Caribbean Paradise with a European Flair
Scattered across the Caribbean Sea, the Netherlands Antilles are comprised of Curacao and Bonaire (just off the Venezuelan coast), and St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba, which are in the northwestern reaches of the Leeward islands.
These two branches of the Netherland Antilles have unique characteristics, given their very different locales. Of the northeastern islands, Saint Maarten is definitely the most well known and is often included as a cruise ship stopover. It boasts several large beaches where one can rent jet skis and paddleboats, or just kick back and enjoy a delicious meal while watching the sunset. For travelers who like to get off the beaten path, Saba and St. Eustasis offer a more relaxing and secluded experience.
Of the southern Antilles, Bonaire is best known as a diver’s paradise, but this desert island also contains some unique plants and wildlife. Curacao is the largest of the Netherlands Antilles and is most recognizably Dutch – in architecture, cuisine, and inhabitants.
These five islands are all bonded together by a common history and heritage of having been colonized by the Dutch, as is evidenced in their numerous historic monuments and hilltop colonial fortresses. For marine enthusiasts, the snorkeling and scuba diving in the Antilles’ coral reefs is some of the best in the world, and Saba is known for having some incredible diving opportunities off its rocky shores. The leeward winds make for great sailing around St. Maarten, the windsurfing in Bonaire’s Lac Bay is off the charts, and for those who just want to lie out and relax the stretches of sand on Curacao are second to none.