Although there are a range of global travel restrictions currently in place, this doesn’t mean you need to put your travel plans permanently on hold. To the contrary, now is the time to dream and look ahead at fresh opportunities. What better place to offer destination inspiration than the stunning Caribbean ABC Islands?
The three most westerly islands in the Caribbean Sea, found to the north of Venezuela, are the Netherland Antilles ABC islands – namely Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. Offering a completely Caribbean experience packed with unique flora and fauna, this stunning trio are located within 50 miles of each other, making island-hopping on a superyacht charter a breeze.
Blessed with idyllic beaches and an interesting history, Aruba is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the Caribbean. At around 21 miles long and 6 miles wide, Aruba was first colonized around the year 1000 by Venezuelan natives.
In the 17th century Dutch settlers arrived, which is why today most Arubans speak Dutch along with Papiamento Creole. With a small population but vast ethnic diversity, Aruba splits more than 90 nationalities between a population of 100,000 people. Reflected in the island’s culture and cuisine, Haitians, Dominicans and Columbians are all represented. With no major cities per se, the island is made up of six districts, namely Noord, Oranjestad, Paradera, San Nicolas, Santa Cruz and Savaneta.
The unofficial capital of culture is Aruba’s most southerly district, San Nicolas, nicknamed the Sunrise Side. Here the streets are adorned with brightly coloured murals by international street artists and each year the isle welcomes the Aruba Art Fair. Cuisine here is a heady blend of every ethnic cuisine imaginable. Traditional Aruban dishes of cornflour flatbread, beef stew and stuffed cheese are delicious and of course the seafood is fresh every day. Occupying almost one fifth of Aruba, Arikok National Park is 8,000 acres of protected wilderness, filled with naturally occurring pools or ‘conchis’ that pepper the east coast, offering protected swimming. Head north to view the Ayo rock formations, with panoramic views of the island itself -particularly fascinating are the Casibari Boulders that the Caiquetio Indians considered sacred.
As one of the beach capitals of the Caribbean, Aruba boasts numerous world-class sandy stretches lapped by turquoise waters. Calm seas, sweeping coastlines and brilliant white sand makes for some truly spectacular views when approaching by yacht. Whether you seek reef-filled strands for snorkelling and diving or wave-kissed coves for windsurfing thrills, the diverse selection has something for everyone here. Found on the wild eastern coast, Boca Grandi is breath-taking. Popular with kitesurfers, the remote location means you often have it all to yourself – plus the fabulous Tortuga Beach Bar. Family friendly Palm Beach, stunning Baby Beach and eco-rich Arashi Beach are all highly favoured, offering relaxed charm and stunning views.
Unspoiled and breath-taking, Bonaire is the perfect getaway island and one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets. Measuring just 294 square kilometres and home to approximately 19,000 residents, the island’s sublime weather and fascinating culture are a big draw. With some of the world’s clearest waters for underwater adventures and perfect cruising grounds for superyachts to enjoy, this is an island for water lovers. Nature here is a huge pull for visitors and all coastal areas have been declared a marine park that is now world famous for its conservation efforts.
Aside from the wonderful opportunities on or below the waves, there are also a host of great things to do and see on land in Bonaire. Rincon is Bonaire’s oldest town and also the oldest settlement in the ABC islands. Strategically built in a valley to ward off invaders, this is where you can view the 130+ year old, history-filled Museo Chich’i Tan house. Having been the centre of the Caribbean’s salt industry for centuries, the evaporation ponds on Bonaire cultivate stunning pink coloured flats that make a fascinating visit. These are washed and stacked into tall pyramids that are then processed and shipped around the world. Stroll through the main shopping district of Kaya Grandi and enjoy the impressive architecture. The colourful colonial-style buildings here date back to the late 1800’s.
Hosting an abundance of fabulous coral reefs and well-established shipwrecks, diving in Bonaire is sublime with sites that are protected from currents. Suitable for all skill levels, this underwater paradise features more than 350 species of fish and 57 soft and stony coral. Nearby, uninhabited Klein Bonaire is only accessible by water. Surrounded by reefs it is a popular dive and snorkel spot in ultimate seclusion. Take an exhilarating kayak tour of Lac Bay mangrove forests – known as the nursery, you can observe baby rays, seahorses and lobster thriving in the seagrass meadows here.