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Dive Review of SeaSaba/Juliana's in
Saba/Netherland Antilles

SeaSaba/Juliana's, Apr, 2008,

by Mary-Margaret Scholtens, AR, United States ( 1 report). Report 4147.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 0-25 dives
Where else diving Vortex Springs in Florida.
Deadman's Reef, Grand Bahama.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions no decompression limit; back on the boat with 500 psi; instructions not to touch anything in protected marine park; on one dive we were told not to go below 110 ft.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments As a new diver, with only 18 lifetime dives, I'm afraid I've set the bar quite high with my first dive trip being to Saba. I might never go anywhere else! I had heard so much about the incredible diving of the protected reefs in the waters surrounding this little known volcanic island. I had heard that Seasaba was not your average diving center, but a real concierge service type place--one of the very best. I had heard that staying at Juliana's was like staying with family. Everything I heard was completely true.
Saba has one of the shortest commercial airstrips in the world. The wind has to be just right for the Winair, from St. Maarten, to land. Even then, the plane appears to be heading straight into a mountain wall before it abruptly turns and glides onto the shortest commercial airstrip in the world, coming to a stop just before the runway falls into the ocean below; quite an adventure. Then Garvis Hassell, the taxi driver, from one of the oldest families on Saba, gave us a historical tour as he drove us to our cottage. He was a good friend by the end of the trip. It is not hard to get lost as there is only one road on the island, "the road that couldn't be built." It snakes and hairpin turns its way through Hell's Gate and then up to Windwardside where we stayed. But for diving we continued on down the other side called The Bottom, where the docks and the medical school are located. Don't think that because this island has a medical school that it is very big at all. Less than 1500 people live there. The villages are so quaint, the people so kind. No crime and everything is neat and clean. The streets are very steep so be prepared to walk uphill.

We began our first day with a hike to Mt. Scenery. The views are great with all the red-roofed houses, but most days the tip top is covered in a veil of clouds. The trail of old moss covered steps and boulders is surrounded in rain forest, lush and tropical. Many different species of life are still being discovered in Saba.

The diving with SeaSaba is professional and efficient. The schedules are set up for you, the service is excellent with the divemasters help you get tanks on and off and have your gear set up for you everyday and rinsed and put away for you after the second dive. There are two dive boats and much care is put into making sure divers with similar skills are placed on each boat. Divers were not placed with snorkelers, beginners not placed with advanced divers until the divemasters knew what they could handle. As we hung out on the boat between dives, DM Troy offered cookies or fresh cut pineapple and told us more of the wonderful history of this Dutch island. I felt like I was in extremely competent hands with Seasaba. They gave a dive breifing before each dive. They drew maps of the site and showed which way we would go and what to look for.

Saba has beautiful untouched reefs teeming with life. The coral is beautiful and healthy. The fish, turtles, sharks, eels and rays are numerous. One group saw whales. You can find many interesting phot-worthy small creatures, too. There are also resident frog fish and two seahorses,(one very pregnant), lettuce sea slugs, spotted snake eels, and yellowhead jawfish--even spawning tube sponges. The divemasters pointed out lots of interesting life, but divers were able to explore on their own as well. The sand is mustard brown in some places and when you put your arm in deep into the sand, it is hot, proving that this volcano is not extinct but meerly dormant. Reef life flourishes on the giant boulders that have fallen from the steep cliffs and the lava flows below the surface. There is a small wall with swim throughs and ledges with lots of interesting life lurking underneath. On the Windward side of the island there are true limestone reefs that can be visited when the weather is just right. Saba is known for the pinnacle dives. To reach the top of the pinnacles, we descended to about 100 feet and then explored the abundant life, too deep and protected to ever be harmed by hurricanes. You can gaze down into the abyss below and then look out into the far blue for approaching big animals. We saw a black tip reef shark that decided to hang around us for a while. The schools of fish are bigger. Really something to see.

Juliana's has cottages and rooms with a pool and Tropics Cafe which has great food. The cottages are tucked into lush tropical flowering plants with front porches and hammocks. Our bathroom was uniquely outside! Open the bathroom door and the boulders of the mountain form the back wall. Real orchids and flowering vines grow from the crevases in the rocks. A little bird with a yellow belly joined me in the shower each day, bringing a new meaning to singing in the shower. Juliana's is owned by Johanna and Wim. Her father headed the project to make Saba's waters a protected marine park. They were great.

Saba has no beaches or highrise hotels and everything closes after dinner. So this quiet island paradise is perfect for divers, hikers, and nature lovers, but not for the average beach bum. Visit www.seasaba.com for lots of great information on Saba. You won't be disappointed diving at Saba.
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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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