This means Welcome in Papiamentu (see below for more on this).
The ABC islands are three of the most Western Islands in the Caribbean, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Rich in Colonial history, including slave trade, these islands offer cultural diversity.
Even though they are grouped together as the ABC islands, they are not indicative of their geographical location. From West to East lies Aruba, Curacao and then Bonaire. This was the order in which we visited these vastly different islands.
Dutch is the official language of these islands, with Papiamentu being one of the unique creole languages that developed (a mix of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English, and some Arawak and African influences). English and Spanish are also spoken in these islands. While there, I experienced a mix of all the above tongues making it a linguist’s delight.
While the Dutch culture overlaps between these three islands, the landscape, flora and fauna are different. Curacao and Bonaire are surrounded by reefs while Aruba is relatively flat. The first two are rich in flamingo swamps and patches of cactus.
I was fortunate to spend a few days in each of the islands so I will share with you some of my highlights and recommendations.
My interest in Aruba was predominantly for one reason- the flamingo beach. While I admit that this may be a cheesy item to have on a bucket list, it was on mine. I am aware the flamingos are not indigenous to Aruba, but the idea of them flocking around the beach had a certain appeal.
I admit I was hesitant about this as I was concerned about the implications to the flamingos. As I have become more conscious of animal cruelty and captivity over the years, I try to avoid aquariums, zoos and any other ‘tourist’ attraction that involves caged animals. But from the research I did, and the observations I made, it seems like these 6 pink flocks have the freedom to roam around the beach and well taken care of.
This flamingo beach is not accessible to the public. It is on a private island owned by Renaissance Aruba. Guest passes are available for approx. $100USD to those not staying at the Renaissance but they are not guaranteed, especially during high season. As we were travelling during high season, the hotel could not guarantee non guests access. Passes in advance were not available at the time we went so we either had the choice of trying at 7am to get passes for the first boat over to the island (10 minute boat ride) or stay as a guest of Renaissance. We opted for the latter for one night.
The Renaissance Private Island offers 2 beaches, along with a variety of cabanas and water sports. And of course they are home to the 6 flamingos. We chose to get the first boat out at 7am right after checking in at 6am, which was perfect for having uninterrupted access to our pink friends. We were able to peacefully feed the flamingoes and let them come to us to take crowd-free photos. After witnessing tons of tourists chasing them later, we were happy with our decision to venture out early. We spent the day on the island enjoying the sun (and rain), having lunch on the beach and frolicking in the crystal clear waters. And for your convenience, there are plugs and wifi available on the beach!
While larger franchise hotels are not my typical choice, I enjoyed our one night, 2 full day stay at the Renaissance. It did feel very American with a Starbucks on site but I totally admit to enjoying a daily tea from there. Additionally we lounged by the pool (unexpectedly as our flight to Curacao was cancelled) and I had a couple workouts in the massive hotel gym (massive win in my books).
Renaissance Pool and view of the ocean
For more information on Renaissance Aruba, please check out:
For the initial part of our trip, we stayed at an Airbnb. Truthfully I wasn’t expecting much but it ended up being a great experience. The photos online do not do the place justice- it is actually much cuter in person. The host picked us up from the airport which was nearby. The accommodations was located in a residential area, but there was a grocery store within walking distance. As the property was equipped with a private kitchen and pool, we were able to spend time there relaxing (and acclimatizing to 30C weather) .
Poolside of the Airbnb
The link for the airbnb is:
As I mentioned earlier, the main reason for going to Aruba was to visit the Flamingo beach. As such we didn’t explore Aruba. We ate in the surrounding area of the Renaissance Marketplace, which is in the district of Oranjestad.
Curacao is an island that unexpectedly wowed me. There are very few places in the world I want to re-visit (in large part because I would like to travel to 100 countries in my lifetime) but Curacao is a place I would like to return to.
The experiences, the people, the culture, the landscape all can contribute to making or breaking a trip. For me, a large part of my love for Curacao stems from my experience at BijBlauw Boutique Hotel.
Britt and her team created a unique concept in the capital town of Willemstad. In my opinion, the hotel is an Instagrammer’s haven. Bij Blauw means “by blue” in Dutch, referring to the blues of Caribbean Sea and sky. The property consists of only a few rooms and suites, a sea side restaurant, and an on site concept store. Each decorated with attention to detail representing island life meets romantic elegance. Personally I could have stayed on the property my entire holiday as I was that in love with it.
The seas side restaurant of Bij Blauw
The concept store selling the cutest decor and clothing
Unexpectedly, we were given the suite for our 3 night stay. This generous offer shows how much Britt wanted to ensure we had the best experience.
On the balcony of our suite, with oceanfront views
The decor of each suite is minimalist beach style
We ate a lot of our meals at the restaurant. The cuisine was on point, with staff and ambiance to match. What better way to start or finish your day that a meal with great company with ocean views. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to dine, so if you are in Curacao, I highly recommend coming here for a meal.
Breakfast with a View
We started each day off right with a breakfast spread
And a sunset dining experience is a must
The ambiance is romantic yet relaxing all times of the day. I couldn’t get enough of the decor. If I ever owned a cafe, it would emulate this style.
For more information on Bij Blauw, please check out:
Curacao is a great country to explore. I recommend renting a car and driving around the island. It is fairly straightforward, but downloading a map of the island onto a smartphone would be fairly useful.
Willemstad is a picturesque city with a town centre and pastel-coloured colonial architecture. Walking around and exploring is a must! Be sure to also experience the array of fused cuisines. For example, we enjoyed dinner at “Ginger”, a Caribbean Asian fusion restaurant within minutes of our hotel.
Curacao is also known for diving and snorkelling. The beaches there are pristine with 50 shades of blue. Some of those include Lagun, Kenepa and Playa Santa Cruz.
Playa Santa Cruz
There are also many look out points driving along the coast of the island. Santa Martha Bay is one of the nicest ones I’ve seen.
If Curacao wasn’t on your radar before, the hopefully it is now.
Bonaire is an island I didn’t have on my radar, but since I was travelling to the region, figured it was worth checking out. It is definitely under rated and not as popular as it should be. Like Curacao, it is recommended that one rent a car. What is unique about driving here is there are no traffic lights!!! And for the most part, there is only one main road. Oh and the width of the road is the wide of a small car, if you are lucky. That made for a fun driving experience. You can drive around the entire island in 2-3 hours.
If you are a diver, then Bonaire is your mecca. At any point in the island, one can simply step into the shore and go diving hence known in the Caribbean as the number one shore diving destination.
The waters are so clear yet filled with marine life that even near the shoreline, you can snorkel and dive.
Diving aside, the landscape is unique for the Caribbean. With its drier temperatures, expect to see lots of cactus, lizards crossing the street while driving (there are even signs warning you of them) and pockets of flamingos.
There are pockets of cactus and dry Earth scattered throughout the island
Observing a couple flamingos in the wild
Bonaire used to be a salt producing slave colony. One of the coolest things we saw there were these pink salt flats (it is a private company so be careful not to trespass).
The salt flats making for a pink lake
Our experience in Bonaire was also a special one in large part to Eff and the team over at Sunrentals Bonaire. They made arrangements for a car rental at the airport on arrival, making it convenient for us. Our accommodations included a 2 bedroom apartment equipped with a kitchen and both a pool and ocean view from a large balcony (the sunset views are out of this world). There are a variety of properties to choose from, so you can rest assured that your needs will be met.
Sunset from our balcony
We enjoyed lounging by the pool right before we had to catch our return flight home
If you are a diver, then Sunrentals Bonaire has a Dive shop, so you can purchase a dive package along with your accommodations. The team is willing to offer a discount code (“JessyandPippa”) to my followers, pending the season and availability. Be sure to include this when you book. You can email Eff at info@SunRentalsBonaire.com.
Our 2 bedroom loft at Sunrentals Bonaire
For more information on Sunrentals Bonaire, please check out the link:
Enjoying a quick dip in the ocean at Bellafonte Bonaire
I hope this blog piece has opened your eyes to the beauty of the ABC islands. I will have more photos filtered throughout my Instagram feed showcasing some never before seen photos, so if you have Instagram and aren’t already following, then please check out @scrubs2sweats.
Additionally if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add.
Thank you for reading!