Statia’s Natural Wonders

Explore the island’s past and present wonders.


St. Eustatius — or Statia, as islanders call it — is a quick plane ride from St. Maarten and a perfect day-trip destination. The island appeals to history buffs and lovers of nature, above and below the water.


Three hundred years ago, Statia was a major sea-lane stop for trade and commerce. It was a call for buccaneers, admirals and merchants alike throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Today Statia, a Dutch dependency like Saba, is one of the most laid-back islands in the Caribbean. English is widely spoken by Statia’s welcoming inhabitants, who exemplify the “old Caribbean” and are quick to share their island’s history with visitors.


Statia has had a long relationship with the United States. It was a link between the fledgling 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 that the colonies had won their independence from Britain. Statia returned a salute, thus becoming the first foreign entity to officially recognize the new United States of America.


As the 18th century came to a close, 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 here. Oranjestad, the capital, is like a living museum with historic, well-preserved buildings.


Statia also offers much for eco-tourists. Seek out the island’s hiking trails. The north end of the island is 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.


The island also 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.


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. Or hop on board Great Bay Express. Located at Bobby’s Marina in Philipsburg, the high-speed ferry offers regular trips to Statia, as well as other neighboring islands.





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