Aruba, Bonaire, & Curacao (ABC Islands) Charter Guide
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao (ABC Islands) are an island trio that offer the complete Caribbean experience without too many other visitors!
This small archipelago boasts a wonderful climate, stunning scenery and tranquillity second to none. Curaçao has become one of the most sought-after locales in the Caribbean, Aruba and Bonaire share the Dutch influence, the former being more built-up and the latter, sleepier and less developed than the others.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are all located within 50 miles of each other, and they all fortuitously lie outside of the hurricane belt, off the coast of Venezuela. Unlike many of the other islands that offer the same terrain, the ABC islands have some unique landscape features, flora and fauna.
The ABC islands are part of the Dutch Caribbean, and former members of the Netherlands Antilles, and have their own native language, Papiamentu (a mixture of Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish). Whilst each island has its own cultural traditions and historical background, few islands are as rich in either category as Curaçao. The largest of the three, Curaçao was once an important center for trade and today, a lively and unique culture is on tap.
The strikingly intense blue-colored sea is the namesake of Curaçao blue liquor and, just 60 meters off the northern shore of Curaçao, you can find the “blue edge.” This steep, seafloor drop-off is an incredible scuba diving experience for those who are qualified. The island also boasts spectacular coral reef dives and the south coast of Curaçao offers calmer waters with incredible anchorages. You can explore the island hiking and mountain biking, tracing the jagged cliffs which drop off into the sea, and the coral and limestone caves dug-out by the waves.
The crown jewel of Curaçao is its capital city of Willemstad and mooring here will bring you right next to the floating market; a great place for souvenirs. This UNESCO world heritage site is where you will find candy-colored colonial buildings among boutiques and high-end stores, incredible restaurants and a slew of bars and clubs which deliver a buzzing nightlife.
Aruba boasts long beaches and full-service resorts, shopping opportunities and casinos. For wind and kite surfing, the island is perfect with consistent trade winds. If you’re a nature fan, check out the exotic pink birds wandering around Flamingo Beach, head to the Casibari Rock & Ayo Rock Formations, or visit the local ostrich farm.
Of the three islands, Bonaire is known for having the most spectacular diving spots. You’ll be able to swim with sea turtles, nurse sharks and stingrays across 63 official dive sites in the Bonaire Marine Park. Although tiny, only 111 square miles, and ringed by a coral reef, Bonaire boasts a big personality. Hustle and bustle simply can’t be found and, with more than 22 beaches, there are multiple places to unwind. Take a beach picnic to the uninhabited Klein Bonaire, home to turtle nesting grounds.
The main port of Kralendijk has a market in Wilhelmina square for souvenirs and you can dine at one of the delectable city restaurants. If you’re keen for activity, consider the climb to the peak of Brandaris, where you can steal a peek at Venezuela on a clear day.
- Scuba dive off Curaçao’s coast to see the “blue edge”
- Spend an afternoon shopping among the candy-colored buildings of Willemstad, Curaçao
- Spend a sunny day on Curaçao’s Cas Abou Beach
- Celebrate at one of the longest-running Mardi Gras carnival celebrations each year in Curaçao
- Tuck into fresh seafood and steak at Flying Fishbone, in Aruba’s charming fishing town
- Dive the stunning underwater landscape of Karpata, Bonaire
- Discover the well-kept secret of Bonaire’s Boca Cocolishi black-sand beaches
- For windsurfing, Lac Bay on Bonaire is said to be one of the best spots in the world
For the scuba crowd, an active week in Bonaire's marine park followed by a few indulgent nights on the town in Curaçao’s capital would be a great trip. In Aruba, the Arikok National Park, comprising 18% of the island, is a hidden treasure - a cacti-filled landscape well worth exploring.