The Ultimate Sint Eustatius Travel Guide

View from Fort Oranje towards Saba

Sint Eustatius, locally known as Statia, is a small Dutch island in the Caribbean.

Statia is a very small island, and it’s very laid back and quiet. Do not come to Statia expecting nightlife, shopping, etc, or you will be disappointed. Nonetheless the island has considerable charm of its own, assuming you can slow down and appreciate what surrounds you. Although it is a Dutch island, everyone speaks English.

Swimming is possible at the north end of Oranjestad Bay (the more sheltered Caribbean coast) where there is still a decent amount of sand. There is a spectacular long sandy beach on the Atlantic coast which is good to walk along, but the waves and currents are so strong that it is not safe to swim there.

Top Places to see in Sint Eustatius

The St. Eustatius Historical Foundation published a very nice little book, available almost everywhere, that outlines a 1-mile walking tour of the capital, Oranjestad. The tour route starts at the port and winds through all the key historical sites. The central district of the capital has a number of very attractive restored buildings of historical interest, including a museum run by the St Eustatius Historical Foundation. You could pick the book up at the headquarters of STENAPA, which is only a few yards from the port in Lower Town.

You can hike The Quill, the island’s dormant volcano. You can visit the botanical gardens. Or you can go diving or snorkelling; the island is famous for its underwater life.

On land, the animal life includes some large iguanas. An abundance of goats, cows and chickens roam freely. Most of them no longer belong to anyone in particular, but are instead remnants of the custom that those who own more animals have more wealth. A concerted effort is being made to round these animals up and perhaps fence them in, because of their environmental impact. Some maybe/maybe not feral cats and dogs also wander about. Do not expect one to curl up in your lap while you read a book, but you might be able to lure an occasional visitor to adopt you by putting some food outside.

In terms of history and archeology, Statia was at one point the most important port in the New World. During the 18th century it rose to prominence through a combination of lax Dutch trading controls and the American Revolution. Successive transfers between Dutch, British and French control compelled the once-prosperous merchant community to seek better profits elsewhere, but the archaeological record records their presence. Hence Statia’s current motto, “The Historic Gem.” Nowadays, the only visible record of its once-proud presence are the fragments of pottery incorporated into local driveways and a fair amount of mostly crumbling) 18th century Caribbean architecture. An archaeological field station run by the Sint Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research (SECAR) [1] is an effort to restore the heritage of Statia for American history.

People who are interested in nature should definitely visit the headquarters of STENAPA (the island’s national parks foundation) in Lower Town a short walk from the harbor, and talk to the staff there who will be able to suggest the most interesting areas for you to go to.

What to eat and Drink at Sint Eustatius

Try the “Fruit Tree” for local Dutch cuisine. “Smoke Alley” is where most of the US contractors eat; they serve large portions and an abundance of American staples (cheese steaks, burgers, etc.) There are five different Chinese food restaurants on the island; “Sonny’s” is the best.

There are only a few places to drink, after all, the island is less than 8 square miles in area. The longest running, owner-operated bar is “Chuckie’s”. The expatriate community typically restricts itself to this bar as the owner will frequently drink with patrons and keep the bar open until the last customer leaves.

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