Netherlands Antilles ABC Islands

Shutterstock/26479897/John A. AndersonThe Netherlands Antilles consist of the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, popularly known as the 'ABCs' (60-80 km off the coast of Venezuela, south of the hurricane belt), and the '3 S's': Sint Eustatius (Statia), Saba, and Sint Maarten in what are generally known as the Leeward Islands, 880 km further north in the hurricane belt . However in July 2007 the Netherlands Antilles will be dissolved as a political entity and each island will establish its own individual relationship with the Netherlands, either as a Dutch municipality or as a separate entity.

Each island is a water playground with excellent diving, sailing, windsurfing and any number of other toys available. Accommodation is of a very high standard and any visitor can feel extremely comfortable and relaxed or active and energized according to mood. All three of the ABC islands are arid and hot, covered in scrub and cactus and fairly low-lying, although there are some hills. Aruba developed its tourist industry after its oil refinery closed and built a strip of huge hotels and casinos along the best sandy beach on the island to attract sun worshippers and gamblers. Windsurfing, golf and diving are included in the list of entertainments on offer. Bonaire has a niche market with the best diving in the Caribbean and a long-established marine park to protect its underwater riches, while on land there are salt pans, flamingos and the Caribbean's first national park. Curaçao has a number of interesting historical sites, from an old Jewish synagogue to plantation houses, called
landhuisen
, and has long been popular for shopping, but has now developed as a diving and beach destination with hotels and apartments being built all along the coast.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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