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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Juliana's Hotel in

October, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by David Bader, NC, US
Contributor   (17 reports)
Report Number 6293
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Pacific, East Coast US
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
choppy, surge  
Water Temp
82   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
75   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dives were generally guided but the guides gave experienced divers lots of
latitude.  I did 70 minute dives on numerous occassions.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
5 stars   
4 stars    
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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