With its prime location in the middle of the Caribbean, it’s amazing the Dutch municipality of Saba (pronounced Say-ba) is not a more populated tourist destination. Boasting beautiful scenery, friendly locals and underwater destinations rivaling the best in the world, visit this tiny island and you may find you have a new favorite destination, both above and below the surface.
While you might be imagining an island full of stunning beaches, it’s important to point out that Saba is unique in the Caribbean for its lack of sand-filled beaches due to its volcanic nature. However, this provides the island with rocky shores and stunning, sheer cliffs, which also extend below the surface. If we’re being honest, you won’t need much time on the beach, anyway… The fabulous diving in Saba is characterized by its beautiful reefs, impressive drop offs and spectacular underwater formations.
The 13 square kilometer land mass that makes up this Dutch municipality can be found northwest of the island of St Kitts.
- Saba’s capital is called ‘The Bottom’. While Dutch is the official language, most of the nearly 1200 residents speak English, which is used almost exclusively in schools and businesses on the island.
- The island is also known as “The Unspoiled Queen.” This is due to the impressive amount of protection afforded to its unique ecosystem thanks to the marine park which encircles the entirety of the coastline. This high level of protection is one of the biggest reasons that Saba remains a top diving destination in the world.
- To reach Saba, you can either fly or take a boat. It’s only a 15-minute journey by plane from nearby St. Maarten, which is home to the closest international airport. The boat journey on the other hand, takes around 90 minutes.
- Saba offers several different dive sites to keep visitors busy. These range from sheer underwater cliffs to high-speed drift dives over seemingly bottomless drop offs. The walls around the island also provide the opportunity to discover an impressive diversity of sea life.
- For those lucky divers, some may come across bigger pelagic animals during a visit to Saba. Hammerhead sharks, manta rays, whale sharks and other larger animals do pass through the area from time to time. The dive sites on the far west side of the island provide the best chance of seeing these creatures. Try Outer Limits, Third Encounter and Twilight Zone if you’re a pelagic lover. (It’s important to note that some of these sites are for advanced divers only due to their depth and faster moving current.)
- While Saba is the smallest island owned in the Netherlands Antilles, it contains the highest point in the entire Kingdom of the Netherlands. Mount Scenery is 877-meters high and dominates the island’s landscape.
- The airport has the shortest commercial runway in the world – only 400m!! It is flanked on one side by high hills, and on both ends by cliffs that drop into the water. Talk about pilot skill testing right here – it’s almost like landing on an aircraft carrier!!
- The Wedrego (a.k.a. Audubon's Shearwater) is Saba’s national bird and is displayed on the crest of the island. This bird is somewhat rare as it spends the days out at sea only to return to the island at night and burrow into the ground. Because of this behavior, sights of this bird is notoriously difficult, although scientists believe about 450 individuals still live on Saba.
- In late July, the island of Saba hosts a carnival festival. During this week-long celebration, locals and visitors fill the streets with dancing, parades and competitions. This is the best week to visit the island if you’re hoping to learn more about Saban culture.
Ready to dive into Saba? Click here to read more about this gorgeous island.
If this Caribbean paradise sounds right for you, we’d be more than happy to help you arrange your next scuba diving trip. Send us a message or give us a call and we will help you discover this amazing underwater world.