Daily Life In The Netherlands Antilles
When you think of the Caribbean, images of white sandy beaches, coral reefs, palm trees and tropical drinks come to mind. Well, at the top of my list of places to visit in the Caribbean, the Netherlands Antilles came first. Also known as the Dutch Antilles, this is a part of Holland and is famous for its casinos and nightlife. The Netherlands Antilles is made of up of three major islands, Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. As I landed in Curacao which is the largest islands, I immediately noticed the fascinating blend of Afro-Spanish-Dutch culture. The common language spoken is Papiamentu but English is also commonly used. There are five star resorts and hotels in Curacao, but, if you prefer a day out in a calm and serene environment, head to Saba or Sint Eustatius. If you are vacationing in the Netherlands Antilles for the first time, you’ll find many tourists in areas around Willemstad, on Curacao, and Sint Maarten. In these areas, you’ll find picture perfect beaches, and also experience fine dining and a festive nightlife. If you’d like to head out from the crowd, head to Bonaire where you’ll find some of the best diving spots in the world.
What’s Netherlands Antilles Daily Life Like?
As I flew into Curacao, I only imagined myself relaxing on long, white-sand beaches with a tropical drink in hand. Apart from walking along the multicolored and picturesque waterfront houses for which Curacao is famous for, I found plenty of non-beach activities in the Dutch Antilles. The beaches are nice but if you think you are in Hawaii, you’ll be disappointed. Those near the main town are all resort beaches. This means that you’ll pay to enjoy them if you aren’t staying in one of the resorts. The beach area is usually cluttered with people, lounge chairs and artificial breakers to protect the beach against the waves. Public beaches are located up north. Unlike the resorts, these beaches are wider and more natural. The shoreline is filled with dead coral and rocks.
Public transportation in the Dutch Antilles is something that you can hardly describe as affordable and accessible. Buses only run every two hours and taxis are very expensive. If you want to explore the islands properly, you’ll have to rent a car during your stay because not having one will really limit what you can see. But, one thing I loved about the Netherlands Antilles was the locals. They are not only friendly but are also helpful and great at conversations. Some even volunteered to guide me around town or drive me to some places without having to pay for a taxi. If you are looking for place to eat, you can dine in the top class hotels in Curacao or you can sample the local dishes at some of the local, family-run restaurants.
Touring and Outdoor Activities in the Netherlands Antilles
The oldest continuously operating synagogue in the Western Hemisphere is located in Curacao. Water sports of all kinds are also popular. Scuba diving, swimming, water skiing, sailing, snorkeling and wind-surfing are possible year round. If you are a skilled diver, practice your sport at the underwater park. If you lack the necessary equipment, several Dive Shops offer rental services. Outdoor sports such as playing tennis, golf, soccer, ping pong and horseback riding are provided to members registered in the local clubs. If you are interested in flying, a small flying club offers small plane rentals and flight instruction. The rates are however high.
For those that want to learn the history of the Dutch Antilles, Curacao Museum has a permanent exhibition of antiques, paintings and artifacts. Tour the museum of Jewish history which is associated with the synagogue. A commercial Seaquarium displays local marine life and in the suburbs of Willemstad, you’ll find a small botanical garden and zoo. For a panoramic view of the west end of the Curacao Island, climb Mt. Christoffel which is surrounded by a national park. Near the airport are the grottos of Curacao while to the west end of the island you’ll find an unusual sea cave. Local cinemas show current movies. Several video rental stores also offer recent video releases. Facilities for ballet, symphony orchestras, operas and plays are available but are limited and infrequent. Most of the theatrical events are in Dutch or Papiamentu. Some tourist hotels in Curacao offer entertainment with floor shows, orchestras and dancing. Many have casinos and one has a discotheque. Several private discotheques are open as well.
Blog post courtesy of construction equipment rental company RDM Rents.