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Saba guide

Saba national flag

Saba at a glance

SABA rises out of the sea like a shark's fin, steep and mountainous Saba is a gorgeous, tranquil volcanic island that primarily appeals to divers, hikers and escapists. Its heritage is Dutch with a twist of pirate, and the population is a mere 1,600 souls. There is just one main road, only a handful of small hotels, no beaches, few tourist sights and the shops and restaurants are unexceptional. Travellers who make it here, at times braving hair-raising flights or choppy seas, are rewarded with beautiful scenery, underwater delights and a sense that they have discovered an enchanting, if untypical, corner of the Caribbean.

Read about Saba history, population and politics in Island Essentials.

The Definitive Saba Island Guide gives you independent reviews, listings, and information from top travel journalists and Caribbean specialists.

Best for:
Escapists, artists, nature-lovers, collectors of small and remote islands
What for:
Scuba Diving, Hiking and Walking, Eco/Nature
Not for:
All-inclusive, Cruises, Beaches, Golf
How to get there:
Via St Martin/St Maarten
Top tip:
Combine with time on St Maarten or St Martin and explore the French Caribbean

Saba in depth

By Nigel Tisdall

About SABA...

Saba is an enigmatic island that captures the imagination of many travellers passing through the Leeward Islands. What is that great, dark triangle rising up on the horizon?

And how do you say its name? The answer is as you please, for it is acceptable to call the island both Say-ba (as in “sabre”), and Sar-ba (as in “harbour”) - the latter pronounciation being more commonly used by Dutch speakers.

Life here could hardly be more different from that on hedonistic, beach-fringed St Martin/St Maarten, which all visitors must pass through in order to reach this wild and  and vertiginious rock. A steeply sloping dormant volcano, Saba's highest point is the aptly-named, cloud forest-wrapped Mount Scenery (2,877 ft, 877m). Climbing it is just one of many exhilarating hikes that can be done on well-maintained trails that wind across the island. Jump in the sea from a dive boat, and the thrills continue as you discover the pinnacles, walls, reefs and legions of tremendous fish that characterise the Saba National Marine Park, which extends right around this roughly circular island covering just five square miles (13 sq km).

Around half of Saba's visitors come on day-trips, but the island merits at least three or four days, particularly if you plan to hike and/or dive. The Sabans are welcoming and helpful, and for much of the year their numbers are enlivened by the prescence of several hundred students attending an American medical university. English is the main language and the US dollar the currency, with only a few flags and uniformed personnel serving as a reminder that you are now in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The hotel and restaurant scene is nothing special, while the shopping, tourist attractions and nightlife are extremely low-key. But that is not what Saba is about: this is an island where nature provides the party atmosphere with its bright flora, lush rainforest, magnificent views and flamboyant underwater life. Here the name of each town is still proclaimed on a hand-painted wooden sign decorated with flowers, and islanders continue to live in pretty white wooden cottages bordered with stone-walled gardens and a small cemetery for their forefathers. Saba may be a world away from the usual whirl of rum punches, reggae and jet-skis - but it is still very much, and delightfully so, the Caribbean.

 

The Definitive Guide to Saba island contains independent reviews covering everything you need to know about Saba, its accommodation, things to do, places to seegetting around, how to get there and links for travel to Saba. 

Picture editor, Holly Cocker. Senior Picture Editor, Alexander Gray. 

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Saba weather

Saba weather chart

When to go and weather

Looking for inspiration?

  1. Dine at Queen's Gardens in The Bottom
  2. Climb Mount Scenery, the highest point in the Netherlands
  3. Wonder at The Pinnacles dive sites
  4. Drive “The Impossible Road” from the airport to Fort Bay
  5. Try to win Sabaoke at Scout’s Place

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