The Kingdom of the Netherlands consist of four parts, the Netherlands and the Caribbean islands Aruba, Curacao and Saint Maarten. However, only Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (the BES-islands) are special municipalities of Holland since 10 October 2010. This region is better known as the Caribbean Netherlands and represents the exotic side of Holland. Every year thousands of tourists are attracted to these islands and enjoy all kinds of (water)sports and the tropical nature and climate.
Bonaire is the largest of the three islands and lies north of the coast of Venezuela. The island has an international reputation as one of the best scuba diving and snorkeling resorts in the world. The people of Bonaire speak Dutch and Papiamentu. The US dollar is the local currency.
Cycle, hike or drive through the Washington Slagbaai National Park which covers 5643 hectares of the northern part of the island. Marvel at the sand dunes, dry forest and sandy beaches, which are important nesting grounds for sea turtles. You can also look out over lakes and lagoons that color pink due to the presence of thousands of flamingos. Divers can discover the underwater world of the Bonaire National Marine Park, which protects 2600 hectares of coral reefs, sea grass and mangroves. The conditions for other water sports, such as (kite)surfing and sailing, are perfect any time of the year.
Saba & St. Eustatius
Saba and St. Eustatius (the latter is also known as Statia) are islands of the northern region of the Netherlands Antilles. Though the islands are very small, Saba is 5 square miles and Statia 8.1 square miles, they offer unspoiled landscapes, historic heritage and numerous activities.
Saba is a dormant volcano that rises steeply from the ocean. With 2910 feet (887 meter) Mount Scenery is officially the highest point of the Netherlands. There aren’t many beaches at Saba, but the opportunities for scuba diving are endless and the hiking trails through the rainforest and to the top of Mount Scenery are spectacular.
Statia used to be one of the greatest trading centers in the world during the 17th and 18th century. You can still visit remains of the heyday of the Dutch West India Company. Today ecotourism is of great importance to the people of Statia. Hike with a guide to The Quill, a dormant volcano harboring a tropical rainforest. If you’re a diver than get ready for the time of your life in the marine park, which includes coral reefs, drop-offs, canyons and historical and recent wrecks.