Nature & Activities: Hiking
The landscape of St. Eustatius is dominated by ‘The Quill’ which is a dormant volcano. The local nature organization, St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation ( STENAPA) manages The Quill, Boven National Park, St. Eustatius National Marine Park and the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden.
The island has hiking trails which crisscross rugged landscapes and lush rain forests. One of the more frequently chosen trails is the one which takes hikers up to the lip of the crater of The Quill. You can even go into the depths of the volcano. Right down into the crater! This is an intermediate climb as there are some loose boulders and stones and the path is slippery due to changing conditions of the trails after it rains.
In the past farmers planted trees inside the crater of The Quill because of the fertile soil. Cocoa, Banana and Mami trees still abound. Vines hang in mysterious ways and weave themselves through uncommon plants. The crater is punctuated by rare orchids which find the perfect conditions in which to thrive in this exclusive rainforest.
Hikes vary from easy to difficult and are clearly marked. If you are an experienced hiker, you can choose to go to the highest point of the volcano which reaches an altitude of 600 meters. While walking on the volcano you will pass through intricate groupings of Silk Cotton trees, Mapou trees and ancient Ficus which sometimes grow together in an interesting display of symbiosis.
The much dryer landscape of the Northern part of the island, where Northern Hills or Boven National Park is located, is dominated by the remains of an extinct volcano. Trails also vary in difficulty here. A hiker who wants a challenge can choose to go up the ‘Boven’ which is a 4 hour hike round trip.
More reserved hikers can go to Venus Bay which is a breath-taking bay that is incredibly melodious due to the rhythmic crashing of waves which pile in from the Atlantic Ocean. Frigate birds swoop down to catch flying fish for their meals and red-billed tropic birds dance on the winds while making delightful music to attract a mate.
It is an incredible place where you can rest while sitting on some driftwood washed ashore or on seat sized boulders rounded by centuries of waves beating them into a circular shape.
It is mandatory to buy a trail tag when hiking in St. Eustatius’ national parks. The price is $10 and is valid for one calendar year. This can be purchased at multiple places including at STENAPA in Lower Town or online at www.statiapark.org