The Caribbean Netherlands are overseas territories of the Netherlands. They consist of the islands of Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius (Dutch: Saba, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius), that belong to the Netherlands Antilles and are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea on all sides. The depths of the coast hide the secrets of sunken ships, picturesque forests of seaweed and pristine coral reefs. The islands attract visitors with an enchanting silence of deserted beaches, steep shores and a wealth of local fauna.
Of course, diving is highly developed in such a wonderful place. The riot of colors, a rich underwater world, tropical fish and coral gardens — these are the main lures for divers. You can dive directly from the shore. Deep water fans can explore wrecks — the remains of sunken ships, sheer walls, going into deep sea abyss, caves and enjoy swimming with schools of dolphins. Several marine reserves have been established in the Caribbean Netherlands, where a unique ecosystem has been developing for many years.
All islands have certified diving centers. Their main services are — scuba diving equipment rental, round-the-clock refueling cylinders, diving at the nearby dive sites and wrecks, trainings and diving tours and excursions services. Many hotels are also entirely focused on services to divers.
In March, the weather in the Caribbean Netherlands is still dry and warm. In April it becomes hotter, the weather is dry and windless. The water on the coast warms up to 26- 27 °C.
It is hot in summer, and in June it starts to rain. The temperature of the water and air is around 27- 29 °C. The hot climate is softened by south-western trade winds. You can discover unique diving experiences all year round.
In September the weather in the Caribbean Netherlands is warm and dry. In October, the rainy season begins, the humidity reaches 82%. Air temperature is 31 °С, water — 29 °С. About half of the days are rainy.
In winter, the average temperature in the Caribbean Netherlands is 27-28 °C, but the heat is softened by trade winds blowing to the North-East. The water is warm, storms are rare this time of year, the weather is dry and clear.
Hilma Hooker wreck — is a ship of smugglers, sunk on the west coast of Bonaire Island (Dutch: Bonaire) and lying at a depth of 30 m. Its cabins and hold had remained, as well as a big propeller screw, but the rigging itself became overgrown with seaweed and was chosen by Jack Dempseys, bluespotted ribbontail rays and bright mandarinfish as their home.
Salt City dive site on Bonaire Island is a location where you can observe marine life in all its glory, spy on sharks sleeping peacefully, pipefish and seahorses flickering. And if you dive at night, you can meet octopuses.
There are few medical facilities in the Caribbean Netherlands, but they are well equipped. Emergency assistance is provided to all tourists. Other services require medical insurance.
There is a risk of developing malaria or dengue fever. The fever is transmitted via a mosquito bite, so be careful with small blood-sucking insects. Before visiting the country it is necessary to be vaccinated against hepatitis A, typhoid and yellow fever.
There is a risk of becoming a victim of street robbery, therefore it is better to leave valuables in a hotel room safe. Special attention is given to cleanliness in public places. Penalties for littering are high, so you should always put your rubbish in a bin or a trash can.
In the Netherlands Antilles, when exploring wrecks or in poorly lit places where there is a lot of sludge in the water, a diver can be attacked by barracudas, that can fail to see the rest of a diver's body and think they are attacking a fish. It is here that the Portuguese Man O'War jellyfish waits for careless divers. It has an incredibly beautiful red comb and a multi-color bubble sail, but is highly venomous. It should be admired from a distance.
Traditional Caribbean Netherlands Islands cuisine will surprise a traveler with fresh ingredients and interesting combinations. On the island you should try seafood dishes and vegetables, for example, hobi duchi — cactus soup with shrimp or pork. For more than a century, local sailors have been preparing a delicious Sopi di Piska — coconut milk soup made from freshly caught fish. Instead of bread, pastechis can be served with the soup — spicy pies stuffed with shrimp. Desserts include violet ice cream and sugar cakes (a sweet delicacy made from coconut pulp). As a dessert, tourists should try coconut and potato puddings, as well as the sweet candies "cocadas". Alcohol connoisseurs will not disregard local spiced rum, home-made tinctures and liqueurs. Tap water on the island is safe in most cities, but it is better to buy bottled water.