Looking to go off the beaten path in the Caribbean this winter?
These two lesser-known island destinations near Aruba are fantastically underrated and perfect for a Caribbean getaway.
Aruba is known for being one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean.
After strict lockdown measures and restrictions, Aruba led the way this summer in Caribbean tourism recovery. Aruba will once again receive the 2 million plus visitors per year it saw prior to 2020.
But did you know there are two other islands near Aruba with fewer crowds, lower prices, and more unspoiled nature and beaches?
What Are The ABC Islands?
The ABC Islands are a chain of islands in the Southern Caribbean made up of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.
Most people have heard of Aruba, but many travelers aren’t aware of the other two neighboring islands.
Aruba and Curacao are constituent countries of the Netherlands, while Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands.
The culture on all three islands is a unique mixture of Dutch, Spanish, African, and Indigenous cultures. On all three islands, you’ll hear English, Dutch, Spanish, and the local language Papiamento being spoken.
While Aruba is by far the most popular of the ABC Islands, all three have something unique to offer.
Aruba is the smallest island, but has a population of over 107,000 and receives more than 2 million tourists per year. This has led to the island becoming extremely over-developed.
Bonaire and Curacao offer lower crowds, and arguably have better beaches and other outdoor activities. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in the Caribbean, consider one of these islands.
Why Visit Bonaire
Bonaire is an island with a population of just 20,000 people. Much of the island is protected land, which means there’s very little development.
Known as a scuba diver’s paradise, Bonaire offers unspoiled dive sites that are among the best on Earth. Beneath the surface of the turquoise water, you’ll find colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and sea turtles.
Bonaire is also known for its salt flats. As a producer of some of the purest salt in the world, visitors will be amazed by Bonaire’s uniquely-colored salt flats, which are as pink as the flamingoes that roam around the island!
Currently, Bonaire is growing in popularity, but the island still only receives around 180,000 tourists per year.
Bonaire’s main town Kralendijk has also developed a lot in recent years, and you’ll find boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants along its colorful streets.
There are accommodation options for every type of tourist on the island, ranging from basic guesthouses to luxury resorts.
Atlanta, New York, Houston, and Miami all have nonstop flights to Bonaire.
Why Visit Curacao
Curacao is the largest of the ABC Islands both size-wise and population-wise. This island has more than 152,000 residents, and yet it receives just over 1 million visitors per year, about half of how many tourists Aruba receives on an annual basis.
However, Curacao is a great alternative to Aruba.
Its white sandy beaches are consistently ranked among the best in the Caribbean, and this is another island that’s known for its great scuba diving.
Curacao’s capital Willemstad has seen explosive growth in recent years, and it’s now a great destination for world-class shopping and dining. It’s also very pedestrian-friendly, with a floating bridge connecting the two main tourist areas of the city.
Although Curacao is very comparable to Aruba, visitors will find that the prices on Curacao tend to be lower, and it’s possible to score a great deal on a hotel or resort on this island.
New York, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto, and Montreal all have nonstop flights to Curacao this winter.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com