Landlubbers and Beach Bums Equally Enjoy the Caribbean’s ABC Islands

Carribean-ABC-Islands-1200.jpg

LANDLUBBERS & BEACH BUMS EQUALLY ENJOY THE CARIBBEAN’S ABC ISLANDS
By Jan M. Smith, Never Enough Travel

Chances are when you travel with family, there will be competing priorities for those who love land activities and those who love the water.  The good news is the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, aka, the ABC islands offer a variety of activities to suit everyone.

The islands, located 880 miles south of Florida’s western coast, are separated by less than 90 miles. They are easily accessed by air or by sea. The islands are both arid and desert-like on one side and lush and tropical on the other.

Each island shares a similar Netherlands Antilles history and language, Papiamentu, a Creole-based language indigenous to the Dutch Antilles and still spoken on the islands.

ARUBA
Aruba is the northernmost of the ABC islands and the first stop on the cruise itinerary.  It is the most inhabited island of the three, stretching 20 miles long and six miles at its widest point.  It is the most commercialized of the three islands, with upscale resorts, restaurants and retail offerings.  The view arriving in the cruise port features a panoramic view of Oranjstad, the capital of Aruba, with colorful architecture and for a moment you wonder if the cruise took a detour while we were sleeping and ended up in the Netherlands!

For the Landlubber: Hike Hooiberg Mountain.
Rent a car and explore the island. Plan a hike at Hooiberg Mountain, also known as Haystack Mountain. The hike offers a challenging steep climb of 587 steps to reach the summit. Take in the spectacular 360-degree view of the island and catch a view of the Venezuelan coast, just 17 miles offshore.  Watch for mountain goats nesting in the thick underbrush, various forms of cactus and unique windblown divi-divi trees.

For the Beach Bum: Snorkel at Eagle Beach.
Eagle Beach was recently named to Tripadvisor’s Five Best Beaches in the World and National Geographic’s 24 Best Spots in the Caribbean. With its sapphire blue waters, the beach lives up to the accolades. The waters of the Caribbean are warm, averaging between 78 – 82 degrees with visibility as deep as 100 feet.

For Everyone: As the afternoon dwindles enjoy one of the many quintessential no-name Tiki bars along the shore, serving freshly made drinks served in pineapple and coconut shells.

CURACAO
This colorful island is the largest of the three islands. Beautifully designed and colorfully painted architectural views are easily viewed from the cruise dock.

For the Landlubber: Explore the City of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rent a car and explore the city center of Willemstad. See whimsical historic homes painted in bright cotton candy colors. Make your way to the famous Floating Market, where fisherman and farmers bring products from Venezuela and display on anchored boats.

Visit Hato Caves. Carved over time to create numerous chambers and levels from its limestone, the caves offer extensive tiered levels to explore. Locals conduct tours and provide informative cave history.  Be forewarned, you will meet the resident bats.

For the Beach Bum: Dive the sunken tugboat. 
If not for a Google search netting a previous traveler’s cryptic but precise directions (i.e. turn left at the turnabout at Caracasbaaiweg Beach, left when the paved road ends, then follow the dirt road past the old fortress until you arrive at the site) we would have never found this destination.

The sunken tugboat is located approximately 150 yards offshore and is easily reached by an accomplished swimmer in about 15 minutes. The swim out to the tugboat passes an abandoned dock and shipyard, and the prize is reaching the tugboat 15 feet below in all its sunken glory.  Colorful fish have made the tugboat home and you can expect to see brilliant angelfish, parrot and trumpet fish, and various forms of live coral.

Along the shore, the Tugboat Bar and Grill offers refreshments and primitive restrooms. This is a must do for a sea adventurer or landlubber.

For Everyone: Participate in Pack for a Purpose (PfaP)
Pack for a Purpose is a non-profit organization promoting transformative and volunteer travel. Visitors get the opportunity to bring much-needed supplies to their travel destination. Many of the ABC Island’s hotels take part by accepting and distributing the contributions to local charities. Consider this opportunity next time you travel, as it will not only change the recipients of your contributions, it will change you, the traveler.

Visit Riffort Village. This repurposed historical Rif Fort built in the early 1800’s now offers boutiques, cafes, bars, and a lengthy seawall with views of Curacao’s beautiful St. Anna Bay.  A perfect place to relax after a full day in Curacao.

BONAIRE
Bonaire, the smallest, most authentic and laid back of the three islands is only 30 miles east of Curacao. The main town of Kralendijk has several blocks of cafes, shops with local wares displayed, and the Bonaire Tourism Corporation office, with friendly local staff offering one-day itineraries.

For the Landlubber:  Take a drive around the entire island.
Our rental car allowed us the flexibility to see the entire island as it is only 24 miles long and 7 miles wide.  The one-way single- lane road loops around the entire island.  The drive offers incredible views of the many swim and dive beaches, the Goto Lake; a saltwater lake housing colorful flamingos (the island’s national symbol), and wild donkeys and goats.

For the Beach Bum: Dive into the water.
Bonaire’s northwest shoreline is known for its pristine coral reefs, calm bays, an abundance of picture-worthy fish, and near-perfect visibility in the crystal clear waters. Bonaire’s beach trails are clearly marked by bright yellow rocks along the road, indicating the beach name and trailhead.

Our destination was 1000 Step Beach. The namesake is a misnomer as there were about 70 steep limestone rock stairs from the street to shore, and the ascent offers breathtaking views of the turquoise water.  The bay attracts several types of fish, manta rays, and sea turtles who taunt you to follow as they gracefully glide through the water.

For Everyone: See the Sea Salt Pans.
Head to the south part of the island to view the sea salt pans and several three-story high pyramid-shaped mounds of pure sea salt. The massive sea salt pans contain salt being cured in different stages; each a distinct color of either green, pink, or white.  Against a bright blue sky backdrop, the mounds of sea salt look like snow-filled mountain tops.

Visit the Slave Huts. Close by to the salt pans are several identically-designed structures built in the 1800’s for use by the salt mine slaves as sleeping quarters.


Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire are a Landlubber and Beach Bum’s delight with various activities that need more than just a day.  There’s so much more to experience, and for that reason, a return trip is in order!


Jan M. Smith has been involved in the hospitality, travel, tourism, and destination management industry for over thirty years. Her career has offered the opportunity to experience and objectively evaluate and write about travel regions, lodging, dining, and winery properties. Jan is an enthusiastic traveler who has the opportunity to visit international and regional areas, and believes travel is a never-ending source of inspiration through the people, culture, food, and wine encountered, and is a great story waiting to be written. Jan is member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association. See her articles at www.NeverEnoughTravel.com.

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

 


Website Link Visit Link Here
About the Author:

Jan M. Smith has been involved in the hospitality, travel, tourism, and destination management industry for over thirty years. Her career has offered the opportunity to experience and objectively evaluate and write about travel regions, lodging, dining, and winery properties. Jan is an enthusiastic traveler who has the opportunity to visit international and regional areas, and believes travel is a never-ending source of inspiration through the people, culture, food, and wine encountered, and is a great story waiting to be written. Jan is member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association.

Category , ,
Keywords   
No Feedback Received