Planning a trip to the Caribbean? You’re probably eyeing an all-inclusive on one of the more popular islands, like Aruba, St. Lucia, or Turks and Caicos. But how about St. Eustatius? If you haven’t heard of it, we won’t hold it against you.
At only 13 square miles, St. Eustatius has a population of just over 3,000, making it one of the smallest inhabited islands in the Caribbean. The Dutch took control of the island in 1636, and it’s now considered a special municipality of the Netherlands. Sitting in an island chain, St. Eustatius is slightly northwest of St. Kitts and Nevis.
What makes the island so special is the St. Eustatius National Marine Park. The island established the marine park in 1996 to protect its coastline. St. Eustatius is one of the few Caribbean islands that still has a thriving coral reef, making it an ideal place for diving.
When exploring the underwater coastline, you’re bound to come across sting rays, sharks, sea turtles, and a whole bunch of exotic-looking fish. But one of the marine park’s biggest draws is its shipwrecks. Divers are able to swim around the boats, exploring the deck of the 327-foot-long Charles Brown, a former cable layer that sank in 2003 and now sits on its side approximately 50 feet below the water. Or the Chien Tong, a former fishing boat that’s now home to hawksbill and green turtles.
A single dive in the park costs $6, while year-long access costs $30. St. Eustatius also just opened the Golden Rock Resort, the largest hotel on the island with 32 rooms. It sits near the base of the Quill, a dormant volcano with picturesque hiking trails.
If you’re looking for undisturbed beaches and excellent diving, St. Eustatius is the place to visit.