Top Off The Beaten Path Destinations To Visit In The Caribbean This Winter

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Looking to get off the beaten track in the Caribbean this winter?

These two lesser-known island destinations near Aruba are fantastically underrated and perfect for a Caribbean getaway.

Casa Abao Beach on Curacao

Aruba is known to be one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean.

After strict containment measures and restrictions, Aruba led the way this summer in the recovery of tourism in the Caribbean. Aruba will once again receive the more than 2 million visitors per year that it received before 2020.

But did you know that there are two other islands near Aruba with less crowds, lower prices, and more nature and pristine beaches?

Tree on the beach in Aruba

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 don’t know about the other two neighboring islands.

Aruba and Curacao are constituent countries of the Netherlands, while Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands.

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Sea turtle underwater in the ocean

The culture on the three islands is a unique mix of Dutch, Spanish, African and indigenous cultures. On all three islands, you will hear English, Dutch, Spanish and the local language Papiamento 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 it has a population of more than 107,000 and receives more than 2 million tourists a year. This has led to the island becoming extremely overdeveloped.

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View of Oranjestad, the capital city of Aruba

Bonaire and Curaçao offer fewer crowds and possibly 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 only 20,000 people. Much of the island is protected land, which means there is very little development.

Known as a diver’s paradise, Bonaire offers pristine 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 salt flats

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 pans, which are as pink as the flamingos that roam the island.

Bonaire is currently 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 lining its colorful streets.

bonaire flamingo tourism

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 direct flights to Bonaire.

Why visit Curaçao

Curacao is the largest of the ABC Islands, both in size and population. This island has more than 152,000 residents and yet receives just over 1 million visitors per year, roughly half the number of tourists Aruba receives annually.

dutch style architecture of curacao with blue sky in the background

However, Curacao is a great alternative to Aruba.

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Its white sand beaches are consistently ranked among the best in the Caribbean, and this is another island known for its excellent diving.

Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, has experienced explosive growth in recent years, and is 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.

Curaçao Aerial shot of the beach and ocean with tiki huts on the beach

Although Curacao is very comparable to Aruba, visitors will find that prices on Curacao tend to be lower, and it is possible to get a great deal on a hotel or resort on this island.

New York, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto and Montreal have direct flights to Curaçao this winter.

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