Located off the north coast of South America, the Netherlands Antilles consists of the Caribbean’s ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. They were conquered by the Dutch in the 17th century and populated by Dutch citizens, who brought their African slaves. They may well be part of the Caribbean, but these arid landscapes mean they’re more similar to parts of South America than a tropical paradise. Despite their Dutch heritage, their close location to the USA has meant a lot of American influence, although the 1960s saw the introduction of a lot of Latin American customs, such as Carnival. Aruba is the most commercial and is home to casinos, large hotels and shops. You can also visit the national park, or visit the white sandy beaches for snorkelling. Bonaire is less discovered and retains a lot of its historical sites, including old shipwrecks and coral reefs which draw in divers. Curaçao has moved on from its grim past as a slave trading hub, now marketing itself on the basis of its national park and Hato Caves.