The rich history of Saint Eustatius in the Caribbean dates all the way back to the 1800s, earning it the nickname of “Golden Rock”. It is commonly referred to as Statia and is less than ten square miles in length, making it a fairly small island much like the tiny neighboring island of Saba which is twenty miles away. Similar to other less well known islands in the Caribbean, Saint Eustatius’ tourism appeal is still in its primary stages.
Columbus is responsible for having discovered Saint Eustatius during his 1493 voyage. Over the next 150 years the island was claimed by a number of nations until it finally settled as part of the Netherlands. The island’s nickname comes from its decision to ignore the trade embargoes of the eighteenth century which dramatically boosted the economy.
Saint Eustatius is similar to Saba in more ways than one. For starters, the island doesn’t offer the profusion of attractions and nightlife found in much larger Saint Maarten, although it does have several miles of relatively secluded black sand beaches. However it’s one of the favorites when it comes to hiking and diving, offering plenty of nature to admire and some fascinating coral reefs to explore. Since it caters more towards specific interests as opposed to offering a little something for everyone, visitors often choose to stay in Saint Maarten and spend a day or so visiting Saint Eustatius.
Only one village exists in Saint Eustatius called Oranjestad which is also the island’s capital. The village is divided into two segments known as the Upper and Lower town connected by Fort Road which is made of stone. Over fifteen nationalities can be found on the island and the people of the island are also considered among the most pleasant, sharing a culture which is moderately conservative but quite harmonious. As such, visitors and beachgoers should try and refrain from wearing swimsuits around the streets and should instead stick to casual summer wear.
Nature lovers should explore the inactive volcano called the Quill which is located near the southern side of Saint Eustatius. Besides the thrill of navigating through a natural sight which once erupted thousands of years ago, the Quill is surrounded by a tropical forest full of exotic flowers and plants like philodendrons, anthuriums, wild orchids, heliconias and a colorful array of birds.
Diving enthusiasts will definitely want to check out the reefs of Saint Eustatius, each of which is covered in corals and is usually inhabited by a large degree of marine wildlife like black tip sharks, eagle rays and barracudas. The “Grand Canyon” is particularly notable for the reefs that appear to shoot up right from the ocean floor.
Saint Eustatius real estate is somewhat smaller than what’s available in something like Saint Maarten but, as one would expect in the Caribbean, there is a generous variety of vacation, retirement and rental property all in varying locations such as right on the beach, near the ocean, or hidden within the island’s forests and rich vegetation.
The property available in Saint Eustatius is unique due to the “eco homes” available on the island. Instead of using traditional building materials like bricks, many properties are designed in bamboo or wood and offer generous square footage. Bedrooms and bathrooms vary depending on the property type which range from bungalows to plantation houses and cottages.
The small size of Saint Eustatius and the abundance of vegetation make it one of the more popular islands in the Caribbean for people who are seeking a retirement home. The small size also discourages the construction of large five bedroom or more villas in favor of smaller homes and cottages with two bedrooms or so designed to be much more inviting and secluded.
With that in mind, the vacation rental property and/or villas that are available in Saint Eustatius generally tend to follow the same design in terms of number of bedrooms and bathrooms. For example, a two bedroom vacation villa with two bathrooms offers a private garden and an entire kitchen along with views of the waterfront and the mountainous areas of the island. Many of these villas are also pet friendly. Smaller one bedroom villas are also available for rent or purchase.
Golden Era Hotel
King’s Well Resort
The Old Gin House
The Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG) is the official currency of Saint Eustatius.
Calling Code: +599
Top Level Domain: (.an)
Cable providers: TELBO
Saint Eustatius is an island in the Netherlands Antilles, which is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Valid Travel Documents: Required upon exit and entry
Government Issued Photo ID: Required
The climate of Saint Eustatius is usually dry and sunny and remains around 27 degrees Celsius during the day due to the northeastern trade winds. The temperature drops slightly to 23 degrees in the evening.
Language: Dutch is the official language but English is spoken throughout Saint Eustatius.
Tips for when you get there:
Saint Eustatius does not have traditional public bus transportation so it might be useful to rent a car upon arrival after taking one of the two taxis. Be sure to bring along your driver’s license and also keep an eye out for animals that may be walking or crossing the island’s relatively narrow roads.
The capital of Oranjestad is considerably spread out but can be explored on foot provided visitors don’t mind the considerable walking distances.
What to do
If you visit during the latter half of the month of July, you’ll be able to witness and take part in the events of the annual Carnival festival which is known for its music and beauty competitions and the burning of King Momo, the spirit of the festival itself. However, different events are held each month on the island such as a cricket tournament in February and volleyball championships in March.
Oranje Beach is a great place to take children since the waves are lower than the beaches on the rest of the island and there is little to no undertow or rip currents. Zeelandia Beach is an excellent getaway since it’s usually deserted and has strong trade winds, making it ideal for surfing.
Besides hiking trails, Saint Eustatius has a large variation of marine life as well as ruins of old ships and coral reefs so scuba diving is highly encouraged. If you’d prefer to stay on land, there are several historic sites to explore. Walking tours are also provided and are about one or two hours in length which leaves plenty of time to explore the rest of Saint Eustatius on your own.