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Saba

Photo © Utrecht

Travel Guide Caribbean Saba

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Introduction

View of Saba from Mount Scenery

View of Saba from Mount Scenery

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

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.

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Brief History

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.

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Geography

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.

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Sights and Activities

Visit the Saba Park website for more information on the Saba Park and the Saba Marine Park.

Hiking

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.

  • Diving
  • The Ladder
  • Harry L. Johnson Museum

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Weather

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.

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Getting there

Plane

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB) has one of the shortest runways in the world. Connections are with Winair from Sint Maarten and Sint Eustatius.

Boat

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.

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Money

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.

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Eat

  • Brigadoon - Located in Saba's main village (Windwardside), this place is one of the best (if not the best) on the island. The owner is the chef and does everything by himself. The menu is a generous mix of all sorts of meat, fish and/or chicken and there are mostly around 5 daily specials to choose from as well. There is also a wide choice of appetizers (including falafel and hummus!) and some caleroy-rich desserts. Reservations are recommended; closed on Tuesday. Saturdaynight is sushi night.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity

Saba is very small and all hotels, guesthouses, lodges and cottages are located along the only tarred road on Saba that runs from the airport to the landing point for boats. Most are located in Windwardside and The Bottom, the two main towns on Saba.
Although there are a few private lodges to stay, the following list includes all the main places to stay.

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Health

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.

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Safety

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.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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References

  1. 1 January 2009 estimate,

Quick Facts

Saba flag

Map of Saba

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Population
1.601 [1]
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 17.6354642
  • Longitude: -63.2326763

Contributors

as well as travelnetwork (1%), Herr Bert (1%), Michael-on Saba (1%)

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This is version 26. Last edited at 10:05 on May 16, 13 by travelnetwork. 13 articles link to this page.

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