Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Saint Eustatius, Sint Maarten
former Netherlands Antilles*
The Windward Islands (Saba, Saint Eustatius, Sint Maarten) are mountainous and lush. They host cloud forests and high altitude tropical rain forests that are home to unique bird species, ancient mahogany trees and rare epiphytes. Saba Bank is a large submerged mountain rising 1,800 metres from the seabed, and its flat summit is about 30 meters below the water surface. Saba Bank stretches over 2,200 km², making it the third largest atoll in the world and the largest in the Caribbean.
The Leeward Islands (Bonaire, Curaçao) are relatively flat and arid. They are made up of sand dunes that are home to cacti, acacia trees, thorny plants, and 13 km² of mangroves and salt marshes. The marshes of Bonaire are home to an important population of pink flamingos. The territory has 250 km² of reefs spread over five islands. The reefs of Curaçao and Bonaire are well conserved because they have not been devastated by successive tropical storms. The Bonaire reef is one of the best preserved reefs in the entire Caribbean, with more than 340 species of fish observed. Read more
Did you know?
The waters around Bonaire, home to marine ecosystems of exceptional richness, were already declared a National Marine Park in 1979. The park includes the entire coast of the island to a depth of 60 metres.
This protected area rapidly became an example of good practice in the management of coral reefs. The park includes an oceanic reserve, more than 90 dedicated “SCUBA” diving sites, the equipment necessary for deep sea fishing, and more than 40 mooring buoys along the coast.
* Since October 2010 the Netherlands Antilles are disbanded, changing the constitutional status of the federation’s five islands. Curaçao and Sint Maarten have become autonomous countries within the Netherlands; Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba are now autonomous special municipalities of the Netherlands.