Boven National Park, St. Eustatius

Photo: St. Eustatius National Parks
Photo: St. Eustatius National Parks

You weren’t sure what to expect when you started hiking this morning. The trails were rough and, at times, poorly marked. You saw plenty of ground lizards, but no other people. Plus the hills—yes, plural—ahead seemed daunting, especially as the temperature started rising.

But you quickly forgot about every single one of your worries. Hidden beaches bordered turquoise bays, like Zeelandia and Venus. Yellow flowers topped blooming aloe plants. Huge orchids grew through cracks in rocks. A former sugar plantation and slave walls, an old distillery, and an unfinished fort were now overgrown with Acacia thorn scrub and tall grass. While the views extended to the Quill (a dormant volcano), St. Barts, Saba, and the Caribbean Sea, depending on which direction you looked.

The Quill/Boven National Park was the first national park to be established in the Netherland Antilles in 1988. The park system has since grown to include an area almost two times the size of the island, when its national marine park is included. It’s allowed St. Eustatius to remain one of the quietest, most peaceful islands in the Caribbean.

On Boven, the northern tip of Statia, you find the perfect spot for an early lunch. It’s certainly time for a break. From Venus Bay, you followed a trail through the plains. Unlike the southern half of the island, which looks lush and green even from a distance, this area is dry like the savannah. Though partly due to low rainfall, long-time cattle grazing didn’t help either. You saw two rare and endangered Lesser Antillan iguanas as you cut north to Boven. The overgrown sisal plantation and distillery were after that.

Now you’re gazing at the Quill, the other half of this amazing national park, as you chug from a bottle of water. You’re no longer worried about the conditions, the few-and-far between trail markers, or the lack of other hikers. In fact, you actually prefer Statia this way.


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