Saint Eustatius, also known affectionately to the locals as Statia, lies in the northern Leeward Islands portion of the West Indies, southeast of the Virgin Islands, immediately to the northwest of Saint Kitts & Nevis and to the southeast of Saba. Clean, unhurried and unaffected by regional tourism trends and fads, Statia is not your average Caribbean island.
A rich history as a wealthy trading spot in the 18th century (with approximately 20000 inhabitants!) barely shows now that this sleepy island has such a small population (only about 3500). The saddle shaped island is only 18 square kilometers, and is home to a dormant volcano that climbs just shy of 2000 feet, named Quill. Two smaller volcanoes lie to the northwest, Signal Hill and Little Mountain. Three National Park areas protect the high biodiversity and unique tropical ecosystems present on both land and sea and the total protected area covers 33km2 - almost twice the size of the island itself.
Statia is unspoiled and offers a laid back, relaxed Caribbean atmosphere. You won’t find crowds, grandiose landscapes or built up, condo-littered shorelines here. What you will find, is find is a safe and friendly island where time stood still. With practically no crime, reefs teeming with fish, warm, gentle, breezes and welcoming locals who are genuinely friendly, Statia is truly a little undiscovered slice of marine paradise!
Diving in Statia
Volcanic remains that crept into the sea, paired with the protection of the marine park have made Statia a real haven for diving. The lava from decades past has influenced the underwater topography, creating incredibly unique reefs. Lava flows shaped like ‘fingers’, and in the Southwest, a distinctive spur and groove zone (a series of alternating rocky fingers and sandy channels) has formed. Statia is a unique oasis for Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Flying Gurnard, Moray Eels, Spotted Drums, Frogfish, Sea Horses, Octopus, Lobster, Rays, Sharks, and Turtles. Whether it’s walls, mushroom shelves, pinnacles, or wrecks from all the way back to the 1700s, Statia offers an unspoiled, quaint paradise to discover the underwater world.
Diving with Scubaqua
Scubaqua’s mission is to give you the best diving St Eustatius has to offer with care for your personal safety and the environment. Their highly trained team offers a small guest to guide ratio (max 6:1), making sure that everyone gets the personal attention they deserve.
No matter what level of certification you hold, Scubaqua is happy to accommodate, choosing specific dive sites based on the guest’s experience level. Their multi-lingual guides are happy to allow unlimited dive times, within the no-decompression limits. Add this to the fact that there is no additional cost for Nitrox with Scubaqua, and you’ve got a recipe for a fabulous dive vacation! A selection of courses is available, as well as at least 1 night dive per week. Their two boats within their fleet, both 26 and 36 feet long, make for a comfortable trip to reach the majority of the dive sites located 5-20 minutes away from the harbor. Keep an eye out for the Blue Beads – they are the only artifact allowed to leave the island. The origin of the blue beads goes back to the 17th century when the Dutch East India Company (world’s first multi national) used these beads for trading. The pentagonal shaped beads were made in Amsterdam and traveled the world wherever the Dutch went. Thirty blue beads were used by the Dutch to purchase New York’s Manhattan island from the native Indians. The beads in St. Eustatius were given to slaves as wages. After emancipation, the legend says the ex slaves gathered at the cliffs and threw their beads in the sea to celebrate freedom. This is probably the reason that most of the blue beads are found by divers in the dive site called blue bead hole. The best technique to find them is somewhere between swimming close to the sandy bottom and a few meters above the bottom for a wide angle view. The moment you spot something blue, you feel your heart pounding, but don’t get too excited as you may end up with a small shard and they don’t count. You never forget the moment you find your first blue bead and the atmosphere on the boat when the trophy is examined by fellow divers. According to the legend you don’t find blue beads but the beads find you, and if you’re found, you will return to St. Eustatius again and again.