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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Juliana's in

June, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Peter J Maerz, FL, USA
Report Number 1426
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas, Bimini, Bonaire, Cozumel, Dominica, Fiji, SE Florida (Home!)
Guanaja (Bay Islands, Honduras), Little Cayman, Papua New Guinea, St.
Lucia, St. Vincent
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

choppy, noCurrents  
Water Temp
84   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
75   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No deco; no touching, molesting sealife   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
Rinse bucket with seawater only. Good handling of equipment by DM's. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
3 stars    
         Julianas is a lovely if simple establishment. The view from any
of the rooms I saw is divided by lush green mountains and misty blue sea.
My room was spacious, with plenty of storage space, a good sized table for
laptop and camera work and a great back porch with hammock and that
wonderful view. Its more like a motel than a hotel in terms of luxury,
but, practically speaking, it was perfect. U.S. configuration plugs and
U.S. 110 volt current make power supply hookups a breeze. U.S. Dollars, by
the way, are universally accepted., though AMEX is not. The Tropic
restaurant, on the grounds, also affords great views with its open air
design. Wim, owner of Julianas with his wife Johanna, is an excellent
cook. The air is surprisingly cool at night though unremittingly soggy.
         The tiny town of Windwardside is a quaint,leafy, cozy jumble of
artsy-craftsy shops, a well-stocked little grocery store, the Sea Saba
office, and a sprinkling of restaurants and taverns.  The roads throughout
Saba all seem to tilt at a 45 degree angle or greater. 
         The dive routine: pickup at Julianas at 8:45 (read: 9:00) , a
brief stop at the Sea Saba office where proprietor Lynn checks in on the
group, and then a roller-coaster van ride down the mountain to the port.
The ports the least attractive spot in your travels, a muddy, rocky, dusty
shelf carved out of the shores sheer red cliffs, with carcasses of old
boat hulls and engines mingling with the diesel fumes and roar of the
islands power plant and the clanks and squeals of industrial cranes
dredging and moving huge boulders about. . 
         Once on the boat,the Sea Saba crew takes over with extremely
professional boat briefings, Nitrox analysis and documentation, a short
trip to a dive site, an excellent, thorough and often entertaining site
briefing and, finally, after backrolls off the side or strides off the
stern of one of their very large and well-appointed 40s, a well-led dive.
As a single diver, once scrutinized for skills, I was allowed to choose my
own profile. I could follow the DM (who, as is usually the case, knew where
the good stuff was), buddy up with a particular diver or divers, or just
loosely hang in the vicinity of the group.
         Man o War Shoals and Diamond Rock are the standouts. The former,
a twin-pinnacle site with valley in between, was thick with fish life and
visually stunning. Lots of sea fans, corals, sponges and other stuff
coating its surface. Diamond rock is about as wall-like a dive as youll
see, also dramatic in its encrustations of sponge and coral and featuring
plenty of sea life as well. Ladder Labyrinth has some interesting
swim-throughs and arches. The undersea topography is interesting in
general. All volcanic structures on which corals, sponges, gorgoneans, etc
have grown.
         Morning dives were deep, for the most part, somewhere around 100
feet. Nitrox is a godsend on these dives, yielding well over a half hour of
dive time on all but the very deepest profiles. 
          Surface intervals were just over an hour, usually spent in a
sheltered area close to shore, gently rocking on the boat. Second dives,
starting close to noon, would average at 75 foot max depths and the
optional third, afternoon dives, embarked on after a docked surface
interval when the crew would restock the boat, were often in relatively
shallow patchy sites. Water and lemonade are served on board, but other
food or drink is the responsibility of the passenger. Theres a head and a
fairly spacious changing area below in the bow of the boats. A large
plastic tub serves as a camera bucket, but is filled with sea water, since
fresh is a scarcity. Gear is rinsed each day by the crew before your
departure but, again, the water shortage tends to lead to a perfunctory
spritzing of BC and reg with the fresh water hose. Further rinsing (as of
wetsuits) is up to you. 
         I found the diving, overall, to be very enjoyable, though I did
not see the abundance or variety of fish life Ive seen elsewhere, such as
Bonaire, St. Vincent, Dominica or Little Cayman. Saw a number of relaxing
nurse sharks but no white tips, black tips or reef sharks, though some of
my fellow divers spotted one or two during the course of the week. Durgeons
are in relative abundance, lots of Sgt Majors about the shallower reef
tops, some triggers, plenty of Southern Stingrays in the sand, as well
Peacock Flounders. A couple of spotted morays peeked out of the cracks. One
seahorse and one frogfish were reported by other divers. I was surprised to
find a couple of nice nudibranchs and I did spot a fish I'd not seen
before, a member of the Balloon fish family called a Burrfish.
          Do some hiking if you can; the hike to the sulfur mine is a
breathtaking descent down the Oceanside cliffs. You neednt hike all the
way up to Mt. Scenerys peak to appreciate the rainforest along the way.
And just strolling about the impossibly narrow, quaint streets in the towns
is very enjoyable. There is virtually no crime on Saba, by the way. I was
not even given a key to my room.
         Overall, Sabas definitely a worthwhile experience. Certainly,
its unique among the islands and the people, scenery and overall
environment make up for any lack of spectacular diving.

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