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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Juliana's in
Saba

Sea Saba/Juliana's, Feb, 2004,

by Dick Sziede, va, usa . Report 1235.

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

Weather windy, rainy Seas choppy
Water Temp 79 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 60 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments Salt water camera tank. Tank too small for video gear.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments
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 lecture.

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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