Introducing Sint Eustatius
Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Sint Eustatius. You haven’t? Don’t feel bad, intrepid traveler – how about Statia? (That’s what the locals endearingly call this scrubby little island.) No? OK. How about this: which Caribbean island was once the busiest seaport in the world, but whose name most people don’t even recognize today? Now we’re on the right track…
Yes, it’s true, this quiet speck on the map was the It spot during the 18th century, when valuable goods bounced between Europe, Africa and the New World. In fact, the naturally deep harbor was so sought after that the island changed hands 22 times before the Dutch permanently secured their claim.
Today, the island has shed all evidence of its former political importance and has garnered an avid cult following among scuba divers (Statia boasts some of the top sites in the Caribbean) and those who enjoy sun-kissed days full of blissful nothingness.
If Statia were to sign up for a Caribbean beauty pageant, it wouldn’t take the crown, although it might have a running shot at being named Miss Congeniality. Unlike the other contestants, this honest island hasn’t had any plastic surgery whatsoever – no grandiose landscaping, no condo development, and barely a hint of any urban planning. Oranjestad, the island’s only town, is a charming collection of ramshackle structures, each one a quiet homage to a different era. Statia lets it all hang out.