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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Iris House in

February, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Nico Jansen, OR, US (2 reports)
Report Number 5986
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Cayman, Belieze, Bonaire, Abaco, Honduras, Tobago, Cozumel, Maui/Kuiai,
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, dry  
calm, choppy, currents  
Water Temp
79   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
75   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Marine Park Depth limit 130 feet  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
We are not UW photographers, but the photogs on the boat seemed thrilled
every day!  The photos that we took on the island of the flora and fauna,
cottages, graveyards... with a simple pocket digital camera with no frills
look like they could be in a book!  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
4 stars    
This is our second trip to Saba after absolutely falling in love with the
island last year.  Once again, we left with sadness in our hearts, feeling
like we were leaving home!  We actually looked for real estate while there!
 This year, we stayed at Iris House because Flmaboyant (where we stayed
last year and loved) was not available.  Beth at Dive Saba Travel
recommended Iris House(she is fun and THE EXPERT on Saba - she can prattle
on endlessly about every little detail, people's names who are the best for
this and who to use for that..  make sure you have some time if you call
her!) She has a friend named JoBean who is a glass blower on the island and
gave my wife a glass class on a non diving day.  Now my wife is going to
bring a group of women back to Saba for a glass week!  She made a really
cool underwater looking bead on her first try, and hasn't taken it off
since we got home! Great - another expensive hobby.  Now I am prattling! 
Anyways - Iris House turned out to be the perfect choice - similiar lay out
to Flamboyant, 2 bedroom's with their own bathrooms, so 2 couples could
stay there and only pay like $50 each per night! private pool, spectacular
views, great ammenities, music, well equipped kitchen, nice art...  but on
a more favorable note to my bad knees, it was right in town.  It sits up
high enough and is private enough that you could sit by the pool naked if
you wanted to, but you can be at Brigadoon Restaurant (our favorite) in
less than 5 minutes on foot!  If Trish waits on you, be ready to be
entertained!  She is a hoot.  You can't go wrong with any of the
restaurants on Saba.  Save a special night and go down to Queen's Gardens
for dinner, and make sure to walk up the The Eco Lodge Rendezvous for lunch
or dinner.  We never made it up to Shearwater's restaurant (newly opened
Italian that people on the boat raved about)  and Juliana's Tropics Cafe is
always good and lot's of divers around.  Most divers stay there and love
it, but we always like a house.  Had great breakfasts at Scout's Place -
all within a 5-10 minute walk from Iris House.

Now, on to the diving since this is a dive related site, but we love the
island itself so much I had to convey that.  Hands down, the best diving in
the Caribbean that we have experienced.  Half of the island is employed in
some form of conservation based position, and it is very apparent.  The
Marine Park was established over 20 years ago, and still going strong
(every dive you do, a Marine park fee is charged, and the money is put to
good use)  Sea Saba also supports the conservative efforts with dive
briefings that stress passive interaction and respect for the all mooring
sites (no anchoring allowed in the Marine Park, so no drag damage). They
are very involved in the Sea and Learn program during the month of October
that we are going back for this year - google it and check it out - pretty
cool.   Lynn (the owner and our conceirge last year) was gone for most of
our stay, but unlike many places, there was no slacking while the boss was
away!  Mel and Shellie ran the office and schedule like pros, had us on the
right boat every day for our very advanced status, went the extra mile to
make us dinner reservations... Mel even went to Iris and set up a surprise
birthday scene for my wife equipped with a cake and champagne chilling when
we got back to the house after diving!  Most times, when I leave someplace,
I feel guilted in to tipping, even if they don't deserve it, but you will
find yourself feeling badly about tipping Sea Saba 20% because they go so
far above and beyond on service.  John, Lynn's other half, is always
tinkering around the shop, working on the boats, welding something....  He
is wicked smart,and has some amazing stories having lived or traveled to
every corner of the world - if you are lucky, he will take you to his photo
shop ( a room in his house) where you will be blown away by piles, stacks
files, and drawers full of shots worthy of National Geographic, but he is
very modest and seems the perfect English gentleman unless you count the
number of descriptive expletives he slips in to his soft spoken sentences! 
My wife thinks he is the sexiest man alive (thanks hon)

Sea Saba has a driver (normally a great local named Garvis whose family
dates back generations on Saba, and he will talk the whole way about
history, great things to do, good restaurants...)  You are picked up at the
airport and taken by Sea Saba before going to your house or hotel.  Garvis
honks, and Lynn, Mel, Shellie will run out to the taxi and greet you - we
got hugs like old friends since we were there last year.  They ask if you
want to dive the next day, tell you what time you will be picked up at your
door, and the adventure begins!  You bring your gear on the first day, or
they take it from you when they greet you, and that is the last you schlep
until they return it to you rinsed and bagged on your last day.  We didn't
do a pinnacle the first day, by choice (they run 2 boats and one goes to
the world famous pinnacles, while the other one doesn't)  we knew we had
been out of the water for a while, so opted for a shallower profile to
start with.  We only did the same dive more than once by choice - Diamond
Rock - our favorite dive on Saba, and top 3 dives in a close to 1000 dive
log book.  Steven, Dick and Briar were our crew through the week - all
super real, smart, well traveled individuals who respected our experience
but helped when needed (like giving me a strong hand getting from the pier
to the boat with my bad knees) You will be great friends with everyone on
your boat by the end of your stay, because they keep the numbers small and
intimate - I don't think there were ever more than 6-8 people on the boat. 
 I could go on and on about each dive, but you can find that information
and read about the dive sites on many of the sites attached to Saba.  Sea
Saba's site is pretty amazing for a tiny shop on a tiny island - I think
address is simple like  Beth's Dive Saba site is cute and
personal, and informative, but needs some updating.  The Saba Tourism site
is another good one focusing more on the island itself with links to the
dive shops, restaurants, hikes....  

I almost didn't write because we want to keep the island to ourselves, but
I couldn't help myself - another fabulous Saba experience.  Feel free to
email me if you have any questions!
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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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