St. Eustatius is another special municipality of The Netherlands with appeal for nature lovers as well as history buffs. It’s a quick plane ride from St. Maarten / St. Martin and makes for a perfect day-trip destination. The island, known locally as Statia (“Stay-sha”) boasts several prime dive sites. Wrecks like the 328-foot-long Charles Brown are havens for schools of colorful fish and other fascinating underwater creatures. On an archaeological dive you may find pottery or glass shards, wine bottles and maybe even an old Dutch clay pipe. If you appreciate nature, you’ll also want to seek out the island’s hiking trails. The north end of the island is comprised of a series of hills formed from the remnants of five extinct volcanoes. The Quill, a nonactive volcano, is at the south end of the island.


If history interests you, there’s much to learn on this charming island. Three hundred years ago, Statia was a major sea-lane stop for trade and commerce. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries it was a port of call for buccaneers, admirals and merchants. Statia also was a vital link between the fledgling American colonies and Europe. Benjamin Franklin even had his mail routed through Statia to ensure safe delivery. A standout moment for the island was on November 16, 1776, when the American merchant brig-turned-warship Andrew Doria sailed into the harbor and fired off a 13-gun salute, indicating the colonies had won their independence from Britain. Statia returned the salute, becoming the first foreign entity to officially recognize the United States of America as an independent nation.


As the 18th century ended, Statia gradually slipped from importance as a trading center. Now, the tranquil island welcomes a new breed of explorers: visitors in search of a Caribbean paradise. And there’s a lot to explore. Oranjestad, the capital, is like a living museum with its historic, well-preserved buildings. Getting to Statia is easy. Just hop on a Winair flight at Princess Juliana International Airport. The airline operates several 20-minute daily flights from St. Maarten. Also, Makana Ferry now offers trips from Bobby’s Marina in Philipsburg.