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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Juliana's in

February, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Dick Sziede, va, usa
Report Number 1235
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire, Bay Islands, Belieze, Cozumel, Caymans, Fla. Keys, 
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

windy, rainy  
Water Temp
79   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
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
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Salt water camera tank.  Tank too small for video gear.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
Saba for the 4th of July.

In short: good diving, good food, good scenery, good folks.

Cardonna Travel arranged all.  Travel went without a hitch.  USAir hubs you
in Charlotte NC, which is a welcome relief after Miami or DFW.  And Customs
was a breeze on the return.  Alas, the Charlotte VIP lounge is no longer on
Priority Pass.  But St. Maarten is.

Winair from St. Maarten to Saba ran on time, lost no luggage, hassled no
one on baggage weight. (A far cry from Island Air in the Caymans.)  Saba's
first thrill was the cliff-side landing on the world's shortest commercial
runway.  The stall alarm sounded just as the wheels touched. 

There are six taxis on Saba.  Julianas's was served by Mayyy and Garvis. 
Roads are narrow, twisty, cliff-sided, and steep.  I longed for my turbo. 

We stayed at Flossie's Cottage.  Orchid cottage was booked.  Rain was
frequent, so the roofed porch at Orchid would have been nice.  That is the
only fault I can find.  The cottage is attractive and clean.  Kitchen
utensils are adequate for light meals.  The web site says that Flossie's is
due for some upgrades.

Arrival is usually after supper, so Saba Divers offered to stock the
'fridge for us.  Bread, wine cheese and so on.  On arrival, we discovered
the wine was Sancerre, a favorite of me bride and of Inspector Magret.  The
Windward market had a decent selection of food, and an excellent wine
shelf.  Beer is Heinekins or Caribe.  

AM 2-tank dives with Sea Saba were well-briefed, well served and well led. 
At all except Diamond Rock one was free to wander.  Currents at Diamond
meant "keep the DM in sight."  Dive sites are all less than 30
minutes from the dock.  First tank is usually on one of the pinnacles,
second inshore.  Underwater formations are volcanic in origin.  Sand near
the island is yellow from sulphur, and toasty warm if you stick in a hand. 
I must concur with most posters about Saba: the best dives are Diamond Rock
and Man O' War Shoals.

Water was choppy at the outside sites.  Made me glad I kept to a toast
& milk breakfast in the cottage, rather than bacon and eggs at
Julianas's. Dive buddy T. felt queasy despite her Scopalimine.  Saba divers
boats have a dry cabin and shelter from sun and rain.  I could have wished
for more sun from which to be sheltered.  Head not working.  There is a
fin-on ladder.  Sit on the transom while the crew takes your gear, and rigs
it for the next dive.  

The pinnacles would have been better with more than 60' vis.  Next time
I'll come in the dry season.

Small fish abound, and are unusually tame.  I got some really good close-up
video.  There were few fish bigger than a frying-pan.  Although some divers
spotted a hammerhead, I missed him.  Juvenile Spotted Drum were at almost
every site.  One soft coral held multiple cleaning stations manned by Coral
Shrimp, and patrolled by a teeny pipefish.

A young hawksbill posed for us.  Barracuda hung around, but were shy of
divers.  A pair of Red Snappers escorted us through the night dive.  We had
to get tricky with our lights to keep them from chowing down on some of the
small fry we scared up.

Although Saba is a fishing community, resturant fish is flown in from
Miami.  Best resturants were Brigadoon, and the Eco-Lodge.  Brigadoon had
sushi-grade tuna, expertly prepared.  The Eco-Lodge dinner is preceeded by
a slide show on Saba ecology.  Manny joined us for dinner.  His view as a
kid growing up on Saba was interesting counterpoint to Dr. van tHof's

The port on Saba is being upgraded to handle larger boats.  Larger yachts,
really.  A large part of Saba's charm is that it is unreachable by cruise
ship.  A contribuiting factor to the courtesy of the Sabans and to the
brilliant health of the sea life.

The web site suggests sneakers rather than boots to climb Mt. Scenery on
your non-diving day.  Bad idea.  Mt. Scenery is cloud/rain forest.  Take
hiking boots with big, Vibram lugs on the sole.  The climb is wet, mossy
rocks.  The last 100 meters to the cairns at the overlooks are wet, mossy,
muddy rocks.  Slick as OJ's lawyer.  Yes, I did a pratt fall.  Clouds
rolled in as I stood on the highest point in the Netherlands.  So my video
looks like a set from Jurassic Park.

Return to Saba?  You bet!
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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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