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Head to Curaçao and Sint Maarten in 2011

Every year BootsnAll puts together a list of what we think are some of the best destinations for independent travelers to visit in the coming year. Among the top destinations for independent travelers in 2011 on our list were  two island located in the Caribbean in the Netherlands Antilles.

As of October of last year, the Netherlands Antilles actually no longer exist. Well, the islands still exist of course, but they are no longer a  collective autonomous region of the Netherlands and some of them – like Curaçao and Sint Maarten – actually became their own countries. It’s not often that new countries get created, and we think it would be pretty cool to visit when they are in their infancy.

If you adore getting new passport stamps and adding countries to your “places I’ve visited” list, you’ll want to check out these two new constituent countries. Of course, even if technicalities and passport stamps matter little to you, the two island nations are well worth visiting.

Already thoroughly “discovered” by the tourist trail, both Curaçao and Sint Maarten are known for their sparkling blue waters and brilliant white sand beaches.  Airfare to Sint Maarten is available from several US gateways and the tourist infrastructure is quite built up, with many shops, restaurants, and tour companies catering to tourists. Though it can be hard to find cheap hotels in the Caribbean, many people come prepared to spend in order to enjoy the perks of these beautiful islands. Diving, shopping, horseback riding, and snorkeling are just a few of the activities on offer. You can also visit UNESCO World Heritage sites, go surfing and hiking, take a cultural or nature tour, or simply relax and enjoy the sun, surf and sand.

Photo by heatherdimasi