You may have heard of a currency called the guilder before, since versions of it were once used in the Netherlands as well as in Suriname. This particular version of the guilder is used in the Netherlands Antilles.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The currency is a decimal one and the subunit in use is actually the cent. Five out of the eight coins available for the currency are in cents; the remainder are in guilders. The cent coins are the 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent ones, whereas the others are the 1, 2½ and 5 guilder coins.
There are in theory six banknotes in circulation, but only four of them are commonly used today. These are the 10, 25, 50 and 100 guilder notes. Aside from these the smallest note (the 5 guilder note) isn’t used much anymore. In addition the largest value note (the 250 guilder note) isn’t commonly seen either. Everything in between these two notes is in common use however.
From past to present – the history of the Netherlands Antillean guilder
The Netherlands Antilles has used the guilder for a long time. Originally it was used in the 1700s, but back then it wasn’t an easy-to-use decimal currency. Instead it was divided into something called the stuiver, and there were 20 of them per guilder.
This was followed by the reaal, which came in just as the 18th century was coming to an end. It lasted for some 29 years before the Dutch version of the guilder came back into use again. Over the years the Netherlands Antilles guilder has been used by several countries in this part of the world, only to be ditched by them once again for several reasons.
Today the Netherlands Antilles guilder is used by just two countries – Curacao and Sint Maarten. The Netherlands Antilles used to use the currency as well but this is no longer the case. The same can also be said of the Caribbean Netherlands. In fact it could well be that Curacao and Sint Maarten will be the last countries to use the guilder, since there are plans for them to adopt the Caribbean guilder instead. As you can see, this part of the world has gone through a few changes already through the centuries in terms of the currencies that have been used. In this sense another change – this time to the Caribbean guilder – wouldn’t be out of place when compared to other countries.
How to get hold of the Netherlands Antillean guilder
You probably won’t be able to get the currency until you arrive in either Sint Maarten or Curacao, but this doesn’t present a major problem. You will need to bear in mind that things work differently in each country though, so the way you go about things will vary depending on where you are.
Interestingly this rule even applies to Sint Maarten itself. This is divided into two specific areas. There is a Dutch part of the country and a French side. If you visit the latter of the two areas you’ll notice all the prices are in euros. If you opt for the Dutch side you might expect to see prices listed in guilders, since they use the Netherlands Antillean guilder, right? Actually this isn’t the case. Confused yet? Actually they post prices in US dollars instead! It’s an odd situation, perhaps derived partly from the fact the currency is pegged to the US dollar. It’s not a one-for-one exchange rate though, so it does make things rather confusing. No doubt the locals are used to it but as a visitor you might find it something of a challenge, at least to begin with.
The good news is you shouldn’t find it too difficult to access a cash machine wherever you go. They’re not as plentiful as they might be at home but generally-speaking they aren’t too hard to find. They are also usually in tourist-type areas, which makes life easier.
Another perk is the ability to use your credit card wherever you go. Most outlets will accept card payments, although you may want to confirm with your card provider where you are going and when you’ll be there. This can prevent the frustration of trying to pay for something only to find your card is rejected.
Traveller’s cheques aren’t out of the question to use either. Do make sure you take US dollar ones though, as these are the easiest to exchange for the local currency.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Netherlands Antillean guilder
As we mentioned before, the guilder is pegged to the value of the US dollar and this means it’s a fixed rate. With that said though, you may not be aware of the rate. If this is the case, you can check it on any currency converter. Use the ANG code to quickly locate the guilder when working out this or any other conversion.
You won’t get a 100% accurate exchange rate using these converters since they won’t take into account any charges that will come into play when you exchange one currency for another. However with that said you can easily find a good place to start from so you can estimate the potential charges on top of that.
If you are travelling to any region in this part of the world you can obtain the latest travel information you should know about from the UK government’s official website. This is frequently updated to take into account the latest happenings all around the world. You can visit the main page for the travel advice available at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Travelling safely with the Netherlands Antillean guilder
Let’s look at each of the two countries in turn that use the Netherlands Antillean guilder. Curacao is relatively safe to visit although you should pay close attention to your bags. Drug crime is rife here and criminals will try asking other people to carry bags for them or try to put things in bags if they possibly can. Don’t take any chances.
Aside from this the usual challenge comes from petty crime. Make sure you keep a close eye on any bags you have with you and never leave anything unattended. You might turn round to find it’s disappeared. Keeping any valuables you have on you to a minimum is another good idea. Ideally you want to stay in a good hotel where every room has a private safe. You can use this to store your passport away while you are in Curacao and also for excess cash and jewellery you shouldn’t be wearing out and about. In fact it might be best to keep jewellery to a minimum anyway: this is the kind of thing that attracts thieves.
A lot of the advice that relates to Curacao could also reasonably be applied to trips to Sint Maarten. Watch your bags, don’t leave anything unattended even for a moment or two and keep personal possessions safely stored in your room safe. While petty crime does occur there are practical ways you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim yourself.
Where to spend your guilders in the countries that use it – and what to spend them on
Curacao and Sint Maarten are actually quite some distance away from each other. Curacao can be found just off the coast of Venezuela, while Sint Maarten is situated further off the coast to the north-east of Curacao. This sits in a ring of island countries circling round from the east of Puerto Rico and down towards Trinidad and Tobago. Interestingly Sint Maarten can actually be seen as the southern part of a small land mass. The northern part of that same piece of land is known as Saint-Martin, which does make things rather confusing if you have never been there before.
The capital of Sint Maarten is a city called Philipsburg. This is a lovely place to explore, particularly as it boasts a magnificent beach around the Great Bay area. Many visitors to the country base their holidays here as it has a lot to offer. The city is also well-known for Malo Beach, which happens to be located just beyond the end of the very short runway for Princess Juliana International Airport. Huge planes come in to land here, barely skimming the heads of those who stand on the beach to watch the planes coming in!
Over in Curacao the capital is a place called Willemstad. One of the undoubted highlights here is Willemstad Harbour. Not only can you see various boats in the water, you can also marvel at the brightly-coloured buildings lining the front of the harbour itself. This has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site so it definitely makes it well worth a visit. You will notice the strong Dutch influences here too, so you might feel as though you are walking through a part of the Netherlands rather than wandering on a small island.
The Netherlands Antilles guilder could be consigned to history before too long, if these countries decide to move over to the new Caribbean currency. However until then you will still use it if you visit either Curacao or Sint Maarten.