The island of Saba is a tiny spot of emerald in the Caribbean sea and, while it is often overlooked by sun-loving tourists, it’s a haven for food enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and sea-loving explorers. Here are some of the best activities on Saba’s mountainous terrain and in its clear ocean depths.
There’s a reason that divers flock to Saba’s crystal-clear waters. There’s a site for everyone— novices will enjoy exploring the shallow patch reefs and sea sponge dotted walls surrounding the island, while seasoned divers can explore the depths of Saba’s underwater seamounts and hot springs. The island’s strict adherence to protecting fragile marine life and encouraging biodiversity make its waters particularly rewarding dive sites — you’ll spot everything from coral reefs, unique fish, and pelagic creatures to sponges, sea turtles, sharks, and rays. The water temperatures of Saba range between a balmy 77 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (26 to 28 degrees Celsius), and water visibility is consistently near-perfect. Note that divers may only explore Saba’s depths with licensed dive crews. You can choose from Sea Saba, Saba Divers, or Saba Deep.
While the absence of permanent beaches in Saba may lead some to believe that snorkeling isn’t an option, this definitely isn’t the case. The island offers a host of shallow snorkel zones where visitors will be able to spot stunning corals, angel fish, hawksbill and green turtles, parrotfish, moray eels, and eagle rays. For the best water conditions and views, head to Cove Bay, Fort Bay, or Wells Bay. Advanced swimmers and snorkelers may also want to explore Torrents Point. You’ll have to book an expedition with one of the local dive shops mentioned above, as the island’s many snorkel points lay beyond the reach of most swimmers.
For a unique exploration experience, head to Flat Point. Home to Saba’s stunning tide pools, this site was formed in the wake of the island’s ancient lava flow. But be sure and check with a local or tour guide ahead of time — these tide pools are actually “splash” pools that appear and disappear according to the time of day and height of the tide. Scramble over volcanic rock formations to these crystal-clear rock pools filled with brightly colored plants (including sea urchins and sea flora) and tiny ocean animals. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, though. The scramble over the craggy rocks is no easy feat in flimsy flip flops!
If you like to swim, you may want to coordinate your visit with the appearance of Saba’s only beach. That’s right; Wells Bay is the only real beach on Saba, as it’s a strip of volcanic sand that’s completely at the mercy of the tide. And, it only appears once every year. When it is around, this stretch of beach serves as an ideal swimming and snorkeling location. If you visit in late spring, just before the start of the summer months, you may catch this special phenomenon in time to take a dip!
Saba is an irregularity to most island-goers — after all, it’s a large, green outcropping in the middle of the sea. Perhaps that’s what makes it so appealing to hikers and overland explorers, as well as divers and snorkelers. The island boasts a number of stunning hikes, from the scenic seaside stroll to Flat Point’s tide pools, to the strenuous trek up Saba’s Mount Scenery. While all trails are well-marked, embarking on a guided expedition is your best bet, especially if that guide happens to be Saba’s own Crocodile James, a charismatic adventurer whose deep ancestral ties (he’s an eighth-generation Saban) to the island have made him an expert on the land’s history, ecology, and indigenous plant life.
Saba is a tiny island with a vast history — to learn more about its settlement, head to the island’s Heritage Center, located in Windwardside. The center is home to artifacts from each period of Saba’s history, including archaeological findings from Amerindian settlements dating back to 1,800 to 500 B.C., and possibly beyond. The center is also home to findings from post-Dutch occupation that show visitors how different cultures coexisted on the island and how international early life on the island really was. Examples include an excavated snuff pipe made from manatee bone that scientists believe originated in Puerto Rico, as well as centuries-old fragments of porcelain dishware from China.
Tour the Island
Hitch a ride or lace up your sneakers and explore the island via car or by foot. Traversing the island’s road — which many claimed could “never be built,” is the perfect way to familiarize yourself with Saba’s scenic peaks, villages, and valleys — just don’t forget your camera! Wind your way through the narrow streets of Windwardside to explore the various old churches, tiny museums, local craft shops, and fine island dining options. If you tire during your exploration, be sure to recharge with drinks by the pool at Tropics Cafe, or if you’re lucky, at Scout’s Place for Friday night karaoke!