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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Flamboyant Cottage in
Saba/Netherland Antilles

April, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by David Vickery & Suzanne Leeson, NJ, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports)
Report Number 4161
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire, Caymans, Bahamas, Pueto Rico, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica,
Mexico,Hawaii, Fiji, Yap, Palau, PNG, Australia, Bikini Atoll, Maldives. 
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy  
Water Temp
79   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
1500 psi turn-around, max depth 130', safety stop at 15' for 3 minutes, 500
psi back on boat.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
We'd give a 4 for UWP's because of the subject matter. The facilities were
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
4 stars    
The freakish April rain rattled like hail on the fuselage of the
DeHavilland Twin Otter, crammed with 16 passengers, and night was falling.
Off into the fog, no island in sight. The plane banked to port and vertical
cliffs of black rock appeared to the starboard. The pilot announced that we
would circle until the rain lightened.  The runway in Saba is only 1300
feet long. The plane made the final approach, bounced down, skidded,
slammed on the brakes and we stepped out into the rain. At the terminal
we went through Immigration again, while two burly Dutch police scanned the
crowd for the Usual Suspects. A cab driver sent by Sea Saba said he would
take us to Flamboyant Cottage, but wont go down the driveway because of
the rain. He left us and all our gear at the top of a 30 degree decline
with a final bit of advice: dont put the wheeled dive bags behind you,
theyll push you over. So I put them in front of me, and they pulled me
  Flamboyant Cottage with its two bed rooms is large enough for four, but
just. The master bed room had a queen bed, while the second bed room held
two singles.The master bath had an odor of sewage that increased as the
week progressed. (When we got home the Sea Saba staff emailed and said
theyd check it out) The kitchen was basic, but Sea Saba had stocked it for
us before we arrived. The living room held a TV, couch, CD and DVD players,
and French doors that opened onto a porch with chairs. One level down was
the pool, and chaise lounges. In the days to come we would eat our lunch at
the cottage, gazing over a turquoise sea at St. Eustatius, Kitts and Nevis
in the distance. 
We opted to hike the next day and climbed into clouds toward Mt. Scenery
until a local guy cutting grass  warned us not to go any higher without
water. Nevertheless we saw hikers in flip-flops scrambling over gnarled
roots and wet rocks. We opted for a lesser peak and when the clouds cleared
we could see the shoreline below, in bright sunlight.
We were picked up at 9:00 the next day and taken to the dock at Fort Bay
for a 10:00 two-tank departure.  Sea Saba has the best boats for diving on
the island. The Sea Dragon and Giant Stride are each 42 with a 12 beam. 
The Dragon doesnt have a head; the Stride does, but it was out of service.
The tank racks hold AL 80s of air and 32% EANx. 100 cube tanks are
available. Fills were always 3000 psi. The crew sets up your gear for the
first dive; you can set it up for the second dive or theyll do it for you.
Be advised, there is no rinse tank for cameras, just an empty plastic bin.
Fresh water is an issue on Saba, and an excuse not to rinse gear after the
dive day is done; the staff gives it a quick shot with a hose and thats
Saba has the oldest Marine Park in the Caribbean and it shows in the health
of the reefs. Our first dive was at Customs House. Huge barrel sponges
dotted the small bommie with evidence of recent spawning. The reef was
healthy and coral did not appear to be bleached. A second dive at Babylon
was eel heaven, with spotted and golden morays as well as a sharp tailed
snake eel. A large school of tarpon appeared at the end of the dive and we
hung out while the low air folks surfaced. Afterward, DM Troy Hooper
repaired my bubbling Dive Alert. He and the rest of the staff were helpful
and friendly. Staff at the Sea Saba office were happy to arrange taxis and
dinner reservations. 
At Twilight Zone, a pinnacle beginning at 90, we saw our first shark, a
Caribbean Reef. Over the next few days we would see nurse and black tip
sharks as well. There were interesting macro critters too. Troy used a
mirror to coax a sail fin blenny out of his home. Yellow headed jaw fish
seemed to be everywhere. We saw Pedersens shrimp, banded coral shrimp,
arrow crabs, and a bat-wing coral crab.
The eagle rays at Davids Drop Off hung around for 5 minutes. Turtles
seemed unafraid. Groupers are large and schools of jacks were seen
frequently. Second dives were good. Overhangs were crammed with fish,
healthy sea fans and gorgonians. The signature dive is Diamond Rock, a
sharp pinnacle resembling a mountain placed on a sand bed. Nurse sharks and
turtles, healthy coral, sponges and canyons to explore.
Top side we enjoyed Indonesian Night at the Eco-Lodge, after a 2 minute
hike in the dark. Good food and inexpensive wine. Most nights found us in
one of the burger-steak-fish restaurants like the Swinging Doors, Scouts
Place or Brigadoon. Be aware that if you are not staying in Windwardside,
you may find yourself walking up hill after dinner to your private cottage
as the taxis may not show up for such a short ride.  The Gate House
Café is worth the trip to Hells Gate. Michel and Lyliane Job are
gracious hosts serving upscale French/Caribbean dishes with lots of wines
by the glass. 
WinAir rescheduled our return flight to St. Maarten an hour later than
planned, giving us no time to make our connection. We had to return on the
ferry, a.k.a. the Vomit Comet for the two hour ride to the main island.
If youre tired of Bonaire and the prices in the Caymans, give Saba a try.
Elegant it aint; shorts and T-shirts everywhere, no casinos, discos, or
beach. WinAir will annoy you. But the diving is very good, the locals are
friendly, the prices are reasonable, and there is no other place like it. 
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