Oranjestad stands on a cliff looking out on a beach and the island's calm anchorage, where in the 18th century, you might have seen 200 vessels offshore. Fort Oranje was built in 1636 and restored in honor of the U.S. bicentennial celebration of 1976. Perched atop the cliffs, its terraced rampart is lined with the old cannons.
Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden, Upper Company (www.statiapark.org), is the best place in Statia for a picnic lunch, lying on the Atlantic side of the Quill. The garden sprawls across 21 lush hectares (52 acres) and is a haven for the island's fauna and flora. A ranger is on hand Monday to Friday in the morning (hours vary) to give visitors a tour of the gardens, requesting a $5 donation. Tours last 90 minutes and take in the Sensory Garden, Palm Garden, Lookout Garden, and a bird trail. More information about the gardens can be obtained from the St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation at Gallows Bay (tel. 599/318-2884).
A final site for the adventurers is the Quill, the volcanic cone of an extinct volcano, rising 5km (3 miles) south of Oranjestad on the main highway. In the crater of this 610m (2,001-ft.) volcano is a primeval rainforest. You can hike down into its depths, which now are part of the first official national park created in the Netherlands Antilles. The park consists of the Quill itself, plus the White Wall, a limestone formation on the south side of the volcano.
The park also covers the Boven area, covering five hills in the northern tier of the island. Rangers offer guided tours of the park and maintain a network of 10 trails in the Quill sector. The cost is $10 for a 3- to 4-hour guided hike, including the national-park visitor fee. Arrangements can be made at the visitor center near the harbor at Gallows Bay (tel. 599/318-2884). The center is open Monday to Thursday 7am to 5pm, Friday 7am to 4pm.
St. Eustatius Historical Foundation Museum, Upper Town (tel. 599/318-2288), is also called the Donker House in honor of its former tenant, Simon Donker. After British Admiral Rodney sacked Statia for cooperating with the United States, he installed his own headquarters here. Today the 18th-century house and museum stands in a garden, with a 20th-century wing crafted from 17th-century bricks. There are exhibits on the process of sugar refining and shipping and commerce, a section devoted to the pre-Columbian period, archaeological artifacts from the colonial period, and a pair of beautiful rooms furnished with 18th-century antiques. In the annex is a massive piece of needlework by American Catherine Mary Williams, showing the flowers of Statia. The museum is open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm, Friday 9am to 3pm, and Sunday 9am to noon (closed Sat). Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for children.
A few steps away, a cluster of 18th-century buildings surrounding a quiet courtyard is called Three Widows' Corner.
Nearby are the partially restored ruins of the first Dutch Reformed church, on Kerkweg (Church Way). To reach it, turn west from Three Widows' Corner onto Kerkweg. Tilting headstones record the names of the characters in the island's past. You can climb to the top level of the tower and see the bay as lookouts did many years before.
Statia once had a large colony of Jewish traders, and you can explore the ruins of Honen Dalim, the second-oldest Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Built around 1740 and damaged by a hurricane in 1772, the synagogue stands beside Synagogpad, a narrow lane whose entrance faces Madam Theatre on the square.
The walls of a mikvah (ritual bath) rise beside the Jewish burial ground on the edge of town. Most poignant is the memorial of David Haim Hezeciah de Lion, who died in 1760 at the age of 2 years, 8 months, 26 days; carved into the baroque surface is an angel releasing a tiny songbird from its cage.
You can also visit Lynch Plantation Museum at Lynch Bay (tel. 599/318-2338), but you'll have to call to arrange a tour. Donations are accepted; otherwise, admission is free. Locals still call this place the Berkel Family Plantation, although today it's a museum depicting life on Statia a century ago, through antiques, fishing and farming equipment, pictures, and old Bibles. Usually, Ismael Berkel is on hand to show you around Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. This is still very much a residence rather than some dead, dull museum.