Destination Review: Saba Diving
Why We Think This Place Kicks Butt! (aka-Why Do We Go Here?)
The Caribbean is overrun with condo developments and 3000 passenger cruise ships. If that’s your thing, that’s cool; but it’s not ours. Having lived all over the Caribbean for the better part of a decade, we’re about old school. Saba, is an island of NO traffic, cruise ships, shopping malls or crime. AND it has excellent, uncrowded diving. Saba’s vibe comes from its laid back atmosphere, population of just 1500 people (ALL of whom know each other!), and big scenery.
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Interested in traveling to Saba? We are here to help by sharing our global expertise. Create your own personalized diving adventure by requesting a risk free quote. It’s easy and there’s no obligation. Or, if you already know what you want, you can make a reservation.
Or, join us on a Guided Diving Adventure.
This is our annual Turkey Day in the Tropics the perfect way to have a fun week with friends. We’ll spend the mornings diving, including some great pinnacles. In the afternoon there are miles of hiking trails and good birding. Its fun to explore around the island or just kick back. We like boutique and we’ll chill out at a small, luxury boutique resort, Queen’s Garden Resort. It sits above the town of The Bottom at 1200 feet of elevation with views to match. All rooms look over the hillside to the sea as you sit in your private Jacuzzi by candlelight. Saba, being a volcanic island rising straight out of the sea, does not have a beach but the resort has a pool with views. Yoga and spa services are also available. We offer a complimentary nitrox certification because you’ll definitely want to use it here and we’ll be doing in depth multimedia talks on the marine life so you know exactly what to look for. Digital u/w photo instruction and shared DSLR use included! Ditto for digital video! And Saba is fantastic for underwater digital photography.
Details You Want To Know.
- DATES: November 20-27, 2010 WAIT LISTED
- PACKAGE PRICE: 2695.00 diver deluxe suite, 3195.00 diver superior Jacuzzi suite, 2395.00 snorkeler/non-diver deluxe, 2895.00 snorkeler/non-diver superior; p/p double occupancy.
- **** The first 3 people to deposit this trip for Superior accommodations will receive free upgrades to Royal Suites a $1000 value****
- INCLUDED: 7 nights accommodations at Queen’s Gardens Resort, BL for seven days, 5 dinners, 12 dives including one night dive, group diving and airport transfers, use of underwater digital camera and video, services of expedition leaders including any specialty courses taught and nitrox certification, slide shows and some other fun stuff on the island.
- NOT INCLUDED: Air transportation/ferry service, travel insurance, dive insurance, alcoholic beverages, items of a personal nature, departure tax where applicable, excess baggage fees, SCUBA or snorkel equipment, marine park fees, dive staff gratuities, on-island taxi fare to and from town.
- ARRIVAL AIRPORT: St. Maarten (SXM), and then there’s a ferry or puddle jumper to get to Saba.
Getting there in two easy steps:
- Fly to St. Maarten
- Fly or ferry to Saba
Getting to St. Maarten
To get to Saba your final destination airport is St. Maarten (SXM) if you plan to take the 2 hour ferry or to Saba (SAB) via St. Maarten if you plan to fly.
St. Maarten is quite easy to get to and there are daily flights from most major USA airports, connecting to non-stop flights via Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Newark, Charlotte, JFK and San Juan.
Airlines servicing St. Maarten include American, Delta, US Air, Spirit, Jet Blue, Continental, United, KLM and Air France.
From St. Maarten, you have two options to get to Saba.
- Fly. You can take a quick 12 minute flight on Winair (WM). There are five flights daily from St. Maarten. http://www.fly-winair.com. You will have luggage restrictions and and a very short runway to land on at Saba. Quite a twelve minute thrill!Jauncho Yrausquin Airport, at Flat Point on Saba, boasts one of the world’s shortest commercial runways at around 1300 feet (400 meters). One of the highlights of your Saban adventure is sure to be the hair-raising landing and takeoff aboard the Dehavilland Twin Otter STOL aircraft that provide air service to Saba. Not to worry though… Saba and Winair are celebrating nearly 50 years of accident-free flight service to Saba’s Airport, says Lynn of Sea Saba.
- Ferry. There are two ferries available for a cost of around $100 round trip. The Edge leaves early in the mornings Wed.- Sun (From Simpson Bay/Pelican Marina) so it will require an overnight in St. Maarten. The Dawn II (Tues, Thurs, Sat.) leaves from Great Bay Marina (Chesterfield’s) at 5:00pm and is about a $20 cab fare from the airport. There may be some luggage restriction on The Edge but I found no restrictions on the Dawn II (a cargo vessel).The ferry takes approximately two hours and is often a rough crossing but grab yourself a couple of Carib beers and enjoy the fresh air!
All transport info available from the saba tourism website at:
Saba is not a big island and with a population of just 1500 people, it doesn’t support many dive businesses. There are no regular live aboards that ply the waters so dive sites are uncrowded and healthy.
There are currently three dive operators, Saba Deep, Saba Divers and Sea Saba. Saba Divers is associated with Scout’s Place Hotel which is a more backpacky type place and we have not dived with them. They appear to cater more to a European crowd as the owners are German. Saba Deep has been bought by Tony and Cheri Waterfield and they are working hard to bring this dive center to its full potential. I enjoyed diving with them.
Our operator of choice is Sea Saba. Lynn and John have been operating this dive center for over 20 years. Lynn is truly the island leader in making Saba diving what it is today through her innovative conservation initiatives and smart business sense. The program Lynn founded, Sea & Learn, bringing renowned naturalists, scientists and academics to the island, has blossomed into an unprecedented event each October. The center originally came recommended through a friend and we have not been disappointed.
Sea Saba has two locations so to speak. They have a beautiful dive shop in Windwardside with a large selection of gear, gadgets and island wear. Lynn efficiently organizes your diving, your pick ups to the boat and will give you the schedule of nightly specials at all the restaurants. If there is anything you need or need to know about the island, Lynn has it all organized before you even ask! Sea Saba is also recognized as a National Geographic Dive Center and PADI 5 Star Dive Resort.
Down at the harbor, all three dive centers have a presence. It’s where all the boats are located, and the inner workings happen. It’s the sound of compressors and clanking tanks and the beautiful smell of neoprene! Only Saba Deep has a restaurant down at the harbor but everyone is welcome to come for lunch. All three shops are basically next to each other.
Sea Saba operates two 40 foot boats, the Giant Stride and the Sea Dragon. Each boat is customized for diving and rated for 20 divers but they limit the number to only 10. They are well suited to the dive conditions of the island.
The boats are convenient to dive from, easy on and off, plenty of space for dry storage, shade when you want it and seating available on the flying bridge.
Safety and the Environment
The boats have all required safety equipment and are maintained well with the environment in mind. Saba is a marine park with strict regulations. Dive operators know that taking care of their marine environment will not only protect the ocean but their livelihoods as well.
The Dive Operation
Sea Saba runs an efficient and safe operation, allowing for customization and flexibility for groups all in a fun environment. Divemasters give complete briefings and are knowledgeable about water and weather conditions.
A taxi picks you up from your hotel and brings you to the waterfront where the dive staff has the boat ready. They maintain a more relaxed dive departure time of around 9:00 each morning instead of militaristic adherence to the crack of dawn. Depending on your dive style you can really appreciate the more leisurely morning start time.
Climb on board the boat and head out. It’s never more than 15-20 minutes to any dive site and within a short time you are ready to get wet.
Quite often the dive boats will return in between the two morning dives in case some divers only want a one tank dive. With short runs to the dive sites this is a nice option.
Overall, we are quite happy working with Lynn at Sea Saba. They provide our guests with a fun, safe and easy dive vacation.