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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Juliana's Hotel in
Saba

Sea Saba/Juliana's Hotel, Oct, 2011,

by David Bader, NC, US (Contributor Contributor 17 reports). Report 6293.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Pacific, East Coast US
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 82 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 75 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dives were generally guided but the guides gave experienced divers lots of latitude. I did 70 minute dives on numerous occassions.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Sea Saba's boats had no camera table and the rinse tank was a small storage bin that only held about two inches of salt water in the choppy seas. With one video camera and several SLR's onboard, I elected to keep my point and shoot camera on my lap.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Saba is a small island of only 1,500 inhabitants spread between three living areas: Hells Gate, Windward, and The Bottom. Arrival is by air or ferry. Flying into Saba is an experience unto itself. The runway is the smallest commercial runway in the world so no large jets can land there. The flight from St. Maarten is only about 40 minutes. The ferry takes about an hour and a half but can be choppy in rough seas. We had three divers opt for the ferry and were informed the day before departure that the ferry and broken down and would not be fixed for three days. That left them scurrying to find alternate transportation. Sea Saba was great at helping them out.

Juliana's Hotel is in Windward which has the most in the way of shopping and restaurants. The rooms were large and roomy with a mini fridge and coffe maker. However, no microwave. None of the hotels or restaurants had A/C but there was enough breeze to keep things comfortable. Noise can be an issue with all the windows and doors open but everything quiets down by ten o'clock. Late night rain storms usually sent any stragglers running for cover. A nice menu based breakfast is provided with the room.

Sea Saba set up reservations at different restaurants for group dinners. Taxis transported us up and down the hills. Food was very good at all the restaurants we visited.

We were picked up each morning at 8:45 for transport to the boats. Sea Saba has two 40' boats, Sea Dragon and Giant Stride. Each boat can handle 20 divers but Sea Saba holds it to 12 leaving lots of room to move around. Only thing I would change on the boat would be to add an additional step to the ladder. I seemed to miss the rung on most of my first tries. The dive guides were excellent. We had Kelly, Erin, and Becca for the week. They were very entertaining and excellent guides.

Reefs have taken some beatings from storms and global warming. Saba has started a program to transplant elkhorn coral to revitalise the reef system. Seems to be working well. Most fishlife was on the smaller scale. I saw two reef sharks at Shark Schoals but they were down deep in the 175-200' range. Far below our MOD of 110. The pinnacles were also deeper than expected. The top of Shark Schoals pinnacle was 90' and Third Encounter was at 100'. The best dive of the week was on Diamond Rock. This pinnacle does rise out of the water so there's much to see weaving in and out of the crevices. Tent Reef is another must do if you want to see frogfish. We found two on the morning dives and the afternoon boat found a third. Also a great place for turtle shots. While turtles are smaller in Saba, they are the friendliest I have ever run across. They tended to stay around and allow numerous photographic opportunities.

Topside there is little to do except hike. Most trails are at least intermediate level as the island has very little flat areas. There's a small museum behind Juliana's. JoBean's Glass Beads is a 20 minute hike up to Booby Hill, if you want some island trinkets to take home. On our last day, my wife and I hiked to the Maskihorne hill partly up the Mt. Scenary trail. It has excellent vistas for only about a 30 minute hike.

I enjoyed my visit to Saba but wished I had scheduled more diving than two tanks a day. With little else to do, might as well dive, dive, dive!
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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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