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Cupecoy Beach auf Sint Marteen, Bild: Steve Heap / shutterstock

The six dream islands of the Netherlands Antilles

More Dutch than the Netherlands? We visit three islands of the Netherlands Antilles.

In the southeast of the Caribbean island chain are the Lesser Antilles, the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Together with the SSS islands of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Marteen , they were the Netherlands Antilles (dissolution of the unit in October 2010). The sun-drenched islands are autonomous areas of the Dutch Kingdom – and so the typical Dutch flair unfolds surprisingly intensively at the 13th parallel.
Netherlands Antilles, Sabe
A picturesque village on Saba, Image: Erika Bisbocci / shutterstock

Governors represent the motherland and reside in classicist official residences with candy-colored facades, whose attitude is quite respectable and yet without pomp. From time to time, members of the Dutch royal family, which is particularly popular on the islands, also visit the islands.
However, the unwavering hospitality of the islanders is also enjoyed by less prominent visitors, for whom freshly tapped Amstel beer – originally brewed from seawater on Curaçao – or Gouda and butter biscuits will soon become a matter of course.

In addition, there is a perpetual summer, which is tempered to about 27.5 °C by gentle trade winds. So it is no wonder that there is no corresponding word for “weather” in the Creole national language Papiamento.

Curaçao: Amsterdam of the Caribbean

The capital of the island of Curaçao is Willemstad. Here, the districts of Scharloo, Punda and Otrobanda are part of the World Heritage Site for a reason. In the “Amsterdam of the Caribbean” there is a unique parade of over 300-year-old bell gables along the Sint Annabaai and all around the stately homes of the planter barons open the doors of their salons filled to the brim with the rarest family antiques. The best example and definitely worth seeing is the Landhuis Brievengat in Curaçao’s southwest. Here, the everyday, fun-loving merengue dance event became a must to see and be seen.

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When they hear “Curaçao”, however, many contemporaries first think of liqueur, which is sugar-sweet and as turquoise blue as the wide sea. You can only get to the copper kettles of the Chobolobo distillery officially guided – and you will learn almost nothing about the liqueur company’s trade secrets. Only this much: At the beginning of the beguiling Curaçao spirit there were historical attempts by the once Spanish conquerors to settle the plump oranges of their homeland on Curaçao. The fruits of these plantations were coarse-pored and puny bitter oranges, which later became a stroke of luck: one of the world’s most drunk liqueurs is now distilled from the oil of the green, not quite ripe skins.

Aruba: “One happy Island”

Netherlands Antilles, Aruba
A flamingo on the beach in Aruba, Image: Matt Grimaldi / shutterstock

Under the cheerful motto, Aruba presents itself as a kind of land of smiles of Dutch origin. The island metropolis of Oranjestad appears cheerful with colourful malls and a breathtakingly large lido, 25 hotels and an 18-hole golf course. 12 kilometers of sandy beach surround an azure lagoon and everywhere in Aruba, any Caribbean clichés are guaranteed to be fulfilled, right down to luxurious casinos and Neu-Schwanstein facades.

St. Maarten – Island of the Dutch and French

On Sint Maarten , space for cascading-adorned paradise hotels is scarce, as the Dutch and the French have shared the small, peaceful island since 1648. Nevertheless, there are three dozen fine white sandy beaches here and the island’s capital Philipsburg looks like a colorfully whitewashed petitesse. The old Fort Amsterdam with magnificent views over the Netherlands Antilles is also absolutely worth seeing.

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