthony on Guadeloupe) you will have the opportunity to meet – as they will be our local guides on their respective islands!
- Enjoy the natural beauty and scenery of these tropical island paradises not often visited by other birders or naturalists
- Search for over thirty endemic bird species found only in the Lesser Antilles, including Barbuda Warbler, Grey Trembler, Purple-throated Carib, and Montserrat Oriole
- Sample the rich and flavorful fusion cuisines of the islands, with each island having a different set of traditional dishes
- Support the conservation of critically endangered species such as Grenada Dove with your visit and use of local guides
- Marvel at up to four spectacular endemic Amazona parrot species, including St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Imperial, and Red-necked
- Relax in the afternoon by snorkeling in the turquoise waters or merely strolling along ‘postcard perfect’ sandy beaches
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Thurs., Mar. 7: Arrivals in Antigua
Welcome to sun-kissed Antigua – the island with a beach for every day of the year. We drive to our quiet country inn nestled to the east of the capital of St. John’s. After check-in, we enjoy a stroll on the hotel grounds, which boasts an array of tropical flora that attracts Lesser Antillean Flycatcher and White-crowned Pigeon. By keeping an eye in the skies overhead we may see the endemic subspecies (and smallest in the region) of Broad-winged Hawk.
Our accommodation is renowned for its rich repertoire of Caribbean cuisine, so dinner is sure to be a treat!
Accommodations in Antigua (B,L,D)
Fri., Mar. 8 : Montserrat
Widely known as the ‘Emerald Isle of the Caribbean’, one can circumnavigate Montserrat by foot and never leave the lush expanse of dense primary forest that dominates this magical island. The volcanic eruption of 1995 rendered half of the island uninhabitable, covering it in a pyroclastic flow and causing a significant proportion of the population to emigrate to the United Kingdom. What remains is quite simply stunning. The volcano itself still smolders, but it is constantly monitored by volcanologists who have declared the northern half of the island safe for residents and visitors alike.
Thankfully, this is also the half of the island where we may find our target bird species, the endemic Montserrat Oriole. This striking oriole is our number one target, and we walk the quiet paths of this ancient forest until we come to a stand of giant heliconias. Here is our best site for seeing the orioles. As we have ensured that we are on the island during nesting season, it is highly likely that such stands will reveal both the olive-green female and fiery-breasted male!
Montserrat is also the best island for seeking a species of thrasher that can prove difficult on other islands. Pearly-eyed Thrasher is abundant on Montserrat and can be approached relatively closely both within and on the outskirts of the forest. Another target and one which will require far more patience is the secretive Forest Thrush (a Lesser Antillean endemic – and here on Montserrat, the subspecies dorotheae is endemic).
As we continue our walk through this picturesque habitat, the forest floor can be just as alive as the trees above. Leaves rustle everywhere. Montserrat’s anoles scuttle across the ground, the non-venomous Montserrat Racer warms itself in patches of sunlight, and unbelievably tiny geckos no bigger than the tip of your thumb study us from beneath the fallen leaves on the path before us.
Back at our lunch spot, we sit back, relax, and celebrate the day’s birding with a hearty meal and the opportunity to wash it down with a local specialty – Bush Rum! No sugarcane used in this one – only select local herbs and plants gathered from the forest!
Accommodations in Monserrat (B,L,D)
Sat., Mar. 9 : Barbuda
Once we arrive in Barbuda, one immediately sees the stark contrast between the heavily developed tourist destination of Antigua and this little visited island, where vast stretches of undisturbed beaches, sheltered coves, and dry coastal forests support a different cast of characters to those previously encountered on our trip. Our main target here is the diminutive Barbuda Warbler, the island’s only endemic bird species. This charming warbler is perfectly at home in the dry scrub and shares this habitat with species such as Common Ground Dove, Zenaida Dove, White-winged Dove, Black-faced Grassquit, Lesser Antillean Iguana, and (bizarrely) herds of feral donkey!
Barbuda is also home to the largest Magnificent Frigatebird colony in the entire Caribbean. These avian pirates are most commonly seen soaring high above the waves, carefully scanning the waters for food floating on the surface or stealing the catch of other seabirds. So, it is a wonderful treat to board a dinghy that takes us across a shallow lagoon absolutely teeming with marine life (as evidenced by the hundreds of jellyfish of every shape and size clearly visible beneath us) and moors us literally within touching distance of nests, chicks, and adults. We spend half an hour in the presence of these incredible birds, observing their behavior and watching as squadrons of adults swoop in and return with food to their nest.
One is struck by the spectacular and unspoiled natural beauty of Barbuda while driving around the island. It is ‘postcard’ perfect. The water is a glistening turquoise blue, and the colors of the sands effortlessly blend between brilliant whites and varying shades of pink. With some of the most untouched beaches in the Caribbean on either side of us, what better way to spend the rest of the day than a ‘Robinson Crusoe-esque’ beach bar to enjoy a delicious meal of mahi mahi, chicken, or lobster. We then follow it up with an optional swim or snorkel in shallow waters and a stroll along an idyllic white sand beach known to be frequented by Royal, Sandwich, and Least Tern. This truly is a case of birding in paradise!
Accommodations in Barbuda (B,L,D)
Sun., Mar. 10 & Mon., Mar. 11 : St. Vincent
The Lesser Antilles is comprised of a chain of largely submerged mountains running north to south in a double arc. The outer arc from Anguilla to Barbados features low, flat islands composed of limestone, while the inner arc features a series of volcanic cones. The heavily forested, volcanic island of St. Vincent with its mostly black sand beaches and vast sprawling wilderness sits within the inner arc.
We explore the lush rainforests of towering Mount Soufriere. Here along quiet forest paths lined with wild Begonia, we search for the Critically Endangered Whistling Warbler, along with a wonderful selection of near endemics and Caribbean specialties such as Lesser Antillean Tanager, Purple-throated Carib, and an all-black subspecies of Bananaquit (one of five distinct subspecies of Bananaquit found in the region!). We end our walk at a dry riverbed, above which circle Common Black as well as Broad-winged Hawk (subspecies antillarum, a near endemic known only to St. Vincent and Grenada). We may also see inquisitive sapphire-headed St. Vincent Anoles while we enjoy freshly picked fruit and plantain chips as a trail snack.
Later, we have the privilege of potentially seeing beautiful St. Vincent Parrots flying all around us, one of four very special parrot species endemic to the Lesser Antilles. To do so, we head for a site deep in the heart of the islands' verdant forests known only to select local forestry officers, and one that sees our vehicle cross the same river SEVEN times at different locations. As our vehicle slowly ascends the mountain, we pull over at choice spots where the ever-present mangos and guavas prove an irresistible lure to Lesser Antillean Tanager, Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, Spectacled Thrush, Smooth-billed Ani and even Yellow-bellied Elaenia (drawn to the fruit flies on the ripening fruit). Eventually, we arrive at the secret location and strategically select our seats atop a scenic ridgeline in order to await the arrival of the raucous parrots returning from a day of foraging in the surrounding forests. This is a species that was long on the verge of extinction, so the opportunity to have incredibly close views of this lovely parrot in their natural habitat is one of the highlights of the trip. Furthermore, it is a testament to the monumental effort of regional and international conservationists.
Dine in a family-owned hotel’s open-air restaurant overlooking the swaying masts of catamarans and yachts moored off Young Island. Most of the food consumed on St. Vincent is locally grown, and the wide variety on the menu is testament to the plethora of vegetables, pulses, and ground provisions (such as yam and taro) that thrive in the rich volcanic soils of the island. Try the tantalizing saltfish buljol as a starter – delicious!
Accommodations on St. Vincent (B,L,D)
Tues., Mar. 12: Grenada
The southernmost of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles is Grenada, sometimes known as the ‘Spice Isle’ for its production of nutmeg and mace. After a three minute drive from the airport to the hotel, those who wish can don swimwear and walk a short path down to one of Grenada's most beautiful beaches to take a dip in glittering turquoise seas.
From the air, this small and densely populated island might seem an odd destination for a birding trip. However, by visiting the last remaining pocket of suitable habitat on the island, we have the opportunity to observe the rarest bird we target on the entire trip: the Critically Endangered Grenada Dove, the national bird of the island.
These doves are endemic to the thin strip of coastal dry thorn forest in Grenada. Unfortunately, this habitat is mostly gone due to both urbanization and tourism development. Mount Hartman National Park, threatened by these developmental pressures, protects the last stronghold of this species, and we will make a special effort to see this rare dove here.
After our time with this delicate and unassuming dove, we explore the remainder of the dry woodland that represents its natural habitat. Here, we may view several other key inhabitants of the ‘Spice Isle’, including Grenada Flycatcher, Spectacled Thrush, Tropical Mockingbird, endemic subspecies of House Wren, and Lesser Antillean Bullfinch. We finish our time in the dry forest by climbing a well-positioned observation tower to scan the skies for the local race of Hook-billed Kite.
A drive to the lush rainforest that dominates Grenada's North follows, and here we target the strikingly plumaged Grenada Tanager (some still have it classified as Lesser Antillean Tanager), the local race of Rufous-breasted Hermit, and Cocoa Thrush, and enjoy the antics of Mona Monkeys (like the Vervets on Barbados, arrivals from West Africa many years ago). After returning to our hotel there is another opportunity for swimming and snorkelling at the beach or lounging by the pool with a cocktail (we recommend the pina coladas!), before tucking into a sumptuous Caribbean-style buffet.
Accommodations on Grenada (B,L,D)
Wed., Mar. 13: Dominica
We head to Dominica, nicknamed the Nature Isle of the Caribbean. With its innumerable waterfalls and rivers coursing through its vast tracts of primary rainforest, Dominica offers a snapshot into what some of the more developed islands of the region would have resembled years ago.
Upon arrival on the island, we stop at a popular roadside stand to sample a selection of homemade and refreshing tamarind and golden apple juices, before driving up into the Northern Forest Reserve. We may soon hear the musical calls of an array of Lesser Antillean species, causing us to stop and investigate.
Upon doing so, we are immediately met with a variety of birds: Brown Trembler, Blue-headed Hummingbird, Plumbeous Warbler, Red-legged Thrush, Forest Thrush, Black-whiskered Vireo, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, and more. As our van climbs ever-higher along the track, we scan the roadside for Red-rumped Agouti, Dominican Ameiva, and Lesser Antillean Iguana.
Later today, we venture into the Carib territories. These eight villages represent the last remaining stronghold of a people who once lived throughout the Lesser Antilles. This visit gives us an insight into the lives of the original inhabitants of the Lesser Antilles, allowing us to learn about their culture and enjoy a traditional Carib meal before making the short drive to our coastal accommodation.
Accommodations in Dominica (B,L,D)
Thurs., Mar. 14: Dominica
This morning, we wake up to the smell of rich Dominican coffee as we set off before dawn in order to give ourselves the best opportunity of seeing one of the Caribbean’s rarest and most spectacular parrot species – the majestic Imperial Parrot. We scan from a vantage point overlooking deep verdant valleys, carefully scrutinizing the towering tree canopy for this parrot as well as its more numerous cousin, the Red-necked Parrot. Flowering plants nearby offer feeding opportunities for the near-endemic Blue-headed Hummingbird. Fifty-five species of butterfly occur in this forest, including regional endemics such as Dominican Hairstreak and St. Lucia Mestra.
Dominica’s waters are home to several species of whale and dolphin. In fact, Dominica is known as the whale watching capital of the Caribbean! After our morning enjoying the wildlife in the high montane forest, we join an experienced captain and crew out into the deep blue waters for a chance to see Sperm Whale, Spinner Dolphin, Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, and more. Dominica is the only country in the world whose waters are home to both mothers and calves of Sperm Whale all year round! While on our quest for marine mammals, we take advantage of our time out on the water to see pelagic bird species such as Cory’s Shearwater and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.
Accommodations on Dominica (B,L,D)
Fri., Mar. 15: Guadeloupe
We continue onwards today to Guadeloupe, the first of two French Overseas Territories that we visit on our journey. Guadeloupe is a remarkable island, for its forests not only provide glimpses of some of the more secretive species rarely seen on other islands (normally shy Bridled Quail Dove may be walking at our feet here!) but where one can also get very close views to a most curious endemic. The feeding habits of the Guadeloupe Woodpecker, the only woodpecker endemic to the Lesser Antilles, is quite unusual. Birds often dangle upside down while clinging to slender swinging branches and plucking ants from clusters of berries! Odd? Yes. But it certainly allows for fabulous looks!
The lush forests of Guadeloupe also represent a wintering and stopover site for a variety of migratory North American warblers, and we are likely to encounter American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Parula, and others during our birding here.
Our cottages, surrounded by swaying palms and flowering bougainvillea, offer the perfect post-birding relaxation spot, and we dine this evening on a wonderful blend of French cuisine with Caribbean Creole influence.
Accommodations in Guadeloupe (B,L,D)
Sat., Mar. 16: Martinique
With our packed breakfast on board with us, we head for the stunning and heavily forested island of Martinique, another French Overseas Territory. By this stage in our travels, any prior belief that a visit to one island in the Lesser Antilles is akin to visiting another will have vanished. The differences in topography and geology, along with the varied ethnicities, histories and cultural differences of populations, ensure that a visit to the islands of the Lesser Antilles is very much an exploration of ten very individual and unique countries.
In the capital city of Martinique, Fort-de-France, games of boules play out on well-manicured pitches and small cafes line the courtyards in a way unlike anything we have seen on previous islands. It is testimony to a very strong French influence. The island also boasts a striking single-island endemic, the Martinique Oriole. While in truly spectacular primary forest, we will also be looking for Black-whiskered Vireo and Blue-headed Hummingbirds (in case this delightful near-endemic hummer proved elusive in Dominica), as well as targeting the island's striking subspecies of rufous-hooded Yellow Warbler and Ruddy Quail Dove.
Accommodations in Martinique (B,L,D)
Sun., Mar. 17 : St. Lucia
Upon arrival we may explore a large open-air market in Castries selling almost everything that the diverse and varied islands of the Caribbean have to offer. We can taste fresh fruit, sample local culinary delights, and browse through artisanal crafts.
From Castries, we drive north through the rural heart of the country to a tiny local hillside village where we enter a wetter forest type known to harbor many of the island's indigenous and endemic species. It is no exaggeration to state that numerous target species of birds here will join a myriad of butterflies. Overhead, Lesser Antillean Swift effortlessly manoeuvre in the island breeze; St. Lucia Warbler peer underneath the leaves of tropical trees to gorge on caterpillars; Lesser Antillean Flycatcher and Lesser Antillean Pewee sally for insects from tree snags; and St. Lucia Oriole probe ripening fruit.
Before we head to our hotel, we travel to a reliable location to potentially see one of the most difficult specialties on the island, Rufous Nightjar (which some believe should have remained St. Lucia Nightjar ... and which may well be switched back to same in time).
Accommodations in St Lucia (B,L,D)
Mon., Mar. 18 : St. Lucia
The following morning, before dawn, we leave our accommodation with packed breakfast in hand, and drive to an area known to harbour one of the last populations of the rare White-breasted Thrasher, a species listed as Endangered by the IUCN. These thrashers inhabit seasonally dry Caribbean forest where they prefer areas of abundant leaf litter. Other inhabitants of this particular forest type include Lesser Antillean Saltator, Mangrove Cuckoo, and St. Lucia Black Finch.
Following our time here, we head to the island’s showpiece natural attraction – the vast Des Cartiers Rainforest. Des Cartiers is dominated by numerous trees endemic to the region, along with tree ferns, bromeliads, and orchids. We spend a wonderful morning here, walking the well maintained trails and getting to know the diverse species of flora all around us, including the endemic and aromatic Lansan. Our forest walk culminates at an observation area where we may see the island’s national bird, the magnificent St. Lucia Parrot. A myriad of other forest birds dwell at this site. The ethereal song of the Rufous-throated Solitaire and the high-pitched note of the Lesser Antillean Euphonia intermingle with the other sounds of the forest, while Grey Trembler and Caribbean Elaenia may also make an appearance.
Leaving this verdant forest behind, we make for the spectacularly scenic west coast where we eat lunch at what is surely the restaurant with the best view on the island, grand views of the twin spires of the Pitons – ancient volcanic plugs and a World Heritage Site. After lunch, we wind our way down into historic Soufriere and enter a gargantuan caldera for a memorable tour of the only drive-thru volcano in the western hemisphere!
Accommodations in St. Lucia (B,L,D)
Tues., Mar. 19 : Barbados
Upon entering the largest expanse of mangrove wetland remaining on the island we meander along a well-maintained path surrounded by the verdant greens of mature Red as well as White Mangroves, their dense canopies the favoured perches of many of the island’s unique species. These include the nominate subspecies of Yellow (Golden) Warbler, the garrulous Carib Grackle (soon to be Barbados Grackle), the endemic subspecies of Caribbean Elaenia and the endemic Barbados Bullfinch. The long dangling aerial roots of Rhizophora mangle provide shelter for many of the island’s heron species, such as Snowy and Little Egret, Green and Great Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-Heron, along with skulking Barbados Anoles, and armies of fiddler crabs. While in the wetland, we will also have excellent opportunities to see Grey Kingbird, as well as up-close encounters with the local subspecies of Antillean Crested Hummingbird and spectacular Green-throated Carib (two of the four hummingbirds we target on our travels through this remarkable island chain). This is also prime habitat for troops of Green Vervets (in Barbados, "Green" Monkey), a primate introduced from Western Africa centuries ago.
We follow our time at the wetland by setting off towards an area Bajans refer to as being "behind God's back"- a quaint and secluded site, where we look for Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, localized populations of Eared Dove, the ever-so-secretive Masked Duck, and wintering Wilson's Snipe.
Accommodations on Barbados (B,L,D)
Wed., Mar. 20 : Departures from Barbados
Depart today from Barbados Grantley Adams International (BGI). (B)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the Journey is $8550 DBL / $9390 SGL, based on double occupancy, per person. The deposit for this special departure is $1000 per person. The tour price includes airport transfers, all flights between islands and internal ferry and boat charges, 13-night accommodations, all meals as stated in the itinerary, park admission fees, hotel and restaurant service charges, and guide fees.
Cost of the journey does not include airfare from your home to Barbados, or items of a personal nature, such as drinks from the bar, telephone, and local guide gratuities (at your discretion, we will give some guidelines).
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival Airport: VC Bird International Airport (ANU) in Antigua
Arrival Details: Please plan your flights to arrive March 7, 2024, at your leisure.
Departure Airport: Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados
Departure Details: Please plan your flights to depart on March 20, 2024 after 2:00 PM.
Travel Tips: If you would like to arrive early and rest up from your travels, we have some hotel recommendations below that are close to the airport, but also on the beach. And speaking of beaches, there’s no shortage of them on the island and what better way to relax than on one of the many stunning beaches that Antigua is known for!
Recommended Hotels for early arrival: Cortsland Hotel +1 (268) 462-0705
Recommended Hotels for extra nights post-tour: Blue Horizon Hotel +1 (246) 435-8916
Ryan Chenery - Caribbean Expert
Ryan Chenery was born and raised in beautiful Barbados! Ryan’s first job on the island took him beneath the waves where he conducted coral reef surveys for the Bellairs Research Institute. Yet it wasn't long before his passion for birds and wildlife on terra firma saw him employed as Chief Naturalist and Eco-Guide Manager at the largest remaining mangrove wetland on Barbados (the Graeme Hall Nature Reserve), and later travelling further afield to conduct field research on birds and amphibians in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest and Ecuadorian Amazon.
After being swept off his feet by a Yorkshire Lass, he followed her to England where he continued his passion for “all things birds" with employment at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Here he spent three years at the organization’s internationally renowned seabird reserve Bempton Cliffs, where highlights included kittiwake monitoring in gale-force winds and rescuing disoriented gannets by perching both he and the birds precariously on the edge of 300 ft cliffs - to better allow them to catch enough updraft to head back out to the North Sea! Subsequent employment in the UK saw Ryan take on the role of National Parks Officer at the North York Moors National Park – a position he held for 3 years before returning to Barbados to conduct multi-island wildlife trips full time. Ryan has enjoyed all of the wonderful roles he has undertaken across the globe, but his greatest passion remains leading wildlife adventures through the magical islands of the Lesser Antilles. The tiny island gems will always be his home and he loves nothing better than sharing the unique wildlife, vibrant cultures and untamed wildernesses that each island has to offer with nature enthusiasts from around the world. Oh, and the food, he absolutely loves the island food, and has even been known to also share this...occasionally!
Photo credit: The Bajan Birder
Other trips with Ryan Chenery - Caribbean Expert
Lesser Antilles Birding & Nature Full! See our February Belize tripDecember 2 - 13, 2023
- Lesser Antilles Birding & Nature
Peg Abbott is the owner and lead guide of Naturalist Journeys, LLC. She has been designing, guiding, and organizing natural history tours for more than 25 years, working for the National Audubon Society and other organizations before launching Naturalist Journeys, LLC in 1998. Her work has taken her from Alaska to Africa and Argentina, as well as many other locations around the world. She has conducted research on several bird and mammal species and keeps a close interest in Yellowstone and Mexican wolf reintroduction projects. Her interests include all aspects of natural history and geology. After 20 years in and around the Yellowstone area, Peg relocated in 2003 to the birding mecca of Portal, AZ.
Photo credit: Carol Simon
Other trips with Peg Abbott
Tanzania: Wildlife & Birding Safari FULL - Check out our Kenya Wildlife SafariFebruary 8 - 22, 2024, w/Kenya extension
Biodiverse Bhutan: Birds, Mammals & Beyond FULL - Check out Indonesia 2024April 11 - 25, 2024, w/Manas National Park extension
NEW! Wild Japan: Summer In HokkaidoJune 18 - 29, 2024
Crossing the Zambezi: A Zambia & Zimbabwe SafariJuly 27 - August 16, 2024
Indonesia's Best BirdingSeptember 11 - 27, 2024, w/Komodo Dragons & Endemic Birds Flores Island extension
Southern India’s Western Ghats: Global Hotspot for BiodiversityNovember 9 - 22, 2024, w/Andaman Islands extension
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Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Make sure your passport will be valid at least six months after the date of your scheduled return to the U.S. No Visas are required for U.S. citizens for stays less than 90 days in Lesser Antilles. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of the French West Indies website for guidelines.
- Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to individual islands on your itinerary, and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is always strongly recommended but in this case it is mandatory as it is a requirement to gain entry into Martinique. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing. There are charter flights with strict weight restrictions of 44 lbs/max 62 inches measured as length + width + height. Pack essential medications in your carry on bag (limit one 10lb bag), as well as essential changed clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Arrival into Antigua VC Bird International Airport (ANU)
Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please refer to your emergency contact list, and contact your ground operator, with a copy to our office. You may also phone or text your guide. Quite a few of your guides will set up a WhatsApp connection so you can also reach your guide by phone.
Departure taxes between islands are included in your fare but when clients disembark from their international flights, they will be required to pay a departure tax of approximately USD$36 per person in Antigua.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Departures from Barbados Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI)
Please plan departures from Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Passports, Visas & Documents
Passports: You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted.
Visas: At the time of writing, tourist visas are not required. You will need proof of a return ticket. The necessary documents will be distributed by your airline while in flight or provided for you upon arrival. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.
It is always smart to check for changes 60-90 days before your tour departs for changes in documentation requirements. If you are from another country, please contact the embassy websites for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found for arrival into Antigua at travel.state.gov. From this page you can choose to search for and read about the French West Indies and individual island names as well.
As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.
General Health & Inoculations Information - Be Prepared!
We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency.
Anti-malarial drugs are not required for any area that you visit. There are occasional reports of Dengue Fever in lower elevation areas, for which there is no vaccine. Dengue fever, Zika, and other diseases are contacted by mosquito bites so be sure to use mosquito repellant containing DEET or Picaridin. Travelers can reduce their risk of disease by protecting themselves from mosquito bites in lower elevation areas by using protective clothing.
Vaccinations: Bring copies of your up-to-date vaccination records with you. The CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to individual islands on your itinerary or reach by phone 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
Prescriptions: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers.
Allergies: To be prepared for environmental triggers to allergies or breathing difficulties, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication(s). If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPI pen and notify your guides. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.
Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for prevention or treatment of common ailments (such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, cough, congestion, head or body aches, insect bites and sunburn); as well as ointments, moisturizer, sunscreen, oral rehydration salts, band-aids, moleskin for blisters, cotton swabs, nail clippers, and tweezers, etc.
We generally follow the published itinerary but do network with other guides and may make changes if we hear of great bird sightings or a new opportunity. The joy of our travel is tremendous flexibility, and we make every effort to do the things you particularly want to do. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of the trip is moderate, with some early morning departures, extensive field time and now some options for hikes. It is also easy to take it at a vacation pace! You can pace yourself within our typically active schedule.
Weather & Climate
The climate in the Lesser Antilles is tropical, and due to its proximity to the equator, is divided into two seasons: dry and wet. The dry season spans from January to early May, with temperatures ranging from 70°F to high 80s°F. During this time, rainfall is minimal. The rest of the year from June to December is considered the wet season, with more regular rain showers. However, temperatures remain about the same year round.
Annoyances & Hazards
Mosquitoes can occur in the forests; therefore, a supply of insect repellent containing DEET is essential. At grassland or farm locations you may encounter chiggers, if so, spray your shoes with repellent, and tuck your pants into your socks, this helps a lot. When back, be sure to shower and air out your clothing. Chiggers are a part of lowland and mid-elevation habitats throughout Central and South America. Your guide should have a good read on if it has been wet enough that they are active. There can also be poisonous snakes and insects, though encountering them is rare. Do listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember the sun is strong and be prepared with proper protection.
Food & Drinks
Menus at lodges and restaurants are varied, sustainably based on the wonderful local ingredients available, and delightfully prepared in a sanitary environment. As with any case when traveling we urge you to consider what your body is used to before you eat something. Trust your common sense when consuming food and beverages.
Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles. Your guide will let you know when bottled water is preferable.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Dress is very informal and laundry services are available for a fee at our lodges. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. Again, the climate is warm to hot, so you will be comfortable in lightweight clothing. Laundry services are available at our lodging in St Lucia and Dominica for a nominal charge.
Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot; you just do not need much to cope with tropical life! Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down!
TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!
The official currency in the Lesser Antilles is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (symbolized as XCD). We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. U.S. dollars in good condition (no rips or tears) are taken as a form of payment but shopping for smaller handicrafts may necessitate using local currency.
When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.
We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.
Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.
Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, lodge and hotel staff or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! Lodges normally have a box for tips that the staff share, and hotels you would just tip the maids as you do at home. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.
Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:
- Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest
Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
- Tour driver if different from guide: US $5.00 - $7.00 per person/day
- Lodge staff: US $6.00 - $10.00 per day per guest
- Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person
- Hotel & international airport bellmen: US $1.00 per suitcase
You may wish to bring small gifts for local people that you meet and enjoy (this is totally optional!). T-shirts, school supplies like pens and small notebooks, inexpensive watches and baseball caps are always popular. Your guides can pass along school supplies to a local school if you bring them. They also love any nature books/coloring books.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be turn on your phone. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one). Renting an international phone may also be an option.
If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.
Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.
Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.
Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.
The standard in the Lesser Antilles ranges from compatible with US (100V-127V), to is 230 volts AC, which will require a converter. Plugs are set up in the A, B, C, D, and E types (see graphic below). Since we will be traveling between different islands that will have different outlets, it is suggested that you get and adapter. For more information: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/
The Lesser Antilles are on Atlantic Standard Time, with no daylight savings time. Check www.timeanddate.com before leaving home for your conversion.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
PLEASE PACK LIGHTLY!
Soft luggage is easier for us to pack in a vehicle than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. There are charter flights that are very weight restricted: 44 lbs/max 62 inches measured as length + width + height plus one carry-on bag, no heavier than 10 lbs – this is the tropics, so you don’t need much and consider clothes you can wash and reuse! Laundry services are available at our lodging in St Lucia and Dominica for a nominal charge.
Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, optics, and other essential items in your carry-on bag, within the 10 weight restriction. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on.
In general, the weather during your stay should be humid and warm with highs of 85°F and lows of 75°F. You may wish to check your favorite weather website closer to your departure to best predict what the weather will be on your adventure.
Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in light layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing, as they provide more protection from sun, insects and vegetation. But if you like to wear shorts, by all means bring some. Choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty – and that are comfortable and easy to launder.
Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended, and in some countries, not legal to wear. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.
Clothing & Gear
- Lightweight long pants (2-3 pair)
- Shorts (optional)
- Lightweight long sleeve shirts (2-3)
- T-shirts or equivalent (1 per day – remember you may be buying some there anyway!)
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
- Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
- Lightweight hiking boots. Please note that forest trails will be on uneven terrain and may be muddy – good tread and support are essential
- Sandals for evenings, travel days, and to wear on boats (optional, Teva style are great)
- Lightweight jacket; fleece fabric is ideal
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho
- Bathing suit
- Hat with broad brim
- Bandana (gel bandanas work well to keep you cool)
- Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
- Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
- A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
- As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the ID and entry stamp pages.
- Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
- Camera and extra batteries/battery chargers, film or digital chips, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
- Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored (a great option for occasional rain as you can keep using your binoculars)
- Walking stick or poles – a few of the islands require paths with uneven footing; collapsible models are ideal (optional)
- Snorkel and mask (optional – some islands offer this opportunity)
- Small flashlight with fresh batteries. Please note that if you like to read at night, lighting in other countries is often poor in the rooms and you may want to bring a book light, headlamp or flashlight for this purpose.
- Alarm clock
- Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Insect repellent (something containing DEET; for chiggers, sulphur powder if available)
- Toilet articles
- Tablet or laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos, USB cord and charger (optional)
- Chargers for cameras and/or phones
- Electrical converter and adapter plugs
- Water bottle (or plan to refill one purchased on location. If you’re buying a new one, look into water bottles with a built-in filter – like LifeStraw)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Sink plug (often not available, a flat universal one is easiest to use)
- Washcloth (may not always be available)
- Earplugs (if hotel noise or roommates snoring may bother you; these are optional)
- Laundry soap if you plan to hand wash articles of clothing
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
- Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid Items
- Personal medications (and copy of vital prescriptions)
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, Antihistamine cream or tablets, Eye drops, etc.)
- Motion sickness preventatives, if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
- Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
- Heath insurance and vaccination information (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
- Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Antibacterial hand soap, small vial
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for the Lesser Antilles; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Birds of the West Indies (Princeton Field Guides)
Merlin App – Caribbean Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Caribbean.
Birds of the West Indies James Bond, author; Don L. Eckleberry, illustrator
Birds of the West Indies, Princeton Illustrated Checklists
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share.
As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Antigua and Barbuda
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Lesser Antilles Avibase Checklist
Search iNaturalist to explore flora and fauna of the island country destination
Ecology of Lesser Antilles
Lesser Antillean Dry Forest
Critically Endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana
Article “The Lesser Antilles, True Laboratories for the Study of Forest Systems…”
Valuing and protecting biodiversity in the Caribbean
Geology & Geography
Geologic History of Lesser Antilles
The Lesser Antilles Volcanic Chain
Geography of the Lesser Antilles
History & Culture
History - Select the Lesser Antilles Island of your choice
World Culture Encyclopedia – Search to explore the culture of your destination country!
Samples of Cuisine of the Lesser Antilles
Music of the Lesser Antilles
Helpful Travel Websites
National Passport Information Center
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information
Homeland Security Real ID Act
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories
Travel Health Pro (UK) General Site
Foreign Exchange Rates
Electricity and Plugs
Date, Time, and Holidays
Photo credits: Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Keith Clarkson; Humpback Whales, Ryan Chenery; Green Turtle, Ryan Chenery; Fishing off of Montserrat, Ryan Chenery; Green-throated Carib, Sam Barone; Birding Group, Ryan Chenery; Accommodation in Barbados, Keith Clarkson; Barbados Green Monkey, Ryan Chenery; Beachside Dining, Ryan Chenery; Brown Booby, Yves-Jacques Rey Millet; Lesser Antillean Euphonia, Keith Clarkson; Imperial Parrot, Terry Anderson; Crossing the lagoon, Ryan Chenery; Golden Warbler, Beatrice Henricot; Grenada Flycatcher, Beatrice Henricot; Scaly-breasted Thrasher, Keith Clarkson; St. Vincent Amazon, Keith Clarkson; Blue-headed Hummingbird, Beatrice Henricot; Martinique Warbler, Beatrice Henricot; Plumbeous Warbler, Beatrice Henricot; Montserrat Oriole, Beatrice Henricot; West Indian Whistling-Duck, Yves-Jacques Rey Millet; Red-necked Amazon, Steve Kornfield; St. Lucia Oriole, Keith Clarkson; Sunset in Antigua, Ryan Chenery; View from balconies in St. Lucia. Ryan Chenery; Accommodations in St. Lucia, Esther Ferdinand; Sunset in Antigua, Ryan Chenery; Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, Keith Clarkson; Lesser Antillean Saltator, Beatrice Henricot; Mangrove Cuckoo, Keith Clarkson; Accommodation in Grenada, courtesy of the resort; Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Ryan Chenery; Purple-throated Carib, Mark Greenfield; Soufriere St. Lucia, Ryan Chenery; South Point Barbados, Ryan Chenery; St. Lucia Oriole, Keith Clarkson; White-breasted Thrasher, Keith Clarkson.