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6 things to make you fall in love with the Caribbean’s Sint Eustatius

I work in digital advertising, but one of my biggest passions is travel. I currently live in Chelsea NY, but whenever I have a chance I'm on a plane to somewhere new!

Statia is one of the best kept tourism secrets in the Caribbean

It’s ironic that the first country to recognize the United States as an independent nation is not known by many Americans. Sint Eustatius, commonly known as Statia is a special municipality of the Netherlands located a quick 20 minute plane ride from Sint Maarten. Statia was once a huge global trading post which is evident by the historical ruins dotting its coastline. And while the current population is small, with approximately 4,000 residents, it is by no means lacking in spirit. I just came back from an amazing trip to the island, and it’s definitely a place that should be known!

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It was the first country in the world to recognize United States independence

On Nov 16, 1776 an American ship sailed to Statia and announced it’s arrival by firing a 13 gun salute, which represented the colonies that had rebelled against Britain. Statia fired back the appropriate amount of shots to acknowledge the event, which was noted in history as the “First Salute.” The importance of this moment was acknowledged by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt who came to St. Eustatius in 1939 and presented a plaque which is currently on display in Fort Oranje. Later in 1777, Morocco was the first country to formally recognize the United States, but Statia still holds this moment close and celebrates annually with Statia Day.

Being the largest Caribbean trading post in the 1700’s mean it has tons of interesting history!

Thousands of ships came to the island from Europe, America and Africa. Once slavery ended, the island saw a quick economic decline, and the population quickly fell as well. This is the story of many Caribbean islands, but because Statia was never fully built up, much evidence of the past can still be experienced - in some ways it almost feels like time stopped on the island. A variety of interesting sights exist both above and below water. The island is known for blue beads, which were given to slaves by the Dutch as payment. After emancipation, it is said that the slaves threw their beads in the air to celebrate, and they are still found on the island to this day.

It is one of the few Caribbean islands that is untouched by tourism

Statia is one of the best kept tourism secrets in the Caribbean
Image: Victoria Waterman
History is part of what makes this island so special, but it is definitely not your typical tourist destination. I will be honest, this is not a place that I would recommend for a high-end luxury traveller or someone who is focused on activities. Nature, simplicity, history and friendly people are what you will experience. The beach area on the island is minimal, but there are a few areas on the Caribbean Sea side which are nice for swimming. Diving is a very popular activity on the island as well. The Quill, a dormant volcano, has many paths to explore from the inner volcano to peaks where you can see neighboring islands. I did this hike and highly recommend it!

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The island maintains a very stable economy

Oil is the main economic driver for Statia. The American company NuStar Energy operates an oil business on the island which supplies oil to neighboring areas. This business attracts a variety of nationalities across a very small population, which is interesting, and also contributes to the virtually non-existent crime rate as many people are involved in the business. The second biggest employer is the government.

Animals roam free

It is common to see cows, goats and sheep anywhere you go, although they do mostly keep to the higher mountain area. There are efforts to gather and fence in the animals, but at the moment they are free, which adds to the unique feel of the island.

Dutch culture remains

The Dutch influence on the island can be noticed from street names, to the style of houses, and more. Dutch is the official language of the island, but English is spoken everywhere.

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