We may live in paradise, but still need a little break from the hustle and bustle sometimes – we know we do! So why not trade in our little bustling rock for one that is much smaller, more serene, and just 20 minutes away?
With luxurious rooms, mesmerizing views of the botanical gardens, pools, dormant volcano and ocean, superb food and drinks, and the friendliest staff, the Golden Rock Dive and Nature Resort on beautiful St. Eustatius is the perfect place for your next getaway.
Although easily spotted on our horizon, St. Eustatius (Statia) is a true hidden gem that offers plenty of adventure and tranquillity. Boasting 11.8-square miles of natural beauty and serenity, it is just an 18-minute plane ride away from our shores.
And what better place to explore our serene neighbour than from the Golden Rock Resort, nestled between the majestic Quill Volcano and the stunning Atlantic. Its 40 acres of luxury and relaxation include colourful botanical gardens, two swimming pools, two restaurants, 75 rooms, gym with a view, recreational areas and a playground for the younger guests.
When the Out ’N About had the pleasure of testing the resort and exploring Statia, to say we were “pleasantly surprised” is an understatement. We were completely blown away by the fabulous resort, the friendly staff and residents, and the island’s impressive history and nature; and we cannot wait for our next visit.
Although early, the flight to our neighbouring island had been short and sweet; and after a bit of a bumpy ride, we arrived at the colourful resort for a delicious breakfast at Breeze – the resort’s main restaurant. A stay at Golden Rock always includes breakfast, with many options ranging from eggs, to pancakes to overnight oats as one enjoys a mesmerizing view of the lush gardens and the majestic Atlantic.
With our bellies full, we embarked on a tour of the picturesque property with Sally Glen, the resort’s fabulous Director of Sales. The first thing we noticed was the variety of colourful flowers and vibrant plants – some of which we had never seen in St. Maarten or anywhere else in the Caribbean. Sally tells us that the owner of the resort is a florist, which explains the over 100,000 different species of plants, flowers and trees planted in the gardens all over the property. This ecosystem now attracts hummingbirds and other fauna, making those morning strolls extra special.
Not only were we impressed by the resort’s beauty, but also by its dedication to sustainability. With a solar park that creates enough renewable energy to power the entire resort, an electric train and bikes to transport guests all over the 40-acre property, and a huge greenhouse that provides the restaurants with farm-to-table fruits, vegetables and herbs, it is no surprise that Golden Rock was nominated for the Caribbean’s Greenest Hotels 2023, as recognized by Carib Journal.
And those home-grown veggies end up on the plates of guests at the resort’s two on-site restaurants. We had already experienced Breeze’s exquisite cuisine, panoramic views and flower-inspired design during breakfast, so we headed on over to Bobbie’s Beach Club. It was still under construction at the time of our visit, but we could easily envision the upscale beach club with Statia’s first sushi kitchen, Italian wood pizza oven, bottle service, open fire BBQ, live DJ booth and Instagrammable swings and hammocks – all overlooking the region’s largest ocean-fed infinity pool.
After touring the resort, it was time to explore Statia’s famous underwater world with Scubaqua Dive Center. With a marine park larger than the island itself, St. Eustatius was recently voted by the National Geographic as one of the best diving destinations in the region – so we, of course, had to see it for ourselves.
We put on our snorkelling gear and crossed the dive school’s beautiful volcanic beach and dove into the clear water. And once underwater, we quickly forgot about the water’s cold temperature as we marvelled at colourful fish and corals, colonial relics, and the giant ray that swam so close we could have touched it. Then before heading back to the resort for some downtime by the pool, an afternoon nap in the sun, delicious passion fruit mojitos, and a little stroll (okay, and maybe a little photoshoot) in the colourful gardens; we decided to first walk around the colonial buildings lining the waterfront while air-drying our “pruney” fingers and wet hair. When we headed back to our room, it was for one of those amazing vacation showers you have after a long day in the sun.
The Breeze restaurant features weekly themed cuisine nights, and we got lucky for our first dinner there, as it was Indian/Asian night when we visited. Starting with a delicate tuna tataki, we followed with vegetable and fish curries and topped it all off with a satisfying blueberry crème brûlée – all paired with a smooth white wine and conversations with new friends.
The next day started with an early wake-up call for a hiking tour, and we must admit that leaving our heavenly beds was not easy (fun fact: all rooms are decked out with the owner’s personal favourite mattress – he loves his bed that much) but once we caught sight of the majestic Quill, the regret of leaving our comfy cocoons seemed a distant memory.
The dormant volcano is located in an 840-acre national park, the first of its kind in the former Netherlands Antilles. Our guide welcomed us at the foot of the hill and we started the 40-minute trek to the top. We passed a panoramic point with sweeping views of the island’s capital – the outlines of Saba and St. Maarten visible in the distance. Before long, we made it to our destination. The crater’s dramatic landscape and verdant vegetation could only be described as a scene straight out of Jurassic Park.
Unfortunately, with the rain and humidity that day, we could not venture deeper into the crater without needing better shoes – something to look forward to next time! After what felt like a short trip back down, we felt invigorated, energised and ready to devour another tasty breakfast at Breeze. Next on the itinerary was more downtime at the pool – and perhaps a quick check-in with those comfy cocoons. Then it was time for the ultimate lunch combo; nothing says vacation more than a refreshing salad with a side of fries, washed down with a healthy dose of cold rose.
Of course, we could not leave Golden Rock without sampling their craft cocktails in their stunning Art Deco-inspired bar. (Stay tuned for our “Specialty Sips” review in an upcoming edition of the Out N About; but we can reveal that we were more than pleasantly surprised.) Our thirst quenched, we set out to discover Statia’s history through a guided tour of the capital – a must for heritage lovers. Most St. Maarteners don’t realise that Statia has many remarkable heritage sites that tell the story of the island’s unique past.
We finished the tour at The Boardwalk – Oranjestad’s hot spot for sunset drinks overlooking the port – and after another rejuvenating shower, we got ready for our last dinner at the Golden Rock Dive and Nature Resort. And what better way to end a perfect weekend getaway than an unforgettable three-course dinner under the stars, before sleeping in those divine beds for the last time!