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.
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 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.
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