WHAT TO DO
There is a wealth of outdoor activities for the nature-lover on Statia. From extinct volcanoes to hiking trails to historic sights, pull on the walking shoes and get going.
Statia is well-known for its great diving, but it's also gaining a reputation as a favorite ecotourist's playground. There are two dormant volcanoes to explore, a mini-rainforest, several hiking trails, a botanical garden, historic buildings, three distinct beach areas and amazing diving. Check out statiatourism.com/ecotourism for mor onformation.
Statia's capital city, Oranjestad, offers several historic buildings to investigate including Fort Oranje, which was built by the French in 1629; the Dutch Reformed Church's tower with views of Oranjestad; and the St. Eustatius Historical Museum where you'll find interesting objects from pre-Columbian to modern times.
Statia's highest point is at the top of the Quill, a perfectly-shaped extinct volcano. At 2,000 feet, you'll find an amazing rainforest-like environment, with orchids, fruit trees and tropical ferns. If you like, you can arrange for a guide through the Statia Park website.
Located on the Caribbean side, with no strong current, undertow, sea urchins or dangerous fish; it's safe to swim here. The black- and tan-sand beaches here are narrow but offer the best swimming.
On the Atlantic side, this beach is two miles long, with uncrowded black- and tan-sand. Swimming isn't recommended because of dangerous undertows, but it's perfect for sunbathing and beach hiking.
Also on the Atlantic side, this small beach has light brown sand. There are shallow spots for children but caution is advised. Stay near shore and watch out for the undertow. None of the beaches have lifeguards.
Blue Bead Hunting
These unique glass beads, used in the 1600s and manufactured in Europe, were traded in Statia (and other Caribbean islands) and are the only artifact that can be removed from the waters surrounding Statia. There is a legend that says if you find one, you'll return to Statia one day.
The Panorama Track hiking trail has breathtaking views of St. Barts, St. Maarten and Saba. Also, don't miss the Mazinga Track with great views of St. Kitts and Nevis. Other hiking trails include Venus, Gilboa and Boven. Keep in mind -- these trails are primitive and do not offer facilities or rest areas. For more visit statiatourism.com.
Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Gardens
This garden was named for a Statian woman who envisioned a botanical park dedicated to preserving the amazing biodiversity of the island's unique ecosystem. The gardens were begun in 1998 with a grant of land from the government, and construction of the first of five phases is now complete. For more information, go to statiaparks.com.
The St. Eustatius Historical Foundation Museum
The museum is located in the former residence of Simon Doncker in Oranjestad. Featuring prehistoric archaeological displays, re-creations of 18th century life on Statia, and a recently renovated maps and prints room. For more on the museum, visit the St. Eustatius Historical Foundation website.