Honestly, when we decided to visit St. Eustatius, which is a tiny Dutch island in the
Caribbean, we havenʼt heard of it before. We just read that it is famous by the
Quill, a dormant volcano and Quill National Park has some hiking trails along the
ocean and around the volcano.
So, sails were set and we were underway!
Since we start sailing there are a lot of first times! Sometimes itʼs fun, sometimes frustrating… But living like this we stop feeling trapped like we live in circles.
This time my other dream came true! We met the family of dolphins on our way and had been escorted for a while! It was amazing!
St. Eustatius, or Statia, is described as a sleepy corner of the Caribbean, it stays aside from popular tourists destinations even though the island historically was at the heart of the actions as the English, French, Dutch, and Spanish fought for control of the Caribbean. Someone calls it “The Golden Rock”.
When we arrived the first catching eye thing was plenty of huge tankers around.
Later we got known that they have trans-shipment facility here on St. Eustatius with lots of large storages for oil and petroleum products.
Because of this we instantly got coastal guards on board after arrival and were properly checked. It was our first experience as well. Everything went smoothly, we were prepared well, had all equipment onboard that we had to have.
After that we went ashore (as always) for custom and immigration clearance. Then we felt free to go for a walk and get acquainted with this unique island.
Life on STATIA is like taking a step back in time with taste of the old Caribbean. It looks authentically with a lot of historical sites, ruins and old walls. You donʼt meet traffic jams, traffic lights or long lines in the airport in Statia. But you find a wonderful hiking experience, exotic historical sites of the 17th century, world class diving, kayaking, bird watching, snorkeling over the ruins and friendly local people.
The only city on the island is Oranjestad. And this is “the smallest capital in the world” A rugged cliff splits the cityʼs development into what is known as Upper Town and Lower Town. These two are connected to each other by the steep Bay Road. Between the Upper and Lower parts of the city lies the fully restored Fort Oranje from 1636. The cannons and bastions still seem to stand guard over the island. The most striking feature of the original building is the old Dutch architecture with its clear, colorful local influences.We were fascinated by the oblique of these old streets and amazing views out of Upper part of the town. One more “first time” occurred when evening was approaching and our family were busy with interesting board game after a good long day. Someone noticed that our dinghy was not seen anywhere! We had came back couple hours ago and missed the moment when it had untied and gone to the open water… Not wasting time our Cap was there starting engines, the anchor got up and it took us about 40 min of searching the area to find our dinghy several miles away!
Since then we double check the knot before leave it along.
OK. The next day we spent hiking the Quill. The name ‘Quill’ came from the Dutch term kuil , that means ‘pit’ or ‘hole’, which was used originally with reference to the volcanic crater. The Quill formed between 22,000 and 32,000 years ago and the last known eruption occurred about 1,600 years ago.
Itʼs not an easy trial to take with little kids especially during tropical rain pouring all day long. The path was well marked but steep and slippery.
First we took a long, long way up to the rim and enjoyed the gorgeous view of tropical landscape.
Then we took 40 minutes long challenging trial down to the crater itself. Downstairs at the very bottom of the volcano there is a mysterious crater that is completely overgrown with a tropical, pocket-sized rainforest. It looked like we got to the Jurassic Park. At the heart of the crater lianas, orchids, and sweet smelling bromeliads fight throughout the yearly seasons for a splash of sunlight. The floor is covered with ferns, the tree trunks with silky mosses. Peek under a rock and you might find a frog, spider, crab or other fascinating creatures. The crater of The Quill contains a lush rainforest populated by native and introduced tropical trees and plants. You can find there elephant ears, tree ferns, begonias, figs, plantains, bananas, bromeliads, trumpet wood, mahogany, seedless breadfruit, Surinam cherry, ginger bush and edible raspberries, as well as at least 17 different kinds of orchids. Resident animal species include iguanas, anoles, snakes, Caribbean hermit crabs, butterflies, exotic birds, and occasional goats and chickens that have strayed from nearby Oranjestad.
And after another hour of climbing we found ourselves on the very top observing beautiful and picturesque landscape.
We came out of the jungle in the far end of the town dirty and tired and under the rain went making our way across the town. A small bright and very clean car stopped in front of us and nice woman with red hair invited us inside. Several years ago she married local man and moved from Holland. On our way back to the dinghy dock we were told the legend of Historical blue glass beads. A remarkable story is that of the blue beads, Statiaʼs local currency in the 17th century. The famous Dutch West India Company used these beads to trade in tobacco, cotton, rum, and slaves. To this very day, the beads reappear whenever a fierce storm stirs up the sand on the bottom of the sea and around the island. According to the legend you donʼt find blue beads but the beads find you, and if youʼre found, you will return to St. Eustatius again and again. Blue beads are the
only artifacts that are allowed to leave the island.