With winter bringing the touch of frost, freezing nights, and darker days it’s easy to dream of gin blue waters, dazzling islands, and superyacht sailing in the gauzy sunshine of the Caribbean. The ABC islands, otherwise known as the Lesser Antilles, or the Dutch Islands offer a charming spread of snorkeling beaches, rugged landscapes, tiny chapels, brightly painted towns, and killer cocktails to enjoy whilst digging your toes in white sand.
The three stars of the show all have something very different to offer; but when combined into one superyacht charter itinerary can deliver a week or two of pure bliss and colonial cool. For a tropical island that ticks all the boxes – Aruba has that lovely laid back luxury feel. For twinkling bright lights and to discover an underwater world – you can’t go wrong with Curacao, and for a sleepier traditional vibe with crystal clear diving into the blue depths of the sea- Bonaire is the lesser developed of the three.
Aruba is the poster child of the Caribbean with full service sun soaked spots like Palm Beach boasting watersports galore, and lots of lounging in style haunts for sipping cocktails and enjoying lingering lunches. The waters of Aruba are shallow, meaning that sunlight perfectly penetrates the bottom leaving every ripple a tapestry of blue. Arguably the most glam of the Lesser Antilles – it is here you will find all the glittering resorts with their five-star spas and fast rolling casinos.
Yet step back from the city and you will also find Mother Nature’s hand at work especially at the Arikok National Park. The sandy rugged pathways and green hills can be explored on the back of an ATV or horseback depending on how adventurous you are feeling after a lazy morning aboard your yacht. The back country is brimming with strange rock formations, be sure to swing by the Rock Wish Garden and, according to local legend, build a tower of wishes and see if they fall down to keep your dreams from coming true.
While you may find world famous diving in Bonaire that doesn’t mean that Aruba isn’t an incredible place to delve into the deep. Beneath the blue, you can find one of the Caribbean’s most impressive wrecks – the German World War II-era ship Antilla. Don’t leave the island without stopping by the oldest institution – Charlie’s Bar and order up a crimson colored Ariba Aruba to sip as the sun sets.
Beautiful Bonaire may just change the way you experience color. Beneath the shaded teals and turquoises there blooms a magnificent coral garden, and those who don’t mind getting their hair wet can snorkel and dive alongside turtles, rainbow shoals, and exotic marine life. Yet Bonaire has plenty to offer back on dry land too – the snowy looking salt pans against a powder blue sky is worth a photo op or two, and at Pekelmeer you can capture the bright pink flash of flamingos in the sun.
Bonaire is a tiny slip of an island weighing in at just over 112 miles, it also captures the closest authentic Caribbean feel you can find in the ABC collection. There are no chain brands clogging up the streets, instead you will find sun scorched pastel buildings, and donkeys wandering the streets. It’s a place to spend your mornings diving and your afternoons chowing down on Barracuda steak and sipping Cactus liquor.
Be sure to sink down in sheer bliss at one of Bonaire’s many secluded slips of sand. The Thousand Steps beach may be a challenge to get to but hiking down the crumbling stone steps to a panorama of pure blue makes stripping off and diving in the cool waters at the end worthwhile for sure.
Fall into the pages of a child’s coloring book with a bright and zesty visit to Curacao. The Caribbean island throngs with visitors, many of whom head to Willemstad for divine duty free shopping, chocolate box charm, and a plethora of gorgeous galleries and fascinating museums. After days of beach bliss – this is the perfect chance to soak up a little culture.
One of the things to adore about Curacao is peeling back the layers of history. This is an island that has long been a cultural melting pot – hosting everyone from the Dutch to the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the French. Civil rights history abounds at the Kula Hulanda Museum, and you can even find the oldest synagogue in the west here on this very island – the Sephardic Congregation Mikvé Israel established in the 17th century.
While Curacao still boasts sugary sands and lagoon like waters, she also has a wilder side. Along the cut and carved Shete Boka National Park you can find an untamed coastline with crashing surf and craggy cliffs. You can also duck into the lacy intricate network of the Hato Caves with its scores of Stalagmites. After embracing the hidden side of Curacao, you can go back to the iconic candy colored waterfront of Handelskade and visit the floating market.
The heady mix of flamboyant cultures ensures that dining in Curacao is a dream. Be sure to try the Keshi Yena – a rich spiced chicken stew cooked with the smoked rinds of Dutch Gouda cheese, or indulge in the complete tasting experience with the local dish of Iguana.