The Beautiful ABC Islands: Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
Remembering the names of these beautiful southern Caribbean islands really is as simple as ABC! Collectively, the ABC islands, consisting of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, offer a truly distinctive Caribbean vacation.
Each of these islands is infused with a strong Dutch flavor due to their history as Dutch colonies.
Although still aligned with the Netherlands, Aruba gained independence in 1986. Willemstad, Curacao is the capital of the Netherlands Antilles, which include Bonaire, Curacao and the smaller islands of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba, all of which remain part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Each of the ABC islands is dominated by Dutch culture, customs and architecture, although colorful local influences naturally exist. Yet, despite the strong Dutch influence, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are as Caribbean as you could wish and offer diverse sporting opportunities along with their rich history and island culture.
These beautiful islands offer enough opportunities to satisfy any traveler.
A mere 15 miles off the Venezuelan coast and 42 miles away from Curacao, Aruba is the most southwestern of these beautiful pearls in the Caribbean. It is also the most developed and glamorous of the ABC islands.
The island's premier resorts, with their fabulous beaches and glitzy accommodations, casinos and restaurants, draw more than a million visitors annually. But, there is much more to Aruba than that.
Almost 20% of its territory is dedicated to Arikok National Park, which features some of the most spectacular scenery in the Caribbean. Water sports also play an important role on Aruba, and the island hosts an annual international windsurfing competition. Many travelers believe Aruba is the perfect spot for a Caribbean vacation.
In contrast, Bonaire is the least-developed of the ABC islands and beckons travelers with its laid-back atmosphere. Much of Bonaire's offshore waters have been designated as a marine park to preserve its reefs and beaches for exploration by visiting snorkelers and scuba divers. And, in addition to boasting 60 official dive sites, Bonaire also offers premier bird-watching.
Throughout the island, including within Washington-Slagbaai National Park, more than 200 exotic bird species can be discovered. Bonaire just might be the perfect destination for those seeking a relaxing Caribbean vacation without crowds of tourists.
Curacao lies between Aruba and Bonaire and is the largest of the Netherlands Antilles. The island's interesting history is reflected in the museums and vividly-colored buildings of Willemstad, Curacao's capital.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site features several historic locations, including the oldest operating Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.
You'll hear four different languages while you're walking through Willemstad: Dutch, English, Spanish and a blend of these and other languages called Papiamento. The island's cultural diversity is also reflected in its cuisine, which serves up some of the most unique foods in the entire Caribbean. As with the other ABC islands, Curacao's opportunities for water sports are almost limitless.
But Curacao also offers many family activities, including visits to its pristine beaches and the Curacao Seaquarium. Aruba might be the most luxurious and Bonaire the most pristine of the ABC islands; Curacao lies somewhere in the middle.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao each have their own distinct flavors and tourist opportunities. You'll find what you're looking for on one of the ABC islands, whether you're seeking culture and history, an active tropical lifestyle or an escape into the exotic.
It might be difficult to choose between them, but you don't need to. By visiting all three ABC islands, you'll enjoy a well-balanced tropical island vacation. It really is as simple as ABC!
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