Saba Island: Off-The-Beaten-Path In The Caribbean

Saba in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean
Saba, Lesser Antilles
While many people head to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Jamaica in the Caribbean, there is one small island named Saba that tends to be overlooked. This tiny Caribbean island measures five square miles and mostly consists of the Mount Scenery volcano. Meanwhile, at 2,910 feet, this is the highest point in the entire Netherlands Antilles.

View from Mount Scenery
View of Windwardside from Mount Scenery
Moreover, the island lies southeast of the Virgin Islands and with Bonaire and Sint Eustatius forms the BES islands. With its small population, Saba is the smallest territory by permanent population in the Americas. To add to its uniqueness, the island also has the shortest runway in the world (pictured below).

Saba airport
Saba Airport
With all these firsts, why is Saba not on the popular list for Caribbean vacations? Let’s have a look at what the island has to offer travelers.

‘The Unspoiled Queen’ of the Caribbean

The island is known as “The Unspoiled Queen” due to the fact that most of the island is undeveloped. Visitors will find no fast food joints here and no big cruise ships head this way. In fact, here travelers will have a truly unspoiled Caribbean experience.

However, for such a tiny island, Saba has a number of towns and settlements, including the capital, The Bottom, Zion’s Hill, Windwardside and St. Johns. The island also has a major attraction for divers in the Saba National Marine Park.

Saba National Marine Park

Among the island’s main attractions, Saba National Marine Park encircles the island. It starts from the high-water mark up to a depth of 200 feet, including the seabed and overlying waters.

Coral reef
Coral reef
While this is one of the few self-sustaining marine parks in the world, it is a major attraction for divers. In fact, a system of permanent mooring buoys has been placed to facilitate diving, while preventing damage to the coral reef. Meanwhile, the Saba National Marine Park raises revenue through donations, visitor fees and souvenir sales. Access to the park is free to local divers, but visitors pay US$3 per dive.

Here, visitors can swim among the coral formations, while surrounded by colorful marine life, sharks, dolphins and sea turtles. Meanwhile, it is also possible to swim around the underwater mountains here that were created by volcanic activity.

Saba National Land Park

Mount Scenery HIking Trail, Saba
Mount Scenery hiking trail
For those who prefer to stay on dry land, Saba National Land Park offers important geological, biological and historical values. Hikers can explore the rich green vegetation, looking out for red-billed tropicbirds and a number of other seabird species. The park formerly belonged to the Sulphur Mining Company and here, visitors will find the abandoned mine.

The land park also features hot springs and various forest areas, including the Elfin Forest Reserve a montane cloud forest on top of Mount Scenery. As pictured above, visitors can follow the hiking trail right to the top. Readers can find more information about the Saba National Land Park on the official website.

Take time out for a vacation in tiny Saba this year and experience a true and unspoiled Caribbean island.

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Anne Sewell

Freelance writer and travel writer who has lived in Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa, now living happily on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.

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