Saba – the 'Unspoiled Queen'
Dubbed the 'Unspoiled Queen', Saba (pronounced SAY-ba) has very little
tourism - only about 25,000 visitors a year. Saba is both the smallest
and tallest (rising up to nearly 3,000 feet) of the Netherlands Antilles.
The top of the mountain is crowned by an exotic and protected national
park accessible up a legendary staircase encompassing 1,064 steps. The
island isn't a typical Caribbean powdered-sugar beach destination -
in fact, it has hardly any beaches at all due to the volcanic sides
that rise sharply from the waters edge. Ruggedly steep,
Saba is known
for its stunning hiking trails, pristine diving, day spas and awesome
eco-lodges. Saba’s spectacular coral formations, lava tunnels
and structural diversity stem from its volcanic origins. From shallow
patch reefs to deep water seamounts, Saba offers interesting diving
at each depth and for every diver's experience level.
Winter temperatures from January to April 1 average 69°F to 83°F
(21°C-28°C). The rest of the year, temperatures range from 70°F
to 88°F (21°C-31°C). The average monthly temperature is
27°C (80°F), with few degrees difference between summer (June
to August) and winter (December to February). Easterly trade winds and
the mountain create ever changing cloud movements. Because of the difference
in elevation, temperatures are a bit cooler in Windwardside than in
The Bottom and winter evenings often require a light sweater.
Diving in Saba
Saba’s famous pinnacles and seamounts rise dramatically from
the depths to within 85 feet of the surface. It’s common to encounter
schools of tropical fish, jacks, groupers or even members of Saba's
robust shark population. White tips, black tips, reef and bull sharks
are regularly observed cruising these waters. Lucky divers may get to
swim with a humpback whale, manta ray, hammerhead or whale shark. The
small leeward side of the island hosts gentle, medium depth, spur and
groove formations. In 1987, a marine park was established with permanent
moorings, regulations of use and maintenance and a strong conservation
attitude. Saba offers year-round diving with seasonal differences in
water temperature and surface conditions. Winter months bring cooler
water temperatures ranging from 77° to 80° Fahrenheit, whereas
summer months yield a toasty 80° to 85 Fahrenheit.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Valid passport is strongly recommended, but tourists may enter with proof
of citizenship such as a certified birth certificate (with raised seal),
naturalization certificate and photo ID. Other required items include
a return ticket, confirmation of hotel reservation, and another form of
picture ID required..
No vaccines are required to enter Saba. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at
Culture and Customs
Saba celebrates a Carnival & Saba Summer Festival, which is held
in the 3rd week in July.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Saba uses 110-volt AC (60 cycles), so most U.S.made appliances don't
need adapters. The country code is 599 and direct dial service is available. Internet service is available at most hotels.
The water on Saba is generally safe to drink.
Language & Currency
The official language on Saba is Dutch, but English is widely spoken. As of January 1, 2011, the US Dollar will become the official currency in Saba. For cash only payments, guilder banknotes will be accepted until February 1, 2011, after which the guilder will no longer be legal tender on Saba. Traveler's checks and credit cards are widely accepted. Check the currency rate
History, Art, and Culture
Because of the island's rugged terrain, settling was difficult and left
for the hardy and the adventurous. Having been under English, French,
Spanish and Dutch rule for many years, peace came with the Dutch Crown
in 1816. The cultures of the variety of settlers are now uniquely blended
into a hard-working people. The island’s history of farming, fishing
and seamanship accounts for the people’s keen knowledge of their
island’s nature. Many locals are well traveled and well educated;
conversations are easy and interesting. The Saba museums house many artifacts
and photographs which tell the stories of settling this remote island
with its dramatic landscape. Read more about the history of Saba here.
Location and Size
Saba is southwest of St. Maarten and a few miles north of St. Kitts, at the top arc of the sweep of Caribbean islands. Tiny Saba is often called “The Rock” because it barely covers 5 square miles.