Bon Bini – Saba! Welcome to Saba

This amazing small island is a special treat for those who enjoy the natural world. Saba really is off the beaten track – a natural green oasis in the Caribbean Sea – quite unlike any other “holiday destination”. Saba is known as the “Unspoiled Queen” because of her rich, tropical, natural beauty. The dense rain forest covers the slopes of the imposing Mount Scenery, an extinct volcano. Saba will appeal to people who enjoy peace and tranquillity and appreciate an unspoiled natural world – on land and in the ocean.

The island has modern facilities, but Islanders’ are very conservation conscious and have opposed any major commercial development. If you yearn for “undiscovered” parts of the world and enjoy the natural world – this beautiful island is the place for you. The rain forest is ideal for hiking with its unique diversity of flora and fauna – while the ocean is whole new world waiting to be explored. Due to its “anonymity” and lack of commercial development Saba is an unspoiled gem. Away from the hustle and bustle, you can completely unwind, explore this exquisite island for yourself and revel in its the natural beauty. On tropical islands the climate does not change much, warm and sunny all year. No matter what kind of holiday you prefer, you can enjoy it to the full.

The ocean surrounding this tiny island has numerous dramatic and unique features like underwater pinnacles, lava flows and volcanic springs. These diverse habitats support a very diverse and thriving marine life. Diving on Saba is spectacular – Saba will be a new destination for most divers. The clear water gives snorkellers views of the undersea world they would not normally see. Saba has the wonderfully healthy, tropical marine life you would expect from a protected environment, but in the ocean around Saba you will also see larger ocean-roaming creatures.

Saba is recognised as one of the safest places in the world – mainly due to the local people, who are exceptionally friendly and welcoming. You can walk any part of the island at day or night without having to worry about your safety. It is said that many houses are left unlocked. The island authorities maintain “there is no crime on Saba”.

Somewhere Different
We are a Caribbean holiday specialist for Saba with a wealth of local knowledge and many years’ experience on the island. We can answer any questions from personal experience and tailor-make a holiday to your requirements and wishes. We have personally selected the accommodation we offer. We would be delighted to discuss any plans you have for a holiday in this special part of the world. We are the preferred tour operator for many resorts and have the best air fares, prices and offers. We offer a wide choice of services for you to get the very best from your holiday. On small islands, services like accommodation, vehicle hire, excursions, diving etc, get booked very quickly. To avoid disappointment these should be booked in advance. Booking services with us, will save you money and they will be part of an ATOL protected holiday.

Saba is called the “Unspoiled Queen” because of her protected natural habitats, home to a diverse and thriving wildlife. Saba will appeal to those who appreciate an unspoiled natural environment and want to enjoy it in peaceful surroundings. Saba has resisted commercial development and has no high-rise hotels, no crowds, no fast food, no casinos and no cruise ships. The overwhelming appeal is the opportunity to completely unwind and discover the island is natural beauty, in the rain forest or the ocean. Saba, one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean, won the “2010 Top Island in the Caribbean”, a truly remarkable achievement for a tiny island. Islanders are very welcoming, with a huge pride in their unique island.

Saba’s nightlife is the kind of nightlife you will relish if you have come to enjoy the natural treasures of this small island – very low key. The varied cultural heritage has developed into similarly varied cuisine and several restaurants have won awards for food and for fine wines. It’s easy, and safe, to walk around and discover the nightlife for yourself, in the hotels and bars, with live music some evenings and many themed events.

Saba is just 5 square miles, the smallest island of the Dutch Caribbean, formerly the Netherlands Antilles. Saba is home to fewer than 2,000 people who live in 4 small villages. The island welcomes just 25,000 visitors each year, so it really is “off the beaten track”, free of any mass tourism. Saba is in the eastern Caribbean, 170 miles east of Puerto Rico and 30 miles south of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. It has just 1500 residents, living mainly in The Bottom (the capital). “Bottom” is a corruption of the Dutch word for “Botte” which means bowl. Saba has just one road called The Road.

The Caribbean has always been an important trading centre and many nationalities have settled on the Caribbean islands. In 1664 early French and Dutch settlers were evicted from Saba by the buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Saba was a haven for pirates, most notably, Hiram Breaks, who coined the phrase “Dead Men Tell No Tales.” Saba was under English, French, Spanish and Dutch rule for many years, coming under Dutch rule in 1816, and is still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. There are two official languages on Saba: Dutch and English, but English is the predominant language. The various nationalities blended into that wonderful Dutch Caribbean cultural mix, peaceful, friendly and very relaxed.

The weather is typically Caribbean, averaging 27ºC (81ºF), almost every day. There is a refreshing breeze that keeps humidity down and keeps you comfortable. As a tropical island the temperature does not change a great deal, warm and sunny all year. Saba gets around 42 inches of rain most of which falls in the rainy/windy season, between September and December, in short heavy downpours, then out comes the sun once more. During this season winds can be noticeably stronger, but rarely enough to disrupt any holiday plans.

Ocean
Saba is a dormant volcano that rises steeply from the ocean. Saba’s volcanic birth formed massive rock and coral walls, hot springs, lava tunnels, huge pinnacles – tips of mountain ranges that rise to within 25 metres of the surface. A dramatic, exciting and staggeringly beautiful underwater world. The Caribbean Sea is famous for its warm, clear water, colourful coral and creatures. The Atlantic coasts are visited by larger, ocean roaming creatures like turtles, sharks, dolphins and whales. Saba is famous for its exciting underwater features and large pelagic species especially the variety and abundance of sharks. Snorkelling and diving are the two most popular activities on the island. European divers have only recently discovered the fantastic diving on this tiny island. The crystal-clear water gives snorkellers and divers views of the undersea world they would not see anywhere else – very close to shore. A recent scientific survey made astounding discoveries on the Saba Bank Atoll, a coral-crowned seamount – the third largest atoll in the world with an enormous active reef. This is certain to make Saba one of the best diving/snorkelling destinations in the world.

Everywhere you go you on the island you will be able to enjoy the wonderful natural world, tropical plants, colourful wild flowers and magnificent trees. Due to Saba’s rugged topography, and rich volcanic soil, there are six distinct ecosystems on the island, from the sea level meadows to the summit of Mt. Scenery, the extinct volcano that created Saba. Each is a distinct habitat for plants and wildlife to thrive. The island’s vegetation and wildlife vary according to altitude so there is an interesting diversity of flora and fauna. The Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), a non-profit organisation, was established in 1987, to protect this unique environment. There are well established tracks for visitors to enjoy Saba’s countryside, some fantastic walks around the rain forest and spectacular coastal paths.

We have visited and personally selected our accommodation on Saba. Our holidays are designed for “independently minded” people and we offer small hotels with character and personal service. There is a range of board options available at hotels, while apartments and studios give you the freedom to self-cater, if you wish. There are restaurants nearby, should self-catering lose its appeal.

For many people our islands are “undiscovered” places – exciting new holiday destinations. We are a Caribbean holiday specialist and regular visitors to the island. Having enjoyed much of what Saba can offer we can answer your questions from personal experience. We love talking about the islands and would be delighted to discuss your holiday plans. We offer a wide range of services to ensure you get the very best from your holiday. We are the preferred tour operator for some resorts and have the best air fares, prices and offers.

Saba’s Natural World

Saba is a volcanic island, there are no bays or beaches, but the island is rich in flora and fauna. Saba offers a level of diversity that seems impossible given its extremely small size – over 60 species of birds and 200 species of fish. The islanders’ heritage of farming, fishing and seafaring has generated an awareness and appreciation of the environment. The Saba Conservation Foundation was founded to protect and preserve the natural environment and cultural heritage. The Saba Marine Park protects the ocean around the island.

Saba’s dominant feature is the impressive peak of the long dormant volcano, Mount Scenery, at 877 metres high, the highest point in the Dutch Kingdom. The mountain is covered in a dense rain forest with a huge variety of wildlife. Lush giant ferns, brilliantly coloured wild orchids, purple-throated humming birds, lizards and so much more. The top of Mt. Scenery is often lost to sight in the clouds and the peak and upper slopes have cloud-forest environment. Further down the mountain, there are mountain palms, tree ferns, elephant ears, heliconias and wild plantain trees. Closer to sea level there are redwood, sea grape, white cedar, turpentine trees and cacti. Saba is home to many different species of bird, mainly seabirds. The ledges of the sheer cliffs are ideal for nesting and hunting. The rich waters surrounding Saba are feeding grounds for a wide variety of seabirds. Many migrating birds visit the coastline to rest and feed before continuing their journeys across the ocean.

There are no theme parks or fun fairs. Most recreational activities are based around the various ways to explore the island’s natural world, the rain forest, the mountain trails and of course the ocean. The Saba Conservation Foundation maintain marked trails for visitors to enjoy Saba’s countryside. Fantastic hikes take you around the mountain, along the coast road, through the rain forest, past old historic ruins and caves. The tide pools, crystal clear water in crevices and gullies made by ancient lava flows, contain some unusual marine species. The hiking trails have stunning views, across the bright blue Caribbean sea, of the neighbouring small islands, St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Kitts, and St. Eustatius. Bird watching is popular, so many birds in such a small place. Saba’s cliffs and rock formations make it a great place for rock climbing – full and half day adventures are available if you feel up to the challenge. There is just one tennis court on the island ñ but you only need the one. The Harry L. Johnson Memorial Museum has exhibits of Sabaís history and culture.

Saba’s Flora and Fauna

Fewer than 2,000 people live on this small island, in four small villages. There are no “built up” areas, and everywhere you go you on the island you will be able to enjoy the natural world of this special island. Everywhere you look you will see remarkable plants, colourful wild flowers and magnificent, fascinating trees. The national flower of Saba is the ‘Suzanne-with-beautiful-eyes’ (Black Eyed Suzanne) – an orange-yellow coloured flower with a black centre. Saba’s plant life is a mixture of species brought in by the early colonists and indigenous species. Due to Saba’s rugged topography, and rich volcanic soil, there are six distinct ecosystems on the island, from the sea level meadows to the summit of Mt. Scenery : coastal area, shrub land, deciduous forest, evergreen forest, tropical rainforest and the tropical cloud forest. Each of the six areas is a different habitat for plants and wildlife to thrive.

Mount Scenery

Saba’s dominant feature is the impressive peak of the volcano (long dormant). Mt. Scenery is the highest point in the Dutch Kingdom at 877m ! The mountain is covered in a dense, jungle like, rain forest with a huge variety of creatures. The island’s vegetation varies according to altitude and rainfall leading to an interesting variation in the wildlife in each area. The top of Mt. Scenery is often lost to sight in the clouds and the peak and upper slopes have cloud-forest environment. Further down the mountain, in the High hilltops to the lower slopes region, there are lots of Mountain Palms, Tree Ferns, Elephant Ears, Heliconias and Wild plantain trees are abundant. Closer to sea level there are Redwood, Sea Grape, White Cedar, Turpentine trees and cacti.

The Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), a non-profit organisation, was established in 1987, to continue that legacy of protection of this extraordinary environment. The Saba Conservation Foundation has established, marked and maintained trails for visitors to enjoy Saba’s countryside. The “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean,” has some fantastic hikes around rain forest, tide pools, historic ruins, and rich natural wonderland often with breathtaking views. Visitors are drawn to Saba by their appreciation of the island’s healthy ecosystem and the well marked trails are easily the best way to get close to nature. There is a hiking trail to go up the mountain that starts just outside Windwardside. It’s best to start early as the summit is shrouded in cloud by the afternoon. On a clear day you’ll be astonished at the beautiful view of the neighbouring small islands in the bright blue Caribbean Sea – St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Kitts, and St. Eustatius.

As well as the numerous trails through the dense vegetation of the heart of the island there are some interesting coastal walks, to see the many bird species for example. The Tide Pools of Saba are remarkable rock pools, a short hike around the coast. These pools are crevices and gullies between the ancient lava flows. The crystal clear water gives you a fantastic view of some unusual species, various types of sea urchins, small colourful fish and sea flora. You also have dramatic views of the Caribbean Sea and the northeast side of the island. Keep one eye on the ocean, when the tide comes in, it can produce some big waves.

Saba’s plant and animal life is a mixture of native and introduced species. Tree frogs, goats and chickens are all introduced species. Indigenous species include: Saban Anole lizard (found only on Saba), Green Iguanas and Red-Bellied Racer Snakes (completely harmless).

Birds of Saba

Saba is home to over sixty species of birds, many of which are seabirds. Bridled Terns, Sooty Terns and Brown Booby birds breed every year in late spring on Green Island. Red Billed & White-Tailed Tropicbirds nest in crevices and ledges of the sheer cliffs while Frigate Birds and Brown Boobies swoop and dive close to the rugged coastline. Regular visitors include the Common Ground Dove, Bridled Quail Dove, Red-tailed Hawks, Thrashers, Hummingbirds and Bananaquits. The rich waters surrounding Saba are feeding grounds for a wide variety of other seabirds, including Storm-petrels, Pelicans, and Gulls. Many migrating birds visit the coastline to rest and feed before continuing their journeys across the ocean. All of this diversity comes from Saba’s unique ecology.

Amphibians

There is one species of amphibian on Saba – the Tree Frog or Johnstone’s Whistling Frog or the name I like best the Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog. Tree frogs are nocturnal, and small, so you are more likely to hear them than see them. You might be lucky enough to see them in damp areas, sleeping in plant bowl bases, under leaves or, as you might expect, in trees. Saba’s frog does not need water for the development of the tadpole. Instead the tiny frogs hatch from the egg without passing through a tadpole stage. Females have been known to guard their clutches until they hatch. Saba’s frog eats some invertebrates but mainly insects. The Latin name – Eleutherodactylus johnstonei – comes from Eleutheros and daktylos, both Greek words describing the ‘free finger’ of this amphibian. The “johnstonei” was the Chief Justice of Grenada who, in the early 20th century, sponsored collectors of the first specimens.

Reptiles

Including marine turtles and introduced species, there are 11 reptile species on Saba. Red-Footed Tortoise, Scaly sea turtles, Loggerhead Turtle, Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Leathery sea turtles, Leatherback Turtle. Sad to say all the turtles species are endangered species.

Saban Anole

The Saban Anole (Anolis sabanus) is an indigenous species of anole lizard that is unique to the island of Saba and a common sight around the island. Males reach a length of 7cm., and are a pale ash-gray or yellow underneath, with irregular dark tan patches on their backs and head. The dewlap is pale yellow with a green or orange tint, which they inflate to assert there dominance, when mating or in territorial disputes. Females are smaller with less distinct patches and a mid-dorsal stripe.

The Red-bellied Racer (Alsophis rufiventris) is a species of Colubrid snake, endemic to the islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, and Nevis. Males have black-edged patches that develop into a dark stripe along the middle of their back. Females have a series of streaks and patches on their backs. Other common names include the Saba Racer and the Orange-bellied Racer. The non-poisonous and harmless Racer snake is a common sight along the trails and roadsides. Usually they disappear quickly into the undergrowth, but sometimes, when stalking prey, you can approach quite closely. This species is only found on Saba and St. Eustatius.

House Gecko, Saba Least Gecko, Turnip-Tailed Gecko, Green Iguana

The Saba Least Gecko (Sphaerodactylus sabanus) is a gecko endemic to Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, and Nevis. Both sexes reach a maximum length of about 3cm., with a brown coloured back and an orange tint to the head. Its belly varies from white to light brown, with a white or yellow throat. Its head is covered in dark stripes or spots. It has a dark spot on the back of its head, and its body and tail are usually covered with lighter, smaller spots.

Orchids on Saba

Saba has a lot of different types of plant life, most notably its wild orchids. There are at least 9 different types of wild orchids on the island. You can’t go far without seeing these spectacularly beautiful plants. They grow along hiking trails, in gardens throughout the island, and even along the side of The Road.

Examples of Flora on Saba:

Angiosperms like: Aloe Vera, Banana, Bromeliads, Begonia, Chinese hibiscus, Coconut palm, Elephant’s Ears, Orchids, West Indian Mahogany, Red Ginger, Black-eyed Susan vine.
Gymnosperms like : Monkey puzzle, Zamiaceae
Ferns like: Tree fern, Maidenhair ferns, Hard fern.
Mosses like: Beard Lichen.

Accommodation on Saba

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QUEENS GARDEN

QUEENS GARDEN

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JULIANA’S HOTEL

FROM £1345 PP incl. flights, transfers, 7 nights B&B

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EL MOMO COTTAGES

FROM £1115 PP incl. flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation

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The Unspoiled Queen

Precious things come in small packages – and Saba proves the point. Saba, in the eastern Caribbean Sea, is the smallest island of the Netherlands Antilles and yet the dormant volcano that dominates the island, Mount Scenery at 888 metres, is the highest point of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Saba is 170 miles east of Puerto Rico and 30 miles south of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. Saba is referred to as the ìUnspoiled Queenî. Covered in dense rain forest, the island has a natural beauty which is virtually untouched. The island has many trails for visitors to explore the interesting flora and fauna. Saba’s striking natural beauty extends below the waterline into an exciting marine environment rich in corals and marine life. Saba is definitely off the beaten track and diving is relatively new to the island. It is, therefore, an “undiscovered” diving destination for many. Saba has an almost unique combination of features that will take your breath away and is rapidly becoming recognised as one of the foremost diving destinations in the world.

Saba has the Best Of Both (Underwater) Worlds. One coast faces the Caribbean Sea the other the Atlantic Ocean. Currents from the open ocean enrich Sabaís coastal waters, supporting a thriving, healthy marine life. The Caribbean Sea is famous for its diversity of marine life – small reef dwelling creatures and colourful tropical fish, huge sponges as well as species like octopus and rays. The other side of the island faces the open Atlantic, yet another special habitat, for much larger ocean roaming creatures, just a few minutes boat ride from shore. Saba is close to St. Martin, and both islands are known for the “bigger stuff”, rarely seen elsewhere, rays and sharks, in particular, hammerheads.

The island is a dormant volcano rising steeply from the ocean and depths of 300 metres and more can be found within 750 metres of the shore. Warm, clear, deep water, close to shore and a variety of underwater features, produces a range of habitats which naturally means a huge diversity of marine life. Labyrinths of coral arches, swim throughs, lava tunnels, sheer cliffs, apparently endless walls and hot springs are all evidence of the islandís dramatic birth as a volcano. Elkhorn forests, Black coral, large Plate corals, Star corals and Brain corals encrust the walls and volcanic rocks. This amazing scenery forms a rich tapestry with huge, brightly coloured barrel sponges, Elephant ear sponges, yellow cup corals and large sea fans. The sea grass on the perimeter of the reef provides nourishment for Saba’s healthy turtle population, spotted eagle rays and seahorses. Not just spectacular marine scenery, but exciting opportunities to explore. Formations like Tent Reef, an extended rock ledge in just 4 metres of water, becoming progressively deeper and eventually a sheer wall. Saba is famous for its pinnacles, the peaks of underwater mountains just 25 metres down. The pinnacles are a special feature of at least 5 dive sites, breathtaking scenes, a special thrill for all divers. The small leeward side has wonderful rolling spur and groove lava formations in shallow water, yet another habitat for more marine life and opportunities for easy shallow dives. Photographers love the variety of features and marine life. The shallow water allows lots of natural light and the absence of serious currents makes the process a lot easier. There are many photographic specialists on island and some run photographic courses. Divers will find a variety of diving conditions, fascinating geographical features and an exciting diversity of marine life. Divers, and snorkellers, of all levels will enjoy this wonderful marine world. The close-to-shore sites offer interesting and extremely varied diving, while the offshore dives will leave you speechless.

Some of the creatures you will regularly encounter ; Long-Lured Frogfish, Orange Seahorse, Manta Rays, Pipe Horse Web Burrfish, Spotted Eagle Ray, Sergeant Majors, Spotted Drums, French Grunts, Blue-Striped Grunts, Southern Stingrays, Octopus, Groupers, large Snappers, Barracuda, Jacks, Garden Eels, Razorfish, Blue Tangs, Goatfish, Parrotfish Black Durgeon, Squid, Dolphin, Morays Eels, Gold Spotted Eels, Spotted Snake Eels, Flying Gurnards, Batfish, Sand Tile Fish, Jawfish, French Angelfish, Black Margates, White Spotted Filefish and Tarpon. Coral reefs “wake up” at night, Octopus, Squid, Crabs and a whole new cast of characters are busy around the reef. Bioluminescent organisms are a beautiful spectacle. The conditions here provide a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of the coral reef at night.

Saba has an exceptional variety of sharks – Hammerheads, White tips, Caribbean reef sharks, Nurse sharks, Black tips, Reef and Bull sharks are all regularly seen. Some lucky divers and snorkellers may see a rare Tiger shark or Whale shark and get a chance to swim with a Manta ray, or a Humpback whale.

The island is undeveloped, no mass tourism, quiet, easy and relaxed – no queues or crowds here. Due to the volcanic shoreline diving is from boats. Saba is only 13 square kilometres – 5 square miles. The 30 dive sites are close to shore, all less than 20 minutes boat ride and your accommodation canít be far from the ocean. Although there is some very deep water not too far from shore, most dives are in depths of between 8 and 40 metres. There are several shallow dive sites around the shoreline, between 4 and 26 metres, comfortable diving and snorkelling. Divers of all capabilities can enjoy the diving on Saba. On the Caribbean coasts, south and west, there is little or no current. On the open ocean coast there is some current and some nice drift dives ñ and some larger creatures.

The custom dive boats take small groups each morning, usually 6 to 8 divers and snorkellers, so it’s an easy schedule and a relaxed diving experience. The boats are happy to take snorkellers – and the crystal clear water gives snorkellers a wonderful opportunity to see marine life they will not see elsewhere. The boats stay with the group throughout. There are plenty of sites particularly recommended for snorkellers. At most sites there will be just you and a few (new) friends – very relaxed and comfortable. As these are small groups, availability is limited. Any diving you wish to do should be booked before your arrival on island.

The ocean water temperature ranges from 26ºC to 28ºC. Nice and warm, all year, and a 3mm shortie is usually sufficient although the open ocean coast can be a little cooler. The visibility underwater is an astonishing 30 to 40 metres. Diving is all year and rarely disrupted by weather. The weather is almost always warm and sunny. The air temperature ranges from 26ºC to 30ºC with a cool breeze, very comfortable conditions. Saba is a tropical island and there are no big seasonal changes in the weather, although there is a windy/rainy season October to December. Short tropical downpours, then warm and sunny again.

Discover A “New” Dive Destination

The fantastic diving on Saba has only recently been “discovered” – scuba cylinders first arrived on Saba in 1981. The Saba Marine Park (“SMP”) was established in 1987 – which introduced strict regulations for the conservation of the environment – based on the Bonaire Marine Park model. Strict regulation, including permanent mooring sites, has protected this pristine, delicate environment. Saba’s Marine Park has received several awards and remains the only park of its kind in the world to be completely self-sufficient in its operation. The park surrounds the entire island and covers the waters and seabed from the highwater mark down to a depth of 60metrest, including the offshore sea mounts.

The Dutch navy donated a recompression chamber, administered by the Saba Marine Park and operated by a staff of specially trained volunteers. It has been operating since 1980 and serves the Eastern Caribbean region. A.M. Edwards Medical Center is a modern centre providing health care on the island.

As reported by the BBC NEWS CHANNEL –
MARINE TREASURE TROVE FOUND

An underwater mountain with some of the richest diversity of marine life in the Caribbean has been found by scientists. Researchers discovered scores more species of fish than previously known in the region and vast beds of “seaweed cities”. The find was made in the Saba Bank Atoll, the third largest atoll in the world with an enormous, active reef. Researchers counted a total of 200 species of fish. Vast seaweed beds, with at least 12 new species of algae, were discovered. Dr Mark Littler, a marine botanist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and a diver on the expedition, declared the Saba Bank the richest area for seaweeds in the Caribbean. Seaweeds form the base of the food chain in coral reefs, from which the rest of biodiversity depends.

” . . Saba . . can be the keystone for protecting biodiversity in the Caribbean.”

We are an ATOL bonded, diving holiday specialist for Saba. We work closely with the dive centres on Saba who have everything divers and snorkellers might need. They offer boat diving, guided dives, night dives, equipment for sale or hire and instruction courses for all levels.

We tailor-make holiday itineraries, which can include all your diving requirements, to ensure you get the best from your diving holiday. We know how the diving works and have prices lower than you would pay on island. Tell us what youíd like, and we will book your diving with our dive operator partner, at your accommodation, or nearby. On a small island services like diving, instruction courses, excursions, vehicle hire etc., get booked up quickly. It is important to reserve any services you may want for your holiday, before you arrive on Saba. Booking with us saves you money and ensures those services are available to you when you arrive on island, avoiding any disappointment. Those services then become part of your ATOL protected holiday itinerary.

We have a very close, and friendly, working relationship with the dive centres on Saba. They are independent of the hotels and offer a full range of dive services to visitors. They have equipment for sale or hire and a range of instruction courses – from a first “try dive” to professional ratings like Dive Master. There are numerous “special” excursions you can enjoy – special because of the type of diving or the location. We offer a range of courses, boat diving packages and excursions – tailored to your personal diving itinerary. These dive centres are small scale – courses and boats can get booked very quickly. Booking in advance is strongly recommended – to be sure you get precisely what you want – when you arrive. We can give you full details of all the dive packages and trips. Pre-booking your diving itinerary leaves nothing to chance for your precious time on the island.

Boat Dives

Most diving is from boats – and it’s a short trip to the dive sites. Saba is a small volcanic island – it gets deep pretty quick – so the dive sites are close to shore. Snorkellers can also join the boats. Please note – boats and excursions can get sold out very easily. Booking before you arrive is strongly recommended.

Diving Courses

We can book a full range of dive courses – from basic training for learner divers through to professional ratings, such as Dive Master. Instruction is available in several languages. The length of the course may vary according to the diver’s ability. Please note: Saba dive centres train to the highest standards – but they are small. Good for personal service – vital for training courses. BUT instructors may not always be available. It is important to book courses in advance to be sure you do not waste valuable holiday/diving time.

Discover Scuba Diving – This is a day introduction to scuba diving. Short pool session followed by an ocean dive. (Max. depth 40ft/12m)

Additional Discover Scuba Dives – additional ocean dives guided by a dive professional.

Scuba Review – This is a 1/2 day refresher course and includes an ocean dive.

Open Water Certification – This 4-5 day course includes classroom sessions, confined water and 4 ocean dives. A certified PADI Open Water diver can dive with a buddy, unsupervised, to a depth of 18 m.

Open Water Referral Course – This is a 2 day course for those who have completed the theory and pool work of the Open Water Course. Pass the theory and pool work module of your Open Water Course in the UK and complete the open water dives in the warm, calm, clear waters of the Caribbean.

Advanced Diver – This is a 2 day course – a continuation of the PADI Open Water Diver course and involves a small amount of classroom work and 5 ocean dives. Core dives are Deep and Navigation, other dives can be chosen from speciality courses that interest you. Students can focus more on their interests and can gain extra knowledge in the different aspects of diving. Minimum Age: 15 (Junior 12).

Rescue Diver – 3-4 day course covering problem prevention, self rescue and 12 rescue scenarios. (Prerequisites: AOW & EFR certification).

Dive Master Course – This Professional Training Course includes Diving theory, Physics, Physiology, Equipment and Environment, confined water training and open water sessions. (Prerequisites: Rescue Diver, Medic First Aid, 20 logged dives). Minimum Age 18. The first step towards your instructor certification. Once qualified you are able to supervise dive activities and assist instructors with student divers. Length of the course varies with student entry level.

There are a range of speciality PADI courses also available.

Start ’em Early

There are several courses and activities to get kids interested in diving.

SASY (Supplied Air Snorkelling for Youth)
SASY allows them to breathe from a regulator and mini-tank at the surface while wearing a flotation device, which does not allow them to submerge. They have their own small sized equipment and are always safe with the PADI dive instructors.

Bubble Maker
Bubble Maker is an introductory course for kids aged 8 and above, during which they get acquainted with real scuba diving. Under close supervision of an instructor they will learn the fundamentals of scuba diving in a swimming pool. Students are then given the opportunity to dive in shallow open water up to 2m deep (all equipment is provided).

Junior Open Water Diver
Kids aged 10 and older can earn their PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification. Kids can dive to 12m.

Open Water Diver
At 15 young divers can pass the PADI Open Water Diver certification. They are allowed to dive to 18 m as are all qualified Open Water Divers.
Children aged between 10 and 15 years who have gained their open water certificate, can only dive with a certified adult.

Safety

Hopefully you won’t need it ……..but Saba has a good medical facility, the A.M. Edwards Medical Center with trained medical staff. Saba has its own decompression chamber.

DIN fittings

Saba centres use American equipment – if you have DIN fittings you will need an adaptor. If you don’t have one – the dive centre will have one for hire. Always best to let us know before you go – to make sure everything you need is available.

Saba, like the other Dutch Caribbean islands, is relatively unknown to people from the UK. Being off the beaten track makes it a new destination for people from the UK – an exciting new “discovery”. Saba has resisted commercial development to protect its heritage and natural habitats. The islanders have earned their living from the land and the ocean – and the desire to protect both is part of their heritage. Tourism is new to Saba – the airport opened in 1963 – and protection of the natural world has ensured there are no “commercialised tourist activities”. You can enjoy the island’s natural world in peace and quiet. A refreshing change from being part of a tourist package.

Activities

Saba may be small, but for those who wish to explore and enjoy the natural world, in peace and quiet and at their own pace, there is a lot to see, do and enjoy.

Hiking

This rugged little island, an extinct volcano, with its dramatic natural features, is perfect for people who wish to explore the natural world.

The Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), a non-profit organisation, was established in 1987, to protect and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the island. The Saba Conservation Foundation has established marked and maintained trails for visitors to enjoy Saba’s countryside. The “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean,” has some fantastic hikes around rain forest, tide pools, historic ruins, and rich natural wonderland with breathtaking views. A great variety of paths and trails all offering you something different. All trails are very well marked and in good condition. An excellent trail map is widely available.

Mount Scenery

Saba’s dominant feature is the impressive peak of the volcano (long dormant). Mt. Scenery is the highest point in the Dutch Kingdom at 877m – the dense rain forest can be seen through the light clouds. The mountain is covered in a dense, jungle like, rain forest with a huge variety of wildlife, lush giant ferns, brilliantly coloured wild orchids, purple-throated humming birds, lizards and so much more. The island’s vegetation varies according to altitude and rainfall leading to an interesting variation in the wildlife in each area. The top of Mt. Scenery is often lost to sight in the clouds and the peak and upper slopes have cloud-forest environment. Further down the mountain, in the hill tops to the lower slopes region, there are lots of mountain palms, tree ferns, elephant ears, Heliconias and Wild plantain trees. Closer to sea level there are Redwood, Sea Grape, White Cedar, Turpentine trees and cacti. There is a hiking trail to go up the mountain that starts just outside Windwardside. It’s best to start early as the summit is shrouded in cloud by the afternoon. The hiking trails have some stunning views. On a clear day you’ll be astonished at the beautiful view of the neighbouring small islands in the bright blue Caribbean Sea – St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Kitts, and St. Eustatius.

The Tide Pools

As well as numerous trails through the dense vegetation of the heart of the island there are some fascinating coastal walks, where you’ll find the remarkable tide pools of Saba, crevices and gullies between the ancient lava flows. The crystal clear water gives you a fantastic view of some unusual species, various types of sea urchins, small colourful fish and sea flora. There are some dramatic views of the Caribbean Sea and the northeast side of the island. Keep one eye on the ocean, when the tide comes in, it can produce some big waves. Wear some decent shoes – these are “proper” hikes.

Tennis

There is one tennis court on the island at Shearwater Resort. Reservations are required and the court is around $15 per hour.

Museum

To find out more Saba’s history and culture visit the Harry L. Johnson Memorial Museum in Windwardside. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. The museum used to be the home of a Saban seaman. The house is still furnished in the style of these times and has a collection of historical island relics.

Bird Watching

Saba is home to over sixty species of birds, many of which are seabirds. Bridled Terns, Sooty Terns and Brown Booby birds breed every year in late spring on Green Island. Red Billed & White-Tailed Tropicbirds nest in crevices and ledges of the sheer cliffs while Frigate Birds and Brown Boobies swoop and dive close to the rugged coastline. Regular visitors include the common ground dove, Bridled quail dove, red-tailed hawks, thrashers, hummingbirds and bananaquits. The rich waters surrounding Saba are feeding grounds for a wide variety of other seabirds, including Storm-petrels, Pelicans, and Gulls. Many migrating birds visit the coastline to rest and feed before continuing their journeys across the ocean. All of this diversity comes from Saba’s unique ecology.

Climbing Saba

Saba’s looming cliffs and rock formations make it a great place for rock climbing. There is an established company providing equipment and guides if you want to take the challenge. There are half and full day adventures.

Diving and snorkelling

Without doubt – and as you might expect – the two most popular activities on the island. Saba is rapidly becoming known around the world for the staggering diversity and beauty of its underwater world. Saba is a dormant volcano that rises steeply from the ocean. Saba’s volcanic birth left hot springs, lava tunnels, huge pinnacles that rise to within 25 metres of the surface and massive rock and coral walls. The fantastic marine life includes many species of colourful tropical fish, huge sponges and some of the “big stuff”. Due to the clear water conditions snorkelers also have a wonderful opportunity to see marine life they will not see elsewhere – large ocean-roaming creatures.

Nightlife

Saba’s nightlife is informal, low key and friendly, the sort of nightlife you will probably relish if you have come to enjoy the natural treasures of this small island. The Dutch Caribbean has a rich and varied cultural heritage, which has developed into an easy going society with a more “open” attitude to visitors, a very welcoming atmosphere. Like other Dutch Caribbean islands, there is no mass tourism and the nightlife is far more of a social activity than Europeans are used to – far more friendly and relaxed. The nightlife is centred on the hotels, restaurants and bars – live music and theme nights – all around the island – and everyone is welcome. One of the special pleasures of being on a small, safe island is that you can get out-and-about very easily and discover the various “entertainments” for yourself – without too much effort. It is a thrill turning a corner and unexpectedly finding a barbecue going strong – or a steel band entertaining people – finding something interesting and good fun to enjoy.

There are many “special events nights” at various venues around the island – live music etc., which occur throughout the week. As they are small scale, and very informal, you can enjoy them with small groups of fellow visitors and locals. These nights include regular karaoke nights – one famous one at Scouts Place is called “Sabaoke”. As it is such a sociable and informal setting – you might be tempted to take the plunge – and join in. Just think – you can give the Caribbean your version of “My Way”. Good fun – recommended.

Restaurants on Saba, much like Bonaire and Curacao, are a focus for social life on the island. It is very refreshing change to dine out alongside local people. Not just a wonderful source of conversation and information – it also makes you feel like a guest and less like a tourist. Surprisingly there are 19 restaurants and bars on this small island. Several restaurants have won awards for food and for fine wines. Most restaurants offer regular entertainment – on various nights of the week. Each village has their own highly individual restaurants. There is very wide range of cuisine available – burgers to nouvelle cuisine – and a range of prices giving visitors a lot of choice. You will find international cuisine with a strong European influence available everywhere, but the special treat about being on an island like this is the authentic, “home made” Creole dishes – things we never get to eat here – and some we have never heard of ! There is also a strong Indonesian influence (Dutch colonial influence) which just adds another continent to the culinary mix. Of course the seafood ins unbelievably fresh and unlike anything we get in Europe.

We have emphasised the relaxed and low key nature of the nightlife, but there some very high quality restaurants on the island, where you can dine a little more formally if you wish.

Recommended Restaurants

We will send you the list of personally recommended restaurants with your booking. Let us know if you wish to reserve a table – for a special occasion or on a special day when they might be busy (Christmas for example). We have arranged a lot of “surprise” meals for birthdays, anniversaries etc.

The restaurants offer another, very special, ingredient – their location. Most offer the chance to dine al fresco, under the stars, and some of the locations are spectacular. Restaurants can be 2,000 feet above the Caribbean Sea overlooking the dramatic coastline and the rugged bays. Some are deep in the rain forest – like eating in the jungle – but with a knife and fork. Although temperatures cool in the evening, for Europeans it is still warm, so eating out is a real pleasure, under the stars and with so much natural beauty around you. No irritating insects – mosquitoes are very rare. Saba’s restaurants give you an informal ambiance, a wide choice of cuisines and budget – but throw in the panoramic views and picture perfect sunsets for free.

There are several bars around the island, including a sports bar, if that’s your thing. Several restaurants and bars are in hotels which cater for divers. The social life for divers is perfect. Easy going – swapping tales of near misses, shark encounters and the best dive sites – mixing with divers from around the world. Nothing late night – nothing strenuous ! As with the restaurants, there are no tourist areas – and locals enjoy a drink at the end of the day too – and they become a perfect way to absorb the local culture. You can claim that a night-out drinking was a “cultural exchange evening”

Prices for eating out, and drinking are generally similar to UK – various “special” items of food or drink, have to be imported and may seem a little pricier than in UK. But in general food and drink is very reasonable.

There is Latin American dancing on various nights of the week at several venues – another of those hidden gems you’ll find. One or two venues – literally one or two – stay open late. You can salsa until the small hours late if you wish.

Saba is a small tropical island, just 5 square miles of unspoilt natural beauty. Its central peak, Mount Scenery rises almost 3,000 feet into the sky. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to appreciate that an island just a couple of miles across, rising steeply to over half-a-mile high, means that the island has an exciting and dramatic landscape. Mount Scenery (the clue is in the name) is a dormant volcano, evidence of the explosive birth of this island. Volcanic eruptions create deep valleys and crevices, formed by molten rock. Volcanic soil, over many years, becomes extremely fertile. A dense rain forest has covered Mount Scenery and most of the island. This fertility has produced many wild flowers and exotic trees and shrubs. The scenery on Saba is breathtaking. The sheer cliffs, the mountain, the valleys and the dense rain forest. Trees, wild plants and flowers – a rich tapestry of natural beauty hard to find anywhere else in the world.

Hiking is a great way to explore this small, quiet island, to see historic sites and Saba’s unique beauty. Beyond the hike to the top of Mt. Scenery (see below), trails go through rain forests, along cliff tops with spectacular ocean views, past historic ruins and caves, along the uninhabited side of the island. All of them give you something different ñ and something very special. All trails are well marked and in good condition. The Trail Shop in Windwardside close to the entrance to the Mt. Scenery trail, and operated by the Saba Conservation Foundation ñ is a useful place to buy gear, trail maps and meet local guides. The Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), a non-profit organisation, was established in 1987, to continue the legacy of protection of this extraordinary environment. The Saba Conservation Foundation has established marked and maintained trails for visitors to enjoy Saba’s countryside. Visitors are drawn to Saba by their appreciation of the island’s healthy ecosystem and the unique diving experience. The “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean” has some fantastic hikes around Saba’s rain forest, tide pools, historic ruins, the villages and the islands rich countryside. Almost every walk will give visitors magnificent views.

The scenery is enhanced by the large variety and number of exotic wild plants – like the many orchids – especially in the rain forest. There are at least 9 different types of wild orchids on the island and you won’t go far without seeing them. They grow along hiking trails, in gardens throughout the island, and even along the side of The Road.

Some favourite hiking trails:

The Sandy Cruz trail is a fairly easy 3.5 mile hike, beginning in Hell’s Gate and ending at The Bottom, connecting with the Mt. Scenery trail along the way. The Crispin or Crispeen Track starts in The Bottom and hikers will enjoy the wonderful view of Saba’s capital.

There are four small villages on Saba – Windwardside, The Bottom, Hell’s Gate and St. Johns – all small communities, Saba has fewer than 2,000 residents. The houses and streets – and especially the intriguing churches – add to the scenic beauty. It is a real pleasure to stroll around these small villages and enjoy their heritage expressed in the rustic architecture. The villages are very picturesque, full of small white buildings perched on the green slopes, and many of them look out over the ocean.

This rugged little island, an extinct volcano, with its dramatic natural features, is perfect for people who wish to explore the natural world.

The Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), a non-profit organisation, was established in 1987, to protect and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the island. The Saba Conservation Foundation has established marked and maintained trails for visitors to enjoy Saba’s countryside. The “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean,” has some fantastic hikes around rain forest, tide pools, historic ruins, and rich natural wonderland with breathtaking views. A great variety of paths and trails all offering you something different. All trails are very well marked and in good condition. An excellent trail map is widely available.

Mount Scenery

Saba’s dominant feature is the impressive peak of the volcano (long dormant). Mt. Scenery is the highest point in the Dutch Kingdom at 877m – the dense rain forest can be seen through the light clouds. The mountain is covered in a dense, jungle like, rain forest with a huge variety of wildlife, lush giant ferns, brilliantly coloured wild orchids, purple-throated humming birds, lizards and so much more. The island’s vegetation varies according to altitude and rainfall leading to an interesting variation in the wildlife in each area. The top of Mt. Scenery is often lost to sight in the clouds and the peak and upper slopes have cloud-forest environment. Further down the mountain, in the hill tops to the lower slopes region, there are lots of mountain palms, tree ferns, elephant ears, Heliconias and Wild plantain trees. Closer to sea level there are Redwood, Sea Grape, White Cedar, Turpentine trees and cacti. There is a hiking trail to go up the mountain that starts just outside Windwardside. It’s best to start early as the summit is shrouded in cloud by the afternoon. The hiking trails have some stunning views. On a clear day you’ll be astonished at the beautiful view of the neighbouring small islands in the bright blue Caribbean Sea – St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Kitts, and St. Eustatius.

The Tide Pools

As well as numerous trails through the dense vegetation of the heart of the island there are some fascinating coastal walks, where you’ll find the remarkable tide pools of Saba, crevices and gullies between the ancient lava flows. The crystal clear water gives you a fantastic view of some unusual species, various types of sea urchins, small colourful fish and sea flora. There are some dramatic views of the Caribbean Sea and the northeast side of the island. Keep one eye on the ocean, when the tide comes in, it can produce some big waves. Wear some decent shoes – these are “proper” hikes.

Museum

To find out more Saba’s history and culture visit the Harry L. Johnson Memorial Museum in Windwardside. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. The museum used to be the home of a Saban seaman. The house is still furnished in the style of these times and has a collection of historical island relics.

Bird Watching

Saba is home to over sixty species of birds, many of which are seabirds. Bridled Terns, Sooty Terns and Brown Booby birds breed every year in late spring on Green Island. Red Billed & White-Tailed Tropicbirds nest in crevices and ledges of the sheer cliffs while Frigate Birds and Brown Boobies swoop and dive close to the rugged coastline. Regular visitors include the common ground dove, Bridled quail dove, red-tailed hawks, thrashers, hummingbirds and bananaquits. The rich waters surrounding Saba are feeding grounds for a wide variety of other seabirds, including Storm-petrels, Pelicans, and Gulls. Many migrating birds visit the coastline to rest and feed before continuing their journeys across the ocean. All of this diversity comes from Saba’s unique ecology.

Climbing Saba

Saba’s looming cliffs and rock formations make it a great place for rock climbing. There is an established company providing equipment and guides if you want to take the challenge. There are half and full day adventures.

 

Saba is an unspoiled gem in the Caribbean Sea, with a pristine, natural beauty. Saba’s beauty extends below the waterline into an exciting marine environment of rock and coral formations and a diverse marine life. Saba is a dormant volcano and rises dramatically from the ocean and Saba’s unique and wonderful underwater world starts very close to shore. The amazing range of underwater features provide a wide variety of habitats for a diverse marine life to thrive – colourful sponges and coral, hundreds of species of small “reef” creatures and some of the larger, ocean-roaming species.

Saba’s underwater world is now recognised as being unique. One of the most exciting marine environments in the world. The ocean conditions here are comfortable and the island is very relaxed – no queues or crowds. Saba is a very special place. A tiny island – off the beaten track – it offers snorkellers a new and exciting holiday destination – a chance to see marine life you will not see elsewhere.

But Don’t Take Our Word For It . . . .

BBC News Channel :
MARINE TREASURE FOUND
By Rebecca Morelle BBC News science reporter:

An underwater mountain with some of the richest diversity of marine life in the Caribbean has been found by scientists. During a two-week dive researchers discovered scores more species of fish than previously known in the region and vast beds of “seaweed cities”. The find was made in the Saba Bank Atoll, a coral-crowned seamount. It is ranked as the third largest atoll in the world and has an enormous active reef. “Potentially it Saba can be the keystone for protecting biodiversity in the Caribbean” Dr Michael Smith, Conservation International. During the dives, the researchers counted a total of 200 species of fish, over 150 more than previously known. Among their find were two new species of fish, both gobies. Dr Mark Littler, a marine botanist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and a diver on the expedition, declared the Saba Bank the richest area for seaweeds in the Caribbean. Seaweeds form the base of the food chain in coral reefs, from which the rest of biodiversity depends. “When we add everything together – the species of new fish, the dozen new species of algae – that means during the time we were there we discovered a new species every day. That’s pretty exciting,” said Dr Smith.

The Best of Both (Underwater) Worlds

Saba faces the Caribbean Sea on one coast and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. On a small island, the influence of both gives Saba a fantastic variety of marine life. The Caribbean is well known for its diversity of marine life – huge sponges, colourful reefs, tropical fish and creatures. The Atlantic, another type of habitat, is home to much larger, ocean roaming creatures. Saba is close to St. Martin, and both islands are known for the “bigger stuff”, rarely seen elsewhere, like sharks, rays and huge shivers of hammerheads!

Recent sightings in Saban waters include : blue tangs, big eyes, flying gurnards, batfish, sand tile fish, jawfish, long-lured frogfish, orange seahorse, manta rays, spotted eagle rays, sergeant major fish, spotted drum, french grunt, blue-striped grunts, Southern stingrays, octopus, groupers, snappers, barracuda, and jacks. There are a variety of sharks, hammerheads, white tips, Caribbean reef sharks, black tips, reef and bull sharks regularly cruise the ocean around Saba. The sea grass on the edges of the reef provides nourishment for Saba’s sea turtle population. Large barrel and drooping sponges and yellow cup corals are a colourful backdrop while sergeant majors, queen angelfish, french angelfish, black margates, frogfish and dog snappers swim past. Huge boulders and rock formations provide a sheltered starter-home for the young of various species.

The Reef

Lava tunnels and hot springs are evidence of the dramatic birth of the island as a volcano. The small leeward side of the island has wonderful rolling spur and groove lava formations in shallow water – yet another habitat full of marine life, particularly colourful “reef” creatures, sponges and fans. Snorkellers will be able to see many species of marine life ñ due to the clear water and relatively shallow depth of many of these features. Saba’s underwater cliffs and pinnacles are a spectacular underwater scene. The famous Saba pinnacles are the peaks of huge underwater mountains that rise dramatically from the depths of the ocean to within 20 metres of the surface. Large sea fans and huge, colourful sponges make the pinnacles a fantastic sight. The most famous is The Eye of the Needle, close to the Third Encounter site. Powerfully impressive as natural wonders in themselves but, with the other lava formations, they provide a varied and healthy range of habitats for a large diversity of marine life. The pinnacles are a favourite of larger fish and ocean roaming species.

The Atlantic coast is more dependent on weather conditions although currents are rare. Most of Saba’s underwater features are volcanic coral encrusted boulders but Greer Gut and Giles Quarter Deep Reef are true coral reefs. The white sand ocean floor gives them a very distinctive look and the marine species here are different from other sites around the island. This coast has many large hard coral formations: elkhorn forests, large plate and mushroom shaped star corals and brain corals.

Some Favourite Snorkelling Sites

On Saba the ocean and island conditions are quiet, easy and relaxed – no queues or crowds here. Saba has no permanent beaches, consequently snorkelling is from boats. The 30 dive sites are close to shore, the farthest is no more than a 20 minute boat ride away, and the dive centres have excellent boats. Apart from the sites in deeper water or those with more challenging ocean conditions, most are suitable for snorkellers. It’s a very small island so you won’t be more than a few minutes to the boat dock. The boats take small groups each morning so it’s an easy schedule and relaxed snorkelling experience. Boat dives need to be planned and it is best to book. There are special snorkelling trips and the boats will always stay with you. Click the diving or nature:underwater links for more information. In the diving section there is a map with a description of Saba’s superb dive sites – the best snorkelling sites are indicated.

Man O’ War Shoals and Diamond Rock are classified as pinnacles with sandy bottoms between 20m and 25m. There are many nooks and crannies that are home to every imaginable species. Schools of blue tangs, big eyes and juvenile barracuda patrol these areas. The dark volcanic sand around these sites is home to species like flying gurnards, batfish, hard working sand tile fish and jawfish. These sites are excellent examples of the healthy reefs and thriving marine life around this special island.

Ladder Bay. The sites here are called Custom House, Porites Point, Babylon, Ladder Labyrinth and Hot Springs. Volcanic lava flow has formed a natural maze of spur and groove formations. Nurse sharks, turtles, white spotted filefish and tarpon are common here. The sea grass on the edges of the reef provides nourishment for Saba’s sea turtle population, and you may see spotted eagle rays and seahorses.

Tent Bay – on the sandy top of the reef you will see hundreds of garden eels, razor fish and southern stingrays. Colourful molluscs, large barrel and drooping sponges and yellow cup corals. Octopuses are a common sight here.
Well’s Bay and Torrens Point are the most sheltered area of the coast – excellent snorkelling. A series of patch reefs, dotted with huge boulders, provide a sheltered area for the young of various species. You’ll see moray eels, sharp-tail eels, gold spotted eels and the less common spotted snake eel that hides in the sand.

The Ocean

The ocean around the island is warm and clear, 26ºc to 28ºc most of the year and the visibility is around 30 metres. This crystal clear water allows snorkellers a great view of the spectacular underwater life, marine life you probably won’t see anywhere else in the world. Snorkelling is rarely disrupted by the weather. The weather is almost always warm and sunny – the air temperature ranges from 26ºc to 30ºc with a cooling breeze – very comfortable for Europeans. Our main advice to snorkellers is to wear a T shirt – and don’t forget to breathe ! When you see the ocean around Saba it will take your breath away.

Saba Marine Park

Saba Marine Park (“SMP”) was established in 1987 – which introduced strict regulations for the conservation of the environment – based on the Bonaire Marine Park model. Saba’s Marine Park has received several awards and remains the only park of its kind in the world to be completely self-sufficient in its operation. The park surrounds the entire island and covers the waters and seabed from the high water mark down to a depth of 60 m, as well as offshore sea mounts. The introduction of strict controls, and the efforts of locals and divers, has managed to protect and preserve the underwater environment. Due to this protection Saba’s reefs are pristine. Annual scientific surveys indicate that fish density, variety and size are increasing and the growing number of shark sightings is clear evidence of this.

We work with the dive centres and hotels on the island. As an ATOL bonded tour operator we can organise the whole itinerary – flights – accommodation diving etc. Due to its “anonymity” and lack of commercial development Saba is an unspoiled gem. If you want to take some boat trips, special courses or excursions, you should book in advance. Boat trips and excursions are in small groups and can get booked up. We can reserve any trips or excursions you might wish to enjoy whilst on Saba. Booking your on-island services with us is a little cheaper and we can include that into your ATOL protected holiday itinerary.

Saba is an unspoiled gem in the eastern Caribbean, covered in dense rain forest, with a pristine, natural beauty. Saba’s beauty extends below the waterline into an exciting marine environment rich in corals and marine life. Saba is a dormant volcano and rises dramatically from the ocean – depths of 300 metres and more within just 750 metres of the shore. The ocean around the island is warm and clear, 26ºC to 28ºC and visibility of 30 metres. An astonishing variety of underwater features plus varying temperatures and depths, provide a large number of different habitats for marine life to thrive. Colourful sponges and coral, small “reef” creatures and some of the larger, ocean-roaming species. Saba has a unique underwater world. Lava tunnels and hot springs are evidence of the dramatic birth of the island as a volcano. The small leeward side of the island has wonderful spur and groove lava formations as well as sheer walls. Saba has sheer underwater cliffs and pinnacles – the peaks of underwater mountains – rising up form the deep to within just 20 metres of the surface – a spectacular underwater scene. Fascinating and powerfully impressive as natural wonders in themselves but, along with the other dramatic lava formations, they provide a varied range of habitats for a healthy and very diverse marine life.

The Best of Both (Underwater) Worlds

Saba faces the Caribbean Sea on one coast and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The Caribbean Sea tends to be warmer water and is well known for the diversity of marine life – small reef dwelling creatures and colourful tropical fish, huge sponges as well as some of natures more fascinating species ñ like octopus and rays. The other side of the island faces the open Atlantic, and is a couple of degrees cooler – but enough to another special habitat. This side of the island has currents which bring nutrients from the open ocean, attracting larger, ocean roaming creatures, some species rarely seen elsewhere. Turtles, sharks and rays and hammerheads !

Recent sightings in Saban waters include : long-lured frogfish, orange seahorse, manta rays, pipe horse web burrfish, spotted eagle ray- sergeant major fish, spotted drum, french grunt, blue-striped grunts, Southern stingrays, octopus, groupers, snappers, barracuda, and jacks. Special mention must be made of the variety of sharks you will find here – Hammerheads, White tips, Caribbean reef sharks, black tips, reef and bull sharks are regularly seen cruising the ocean around Saba. Some lucky divers and snorkellers may get a chance to swim with a humpback whale, manta rays, hammerheads or whale sharks.

The ocean, with its many and varied underwater features, clear water and diverse marine life, gives divers and snorkellers a unique and exciting experience – a chance to see marine life they will not see elsewhere. The conditions here are easy and relaxed, no queues or crowds here – in or out of the water.

BBC NEWS CHANNEL Marine Treasure Found

By Rebecca Morelle BBC News science reporter:
An underwater mountain with some of the richest diversity of marine life in the Caribbean has been found by scientists. During a two-week dive researchers discovered scores more species of fish than previously known in the region and vast beds of “seaweed cities”. The find was made in the Saba Bank Atoll, a coral-crowned seamount, 250km south-east of Puerto Rico in the Netherlands Antilles (Dutch Caribbean) . It is ranked as the third largest atoll in the world and has an enormous active reef. Potentially it Saba can be the keystone for protecting biodiversity in the Caribbean. Dr Michael Smith, Conservation International. Scientists chose to explore the area because although it was predicted to have high concentrations of marine life, only a small number of species had been reported. During the dives, the researchers counted a total of 200 species of fish, over 150 more than previously known. Among their find were two new species of fish, both gobies, which have the distinctive feature of fused pelvic fins on the underside of their body which forms a sucker. “Many gobies live in the canals inside sponges, so we take samples out of sponges, and open the canals up to search for the small fish that can be in there,” explained Dr Smith, a scientist on the expedition from Conservation International. “When we did that, we found quite an extraordinary one. It’s still known from a single specimen, and it is so very, very distinctive that it is probably a new genus.” The sighting of vast and luxurious seaweed beds were also astonishing, with at least 12 new species of algae discovered. Dr Mark Littler, a marine botanist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and a diver on the expedition, declared the Saba Bank the richest area for seaweeds in the Caribbean. Seaweeds form the base of the food chain in coral reefs, from which the rest of biodiversity depends. “When we add everything together – the species of new fish, the dozen new species of algae – that means during the time we were there we discovered a new species every day. That’s pretty exciting,” said Dr Smith.

Saba Marine Park

Saba Marine Park (“SMP”) was established in 1987 – which introduced strict regulations for the conservation of the environment – based on the Bonaire Marine Park model. Saba’s Marine Park has received several awards and remains the only park of its kind in the world to be completely self-sufficient in its operation. The park surrounds the entire island and covers the waters and seabed from the high water mark down to a depth of 200 feet, as well as offshore sea mounts. The introduction of strict controls, and the efforts of locals and divers, has managed to protect and preserve the pristine, fragile environment. The design of the park and its zoning was a collaboration between the dive shops, the government and Sabans, including the fishermen and due to this protection Saba’s reefs are pristine. Annual scientific surveys indicate that fish density, variety and size are increasing and the growing number of shark sightings is clear evidence of this.

Pinnacles

Saba’s ocean contains spectacular reefs and walls and the island’s pinnacles – the summits of underwater mountains – are truly breathtaking. Third Encounter, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Shark Shoals rise dramatically from the depths of the ocean to within 20 metres of the surface. Large sea fans and huge, colourful sponges make the pinnacles a fantastic sight. The most famous is The Eye of the Needle, close to Third Encounter.

Man O’ War Shoals and Diamond Rock are also classified as pinnacles but with sandy bottoms between 20m and 25m. Although the larger ocean roaming creatures are not as frequent here there are many nooks and crannies that are home to every imaginable species. Schools of blue tangs, big eyes and juvenile barracuda patrol these areas. The dark volcanic sand around these sites is home to many species like flying gurnards, batfish, hard working sand tile fish and jawfish. These sites are prime examples of the healthy reefs and marine life around this special island. A series of patch reefs around the shoreline are shelter for many juvenile creatures – Morays eels, sharp-tail eels, gold spotted eels and the less common spotted snake eel.

In the ocean around Ladder Bay volcanic lava flow has created a natural labyrinth of spur and groove formations. You can place your hands into the yellow sulphur coloured sand and feel the warmth of the dormant volcano. Nurse sharks, turtles, mated white spotted filefish and even the occasional tarpon are some of the larger animals you may encounter on the leeward coast. The sea grass on the perimeter of the reef provides sustenance for Saba’s healthy sea turtle population, and spotted eagle rays or seahorses.

In the area around Tent Bay, on the sandy top of the reef you will see hundreds of garden eels, razor fish and southern stingrays. Colourful molluscs, large barrel and drooping sponges and yellow cup corals are a wonderfully colourful backdrop while sergeant majors, queen angelfish, french angelfish, black margates, frogfish and dog snappers swim past. Octopuses are a common sight here.
On the Windwardside there are lots of volcanic coral encrusted boulders and coral reefs. The white sand bottoms, and calm water, offer yet another, different habitat to marine life like elkhorn forests, large plate and mushroom shaped star corals, brain corals, frogfish and seasonal juvenile activity.

FLIGHTS

Flights to Saba are with AirFrance/KLM – the only major airline to fly from Europe to the Dutch Caribbean islands. Air France/KLM are one of the best airlines in the world, you can relax and enjoy your well-deserved holiday. AirFrance/KLM gives you a huge choice of departure points in the UK ñ flying from over 15 airports – no long trek to a “central” airport, a shorter journey and far less hassle. It might also be possible to avoid airport parking fees if departing from an airport closer to home. The service on board KLM is excellent – meals and drinks are free of charge – luggage allowances are higher and seats are more spacious than the usual “holiday” charter flights.

Flights to St. Martin / Sint Maarten are via Paris (Charles de Gaulle) – the flight from the UK to Paris takes around one hour. There are several connecting flights each day from 15 UK airports. The check-in time in the UK is just one hour – and the transfer is quick and easy. The combination of a short check-in and a local UK airport will mean that you save a lot of time and hassle starting your journey. It may seem counter-intuitive – but the route via Paris is usually quicker than if there were a “direct” flight to the Dutch Caribbean.

The flight to Saba from St. Martin is a very short island hop with a Caribbean airline – Winair. There are around 4 flights per day – both ways – and we will naturally take the most convenient connection for you. The flight is less than 15 minutes between St. Martin and Saba.

BOOK WITH US

We know how the flights work and it is our job

We always check the days around your preferred departure dates AND the various routes – to make absolutely sure we get the best price, schedule and route. Companies that lack that specialised knowledge – and automatic booking machines online – are unable to match that level of care and attention to your holiday.
It is important to know which days of the week you can travel – as we will always look for the best fare and schedule for you – and give you the best options for you to decide.

Any payment you make for a flight inclusive holiday is safeguarded by our ATOL bond issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL licence is an important guarantee for your peace of mind. We are also bound by European consumer protection laws – which protect consumers against misleading advertising and information.

Travel websites, comparison sites and accommodation suppliers, in the UK or the Caribbean, without an ATOL licence have no such guarantee and are not allowed to sell flights in the UK. Websites / suppliers based outside the UK are not bound by UK law.
Two very important reasons for buying from a UK based company with an ATOL licence.

Booking with us is easier – cheaper – safer

OPTIONS ON FLIGHTS

One of the big attractions of “our” islands is that they are not over-developed as tourist destinations. That means a limited number of flights and availability can be tight. These are scheduled flights, not charter, flights. As with all scheduled flights the fare depends on availability. For this reason we always take options on flights as soon as possible. Taking flight options involves no obligation or payment from you. Taking options fixes the fare for you. After taking flight options you are able to consider our holiday proposal in your own time. We know of no other company that can offer you such a service. If you do not travel with us this time we will cancel them (if notified) or the options will automatically cancel. No obligation and no penalty. there is no downside – this is a “win-win” for customers – taking all the time pressure off the important decision making process. You do not have to buy flight tickets now – and hope your plans do not change. Now you can spend time thinking about what you want in your holiday – and not worrying about flight fares increasing every time you look ! You have the added reassurance that the schedule and itinerary can still be revised if your plans change.

Booking Websites Can’t Do The Job

The flight market is now so competitive – and often deliberately confused by website booking machines that offer no service, discussion, advice or accuracy. Often offering unworkable schedules whilst offering unrealistic prices. Only when you get to the “payment page” do you get the flight schedule and the final price. Many websites offer a cheap headline fare (without luggage) – but hide the awful flight schedule and demand immediate payment. Even the major airlines play this game.

  •  You can chat with us about the best dates, schedules, fares.
  • We can take flight options – to give you time to think.
  • We will always quote the correct price on the first page.
  • No matter where you book flights to “our” islands – we can do better for you

To take flight options we need the full names of passengers as per their passports.

If you prefer not to give us names, we will send a detailed holiday itinerary and quote of course, but without flight options, the fare might rise. Taking options involves no obligation or payment – until you are completely happy with our holiday proposal and decide to proceed. By taking options early, we have the best fare and we have fixed the fare – it cannot go up. If the fare goes down – it happens from time to time – we re-book and get you the lower fare. Other travel companies are unable to quote for a holiday “including flights” or give you 48 hours to decide ! Booking flights online and with some travel companies, requires an immediate payment. Often with no changes or refunds allowed. Takes some of the fun out of booking a holiday, doesn’t it ?
No matter how or where you book – we have the terms and best fares !

Taxes and Surcharges

We include all taxes and surcharges in our price quotes. Beware of travel companies that do not include all taxes and surcharge. Taxes, fuel surcharge and the new Air Passenger Duty now total more than 50% of the flight ticket price. Some travel companies still quote price without taxes etc., or without the air fare included – a nasty shock when you receive the final holiday invoice. Please be sure to compare prices – like for like – with all taxes included.

Flights at Christmas . . .

. . . . are very busy – people flying home for Christmas (to and from the islands). The islands are never crowded but the flights are very busy and fares are at a premium. If you are considering a holiday in the Dutch Caribbean at Christmas, please ask us as early as possible to take flight options for you. We can do this February 1st onwards for the following Christmas.

ARRANGED STOP OVERS

overnight in Amsterdam

If your flight to the Caribbean leaves early morning, or you usually stay in a hotel close to an airport in this country, you might like to consider “breaking” the journey, by staying overnight in Amsterdam. You can fly from the UK in the evening, stay overnight, get a good night’s sleep and continue the journey the following morning. We have a contract with the four-star Hotel Schiphol, with a free shuttle to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (10 minutes). The airport has a train station. It is a 20 minute journey to Amsterdam city centre. It may be possible for you to enjoy some time in Amsterdam.

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You will need to zoom in - there's lots to see! Double click or use your mouse to zoom in. Click the Fun Travel logo to open a text box with brief details. Click the text box to open a new page with more information.

You will need to zoom in - there's lots to see! Double click or use your mouse to zoom in. Click the Fun Travel logo to open a text box with brief details. Click the text box to open a new page with more information.

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We send out an occasional newsletter - approximately four each year - with offers and news about our holidays in the Dutch Caribbean. This newsletter is sent without obligation of course.

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Our brochure is packed with useful information that we have personally gathered during our regular visits to the islands. It is not full of brochure-speak. It contains lots of useful and practical information to help you make informed choices. It also answers lots of those questions people feel are minor - but are very important if you are to enjoy your well earned holiday to the full.

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