THE ABC ISLANDS
The most south-westerly islands of the Lesser Antilles are the Dutch ABC’s, otherwise known as Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Each of the three islands is unique in its own distinct way, however one thing that they all have in common is consistently good weather, and the fact that they are located outside of the infamous hurricane belt. Overlooked by the Spanish in the 15th century due to the lack of silver and gold on the islands, there are more riches in the ABC’s than meet the eye.
Fifteen miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is the smallest of the ABC’s. The capital, Oranjestad, is a busy cruise port with glitzy casinos, big hotels and shopping malls. At 20 miles long by six miles wide, Aruba is easy to explore. The Arikok National Park makes up 20 per cent of its landmass, while on Aruba’s south and west coasts there are miles of white beaches, including the world famous Eagle Beach, perfect for snorkelling and swimming.
Bonaire is a haven for divers, whom arrive in droves to immerse themselves amid pristine reefs, wrecks from previous times and splendid marine life. Unlike the other ABC’s, Bonaire is relatively quiet, without the bustling casinos, resorts and clubs. Divers can expect to encounter many species of marine life, from sharks and turtles to seahorses and squids.
The island has a unique salt deposit, which although did not excite the Spanish, made the Dutch extremely inquisitive. The salt mountains of Bonaire are a fascinating day visit, and something you would not expect on a Caribbean island.
Willemstad, the island’s capital, was one of the most influential trading towns in the entire Caribbean throughout centuries. The contrast between the cobalt blue sky and the eclectic colouration of the buildings is fantastic.
Much like Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the governor of Curacao decreed that all buildings be painted “any colour other than white”, therefore reds, oranges, pinks and blues fill the streets in a splendid array of colour.
Unfortunately Curacao holds a darker secret, the island was one of the most notorious areas of slave trading. The Dutch would bring slaves to and from Curacao, those who were taken from the New World and sell them across the sea.