St Eustatius guide
St Eustatius at a glance
ST EUSTATIUS, if you like the sound of a small, quiet, friendly, little-known island with an interesting history and good walking and diving then St Eustatius is ready and waiting. Also known as “Statia”, its Dutch heritage is reflected in a fine ensemble of historic buildings in the capital, Oranjestad, while the Quill, a steep, forest-cloaked volcano that dominates the island provides rewarding hiking. There is excellent wreck diving but the black sand beaches are not great, the hotel and restaurant scene very limited, and the only way in and out is on a small plane. St Eustatius is the Caribbean for collectors, best if you like a low-key island well off the beaten track.
Read about St Eustatius history, population and politics in Island Essentials.
The Definitive St Eustatius (Statia) Island Guide gives you independent reviews, listings, and information from top travel journalists and Caribbean specialists.
- Best for:
- Escapists, nature-lovers, history fans, collectors of small, characterful islands
- What for:
- Culture & Heritage, Scuba Diving, Hiking and Walking, Eco/Nature
- Not for:
- All-inclusive, Cruises, Beaches, Golf, Spas and Wellbeing
- How to get there:
- Via St Martin/St Maarten
- Top tip:
- Combine with St Martin/Maarten or Saba
St Eustatius in depth
About ST EUSTATIUS...
St Eustatius – also known as “Statia” - is a place that often provokes the response “where?” when mentioned. A quick reply might go “small, Dutch, volcanic, near St Kitts...”, to which you could add “excellent diving, good walking, bit quiet though”. The island covers 11.8 square miles (30.6 sq km) and is shaped like an oversized clown's boot with the hilly remnants of an extinct volcano in the north, the Boven, and a higher dormant volcano in the south, the Quill, which rises to 1,968ft (600m). The name of the latter derives from the Dutch word “kuil”, meaning pit, and the volcano – which takes centre stage on the Statian national flag - has a spectacular crater that drops steeply to a thickly forested floor at 908ft (277m). There are several hiking trails that explore its slopes, rim and interior.
The only way to reach St Eustatius is by flying from Dutch St Maarten. The F D Roosevelt Airport sits in the centre of the island and the capital, Oranjestad, lies to the west beside the long, sheltered shore of Oranje Bay.
Had God lined this with golden sand rather than rocks Statia's tourist appeal would be very different today. Instead there is something more unique but less beautiful – the submerged ruins of hundreds of 18th-century warehouses that once lined the waterfront when St Eustatius was a booming trading port for slaves and goods. Back then the island was so prosperous it was known as the “Golden Rock”, and today Oranjestad is an atmospheric backwater with a wealth of colonial buildings that gives credence to the promotional tag “Historic Gem” inscribed on local car numberplates. Meanwhile, out in the clear blue waters of the St Eustatius National Marine Park, a treasury of wrecks and reefs make the island a top attraction for divers.
English is the main language and the US dollar the currency, with only a few flags and street names serving as a reminder that you are now in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. A shortage of good hotels, and an unexceptional range of restaurants, means a few days here is time enough to get the measure of what St Eustatius has to offer. Unlike many of its neighbours, the island does not live by tourism alone. The economy benefits from a small medical university and the prescence of an oil transhipment terminal on its west coast that draws queues of tankers - however this does not impinge on the visitor experience and the storage tanks (not even marked on maps) are masterfully hidden away in the hills. With just 3,400 residents, St Eustatius is a welcoming island that is easy to befriend – the Caribbean for connoisseurs.
This Definitive St Eustatius Guide is maintained by a team of top travel writers and our own in-house team of Caribbean specialists and includes independent reviews about Statia, its accommodation, things to do, places to see, getting around, how to get there and links to help your St Eustatius travel plans.
Picture editor, Holly Cocker. Senior Picture Editor, Alexander Gray.
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St Eustatius weather
Looking for inspiration?
- Sample the local flavours at Smoke Alley, Oranjestad Lower Town
- Walk around the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden
- Hike on the Quill if you’re brave enough
- Snorkel and dive the numerous spots around the island
- Take a guided walking tour of historical Oranjestad, including Fort Orange
Events list coming soon. We apologize for any inconvenience