Lesser Known St. Eustatius Island and the Golden Rock Resort

View of St. Eustatius (Statia) from St. Kitts Ferry
View of St. Eustatius (Statia) from St. Kitts Ferry. Tab Hauser photos

Get to St. Eustatius before it’s Discovered by Crowds

By Tab Hauser
Senior Writer

The Caribbean island of St. Eustatius was known as the Golden Rock due to its location and flow of commerce in its day. I

St Eustatius chocolate martini by Kishion Golden Rock
Kishion at the Golden Rock Resort serves up the perfect after dinner Chocolate Martini

checked into the Golden Rock Dive and Nature Resort to find out about this tiny island that was new to me. Golden Rock is the island’s first and only five-star property. (See Lodging below)

St. Eustatius (or Statia as it is called) is one of the smaller or lesser-known Caribbean islands that I always consider when vacationing in the tropics. A place with no KFCs, Starbucks, or traffic lights is where I want to be.

These smaller islands are never crowded (even in high season). They offer a warmth from the people in their culture, food, and friendliness that only a small island can sincerely give you. We recommend putting this place on your list before it gets “discovered” by the masses.

Eustatius is a pretty island of only 8 square miles. It is located between St. Kitts, Saba, and St. Martin. It has a distinctive look with its 1972-foot extinct volcano on one end and lower mountains on the other end.

The island has a population of 3400 friendly people. It is the perfect “one-off” island meaning getting here is easy by connecting to a small airplane or ferry.

Walking Historical Tour

Misha Statia St Eustatius
Guide Misha in front of 18th century Statia house called Old Compound

What surprised me about Statia is its remarkable history and how well-preserved its little capital is. 

The streets here are lined with 200 to 300-year-old homes and buildings designed in classic Caribbean architecture.

Our guide Misha walked us through the narrow streets pointing out the history and significance of some of these structures. We went past dozens of stone and wooden buildings as well as old churches still in use.

We also visited the roofless ruins from the mid-1700s of a large Dutch church and a Jewish synagogue.

St Eustatius home
200 to 300 year old homes still line Statia’s streets

We learned about the island’s trade history in nearly everything which unfortunately included slaves.

At its peak, 3000 merchant ships called on the island each year.

Statia also changed hands 22 times between France, England, and Holland. It is governed by a democratically chosen council under the Dutch government. 

 St. Eustatius is the First to Recognize the USA

Our walking tour ended at Fort Oranje. It was offshore on November 16th, 1776 the U.S. Brig Andrew Doria on a munitions purchase to the island (and having a copy of the Declaration of Independence) was honored with a special canon salute. On that day St. Eustatius became the first country to recognize the United States as a sovereign country. November 16th is Statia Day and in 2026 a big celebration in cooperation with the United States is planned. History buffs can read the details of the first salute at: https://www.statiagovernment.com/about-st.-eustatius/first-salute 

 300 Year Old Bell Ringing

Ms. Michelle Woodley van Patten Bell Ringer St Eustatius
Ms. Michelle Woodley van Patten has not missed a day of work in 16 years

The tour ended at 6 PM with Ms. Michelle Woodley van Patten, the island’s bell ringer, ringing the bell six times.

Since 2018 she has rung the fort’s bell 6 AM, noon, and 6 PM. She took over from her father who did it for 20 years and just like her father, never missed a day.

Their motto is “Never sick, never late, always on time” This ceremony has been going on for over 300 years. Historical tours start at the St Eustatius Museum 

Hiking the Quill

If you are in decent physical condition, no visit to St. Eustatius should be complete without a hike on the Quill. The name Quill is rooted in the Dutch word Kuil.

This means pit, referring to the large crater which last erupted about 1600 years ago. To hike the Quill, the Golden Rock Resort arranged for a guide to take us up.   Hiking the Quill can be moderate to tough depending on the trail. We started on the Quill trail uphill for about 45 minutes to the juncture of the Panorama and Crater trail. This allowed us to look down into a thick forested crater.

St Eustatius Quill view
View from the Quill on St. Eustatius with Saba in the backgound
Celford on Quill St. Eustatius
Charley our guide has been on the Quill 50 years

For the better island and ocean views continue up the 20-minute climb on the Panorama trail to the viewpoint. This should be done if you are in good shape and are sure-footed.

The Panorama trail is steep and requires the use of a rope in two sections for balance. The view on top sees most of St Eustatius, Saba nearby, St. Barts 30 miles away, and St. Martin near the horizon at 40 miles away.

For the ambitious and physically, fit take the steep trail with the help of ropes 20 minutes into the crater to view its unique mini-biosphere. There is also a four-hour trail that goes around the top of the crater. 

St Eustatius Under the Sea 

Statia has been gaining popularity in recent years as a diver’s destination. This is because of the low pressure put on their many quality dive sites.

My diving was made easy using the Statia Divers at Golden Rock Resort’s in-house shop. Divers get set up with gear the day before at the resort. The equipment is then met and prepped on the boat for the morning dive. A bonus here is the short boat ride to the dive sites on the calm leeward side of the island. 

There are a dozen good dive locations. Our first plunge was at the 45-foot Aquarium. This site had us led around four coral outcrops. There we saw several turtles munching on sea grass or swimming by giving us a curious look. All around were tropic fish with a lot of soft coral.

Stenapa Reef was our second dive. This was an easy 60-foot drop into an area having several wrecks and other sunken large objects. Here we viewed stingrays, turtles, garden eels, and the usual colorful fish seen in the Caribbean.       

 Snorkelers should not miss swimming off the narrow beach in town. With the ocean rising over the centuries, snorkelers get to see some of the submerged ruins. https://www.goldenrockdive.com 

 Island Tour

Looking at St Kitts across the Statia Channel
Looking at St Kitts across the Statia Channel from Fort de Windt

When on the island consider a two-hour driving tour with Lenaldo. He covered most of the eight square miles.

This started on the wild Atlantic Zeelandia Beach known for turtle nesting but too dangerous for swimming.

The drive took us to different neighborhoods, restored old homes, a couple of shops, and some ruins left over from a few of the former 76 plantations.

We finished at the fortifications on the bottom of Statia facing St. Kitts.  

Excellent Lodging at Golden Rock

The Golden Rock Resort is only a five-star property on St. Eustatius. It is located on 40 beautiful landscaped acres quietly tucked away from the rest of the island. The views are incredible. To one side is the ocean with distant views of St. Barts and St. Martin. Opposite the ocean is the extinct volcano framing the resort in the distance. To the southeast, is the cloud-covered 3792-foot mountain on St. Kitts.

 Planted around and in between the 75 rooms, villas, and cottages are 130,000 flowers, trees, and plants. Hummingbirds can be seen frequently buzzing about. You feel like you are in a garden walking around the curved paths. Look for several old olive trees planted about. A “choo-choo” style “Golden Rock Express” electric tram circles the property to take guests who prefer not to walk around.

Golden Rock Resort St Eustatius
A view from one of the pools at the Golden Rock Resort

The Golden Rock Resort has two freshwater pools that you will not want to leave. The one near Breezes Restaurant has an island in the middle and allows you to float in circles. The other pool below Breezes is larger and rectangular, perfect for swimming laps. There are plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas for all the guests. Some umbrellas had power outlets at their base. A third swimming area is the large man-made saltwater lagoon by the ocean. There are swings and hammocks in the lagoon along with a sunken bus at its deepest spot.

 For the workout people, there is a professional-grade gym. Their spa can arrange a massage to get all the kinks out after your workout. Children get to burn off some energy and have fun in the largest playground I have seen at any resort. There is a quirky ocean view mini golf course, tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts.

The property minds its environment with 2,240 solar panels creating .8 megawatts of power allowing the resort to be almost off the grid. There is an array of batteries that store power for overnight use. On property is a 20,000-square-foot screened greenhouse. This grows all the organic herbs and much of the vegetables year round. A salad at a hotel never tasted this fresh.

Golden Rock Resort St Eustatius gardens
Much of Golden Rock Resort is garden like

The waste of plastic bottled water does not go unnoticed as Golden Rock uses reverse osmosis to turn seawater into pure clean drinking water. To irrigate the pretty grounds, wastewater is treated with helophyte filters. 

For our stay, we splurged for a second-floor villa. This has a spacious bedroom and a separate living area with a small kitchenette. The bathroom has a tall tub, a walk-in shower, and a separate room for the commode. A nice touch on the rooms was a fold-out drying rack on the patios.

If you are doing a day trip to Statia or staying at one of the small hotels, consider a day pass at the Golden Rock Resort.  It gives you use of their wonderful pools and grounds.


St. Eustatius Food

Breezes serves a full ala carte breakfast (included in the room rate) as well as lunch every day. Dinner is served from Sunday to Wednesday. Meals served at Gold Rock’s restaurants had attentive and friendly service with the right amount of humor to make us smile. Servers knew who we were after the first day. 

Snapper St Eustatius Golden Rock Resort
Fresh snapper is always on the menu at Breezes

The food selection had plenty of choices. My lobster thermidor was equal to the best French restaurants on nearby St. Martin.

The pan-seared snapper was fresh and flavorful with black bean mango salsa. My wife, who does not eat cooked fish, enjoyed the lamb chops and French cut Cajun chicken as well as the tuna tartare.

For lunch, we concentrated on the salads. This was because of its fresh and crunchy taste after being picked from the greenhouse. I also enjoyed the roasted jerk chicken wrap which was full of flavor. Burgers are large.

Breezes have outdoor booths with a commanding view of the property towards the ocean. Diners can also choose tables inside. The center of the restaurant has a large round bar perfect for pre or after-dinner drinks and craft cocktails.

For a better spin on a G & T, guests can pick from five different bands and styles of gin. This can be matched with three different types of premium Fever Tree Tonic that can go along with one of six different garnishes.

St Eustatius Statia art
Statia street art featuring the coveted blue beads

Bobbie’s Beach Club at Golden Rock is near the cliff on the Atlantic Ocean. It is an open-air restaurant where you watch their ex-Nobu chef prepare sushi-style food on the left.

On the right, wood-grilled food and gourmet pizzas are made. We enjoyed different styles of sushi rolls along with their sweet wood-grilled lobster. Live music or DJs perform on most weekends.

The Barrel House on the waterfront was built in the mid-1700’s made of bricks from the Netherlands that were used as ballast on trade ships.

They serve an upscale Caribbean and Continental menu. The starter of sashimi-grade smoked wahoo with avocado and the house dipping sauce was as tasty as it was well-plated.

We also enjoyed the local curried goat, freshly caught snapper, and the mushroom chicken in a cognac porcini sauce. Reserve a table 15 minutes before sunset.  https://barrelhouse-statia.com/ 

The Ocean View Terrace is located in town across from the fort. The food here is basic, reasonably priced, and good. They serve chicken, pork, and fish cooked in four styles, grilled steaks and Dutch starters. Sitting upstairs gave us a view of the old fort wall and a bit of a breeze.

 Entertainment in St Eustatius

Boardwalk Statia St Eustatius happy hour
Ladies serve up 2 – 1 Fridays between 9 and 10 PM at the Boardwalk on Statia

Statia is a quiet island. To mingle with the locals, people who work in tourism, and other visitors, the Boardwalk on Friday night is the place to be. You will find a DJ mixing up the music. Get there between 9 PM to 10 PM for two for one drinks.

The Golden Rock Resort will have the island’s only movie theater opening up in later 2024. There is a new portable planetarium on Statia run by its passionate manager Jaap Vreeling, an astronomer. It is bookable through Golden Rock Resort and should not be missed.

Getting to St Eustatius

The best way to get to this nature island is to fly to St. Martin on one of many large carriers.  You can then connect to WINAIR for $100 or less for the 20 minute flight.

There is also ferry service from St. Kitts and St. Martin  (https://www.winair.sx)

 For information about parks on the land and under the seas go to: https://www.statiapark.org/

For all things on St. Eustatius:  https://statia-tourism.com/ 

St Eustatius sunset Tab Hauser
Sunset from St. Eustatius waterfront
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14 thoughts on “Lesser Known St. Eustatius Island and the Golden Rock Resort

  1. another hidden jewel to be discovered . thanks for showing the way. I like that all your articles devote attention to the foodie aspect of the destination.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for sharing the story on this little island and resort we had no idea about. My husband organizes dive trips for groups and he read it. This is perfect because he can hit the dive sites that he never heard of and I can lounge in the pools and spa. I am sure the resort will be hearing from him in the next year or two. Thank you Tab, we are fans of yours

  3. great story, on my bucket list of places to go. Have been to St Martin many t imes and always have noticed the islands in the distance and have always said…………one day!!!

    Hopefully next year, thanks for the article and renewing my interests.

  4. Great article, St Eustatius sounds beautiful. Will definitely put it on my ‘must see’ next time I’m in Nevis.

  5. thanks for another interesting article about this small off the beaten path island.
    Sounds like a place I would like to visit.

  6. Sounds like a lovely spot to spend a few relaxing days! Thanks for the detailed description of another spot to add to my list of places to visit!!

  7. I Love the islands that have not been taken over by the cruise ships. St. Eustatius certainly seems like one of them. Since we visit the Caribbean each Winter for a vacation, I could see this island as a destination. As always Tab, thank you for the wonderful travel tips and information on destinations.

  8. Tab describes a relaxing, beautiful, intimate, history-rich and friendly island with many fun things to do. In some ways it has not changed too much since I was there in the late 1970’s, although there are a lot more fun things to do now not available before. The Marine Sanctuary and the Botanical Garden are new, as well as many new lodging alternatives. I would love to go back to enjoy Statia again, equipped with updated information provided by Tab. And how incongruous to see a canon at Fort De Windt! Statia seems like a totally ‘one love’ kinda place! See you at the pool !

  9. What a perfect sounding hidden treasure! St. Eustatius will be on my list the next time I’m in that part of the world. Tab’s trips are always interesting and out of the ordinary. Looking forward to his future adventures and tips!

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