Belonging to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles encompasses two groups of islands located near the coast of Venezuela and southeast of the Virgin Islands: Curacao and Bonaire in the former and Saint Eustatius (Statia), Saba and Saint Maarten in the latter.
Both island groups in Netherlands Antilles were discovered in the 1490s by Christopher Columbus and eventually settled by Spain until the islands became property of the Dutch West India Company after they were conquered. During this time the islands became known for functioning as military outposts and for the slave trade which was subsequently abolished during the late 1800s.
After becoming colonial territories within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1954, Netherlands Antilles and the islands that comprise it was turned into its own country although each of the islands have recently chosen to remain a part of the Netherlands, become a separate country or become independent.
Today Netherlands Antilles is popular for tourism and its economy depends heavily on the constant influx of visitors to the many islands seeking to experience a piece of the well regarded relaxed atmosphere. International commerce and financial services and shipment of petroleum are also major contributors towards the nation’s economy. Netherlands Antilles is also known for having a high per capita income than several neighboring countries.
Papiamentu (a type of Creole language), English and Dutch are the primary languages spoken within the Netherlands Antilles. Many residents come from neighboring Dutch speaking countries although the nation has seen a diverse array of people from Latin America and Haiti also become citizens of one of the islands. Like neighboring Caribbean nations, the people of Netherlands Antilles are known for being very friendly.
Curacao is notable for its healthy Latin culture while Saint Maarten is recognized for having what’s considered exceptional Creole, French, and West Indian food in the Caribbean. The majority of the Netherlands Antilles islands all have popular beaches, copious nightlife and casinos and also remain popular for scuba diving and snorkeling activities. Markets both large and small are strewn throughout the islands for visitors to explore and shop in.
Visitors seeking to get a taste of the culture should visit during the months of February or March in order to experience Carnival, a major festive event that takes place across all islands within the Netherlands Antilles which features an engrossing mix of live native music and dancing, masquerades, parades, and circuses.
Apartments and condos make up the majority of Netherlands Antilles real estate although visitors seeking villas and vacation rentals will also find plenty of property to explore and purchase. Saint Maarten is home to the Barbaron Luxurious Residences which offers residents private beach access and three or bedroom units with designer furnishings.
In Curacao the Marazul Dive Resort has bungalows with three bedrooms and two bathrooms ranging about 1345 square feet in length as well as apartments with two bedrooms and two bathrooms available with nearly 1000 square feet of living space. The majorities of bungalows have ocean views and are located near the Curacao beaches of Knip and Westpunt.
Saint Eustatius is notable for its collection of vacation villas encircled in nature with tropical gardens that can accommodate anywhere from a couple to larger parties of up to six people. Villas offer all the conveniences of a home with fully equipped kitchens and appliances as well as satellite television, audio systems and even an ironing board. While the villas are normally erected away from most of the Saint Eustatius activity, they remain close to the activities available like hiking trails, mountain biking, boating and scuba diving. Guests can also bring along pets depending on the property and location in question.
Beachfront properties are also available for purchase in communities like Tamarind Estates which offer security on top of important safety features like hurricane shutters. Look for walk-in closets, terraces overlooking the ocean complete with a private pool and living rooms that come fully furnished. Many of the individual beach residences also have their own fenced in yard.
Avila Beach Hotel
The official currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) which is at the rate of 1.79 (ANG) per 1 US dollar (USD)
Calling Code: 011 (599)
Top Level Domain: (.an)
Cable providers: TELBO
Part of the Kingdom of Netherlands, each island has its own government.
Valid Travel Documents: Required Exit/Entry
Government Issued Photo ID: Required
Netherlands Antilles has a typical 80 degree temperature tropical marine climate that has very little seasonal change.
Language: Papiamento (a Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English dialect)
Tips when you get there:
The islands vary in the best things to do when you arrive, but most recommend taking a taxi around the island to get an overview of the whole place. You can also rent a car or moped depending on where you are.
What to do
The Netherlands Antilles have sightseeing tours on their many islands. National parks are also established on these islands allowing visitors to explore wildlife reserves. The beaches on every island in the Netherlands Antilles are all up to par with any beach in the Caribbean.
Bonaire and Curacao are the two largest islands in the Netherlands Antilles and they have the most restaurants, bars and events. Bonaire is particularly well known for scuba diving and bird watching; Curacao has a port, large shopping district and famous architecture and art like Queen Juliana Bridge and the statue of Pedro Luis Brion.
The smaller islands like Saba, Saint Vincent and Saint Maarten provide a quaint secluded experience. Untouched beaches and unique wildlife are common on these tropical islands making them a welcome break from the more popular islands within the Netherlands Antilles.