ABC Islands | What Are The ABC Islands
The ABC islands are the three western-most islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea that lie north of Falcón State, Venezuela. In order alphabetically they are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. All three islands are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, although they remain outside the European Union. Aruba and Curaçao are autonomous, self-governing constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands proper.
Each of the ABC islands is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (though they are not in the European Union, themselves). Bonaire is a “special municipality” of the Netherlands, while Aruba and Curaçao are autonomous. Culturally, all three islands are a mix of Dutch, Caribbean, and South American influences. Yum!
ABC Islands Caribbean
When we booked our cruise to the southern Caribbean, we were excited about the chance to visit the ABC islands. Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao sit very south in the Caribbean, just above Venezuela. They are out of the hurricane belt and are great options for fall travel when other islands are threatened. A few years ago, we visited Curacao for a week to scuba dive. But had not yet explored the other two islands. When we packed for our trip, we added an extra bag with snorkelling and scuba gear. We really hoped to enjoy the great underwater world. All three of the ABC islands were known for water activities.
A is for Aruba
If you’re looking for non-stop action, Aruba is your happy place. Hit the links, shop in paradise and party hearty at the casinos and clubs. Capital city Oranjestad is a magnet for international cuisine and you’ll love dining at the Kitchen Table with exquisite eats and wine pairings overlooking the water. Also, head to Eagle Beach for fantastic French-fusion cuisine at the Screaming Eagle.
B is for Bonaire
Bonaire may be the smallest of the A-B-C- islands, but its eco-friendly tourism, sustainable practices and international reputation as a diver’s paradise, make it BIG news. You’ll think you’ve discovered nirvana with more than 50 types of coral and over 350 fish species, including everything from parrot and angel fish to nurse sharks and stingrays. This award-winning scuba destination accommodates beginners to advanced divers with more than 60 official dive sites.
C is for Curaçao
The largest of the three islands in both size and population, Curaçao is known for its more than 35 spectacular beaches, pastel buildings and Dutch tourists—in fact, the whole island feels very much like Europe. Walk through the capital city of Willemstad, also an UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its burst of pink, blue, yellow and gold buildings (the colors indicate a government building or monument). Watch the iconic floating Queen Emma Bridge swing open to let the boats through.
ABC Islands Cruise
When your cruise ship docks in Aruba, you will make your way down the pier to venture into the city of Oranjestad. Here you will find trendy shopping, unique sightseeing, and beautiful beaches. Below is the breakdown for suggestions of things to do in Aruba.
Things to Do on a Cruise to Aruba
Downtown Oranjestad offers many shopping options that are convenient for cruisers ranging from upscale retailers to bargain vendors. If you like upscale, high-end shopping, you should check out the Renaissance Mall and Marketplace which is home to many luxury retailers.
In Aruba, there are some unique sightseeing opportunities. The Best of Aruba tour, one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s shore excursions, hits all of the main attractions. Starting with a brief tour of the Aloe Museum, your travel guide will then take you to the Casibari Rock formations, Natural Bridge Ruins, and the California Lighthouse.
3. Beach and Snorkel
If you aren’t shopping or sightseeing in Aruba, you could spend the day on one of the beaches. DePalm Island and Snorkel tour is by far the best beach day getaway in Aruba. This “no hassle” day trip already includes lunch, drinks, lounge chairs, and changing rooms, so you don’t have to worry about anything.
ABC Islands Sportsbook
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ABC Islands All Inclusive
According to the disputed letters of Amerigo Vespucci, the ABC islands were first explored by one of Christopher Columbus’ captains, Alonso de Ojeda, who landed on Curaçao in 1499. He is said to have called the islands Las islas de los Gigantes or Islands of the Giants due to the native inhabitants, the Caiquetio Indians. The first known European exploration was by Amerigo Vespucci, whose cartographer Juan de la Cosa first described the islands.By 1527 the Spanish had formed a government and established Catholicism on the islands.
In 1634, the Netherlands fought Spain over control of the islands. The Dutch won, and the islands were then administered by the Netherlands. The Dutch West India Company developed the areas, establishing a major port on Curaçao. The abolition of the slave trade in 1863 had a devastating impact on their economies, although the economy revived when oil was discovered in Venezuela during the early 20th century, and the islands became major oil refineries.
Tips on the ABC Islands
- Spot the little yellow birds!
- Eat at Plasa Bieu.
- See the oldest surviving synagogue in the Americas.
- Tour a giant ostrich farm!
- Dig the Dutch-Caribbean architecture.
- Explore the floating market (if it still exists).
- Go shopping.
- Swim in amazing beaches.
- Feast on iguana and tutu.
- Embrace the rainbow art of Willemstad!