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Die ABC-Inseln in der Karibik, Bild: Peter Hermes Furian / shutterstock

The ABC Islands of the Caribbean

For many people an absolute dream – to go on holiday once in a lifetime on a paradisiacal island in the middle of the Caribbean. Walk along white sandy beaches, rent a boat in the Caribbean and watch breathtaking sunsets. The ABC Islands, formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, are located in the middle of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela and offer tourists and locals just that: plenty of sun, exciting culture and fantastically beautiful scenery.

As the name suggests, the archipelago consists of the three islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Although geographically they are located in South America, they belong to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This is due to the conquest of the archipelago by Dutch forces in the 17th century. After a few years in which the islands changed their affiliation between Great Britain, France and the Netherlands, Anglo-Dutch negotiations at the beginning of the 19th century ensured that they finally passed into Dutch ownership.

A for Aruba

Aruba, Caribbean, ABC Islands
The ABC island of Aruba, Image: Steve Photography / shutterstuck

Affectionately called “One Happy Island” by locals, you can be sure that you will already be welcomed with a smile by the inhabitants of the island. In addition to crystal-clear water, fantastic summer temperatures and powdery sandy beaches, the island’s hearty cuisine is highly recommended. Influenced by Dutch, Spanish and South American influences, you will find many fish dishes on the menus here. The national dish is called “Keshi Yena“, a cheese filled with meat or fish, vegetables and traditional spices.

Walking through the island’s largest city – Oranjestad – you feel like you’re in a picture book: colorful Dutch-style houses, the harbor invites you to stroll and relax, and the palm-lined streets do the rest.
If you are looking for fantastic beaches, you will get your money’s worth on Aruba. Eagle Beach in the west of the island has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world several times. The colorful and species-rich underwater world off the coast of Aruba also attracts many tourists. In addition to unique coral gardens, there are also some shipwrecks to explore.

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B for Bonaire

Bonaire Corals, ABC Islands
Coral reef on Bonaire, Image: John A. Anderson / shutterstock

Especially for divers, snorkelers and nature enthusiasts, the second island of the ABC Islands is an absolute highlight. Off the coast, colorful corals, many Caribbean fish species and even adventurous stalactite caves can be explored, while on land you can observe the largest flamingo population in the world or take a hike through the tropical mango forests.

The Bari Reef not far from the island’s capital Kralendijk is particularly suitable for snorkeling. In addition to colorful fish species, there are also many intact corals and sea turtles to discover. If you want to dive deeper into the underwater world of Bonaire and explore the island’s diverse diving areas, you will find what you are looking for on the beaches of Ol’Blue, Alice in Wonderland or 1000 Steps. A special treat is the exploration of the shipwreck Hilma Hooker, which can be found at a depth of 18 meters.

Culinarily, an exciting mix of Caribbean and European cuisine awaits you on Bonaire. Spicy sauce, fish and meat dishes, lobster and traditional Caribbean spices are on the menu.

C for Curaçao

Curacao, Willemstad, ABC Island
View of Willemstad, the capital of Curacao. Image: emperorcosar / shutterstock

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Curaçao is probably the blue liqueur of the same name with orange flavor. Not so wrong – the liqueur actually comes from the Caribbean island of Curaçao. However, the small patch of land has much more to offer.


With its approximately 145,000 inhabitants, the island unites more than 50 nationalities. So it’s not surprising that tourists find an incredible mix of cultures and languages on the island. While the official language is Dutch, English, Spanish and the very common colloquial language Papiamentu are also spoken on the island, which includes elements of Spanish, Portuguese, African, Dutch, French and Indian Arawak.

One of the most culturally rich cities in the Caribbean is Willemstad, the capital of the island. With its pastel-coloured houses, cobbled squares and Dutch colonial architecture, it is very reminiscent of Amsterdam. But the island’s fantastically white sandy beaches also leave nothing to be desired: Playa Porto Mari is particularly popular due to its picture-book scenery, the great diving and snorkeling spots and the trusting pigs.

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Travel time and climate ABC Islands

Basically, the best time to travel to the ABC Islands is all year round. Although there is also a designated rainy season from September to December, this is easy to cope with with relatively light and warm rain showers. In fact, the archipelago is even considered the driest region in the Caribbean.

The climate on the ABC Islands is tropical, i.e. very warm, sunny and characterized by high humidity all year round. The warmest months are May to October, with average high temperatures of up to 31 degrees Celsius and water temperatures of up to 29 degrees Celsius.

Facts about the ABC Islands

  1. Geographical location: The ABC Islands are part of the Lesser Antilles and are geographically part of South America. They are located outside the hurricane belt, making them a year-round safe destination.
  2. Cultural diversity: The islands have a rich history and culture, shaped by their colonial past under Spanish and Dutch rule. This is reflected in the architecture, the languages and the festivals. Papiamentu, a creole language, is one of the most widely spoken languages, along with Dutch and other languages such as English and Spanish.
  3. Natural beauty and biodiversity: Aruba is known for its picturesque beaches and dry climate, while Bonaire is considered one of the best diving destinations in the world, especially because of its protected marine ecosystem. Curaçao offers a mix of beautiful beaches and an impressive capital, Willemstad, known for its colorful buildings and historical sites.
  4. Economic aspects: Tourism is an important source of income for the islands. Aruba and Curaçao also have significant oil refining industries. Bonaire, on the other hand, relies heavily on nature conservation and is a leader in sustainable tourism practices.
  5. Activities and sights: In addition to beach and water sports activities, the islands offer opportunities for hiking, bird watching and exploring caves. Cultural festivals, such as the Carnival Festival, attract visitors from all over the world.
  6. Gastronomy: The cuisine of the ABC Islands is a mixture of African, Spanish, Portuguese and Indian influences. Seafood plays a huge role in the local cuisine, complemented by exotic spices and fruits.