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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Iris House in
Saba/Windwardside

Sea Saba/Iris House, Feb, 2011,

by Nico Jansen, OR, US ( 2 reports). Report 5986.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Cayman, Belieze, Bonaire, Abaco, Honduras, Tobago, Cozumel, Maui/Kuiai, Bequia.......
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy, currents
Water Temp 79 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 2
Water Visibility 75 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Marine Park Depth limit 130 feet
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots 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 4 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments We are not UW photographers, but the photogs on the boat seemed thrilled every day! The photos that we took on the island of the flora and fauna, cottages, graveyards... with a simple pocket digital camera with no frills look like they could be in a book!

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This is our second trip to Saba after absolutely falling in love with the island last year. Once again, we left with sadness in our hearts, feeling like we were leaving home! We actually looked for real estate while there! This year, we stayed at Iris House because Flmaboyant (where we stayed last year and loved) was not available. Beth at Dive Saba Travel recommended Iris House(she is fun and THE EXPERT on Saba - she can prattle on endlessly about every little detail, people's names who are the best for this and who to use for that.. make sure you have some time if you call her!) She has a friend named JoBean who is a glass blower on the island and gave my wife a glass class on a non diving day. Now my wife is going to bring a group of women back to Saba for a glass week! She made a really cool underwater looking bead on her first try, and hasn't taken it off since we got home! Great - another expensive hobby. Now I am prattling! Anyways - Iris House turned out to be the perfect choice - similiar lay out to Flamboyant, 2 bedroom's with their own bathrooms, so 2 couples could stay there and only pay like $50 each per night! private pool, spectacular views, great ammenities, music, well equipped kitchen, nice art... but on a more favorable note to my bad knees, it was right in town. It sits up high enough and is private enough that you could sit by the pool naked if you wanted to, but you can be at Brigadoon Restaurant (our favorite) in less than 5 minutes on foot! If Trish waits on you, be ready to be entertained! She is a hoot. You can't go wrong with any of the restaurants on Saba. Save a special night and go down to Queen's Gardens for dinner, and make sure to walk up the The Eco Lodge Rendezvous for lunch or dinner. We never made it up to Shearwater's restaurant (newly opened Italian that people on the boat raved about) and Juliana's Tropics Cafe is always good and lot's of divers around. Most divers stay there and love it, but we always like a house. Had great breakfasts at Scout's Place - all within a 5-10 minute walk from Iris House.

Now, on to the diving since this is a dive related site, but we love the island itself so much I had to convey that. Hands down, the best diving in the Caribbean that we have experienced. Half of the island is employed in some form of conservation based position, and it is very apparent. The Marine Park was established over 20 years ago, and still going strong (every dive you do, a Marine park fee is charged, and the money is put to good use) Sea Saba also supports the conservative efforts with dive briefings that stress passive interaction and respect for the all mooring sites (no anchoring allowed in the Marine Park, so no drag damage). They are very involved in the Sea and Learn program during the month of October that we are going back for this year - google it and check it out - pretty cool. Lynn (the owner and our conceirge last year) was gone for most of our stay, but unlike many places, there was no slacking while the boss was away! Mel and Shellie ran the office and schedule like pros, had us on the right boat every day for our very advanced status, went the extra mile to make us dinner reservations... Mel even went to Iris and set up a surprise birthday scene for my wife equipped with a cake and champagne chilling when we got back to the house after diving! Most times, when I leave someplace, I feel guilted in to tipping, even if they don't deserve it, but you will find yourself feeling badly about tipping Sea Saba 20% because they go so far above and beyond on service. John, Lynn's other half, is always tinkering around the shop, working on the boats, welding something.... He is wicked smart,and has some amazing stories having lived or traveled to every corner of the world - if you are lucky, he will take you to his photo shop ( a room in his house) where you will be blown away by piles, stacks files, and drawers full of shots worthy of National Geographic, but he is very modest and seems the perfect English gentleman unless you count the number of descriptive expletives he slips in to his soft spoken sentences! My wife thinks he is the sexiest man alive (thanks hon)

Sea Saba has a driver (normally a great local named Garvis whose family dates back generations on Saba, and he will talk the whole way about history, great things to do, good restaurants...) You are picked up at the airport and taken by Sea Saba before going to your house or hotel. Garvis honks, and Lynn, Mel, Shellie will run out to the taxi and greet you - we got hugs like old friends since we were there last year. They ask if you want to dive the next day, tell you what time you will be picked up at your door, and the adventure begins! You bring your gear on the first day, or they take it from you when they greet you, and that is the last you schlep until they return it to you rinsed and bagged on your last day. We didn't do a pinnacle the first day, by choice (they run 2 boats and one goes to the world famous pinnacles, while the other one doesn't) we knew we had been out of the water for a while, so opted for a shallower profile to start with. We only did the same dive more than once by choice - Diamond Rock - our favorite dive on Saba, and top 3 dives in a close to 1000 dive log book. Steven, Dick and Briar were our crew through the week - all super real, smart, well traveled individuals who respected our experience but helped when needed (like giving me a strong hand getting from the pier to the boat with my bad knees) You will be great friends with everyone on your boat by the end of your stay, because they keep the numbers small and intimate - I don't think there were ever more than 6-8 people on the boat. I could go on and on about each dive, but you can find that information and read about the dive sites on many of the sites attached to Saba. Sea Saba's site is pretty amazing for a tiny shop on a tiny island - I think address is simple like seasaba.com. Beth's Dive Saba site is cute and personal, and informative, but needs some updating. The Saba Tourism site is another good one focusing more on the island itself with links to the dive shops, restaurants, hikes....

I almost didn't write because we want to keep the island to ourselves, but I couldn't help myself - another fabulous Saba experience. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!
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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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