St. Eustatius

A visit to this charming Dutch island may be the closest thing to time travel you’ll ever experience. This former bustling trade center was perhaps the world’s busiest seaport during the 18th century. Thankfully, that’s not the case today.

Largely unaffected by tourism, St. Eustatius (or locally called “Statia”) provides a glimpse into what the Caribbean might have looked like 25 or 30 years ago. Here you’ll find rustic architecture, exceptional diving, and beautifully undeveloped environs. If your vacation goal is to simply relax amidst a bucolic paradise, you’ll achieve it here.

Temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year (80s). May and June are good months to head over – just before humidity worsens in July and the rains show up in August.

St. Eustatius is immensely popular with avid divers, and for good reason. Thanks to proactive conservation efforts, the pristine ocean teems with healthy coral reefs and abundant marine life. It ranks as one of the top diving sites in the Caribbean. Within the St. Eustatius Marine Park, discover underwater canyons, dramatic drop-offs, and historic wrecks.

Views are equally dramatic above ground. Hike through the rainforest and scale the Quill, a 2,000-foot dormant volcano within St. Eustatius’ National Park. A hike along the Panoramic Trail yields jaw-dropping vistas of St. Barts, St. Maarten and Saba. The Mazinga Trail reveals begonias, wild balsam, and at least 17 different kinds of orchids. Keep an eye out for varied butterflies and exotic birds, too. Wildlife throughout the island is incidental – coastal ospreys, large iguanas, goats, and different species of hummingbirds will make your acquaintance as you explore.

Beaches aren’t really the draw here. Three main beaches – Lynch Beach, Oranje Bay, and Zeelandia Beach – provide smallish stretches of sand for sunning or beachcombing. Swimming isn’t recommended at either Zeelandia or Lynch due to strong undertows.

Low-key accommodations are the norm here, yet still somewhat varied. There are charming inns, oceanfront hotels, or even lodging within a historic cotton gin house.

There are restaurants to meet every appetite and budget. Casual restaurants serving local dishes; waterfront dining featuring West Indian and Creole cuisine; and a smattering of pizzerias and Chinese restaurants – there’s something for everyone.

St. Eustatius may lack the glitz and glamour many Caribbean islands boast. However, her authentic island vibe more than makes up for it. If you seek a no frills, tranquil, and unpretentious island escape, look no further.