Things to see in Netherlands Antilles

  • Netherlands Antilles
    Netherlands Antilles
    © Jan Schneckenhaus / 123RF
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Netherlands Antilles

Landscapes

The Netherlands Antilles are comprised of two island groups divided according to their geography.

The Windward Islands (Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius) are all of volcanic origin and because of this have a very uneven relief which makes it difficult to grow crops here. Mount Scenery, the highest point on the Netherlands Antilles, culminates at 887m of altitude and is found on the island of Saba.

The Leeward Islands (Bonaire, Curaçao, Klein Bonaire and Klein Curaçao) have a mixed volcanic and coral origin. Because of the many floods these islands have been subject to, their relief is less craggy.

The fauna and flora

The blue parrot is one of the symbols of the Netherlands Antilles but the different islands are also to many other bird species.

In the north of Bonaire, Goto Lake shelters about 8,000 white and pink flamingos. In the north-west of Bonnaire, Washington Slagbaai National Park is full of semi-arid vegetation consisting of cacti and bougainvilleas. While out on a walk you can expect to see iguanas, parrots and pelicans. It is also a refuge for a hundred or so different bird species.

Arts and culture

In the Netherlands Antilles, culture and nature are one and the same. The proximity of Venezuela and the USA, and the different regimes that have made their mark here, make the Netherlands Antilles an archipelago where the origins of the inhabitants and the variety of influences are key.

The local traditions are rich and still a significant part of everyday life here. Many different festivals take place in the Netherlands Antilles, such as the Dera Gai Jazz Festival. The biggest and most important event of the year is undoubtedly the traditional Curaçao Carnival, with its array of colours, dances and music.

Fort Zoutman, the oldest building on the island, is home to the Museu Arubano, which retraces the history of the archipelago. The Museo Archeologico offers a fantastic insight into the life of the Indians.

Monuments

The archipelago's various islands hold a few interesting curiosities stemming from the colonial past of the Netherlands Antilles.

A windmill in Aruba from the beginning of the 19th century recalls the presence of the Dutch. In the south of the island, the caves of Fonthein and Camashito hold mysterious Indian cave paintings. In the north you can see the ruins of the old Bushiribana Gold Mine.

You can also visit the Curaçao Liqueur Distillery and the Landhuis Brievengat Historic Plantation house.

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