Diving Saba Island

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Saba Island, Dutch Caribbean

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Country: Dutch Caribbean  Area: Dutch Caribbean

Water Temp: 24 - 29°C (75 - 84°F)

Visibility: 20 - 60m (66 - 197 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

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Saba is a tiny volcanic island in the Caribbean that offers unspoilt diving opportunities with virtually no crowds. This 13 square kilometer island is officially part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – though English is the primary language – and has a total population of less than 2000 people. It has earned itself the name of the “Unspoiled Queen” of the Caribbean, given that it hosts only 25,000 tourists a year.

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All mooring dive sites, spectacular underwater mountains, called the pinnacles, hot springs of volcanic origin and an unspoiled underwater world. Hard and soft corals, sponges, rock formations, tunnels, lava slopes, drop off and more are only a few features of Saba’s pristine underwater world.

The low number of tourists and the volcanic pinnacles off of Saba are the largest draw to the island . Though, the reef sharks, Nurse sharks, turtles, barracudas, rock and volcanic formations, hard and soft corals and drop offs are quite popular as well.

Saba underwater, Credit

Dive sites are from shallow dives close to the island (about 5 meters) down to 40 meters on most sides. Hot springs and lava formations, coral-encrusted boulders and swim through, spectacular pinnacles and an overall amazing diving.

Recent ecological surveys in Saba have recorded over 150 species of fish, all with thriving populations. Nassau Grouper are seen on virtually every dive, with Horse-eye Jacks, Great Barracuda, Wahoo, Tarpon and five species of shark common as well. There are often also large schools of Wrasses, Blue Tangs, Chromis and Surgeonfish. As you move into sandier areas, there is a predominance of Lizardfish, Sand Divers, Flying Gurnards and Garden Eels. Green and Hawksbill Turtles also thrive in these waters. Lucky divers will have the opportunity to swim with Hammerhead and Whale Sharks, as well as manta and Spotted Eagle Rays.

Saba Turtle,Credit

Climate

The climate in Saba is typical of a Caribbean island.

Saba offers year round diving, with water temperatures varying between 26C and 28C. Visibility typically ranges from a minimum of 20m and beyond. Occasional swells and rainfall may temporarily reduce the visibility, but it is restored quickly.

There are no monsoons in Saba, however the hurricane season lasts from mid-August to the end of October. High season then begins in November and runs until the end of March. Low season follows. 

Barrel Sponge,Credit

Marine Conservation

The waters surrounding Saba were protected in 1987 when the Saba National Marine Park was formed. All dive sites within the park are moored, and there is absolutely no anchoring. Fishing is very controlled throughout these waters as well. The park has been the recipient of numerous awards, and is today the only park of its kind that is entirely self-sufficient.

The extensive conservation efforts and minimal human impact have led to a very healthy reef. Ecological surveys record over 150 marine species, all of which have healthy population numbers. There is a large population of Nassau Grouper, which are seen on virtually every dive.

More corals ,Credit

The Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) leads most of the conservation initiatives on the island today. By coupling education, scientific research, monitoring and enforcement, this non-profit has had significant accomplishments since opening in 1987.

 

Information & photos kindly provided by: Saba Divers & Scout's Place

 
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Shore Diving

There is no diving from shore on Saba due to its volcanic character

Take the plunge! Credit

Boat Diving

All three dive centres offer boat diving to the four major geographic regions around the island.  

The Pinnacles (5 dive sites) are among the biggest draws to the region, with these volcanic structures rising over 30m from the sea floor. Shark encounters are common here, with Black-tip and grey reef sharks frequently swimming beside Nurse sharks. The Eye of the Needle Pinnacle is the most spectacular.

Large spires form a protected cove for shallow divers between Wells Bay and Torrens Point (3 dive sites). There are numerous caves and tunnels that divers and snorkelers can explore. Blue Tangs, Goatfish and Parrot fish are plentiful in this region. Sting rays often over around the sandy bottom near Man O War Shoals and Diamond Rock. All the walls and rocks are covered with colourful sponges, coral and Sea fans.

Corals & sea plants, Credit

The Ladder Bay Area (5 dive sites) allows you to dive along the steps that Sabans initially used to reach the island. Here, there is a natural labyrinth created by the flow of lava.

The Tent Reef Area (4 dive sites) is an extended rock ledge that begins at 4m, going deeper as you swim northwest. The ledge eventually turns into a sheer wall with coral outcroppings and various sponges. This is a favourite site for night dives, given the prevalence of octopus, sleeping turtles and Spiny lobsters.

East Side Diving (8 sites) is conditional on good weather conditions. When clear, the visibility here is incredible, and reveals fantastic views of coral encrusted boulders, and a variety of soft corals.

Tent Reef, Saba, Credit

Liveaboard Diving

Some liveaboard operators will include dive spots around Saba in a broader tour of the Caribbean, which often includes the Bahamas, St. Maarten, St Kitts. Most of the Liveaboards depart from St. Marteen or St. Kitts.

Colorful Saba reef,Credit

        All three dive centres offer boat diving. Reef sharks, Nurse sharks, turtles, barracudas, rock and volcanic formations, lots of hard and soft corals, drop offs and the pinnacles.

Dive sites are from shallow dives close to the island (about 5 meters) down to 40 meters on most sides. Hot springs and lava formations, boulders and swim through, spectacular pinnacles and an overall amazing diving.

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How to Get There

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport connects the island to the nearby islands of St. Marteen and Sint Eustatius. The flight to St. Maarten takes only 12 minutes. There is also a ferry service that connects Saba with St. Marteen roughly three times weekly. Alternatively, divers often visit Saba as part of a Liveaboard tour traveling through the Caribbean.

Beautiful! Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

There are very good small bars and restaurants on the island. Scout’s Place Bar & Restaurant is quite famous and popular with great terraces and reasonable priced food. Located in the tiny village of Windwardside.

Moreover: Eden, Brigadoon, Swinging Doors, Guido’s nightclub, Queen’s Garden, Bistro del Mar, Deep End etc.

Fish & Chips with Curry Breading, Credit

There are very good small bars and restaurants on the island. Scout’s Place Bar & Restaurant is quite famous and popular with great terraces and reasonable priced food, and is located in the tiny village of Windwardside.

While the island and towns are small, other local favourites include Eden, Brigadoon, Swinging Doors, Guido’s nightclub, Queen’s Garden, Bistro del Mar, and Deep End.

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Other Activities

Saba is famous to be the home of Holland’s highest mountain (877m), the volcano Mount Scenery, which visitors can hike during a non-diving day. The hike itself will carry you through the rainforest into a cloud forested peak. The upper forest is refered to as the Elfin Forest, given its mossy landscapes and misty coverage. There are 15 spectacular hiking trails covering the mountain and its surroundings.

Sign going to Mt. Scenery, Credit

Saba also has four villages that all preserve the old Caribbean charm. The Bottom is the capital of Saba, and is home to government buildings and the Saba School of Medicine. Windwardside is well organized for tourism, and sits at the base of the trails departing for Mount Scenery. St. Johns is a tiny and very scenic town on the outskirts of The Bottom, and is well worth a quick visit. Finally, Zion’s Hill – formally called Hell’s Gate – lies just outside the airport and is home to the locally made Saba Lace and Saba Spiced Rum.

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Tips

Contact your hotel or dive operator and ask in advanced for pricing and reservation.

Saba is a very safe island, with no crowds, mosquitoes or crime.

Sabas Nieves ,Credit

The island is home to the Saba University School of Medicine, which was established by Americans in partnership with the Dutch government. The school hosts roughly 300 residents annually, and provides much of the health care for local residents. The Saba Conservation Foundation has operated a hyberbaric chamber for emergencies since 1991.

If visiting during the end of July, be sure to keep an eye out for the Saba Summer Festival, which includes parades, music, food and lots of colour.

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Rating 9/10

AMONG THE BEST DIVES

Saba Island1 Sep 2015 - 17 Feb 2016

Recently I arrived on SABA island, next to St MARTEEN, Carribean....Diving there is amazing, Corals like untouch, rich aquatic Life, it is a marine park, as Saba is a volcano, beautifull underwater rock formation....

For me, SABA is among the 10 best places to Dive on the planet....

Hammerhead Shark occasionnely

hammerhead shark

Benoit Meyer

SABA DIVERS

jon

Joss Leonard

Amazing pic.. did you take it?

I'm not a diver but...

Hi, I'm a fiction writer looking for some info about Saba. What do you do with your boats and ferries during a hurricane? I'm reading there is no dock or pier to tie them down at, except for the dive pier in Fort Bay.

Any information, or to point me in the right direction, would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Sincerely, Heloise West

mediving

Vandra Allison

0 votes

You will probably find that they tie them on bouys out at sea - that way assuming the line stays attached the boat should be ok.

Benoit Meyer

0 votes

You can find a safe place on ST MARTEEN, storage on land....or tie your boat on bouys....but this can be risky in case of violent Wind....I was on St Barth while Lenny passed by, in 1999....most of the lines broke ! We do not want ay hurricane anyway !

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