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Saba is an island in the Caribbean and the capital is The Bottom. At the 10th of October 2010, the island of Saba acquired the status of extraordinary municipality of the Netherlands, just like Bonaire and Sint Eustatius. The Netherlands Antilles were dissolved as a separate state and that state as such no longer exists.
Christopher Columbus is said to have sighted Saba on November 13, 1493, but he did not land, being deterred by the island's perilously rocky shores. In 1632 a group of shipwrecked Englishmen landed upon Saba; they stated they found the island uninhabited when they were rescued. However, there has been some evidence found indicating that Carib or Arawak Indians may have been on the island.
In 1635 a stray Frenchman claimed Saba for Louis XIII of France and around the year 1640, the Dutch Governor of the neighboring island of St. Eustatius sent people over to colonize the island for the Dutch West India Company. In 1664, these settlers were evicted to St. Maarten by Thomas Morgan, The Netherlands have been in continuous possession of Saba since 1816 after numerous flag changes (British-Dutch-French) during the previous centuries. Since 2010 the island has a special status as a municipality within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The environment of Saba is mainly composed of woodland forest with ferns and damp soil, and many mango trees. There used to be forests of Mountain Mahogany trees until a hurricane in the 1960s destroyed many of the trees, which are Freziera undulata in the family Theaceae. However, despite the common name, these trees are not related to other Mahogany species. One species of true mahogany tree is found on the island, planted at lower levels, and that is the small-leaved mahogany, Swietenia mahagoni, Meliaceae. The native mahogany trees are considered to be at risk of going extinct on Saba. Visitors refer to Saba's forests as "the Elfin Forest" because of its high altitude mist, and mossy appearance. Since then there has been a woodland reserve created and aptly named "Elfin Forest Reserve". Saba's lush plant and animal wildlife is diverse and is cared for by the Saba Conservation Foundation.
Visit the Saba Park website for more information on the Saba Park and the Saba Marine Park.
For an island of just 13 square kilometres, Saba has a lot of hiking opportunities. One of the best hikes is the one up Mount Scenery. You can do this hike all the way from Windwardside or even The Bottom, but the shortest one is to start at the end of the mountain road going up from Windwardside and ending near the Ecolodge Rendez Vous (see accommodation below). From here it is a steep 75 minutes up, though most people start in Windwardside, which just adds about 15 minutes. It is very steep, going from about 400 metres up until the top at 877 metres above sea level, the highest point in the Netherlands since the 10th of October 2010, when the island became a special municipality of the Netherlands. The views towards other islands are fantastic.
Another great hike is the 2.5 hour hike around the mountain, from Hell's Gate to the Bottom, which is called the Sandy Cruz Trail. It's not tough, but you have to watch your steps most of the times as there are many rocks and stones. You are walking though thick forests with ferns, palms, flowers, butterflies and birds all surrounding you.
The island of Saba has a hot and humid tropical climate with average daytime temperatures between 28 °C and 30 °C and average nights around 23 °C. Most rain falls between June and October with a chance of hurricanes from August onwards. Therefore, the drier (and slightly cooler) December to April period is the best time to visit weatherwise.
Sint Maarten - Saba vv
The MV Dawn II has sailings 3 times a week according to schedule between Philipsburg on Sint Maarten and Fort Bay on Saba, both leeward islands of the Netherlands Antilles. Crossings are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, leaving Saba in the morning and returning from Sint Maarten in the late afternoon, taking about 2 hours each way. Sometimes there are cancelations, so check the latest schedule over here.
Another option is taking the Edge Ferry, departing Pelican Marina in St. Maarten at 9am on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, returning from Saba later that day. It takes about 90 minutes to cover the sea between the islands.
See also Money Matters
The Antillean Guilder (Naf) is the official currency for Saba. It is also known as the Florin or Gulden and is subdivided into 100 cents. Note denominations are 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 250 NaF. Coin denominations are 5, 2.5, 1, 0.5, 0.25, 0.1, 0.05, and 0.01 cents.
The Guilder is fixed to the US dollar at an exchange rate of 1.79:1.
In November 2008, it was decided to introduce the US dollar on Saba, just like for Sint Eustatius and Bonaire. This transition is scheduled for January, 2011. From that time, The US Dollar, or "greenback", will be the national currency of Saba. One dollar consists of 100 cents. Frequently used coins are the penny (1¢), nickel (5¢), dime (10¢) and quarter (25¢). 50¢ and $1 coins also exist, but are rarely used. Frequently used banknotes are the $1, $5, $10 and $20 notes. $2, $50 and $100 notes can also be found, but are rarely used.
See also Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Saba. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Saba) where that disease is widely prevalent.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Saba. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccination, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
Saba is one of the safest destinations in the world. Crime is almost unheard of and everyone leaves their doors open. You can walk around at anytime anywhere though watch out if you are walking on the one and only road on the island. The islanders can drive this road blindly and sometimes don't take notice of tourists who are less familiar with the road.
If you go hiking, take plenty of water and some food. The trails are well signposted but it's often warm and humid.
See also International Telephone Calls
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Ask Michael-on Saba a question about Saba
I recently moved to Saba, so I'm familiar with many of the questions travelers new to Saba may have.
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