A taste of paradise
Why visit Dutch Caribbean
These six Caribbean islands, also known as "Netherlands Antilles", offer ideal tropical getaways; especially Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius (Statia) which are safe, extraordinarily quiet and peaceful.
All three are global hotspots for marine biodiversity. With its spectacular coral reefs and excellent marine management, Bonaire is Nr. 1 Caribbean divers' paradise. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are a lot more crowded as they focus more on tourism and mass entertainment.
Culture and Local Life
The culture of the Caribbean islands comes alive in the rhythm, art and dance that fills its streets and its delicious soulful Caribbean cuisine. The islands host many music festivals throughout the year, offering warm cultural experiences.
Carnival is a very big thing on the islands, with calypso competitions, dance, parades and booths offering traditional local food.
A number of interesting monuments and museums can be found on Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius providing a glimpse of their history.
Saba, Bonaire and Sint Eustatius are all recognized for their sustainability efforts through the QualityCoast program. Bonaire has a long history of marine nature conservation. The Sint Eustatius National Parks Foundation actively works on protecting the marine and terrestrial environment. Saba has its Marine Park which successfully protects the marine environment and manages many ecotourism activities.
Travelling to the islands is only possible by air. However, St. Eustatius and to Saba can also be reached by ferry from St. Maarten. Click here for more information about the ferry service.
Bonaire has an international airport but its main international hub is often Curaçao international airport.
Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have no bus services, but distances very short, so exploring is possible by bicycle, on Saba even on foot; just make sure to have comfortable footwear appropriate for both wet and dry ground.
The islands are most famous for the marine biodiversity of their Marine Parks. Together with the underwater formations and structures, healthy corals and regular visitors such as Hammerhead sharks and Whale sharks create a spectacular and exciting divers' experience.
However, not everybody is fond of diving or snorkelling. The beauty of the national parks is there for everyone to enjoy: on Bonaire the Washington Slagbaai Park with its Green iguanas. On Saba, climb the steep Mount Scenery with its secondary rainforest and you will understand the name of this dormant volcano. On Sint Eustatius, explore the tropical rainforest in the volcano crater of the Quill, rich in flora and fauna.
Travel tips from our editors
Respecting Nature dan Wildlife
The islands have their own natural protected areas. It is important to respect the nature when visiting. Unfortunately, some visitors go off-roading without any regard to living desert soils or seasonal nesting and breeding areas.
All islands all provide waste separation bins for recycling. In Bonaire, the color code for these are: Blue = Cardboard; Grey = Cans; Orange = Plastics.
Bonaire Blue Destination
Bonaire positioned itself as the first Blue Destination in the world, with a vision with a focus on the local people. A key goal is to offer long term economic development that includes alleviation of poverty, economic opportunities, social-economic benefits and more job opportunities.
Netherlands Antilles or Dutch Caribbean?
“Dutch Caribbean” cannot be found in most country lists, but it is actually the new name for “Netherlands Antilles” since 2010.
Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius in 2010 preferred to be special municipalities of the Netherlands.
Bonaire, Saba and Statia are hidden gems and wonderful places to visit. By exploring Bonaire’s stunning underwater biodiversity and Saba and Statia’s vibrant nature, it is possible to find peace and tranquility in the Caribbean.
Bonaire is a stunning island for hikers. Especially The Washington Slagbaai National Park – biggest park on the island – is the hotsport for hiking. The park shows a rich wildlife and a divers landscape for hikes to enjoy. Guides can be arranged through a local provider offering hiking tours. Unfortunately there a very limited biking opportunities on the island.
Hiking on Saba is a unique experience since the island counts five climate zones. From hiking in a dense rainforest to enjoying your hiking trip to the top of Mount Scenery. The nature above the waterline is just as unique and varied as it lies below. Enjoy the hikes along the coastal line to Tide pools at Flatpiont. Not much biking opportunities on this beautiful island.
St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (also known as STENAPA) manage The Quill and Boven National Park, St. Eustatius National Marine Park and the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical. They offered seven hiking routes, all based on varying degrees of difficulty:
• Quill trail
• Couchar trail
• Around the mountain trail
• Panorama Point trail
• Mazinga trail
• Botanical garden trail
• Crater trail
Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius are the only islands in the Caribbean that have an official recognition for their tourism sustainability: QualityCoast Silver.
Each of them was presented a QualityCoast certificate and flag by a Dutch State Secretary (minister).