St Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)
“The Historic Gem of the Dutch Caribbean…“
The island of St Eustatius, also known affectionately as ‘Statia’, is one of the special municipalities of The Netherlands in the Caribbean. Once a major trading center with some 20,000 inhabitants, large plantations and thousands of ships calling at her shores, Statia these days is unhurried and unspoiled with reefs teeming with fish. Located between Saba and St. Kitts, the island is characterised by the (dormant) volcano ‘The Quill’ and the Northern Hills. Both areas have very distinct ecosystems which can be discovered by guided trails with interpretation about the local flora and fauna.
Unaffected by regional tourism trends and fads, Statia provides excellent diving opportunities (particularly ancient ship wrecks, big fish and sea turtles). Diving is only permitted if done with one of the islands dive schools, who ensure the diving is not affecting the marine biodiversity and archaeology. Above the water line, hiking the dormant volcano’s crater ‘The Quill’ is like stepping in a different world with elfin forests lining the crater rim and giant tropical trees covering the crater floor. Once known as ‘The Golden Rock”, the island’s capital Oranjestad is an open air museum with countles well-preserved monuments such as churches, streets, houses, batteries and fortresses.
- Thanks to the island’s rich past and cultural-historical conservation efforts, Statia has a very strong ‘sense of place’
- Three National Park areas protect the high biodiversity and unique tropical ecosystems present on both land and sea and the total protected area covers 33 km2 – almost twice the size of the island.
- Statia receives a small but steady number of visitors year round and has therefore little seasonal pressure
- A solar power plant provides 25-40% of the local energy supply, and a waste separation, recycling and incineration plant was recently developed.
Points for improvement:
- Erosion and run-off of soil and nutrients into the sea is a pressing issue that needs attention, especially in relation to the prospect of future tourism development.
- More local production of fruits and vegetables can increase the local socio-economic impact of tourism (note: an innovative ‘aquaponics’ intensive agriculture project has started)
- The island’s environmental footprint can be further reduced by involving the population and private sector to reduce water and energy consumption, minimise waste and increase sustainable mobility.