A new series of short films brings the Statia 'The Caribbean's Hidden Treasure' to you. Whether you are exploring St. Eustatius from the comfort of your home, are planning to visit or are cherishing the memories of your last trip, these clips were created for you. The main attractions of our incredible island are nature, relaxation, history and diving embedded in a tranquil, safe, friendly and laid-back environment.
Hiking to discover Statia
Hiking is a wonderful way to combine nature and history on Statia. One after the other, we introduce the numerous hiking paths of our mesmerizing island. We highly recommend pacing yourself along the trails. Not only will you notice more details and remnants of the past, and spot interesting plants and animals, but you also will get the chance to connect with the locals.
According to the local government, approximately 3,200 people live on this Dutch Caribbean island. Same as in nature, the cultural landscape is diverse. These days, 52 nationalities from around the world call Statia home. Everybody is greeting each other. Yes, the honking is just to say hello.
We invite you to immerse yourself fully in the atmosphere of the island: diverse, friendly and easy-going. Check which trail is offering just the right combination of relaxation and challenge for your mood and stamina and discover what you can expect along the way.
Oranje Bay and Saba from the top of Tompi Trail (photographer: Nicola Jaeger)
Two alternative routes up to the Quill National Park
The first film starts off in Lower Town Oranjestad. We walk through Upper Town and end at the top of Rosemary Lane from where you enter the Quill National Park. There are two routes to take you from the Caribbean sea to Upper Town, the current economic and administrative center of Oranjestad.
Tompi Trail is the shorter path. It leads up the cliff between Blue Bead Restaurant and St Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA), while the Bay Path coils up from the center of Oranje Bay to the Catholic Church and Fort Oranje.
The latter was started by the French before the island‘s heydays. Already a busy trading center within the region, the economy really took off in 1756 after the Dutch declared Statia a free port. Without any customs duties, Statia turned into a hub for all kind of goods — legal and illegal. Statia offered neutral ground for business in the middle of British (Jamaica, St. Kitts, Barbados, Bermuda), French (Saint-Domingue, Sainte-Lucie, Martinique, Guadeloupe), Spanish (Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico) and Danish (Virgin Islands) territories.
Some history along the path
Take your time to discover the ruins and restored buildings in Lower Town. They offer a chance to dive into history. After all, Statia is also known as 'the historic gem'. Let your imagination wander. Back in the 18th century Lower Town must have been hustling and bustling with life. As many as 20,000 people were on Statia at that time. Two rows of about 600 warehouses stretched along the shore.
Neutrality and tax-free haven were the man-made reasons for Statia's golden era. Natural factors gave the island their blessing. Conveniently located between destinations, Statia was favourable as captains could make use of the trade winds bringing ships from the east towards this volcanic rock. Obviously, there are more islands around. However, Statia was the only one providing a natural harbour that is protected from the easterly winds and offers sandy anchoring at depths of 10 to 30 meters (33 to 99 feet) providing shelter also for the biggest boats of those times. With more than 3,000 ships per year, Statia was THE busiest port in the world and turning the island into the Golden Rock.
Some nature along the path
There are various flowers blooming in Lower Town, attracting birds and butterflies. When the succulent plant Aloe vera shows its yellow flowers, hummingbirds are not far behind. Aloe vera is widely used in cosmetics as well as medicinal purposes. For example, it is very effective to nurture the skin after sunburns. The Antillean crested hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus) is after the nectar of the plant though. While the male is bright and colorful, the female is duller. Hummingbirds are known for their fast, maneuverable flight and are capable to hover in one spot whilst rapidly flapping their wings. The sound of this movement led to their common name.
Hummingbird at Aloe vera plants in front of STENAPA‘s office (photographer: Nicola Jaeger)
There is a chance to meet one of the flagship species of Statia right at the beginning of this trail. The Lesser Antillean iguana (Iguana delicatissima) likes to hang out on the trees and roofs of STENAPA. Sometimes one or multiple are clearly hanging out in the sun, other times hide camouflaged in the trees. You can always ask one of the employees or volunteers for help find one. Young iguanas are bright green, but they become more greyish-brown when growing older. Iguanas are almost exclusively herbivores and play an important role within the ecosystem as distributors of seeds.
Option 1: Tompi Trail
From STENAPA, the quickest access to the Quill is via Tompi Trail. It is a sand and gravel path with wooden boards forming steps at the steep parts up the cliff. Anybody with difficulty keeping their balance profits tremendously from a (hiking) stick and good shoes with good grip on this part. The rest of the route is paved ground. The Bay Path is steep too and more exposed to the sun.
After coming up Tompi Trail, take a look at some ruins to your right. In the distance, there is the round base of a mill and some walls stick out of the area mainly covered in Coralita (Antigonon leptopus), an invasive plant which is rapidly spreading across Statia. Despite the beautiful pink or white flowers, this fast-growing, climbing vine, originally from Mexico, causes a threat to native species. Ground surveys indicate that 15-33 percent of the island is covered with Coralita. According to the DCNA (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance), satellite imagery will improve monitoring and thereby support a targeted approach to keep Statia‘s biodiversity high. On 'Kerkweg', the paved road, Tompi Trail unites with Bay Path Route. Turn right there and then left onto Rosemary Lane.
Option 2: The Bay Path
Coming from the harbour, there is a shortcut right behind the Old Gin House which meets the steep and winding Bay Path. Alternatively, you can continue walking towards the green gate with the sign “Don‘t let the goats in, no matter what they tell you” and begin the climb from there. How many people have passed by these stone walls? In the evening, the path is lit by old-style street lanterns.
To the right, there is Claes Gut, a series of walls and drainage allowing excess rainwater to flow to the sea. On the left, the Roman Catholic Church is coming into sight. While the church was built in 1910, the bell tower dates back to the 1980s. There is a whole series of beautiful old houses ready to tell their story, including the one where the Tourism Office is located.
You can book a historic city tour or buy the “Historical Walking Tour Guide” at the Museum. In this article, we focus on two of the oldest buildings on the island: Fort Oranje and The Dutch Reformed Church. The Fort was built by the Dutch on the location of a French Fort dating back to 1629. Surrounded by stone walls, there was one major entrance with a drawbridge over a moat. Instead of sewage water, the moat was overgrown with acacia bushes spreading their long thorns. Only a small part of that moat is still visible today.
Following Kerkweg will bring you to more interesting sights such as Wilhelmina Park and the Dutch Reformed Church. Built in 1755, the church repeatedly lost its roof due to hurricanes, and is preserved without one now. The tower of the church was the tallest building on the island and was used to help navigate ships in and out of the harbour back in the day. If you have the time before continuing to Rosemary Lane, stroll around to look for the graves of many interesting figures from Statia‘s history, like commander Jan de Windt and commander Johannes de Graaff.
Fort Oranje from the Catholic Church in the evening sun (photographer: Nicola Jaeger)
Both routes go up Rosemary Lane
This 1-km long road leads you through a residential area all the way up to the beginning of the trails of the Quill National Park. Starting off slowly, the climb of Rosemary Lane is turning the steepest right before the end of the road. That‘s where Rita offers the last cool drink before you enter the national park or the first one after you have finished your hike.
Always take plenty of drinking water with you (at least 1.5 liter per person) and avoid the hottest times of the day between 11 am and 3 pm. At the end of Rosemary Lane, a yellow-painted stone points you in the right direction where all the Quill trails begin. If you haven‘t spotted the coralita earlier on your path, you can see it overgrowing the fence here. If you are on a tight schedule or for any other reason want to shorten your hike, ask one of our island taxi drivers to drop you off at the entrance of the national park and enjoy all the scenery on your way back down.
The Quill at the top of Rosemary Lane (photographer: Nicola Jaeger)
Support the island and make it your own experience
We recommend taking the time to discover the remnants of history in Upper and Lower Town, either on your way to or back from the Quill. However, you can also combine the Bay Path and Tompi Trail in one walk to create your own little hiking loop. Especially during the early morning and late afternoon, you will be rewarded with golden light adding to the captivating scenery and views awaiting you.
You can buy your trail tag at Statia Tourism (Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 8 am to 5 pm, Friday 8 am to 4.30 pm) or STENAPA (St. Eustatius National Parks) along the way or purchase it online. It is valid for one calendar year and serves as the entrance to both the Quill as well as Boven National Parks. The money is used to maintain the trails and protect the national parks for future generations. Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but memories.