The Golden Rock, St. Eustatius, or Statia, as it is known today is at the top or the list for Caribbean diving and for good reason. There is no mass tourism, and has protected marine park with 8 distinct marine eco systems, and home to everything that lives in this region at its most pristine state. While diving on Statia you will encounter the smallest creature’s right up to the apex predators.
All the dive sites are only 10 to 20 minutes from the dive base so short boat rides and on shore surface intervals make for very comfortable diving. The majority of the dive sites are coral incrusted lava flows packed with life at 12 to 19 meters deep, so lots of bottom time. The wrecks historical and modern are also very popular for holding large schools of fish, with the largest being Charlie Brown at 100 meters long in 33 meters deep. For photographers the macro sites like Blue bead hole are a favorite, sand gravel beds with all the little stuff like Mantis shrimp, flying gurnards, and pike blenny. Many divers also enjoy the walls, bolder slides, and isolated rock outcropping as well. As divers are the primary visitors to Statia the entire island is diver friendly, with small convenient hotels and professional, safe, and fun dive operators.
With a population of just over 3,000 and less than 100 hotel rooms it has that small island feel with just enough to keep you active when not diving. The nature foundation (STENAPA) maintains and patrols the marine park as well as running a botanical garden and maintaining hiking trails to the volcano (the Quill). The history of the island surrounds you whether at the hotel, dive shop, or on an old ship wreck, it’s everywhere. In Orangestad the fort and most of the town has been restored, and the museum is a must to understand all the history you are encountering.
By now you must be saying if it’s so wonderful why I haven’t heard of this before; the answer is an extra flight from St. Maarten which not everyone is willing to do. If the quality of the diving is important to you this flight is worth it, and if all you need is warm clear water anywhere in the Caribbean will do. If you make the journey you will not be disappointed!