Major Tourist Attractions: Queen Emma Bridge, Bonaire Ntional Marine Park, Willemstad
The Netherlands Antilles is composed of two island groups – the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao located in the southern Caribbean just off the Venezuelan coast; and the SSS islands of Saint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius southeast of the Virgin Islands.
All of the islands offers a variety of activities. Bonaire is scuba diver’s paradise, while visitors to Curacao can learn about the Dutch heritage of the island and indulge in its namesake liqueur. Visitors to Aruba can enjoy a day people watching at one of the many local restaurants, or visit some of the island’s natural rock and cave formations. The smaller SSS islands feature tranquil beaches for relaxing or parasailing and other outdoor adventures.
The history and culture of the islands is diverse. Many of the islands were originally inhabited by people who migrated from South America. The Dutch arrived in the early 1600s, and their influence increased dramatically over the years. Ultimately, Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten became part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The result of these multicultural influences is a population that today speaks a Portuguese-Dutch creole language (especially the SSS islands), Dutch, and English.
Accommodations on the islands range from large all-inclusive resorts to beachside bungalows and vacation rentals. As the islands are far apart from each other, most visitors would likely only venture to one per trip, unless visiting via a cruise ship.
No matter which island (or islands) you choose, there will be no shortage of options for things to do:
- Spend the day shore diving or snorkeling on Bonaire
- Picnic on the deserted island of Klein Bonaire one-half mile off Bonaire's western coast
- Explore Bonaire’s mangroves in a sea kayak
- Tour Curacao’s 1500-year-old Hato Caves
- Visit the restored Dutch village in Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Wander the Mercado Flotante, Willemstad’s floating market full of fresh produce and the day's catch
- Relax on Aruba’s Eagle Beach
- See the petroglyphs and unusual structures of the Ayo Rock Formations on Aruba
- Take time off from the sun and surf to visit the Aruba Ostrich Farm
- Horseback ride in St. Maarten’s Seaside Nature Park
- All along St. Maarten’s beautiful beaches, find vendors offering parasailing, windsurfing, and jet skiing
Address: United States Consulate
P.O. Box 158, J.B. Gorsiraweg 1
and then dial extension 2225 or 2223.