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This article was written on 10 May 2010, and is filled under To: St. Eustatius.

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St. Eustatius

Once a hub for trade between Europe and the Americas, St. Eustatius, or Statia, has become a quiet Caribbean haven waiting to be discovered by history minded visitors. Statians are known to be very friendly, and crime is virtually non-existent. St. Eustatius draws scuba divers, hikers, and those who simply want to get a taste of the Caribbean as it once was.


On the northeast side of the island, you’ll find the Lynch Plantation Museum. Known locally as the Berkel Family Plantation or the Berkel’s Domestic Museum, these two one-room buildings have a remarkable collection of household artefacts and antiques.

Opened to the public in 1998, the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden was designed to protect Statia’s rich biodiversity and houses a variety of animal and plant species. The botanical garden also offers a superb view of St. Kitts and beyond.

Statia’s capital Oranjestad sits on the west coast. This pleasant, historical town is divided into two sections, the Upper and Lower Towns. Home to nearly 1000 inhabitants, Oranjestad is the island’s only town.

The main sight in Oranjestad is Fort Oranje, a cliffside, well-preserved fort built in 1629 by the French. This remarkable fort has black cannons pointing out over the rampart, intact fortifications and a beautiful courtyard.

The town’s historical features also include the partially restored Dutch Reformed Church, which has lovely stone arches that face the sea. You can climb its towers and enjoy the incredible view.

Built in 1738, Honen Dalim is one of the oldest Jewish synagogues in the Carribean and is a testament to the large population of Jewish traders who once lived in St-Eustatius. There’s also a Jewish cemetery, where you can see richly decorated gravestones.

In the Lower Town, you’ll find the crumbling ruins of 18th-century merchant residences, which are now submerged by shallow waters and can be explored by snorkeling. There are also abandoned shops and warehouses, as well as a lovely waterfront park.

Built in the 18th century, the Museum Building was the headquarters of Lord George Rodney, a British admiral during the American Revolution. It now houses the St. Eustatius Historical Foundation Museum, which has artefacts dating from the 6th century to the present.

An extinct, perfectly formed, 1968-ft (600-m) volcano containing a primeval rain forest in its crater, the Quill is one of the island’s most popular hikes. Its rich fauna and flora include giant elephant ears, ferns, flowers, wild orchids, fruit trees, and the iguana delicatissima, a large lizard species endemic to the Lesser Antilles.

BEACHES

If your sole focus is white sandy beaches, calm waters, and tank-topped evenings, you’ll likely find St. Eustatius disappointing. Statia’s beaches are fairly rocky and mostly deserted. On the Atlantic side, you’ll find secluded and black-and-tan sand Zeelandia Beach, and light-brown sand Lynch Bay Beach. Turbulent swells and a dangerous undertow make both beaches more suited to walking and sunbathing than swimming. On the Caribbean side, near Gallows Bay, you’ll find beige and black sand Smoke Alley Beach, or Oranje Beach. The waters here are calm and therefore it is safe to swim.

ACTIVITIES

St. Eustatius’s real thrills are under the waves. With more than 30 dive sites, a rich underwater flora and fauna, and the possibility to see the remnants of 17th and 18th-century buildings, Statia is a major destination for snorkelers and scuba divers. Another popular activity is hiking through the Quill’s dense rainforest. A good way to explore the island is by kayak.

By Michael Young, author for Cheap All Inclusive Caribbean Vacation.

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