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Dive Review of Saba Deep/Sonesta Mayo in
Saba

Saba Deep/Sonesta Mayo, Jan, 2007,

by Stephen Moore, Ont, Canada . Report 3175.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Mexican Riviera, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, Little Cayman Bahamas, Turks & Caicos (Provo), U.S.V.I., Maui, Hawaii, St. Lucia, Curacao, Belize, D.R., Venezuela
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 81 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 40 to 75 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth and time limits
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments These are small boats and the only facility they had was a small separate bucket for cameras.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We stayed in St. Maarten at the Sonesta Mayo and dove in St. Maarten for four days with Dive Adventures. The diving in St. Maarten was mediocre. Fortunately, we had booked a one day trip to Saba with Saba Deep (the ferry ride-90 minutes each way-is challenging as the crossing was pretty rough)for one day.

Over the last few years we have been trying to go to locations with more to offer than diving such as the U.S.V.Is and St. Lucia. Not suprisingly, the quality of diving in these locations did not compare with places like Belize, the Caymans, Turks etc.

When we arrived at the dock at Fort Bay we were met at the dock by Steve who immediately took our gear from us and put it in the back of a pick up truck. We didn't see the gear again until we got on the boat where it was set up for us. We walked the 1/4 mile to the dive shop where we checked in. We then went upstairs to place our lunch orders. About 15 minutes later we were on the boat. The boat was a little on the small side and there were eight divers and Big Mike. Mike is a real character who tells a lot of corny jokes but better stories.

The boat ride to the first site was about 10 minutes. We dove at Sally's Delight. The boat was anchored to a mooring line and Mike dove with us so there was no one left on the boat. The boat is smallish so we did back rolls into the water. We got back on the boat using a ladder in the back. The ladder was too narrow to do a giant strike entry. When we got back on the boat we handed our BCs and fins up to Mike and came up the ladder.

As soon as we hit the water I realized for the first time in years why I love to dive. The visibility was amazing. We could see the bottom some 75' down clearly. The corals were in pristine condition. The profile ended up being 75' for 40 minutes and our second dive was 65' for 40 minutes. The dive times were on the short side because one of the divers had a regulator that had a slow leak that couldn't be fixed between dives.

There were a number of healthy large tropicals (big queen angels, french angels and a number of parrotfish). I have seen reefs in Belize with more small schooling fish in Belize, Turks and the Caymans but the variety of fish here was excellent. The dive was well guided and we saw a number of very large lobsters as well. The dive was conducted at a very slow pace which I really enjoyed and allowed you to really explore.

We then went back to shore and went up to the restaurant and had and excellent grouper lunch. The total surface interval was about 90 minutes and then we took another 10 minute ride out to Hot Springs. This was an excellent dive with excellent corals again. We spent a lot of time exploring some sand chutes and saw a couple of healthy peacock flounder. At one point you can put your hand in very warm sand that is heated from underneath.

When we got back to shore our gear was thoroughly cleaned. We put our gear in our gear bags and it was transported by truck back to the ferry.

We enjoyed ourselves so much that we booked a second day later in the week.

On the second day we dove with Steve who did an excellent job. One couple we dove with in St. Maarten and the husband was an absolute air hog. They had not been diving since 1989. We phoned ahead to Dive Saba when we realized they were on the trip. We were thanked for the heads up when we got to Saba. They had a 100 cubic foot tank for the husband. When he got in trouble at the beginning of the first dive, Steve got him out of the water and conducted the dive. This dive was to a site called Twilight Zone which is a pinnacle beginning at about 90 feet. Our profile on this dive was 110 feet. Some of the divers saw a 3 foot blacktip and we saw a 5 to 6 foot blacktip about 35 to 40 feet off the pinacle. Again the corals were pristine. Incidentally, the divers on the early morning dive saw a hammerhead.

The last dive at Tent Reef had an 80 foot profile. It was a very interesting dive with a number of swimthroughs.

We have decided that next year we are going to stay in Saba for 3 days to dive, then continue our vacation in St. Maarten where we will do everything but dive.

We loved Saba and it was the best diving that we have done since we were last in the Caymans.
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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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