Photos by Philip Galvin


Caribbean (Dutch ABC)

We took a two-week Caribbean cruise in Feb/Mar 2023.  Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao are known as Caribbean’s Dutch ABC islands. Here, we would like to show you the photos of Dutch ABC Islands.


This photo is taken in Aruba under a giant rock which is shaped like the head of a reptile.


1. Aruba

Aruba is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The area of Aruba is very small (20 miles in length x 6 miles across) and has 120,000 people.  There are 30 different nationalities.  The official language is Dutch; however, the average person can speak 3-5 different languages.  The schools teach Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento. Papiamento is a dialect of the local people and is a mixture of a several languages.  However, as 70% of Papiamento consists of Spanish, if you speak Spanish, you can understand Papiamento.  Because of the Dutch influence, the buildings in the downtown area were very colourful and vibrant as shown below. 


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Statue of Queen Wilhelmina in Queenn Wilhelmina Park.


Statue of Anne Frank. Dutch artist Joep Coppens created the statue and it is found in the Queen Wilhelmina Park.  Four sides of the base contain a quote from Anne Frank’s diary, Papiamento, English, Dutch, and Spanish.  The English side says: “ How wonderful (it could be) is it that (if) nobody need(s to) wait a single moment to improve the world.”

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We walked away from the main street and saw a few statues of blue horses.        

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And found more colourful buildings.

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Some people took bright colored street cars to tour the city.  But we took a guided mini-van tour.

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Casibari Boulders

Our first stop by our mini-van was Casibari Boulders. The huge rocks, composed of quartz diorite, are piled up high and we could climb up to the top using stairs which were unstable.


It was a dangerous climb to reach the top.  The sign said, “Climb these stairs are at your own risk”.  We took our time and somehow managed to climb up safely and saw the beautiful views of Aruba.


Hooiberg is a conical hill in the heart of Aruba with the hight of 165 m.


More unusual rock formation in Casibari Boulders.


In this park, we found various types of cacti as follows.  Aruba is more like a desert, so you can find them all over the island. Aruba is very dry and does not get much rain. The average rain is between 6-8 inches per year. 


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Newly developed suburban area.



Alto Vista Chapel

This small Catholic chapel stands on one of the hills.  From the edge of the hill, we could look down the north shore to the sea.  Also we saw Venezuela to the south, which is 27 km away from Aruba.   As Aruba doesn’t have any farms nor plantations due to the climate, they must import their food.  Most of the food from Venezuela as it is the nearest country.


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Gorgeous houses along the road.  We could live there…

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California Lighthouse and the views towards the city from the lighthouse.

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Touristy parts of the city


Aruba’s main source of income is tourism.  No wonder they have so many beautiful beaches.   

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Hotel Riu Palace

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Palm Beach


 Divi Divi tree, which is Aruba’s national tree, always points in a southwestern direction due to the trade winds that blow across the island from NE.


Good-by Aruba…


2. Curacao

Curacao is also a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is known for its beaches, coral reefs, and marine life.

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Submarine Ride

We decided to take a guided tour which took us to a couple places on the island. At the first place we visited, we got on a small submarine. From our windows, we could see interesting marine life.  Our guide somehow got off from the submarine and fed the fish right in front of us.  It was a nice touch to rather dull views of the dying reefs.

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City centre of Curacao and the view towards the bay.  It is indeed one of the very beautiful cities in Caribbean.

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Curacao Liqueur Distiller

The next stop of our guided tour was Curacao Liqueur Distiller.  It was a quite impressive place, especially if you like liqueur.  They offered us a taste of different kinds of liqueur there.  We tried Anisette and Chocolate flavored liqueur and liked them both.


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There were so many birds chirping around the store. They must like the liqueur, just as we did.


On the way back to the ship, we saw very strong wind blowing through the trees.




3. Bonaire

Unlike Aruba and Curacao which now are independent countries, Bonaire remains under the constituency of Netherland. It is a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving.



We took a tourist bus shown below.  It was very windy everywhere on the island that day.


Our first stop was the Soler Salt Facility.  Each salt pyramid is about 50 feet high and 20,000 tons.

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The workers (slaves) were brought from Africa in the past and forced to stay in very small concrete shacks by the beaches shown below. The inside was very small; however, we were told that 4 slaves had to sleep in one shack. That left no room to move around.

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Interesting ornamental displays on the roof of the shacks.

Slavery in Curacao began in 1639 after the Dutch defeated the Portuguese in Ghana.  On August 8, 1862, the Emancipation law was passed and the slaves finally became free.    


We saw some donkeys and flamingos (natural habitats) on the way to the east end of the island.

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Folk Art along the beach


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Though it was too windy a day for tourists like us, it was a perfect day for wind surfers. 





If you are interested in the history of Caribbean, here it is:


Caribbean Countries

The Caribbean is a region which consists of numerous islands and a varied mixture of old and new, and diverse cultures.

Christopher Columbus first discovered the Caribbean in 1492 while trying to find a new route to Asia from Spain.  He landed first in what is now known as the Bahamas on an island he called San Salvador, then Cuba and Hispaniola.  He made three further voyages to the Caribbean as he believed until his death, that the islands were the spice islands of the East Indies. Realizing Columbus’ belief was not true, Spain later renamed these islands the West Indies.

Columbus expanded his travels to other islands in the early 1500s. The main interest of Spain in these islands was gold and other precious metal mining.  The Spanish managed to keep other European nations from trading with the islands by building fortresses in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Cuba until 1536. However, the French and English raided the smaller Leeward and Windward islands where the Spanish were weak between 1536 and 1609. Most of these islands changed hands several times over the years except for Barbados. Barbados was colonized only by the British. Also, the French colonized Martinique and Guadeloupe. Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba were colonized by the Dutch between 1630 and 1640.

The Portuguese migrated to Barbados from Brazil in the 1640s. With them, they brought their expertise in sugar cultivation to the island. This colonization almost wiped out the population of the indigenous people. Continuous hard labor imposed upon them was not suited for them.  In addition, they contracted contagious diseases such as measles.

Approximately 10 million African slaves were forcefully transported to the plantations to develop the sugar industry. Not only were they not allowed to keep their culture, but they also lived under extremely inhumane conditions.  Many of them attempted to escape. The communities in the mountains and hinterlands were formed by those who successfully escaped. The most successful slave revolt was carried out in Haiti, which was led by Toussaint Louverture. Until 1799, he retained control of the island. His successors gained independence from France in 1804.

Meanwhile, slavery was criticized by humanitarians around the world. Also, the rising costs of producing sugar became a problem. These issues led European nations to abolish the slave trade. Denmark: 1824. British colonies: 1833-34, French colonies: 1838, Dutch colonies: 1863, the Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico: 1873 and Cuba: 1880.

The British colonies such as Trinidad and Guyana offered contracts to indentured servants from Asia (and specifically India) to maintain the sugar industry.

The Year of Independence

1789: Haiti (from France)

1844: the Dominican Republic (from Spain)

1898: Cuba (from Spain)

1962: Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago (first British colonies to gain independence)

1966: Guyana and Barbados (from UK)

1974: Grenada (from UK)

1978: Dominica (from UK)

1979: St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines (from UK)

1980: Antigua (from UK)

1981: Belize (from UK)

1983: St. Kitts & Nevis (from UK)

1986: Aruba (from Dutch)

2010: Curacao and St. Maarten (from Dutch)

Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba are still dependents of the Netherlands, as are Guadeloupe and Martinique of France, and Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands of Britain. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are territories of the U.S.A.