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Diving in Sint Eustatius

A little-known paradise, Stin Eustatius features some of the best preserved waters in the Caribbean. With 7 distinct ecosystems and plentiful marine life, you are sure to love diving in Statia.

Diving in Sint Eustatius

Quick facts

The waters around St. Eustatius are some of the most pristine in the Caribbean and even throughout the world. Diving here is diverse with several unique habitats including walls, historical wrecks, patch reefs, macro dive sites, lava flows, boulder slides, and rock outcroppings. Because mass tourism has yet to arrive to Statia, the advantages are two-fold. First, the reefs have not suffered due to overexposure to human guests. Second, you are likely to have every dive site to yourself.

Because of Statia’s historical importance, there are several underwater archaeological sites found around the island. Most of these are ancient sunken ships that have since become indistinguishable with coral overgrowth. However, there is one other type of site called the ‘Blue Bead Hole.’ The blue beads hold historical importance in St. Eustatius. They were manufactured in Europe out of blue glass and were used as a reward for slaves in the 17th century. The beads are the only artifacts divers are allowed to bring up and in certain areas of the harbor, divers have found many of them. The blue bead site is a sandy bottom landscape with occasional stones. Even if you don’t find an elusive blue bead, the dive is sure to be enjoyable owing to frequent sightings of the Peacock Flounder and Flying Gurnard in the this area.

With so many different habitats, there is plenty more for divers to discover. Reefs and walls give habitat to many creatures. And the lava flows and outcroppings make for interesting underwater panoramas. You won’t be bored for choice in St. Eustatius.

Divers can expect warm tropical weather year round with waters that range from 79-82°F (26-28°C) and variable visibility depending on the site. While it can rain at any point throughout the year, dry season generally lasts from January to June. July to December brings greater risk of rain and hurricanes. However, you are sure to love diving at any time in the remote paradise known as St. Eustatius.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

With a protected Marine Park and some of the best preserved corals in the Caribbean, it follows that St. Eustatius is home to some amazing marine life.

Statia is known to be home to a plethora of flying gurnards which form a highlight on many dives. In several areas, divers have been known to see a dozen or more of these spectacular fish in a single dive. Even if they are generally uncommon in the Caribbean, they certainly are not in Statia.

The reef system has several cleaning stations which draw in a large number of creatures including large schools of French Gunts, Black-bar Soldierfish, spotted drums, turtles, sting rays, barracuda, goatfish, squirrelfish, lobster, eels and octopus. The peacock flounder is also occasionally seen.

Lucky divers might spot something a little bigger. Occasional visitors include eagle rays, humpback whales, pilot whales, dolphins and bull sharks.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Sint Eustatius (a.k.a. Statia or Statius) is a special municipality that is officially part of the Netherlands. The 8.1 square mile (21 square meter) island is a part of the northern Leeward Islands. It is located 36 miles (58 kilometers) south of St. Maarten and between Saba and St. Kitts, which is only 6 miles (10 kilometers) to the south.

Sint Eustatius began its history when discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. For the next two hundred years, the island changed hands twenty-two times until it was settled permanently by the Dutch. In the 17th and 18th Centuries, the island was the most strategic free trade port in the Caribbean. Its lax regulations and no custom duties led to its rapid development. In 1776, it became one of the first territories to recognize the independence of the United States. The backlash from the United Kingdom followed by the development of other trade centers in North America ultimately led to the decline of the economic importance of Sint Eustatius.

Today, the population is rather small at about 3,500 people who speak English even if Dutch is the official language. Although the island is surrounded by tourist hotspots, Statia has been largely untouched by the industry. There are only 100 hotel rooms around the islands. This along with the Marine Park, formed in 1998, has created an amazingly pristine marine environment.

Other attractions

This tiny island is steeped in verdant nature and colonial history. Visitors will surely enjoy hiking to the top of the Quill, the island’s dormant volcano. Walking among the giant trees in the crater makes the uphill hike worthwhile. Another hike to consider is Venus Bay where nature-lovers will find the famous Statia Morning Glory. There are also the botanical gardens to keep guests busy and the award-winning Historical Museum where the tiny island’s big history is well preserved.

Getting there

Getting to Sint Eustatius will more than likely require two flights. First, you must fly to St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport (SXM). Then, jump on one of the five daily flights operated by Winair. These flights land at F. D. Roosevelt Airpot (EUX).

Rental cars and motorcycles as well as taxis are available for travel around the island. Hitchhiking is also considered an acceptable practice.

UTC-04:00

Time zone

USD

Currency

+5993

Calling code

110 V / 220 V

Electric volt

A, 

B, 

C, 

F

Plug type

EUX

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.