Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao are the three islands that make up the ABC Islands in the Lesser Antilles. Located just off the Venezuelan coast, each island offers a wonderful experience whether on a cruise in the region or island hopping on a Caribbean extravaganza.
Jaw-dropping beaches, colorful architecture, and unique culture await on each Lesser Antilles island. The islands are all part of the Kingdom of Netherlands. They have a distinct Dutch flair compared to other islands on the Caribbean map.
Despite the proximity of each island to the next, you can have a unique experience at each location as you sail off the South American coast.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about the ABC Islands? All three islands are positioned away from the normal trajectory of Atlantic Ocean hurricanes and normally avoid storms during hurricane season.
If you look on a Lesser Antilles map, notice how the southern position of the islands protects them from significant damage before the usual hook of Atlantic hurricanes.
Aruba – The Most Popular of the ABC Islands
The first stop is an island that is a paradise for sunbathers. Aruba receives little rainfall compared to its Caribbean counterparts and it is easily the most tourist friendly of the ABC islands.
The warm sunshine throughout the year and an impressive array of things to do in Aruba is enhanced by an exuberant local community that welcomes visitors.
Some of the world’s most breathtaking beaches reside on Aruba’s shores and stepping foot on the sands of the first beach you visit will help you understand the island’s motto, “One Happy Island.”
Eagle Beach and Druif Beach are two of the more popular beaches closer to the island’s biggest town of Oranjestad. On the opposite side of the island, Wariruri Beach and Andicuri Beach are a haven for adventure activities.
Eagle Beach is an Aruba favorite due to its easy access to fun-filled water sports and shimmering white-sand shores. Make sure to snap a glorious panorama of the beautiful fofoti trees facing the Caribbean Sea. The unmistakable image has become a global phenomenon making Eagle Beach a must-see beach in Aruba.
Social media has been buzzing over the feathery creatures residing at the flamingo beach in Aruba. The adorable pink friends are an unforgettable highlight during a visit to Aruba and you can find them at the privately owned Renaissance Island.
To see these majestic creatures on flamingo beach, you must be a guest at the resort or purchase a day pass.
After you are through at the beach, hit the streets of Oranjestad for bustling nightlife, delicious eateries, and local shops.
Oranjestad, Aruba is the colorful capital of this cheerful island that boasts a stunning collection of Dutch architecture. Begin your stroll on Main Street where you’ll find everything from world-class brands to local handmade crafts.
History buffs will adore Fort Zoutman, the city’s oldest building dating back to the 18th century, and the fascinating artifacts residing at the Archeological Museum. One of the top things to do in Aruba is the weekly Bon Bini Festival. The entertaining spectacle is an eye-opener to the island’s culture and a fabulous place to grab a culinary treat.
From festive celebrations to lazy days on the beach, it’s no wonder the island of Aruba is always happy!
Those looking to escape reality will feel right at home on the smallest of the ABC islands. Bonaire Island is not lined with the extravagant shops and sprawling nightlife scene of Aruba but is equally as rich in natural wonder, and there are lots of exciting things to do in Bonaire.
The island has earned a tremendous reputation as one of the best places in the world for coral reef diving. Divers from around the world flock to this little slice of paradise to dive to the depths of the Caribbean Sea to be amazed by the beautiful variety of species beneath the surface.
The beaches that line Bonaire’s shores range from soft white to more colorful beaches lined with shells.
Head to Lac Bay for a refreshing afternoon underneath the sun and gaze at world-class windsurfers practice their moves. Then, admire the rocky wall nestled beside Bachelor’s Beach and relax with a cold drink in hand. Adventurous snorkelers will love Te Amo Beach and its magnificent reef system close to the shore.
Partakers in adventure sports will fall in love with the vast array of activities at their fingertips which includes windsurfing, kitesurfing, and more.
An easy side trip from Bonaire Island is Klein Bonaire, a peaceful island just a five-minute jaunt away. The spectacular reefs of the island are a diver’s nirvana and the isolation provides impeccable solace.
A visit to the Pink Salt Lake is certainly among the best things to do in Bonaire for every type of traveler. Flamingos frequent the area like Flamingo beach in Aruba and you will surely pass a whole flock of them.
In addition, Bonaire is one of the top Caribbean Islands for an exciting cave expedition. Half the fun is trying to guess what you’ll find inside each of them. Beautiful paintings, crystalline water and spooky tunnels potentially greet you inside the roughly 400 caves on the island.
Visitors to Curaçao Island get the best of both worlds with stunning beaches on one side of the island and a vibrant city with bright architecture on the other. The list of things to do in Curacao is quite extensive, and I’m sure your visit to the island will be nothing but excitement.
There are 30+ pristine beaches that line the shores of Curaçao with the most scenic being located past the beautiful Christoffel National Park on the northern side of the island.
Immerse yourself in the island’s amazing culture by wandering into one of several museums to learn Curaçao’s history.
Those in search of city life are in luck as Willemstad is a beautiful, upbeat city home to over 100,000 people. Separated into the Punda and Otrobanda sections, Willemstad is lined with lively shops and restaurants and eye-popping architecture.
While in Willemstad, do not miss the opportunity to see the opening and closing of The Old Swinging Lady which controls the entrance to the busy harbor.
If you time it right, the Floating Market is an astonishing sight on Curacao island for visitors to witness. Boats sail to Curacao from the nearby Venezuelan coast and provide locals with an abundance of fresh produce. Snag some delicious fruits and seafood before the boats make their return journey to Venezuela.
The scenic Christoffel National Park is among the adventurous things to do in Curacao. Trekkers will love the radiant flora and wildlife dotting the hilly terrain. Christoffel Mountain offers incredible vistas of the island and you can even take a safari around the park.
With a unique blend of dazzling beaches, mountainous landscapes and vibrant communities, Curacao is one of the best Caribbean islands to visit for the total package.