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Dive Review of Saba Deep/Sonesta Mayo in

January, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Stephen Moore, Ont, Canada
Report Number 3175
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Mexican Riviera, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, Little Cayman Bahamas,
Turks & Caicos (Provo), U.S.V.I., Maui, Hawaii, St. Lucia, Curacao,
Belize, D.R., Venezuela
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
81   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth and time limits  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
These are small boats and the only facility they had was a small separate
bucket for cameras. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
4 stars    
We stayed in St. Maarten at the Sonesta Mayo and dove in St. Maarten for
four days with Dive Adventures.  The diving in St. Maarten was mediocre. 
Fortunately, we had booked a one day trip to Saba with Saba Deep (the ferry
ride-90 minutes each way-is challenging as the crossing was pretty
rough)for one day.  

Over the last few years we have been trying to go to locations with more to
offer than diving such as the U.S.V.Is and St. Lucia. Not suprisingly, the
quality of diving in these locations did not compare with places like
Belize, the Caymans, Turks etc.  

When we arrived at the dock at Fort Bay we were met at the dock by Steve
who immediately took our gear from us and put it in the back of a pick up
truck.  We didn't see the gear again until we got on the boat where it was
set up for us.  We walked the 1/4 mile to the dive shop where we checked
in.  We then went upstairs to place our lunch orders.  About 15 minutes
later we were on the boat.  The boat was a little on the small side and
there were eight divers and Big Mike.  Mike is a real character who tells a
lot of corny jokes but better stories. 

The boat ride to the first site was about 10 minutes.  We dove at Sally's
Delight. The boat was anchored to a mooring line and Mike dove with us so
there was no one left on the boat.  The boat is smallish so we did back
rolls into the water.  We got back on the boat using a ladder in the back. 
The ladder was too narrow to do a giant strike entry. When we got back on
the boat we handed our BCs and fins up to Mike and came up the ladder.  

As soon as we hit the water I realized for the first time in years why I
love to dive.  The visibility was amazing.  We could see the bottom some
75' down clearly.  The corals were in pristine condition.  The profile
ended up being 75' for 40 minutes and our second dive was 65' for 40
minutes.  The dive times were on the short side because one of the divers
had a regulator that had a slow leak that couldn't be fixed between dives.

There were a number of healthy large tropicals (big queen angels, french
angels and a number of parrotfish).  I have seen reefs in Belize with more
small schooling fish in Belize, Turks and the Caymans but the variety of
fish here was excellent. The dive was well guided and we saw a number of
very large lobsters as well.  The dive was conducted at a very slow pace
which I really enjoyed and allowed you to really explore.  

We then went back to shore and went up to the restaurant and had and
excellent grouper lunch.  The total surface interval was about 90 minutes
and then we took another 10 minute ride out to Hot Springs.  This was an
excellent dive with excellent corals again.  We spent a lot of time
exploring some sand chutes and saw a couple of healthy peacock flounder. 
At one point you can put your hand in very warm sand that is heated from

When we got back to shore our gear was thoroughly cleaned.  We put our gear
in our gear bags and it was transported by truck back to the ferry.  

We enjoyed ourselves so much that we booked a second day later in the week.

On the second day we dove with Steve who did an excellent job.  One couple
we dove with in St. Maarten and the husband was an absolute air hog.  They
had not been diving since 1989.  We phoned ahead to Dive Saba when we
realized they were on the trip.  We were thanked for the heads up when we
got to Saba.  They had a 100 cubic foot tank for the husband.  When he got
in trouble at the beginning of the first dive, Steve got him out of the
water and conducted the dive.  This dive was to a site called Twilight Zone
which is a pinnacle beginning at about 90 feet.  Our profile on this dive
was 110 feet.  Some of the divers saw a 3 foot blacktip and we saw a 5 to 6
foot blacktip about 35 to 40 feet off the pinacle.  Again the corals were
pristine.  Incidentally, the divers on the early morning dive saw a

The last dive at Tent Reef had an 80 foot profile. It was a very
interesting dive with a number of swimthroughs.  

We have decided that next year we are going to stay in Saba for 3 days to
dive, then continue our vacation in St. Maarten where we will do everything
but dive.  

We loved Saba and it was the best diving that we have done since we were
last in the Caymans. 
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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