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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Juliana's Hotel in

Sea Saba/Juliana's Hotel: "A Diving and Hiking Vacation", Apr, 2019,

by Bill Stalter, KS, US ( 2 reports). Report 10919.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I have raised my family on Cozumel diving (30+ trips), but my wife requires some occasional dive diversity. She also likes to incorporate other activities into a dive trip. A few years ago we dove/hiked Dominica to fulfill her diversity requirement. Saba had been on her radar for a couple of years, but hurricane damage to St Maarten’s airport (Princess Juliana) forced us to delay this trip until this year.

Flying from Kansas City, we had to book a very early departure to make it to St Maarten in time for the last WinAir flight of the day to Saba. The airport is still in recovery mode, but it seems fully functional. We traveled on weekdays, and we could see where delays might occur on busier days of the week.

The WinAir flight to Saba is only 15 minutes. The plane climbs for a few minutes before descent begins to the shortest commercial runway in the world. Some of the divers on our boat used the ferry to reach Saba. The ferry ride between St Maarten and Saba is about 90 minutes.

For accommodations, we narrowed our choices to Juliana’s Hotel and Queen’s Gardens Resort. We eventually decided on Juliana’s for its proximity to the Windwardside restaurants and hiking. My wife was very pleased with Juliana’s (her standards much higher than mine). We visited Queen’s Gardens for dinner one night, and found the view gorgeous. But, the location is a bit remote, and the presence of rats spoiled the experience for the wife. The menu at Queen’s Gardens was limited, which would have been a negative if we had stayed there.

Juliana’s proved to be a clean and efficient accommodation. We liked their restaurant and bar. Breakfasts were included in the package. Their menu was more diverse, and reasonably priced. The staff/owner were very friendly and accommodating. But we also walked ‘to town’ and tried other restaurants (Chez Bubba, Brigadoon, Hideaway and Saba Snack).

We used Sea Saba for diving, and had an excellent experience with the operation. Our research indicated most dives were deep, and so we planned to use nitrox throughout the trip. The dive masters were knowledgeable and eager to please. However, they were safety conscious. Conditions tended to produce choppy waters, and one diver in group tended to cut his safety stops short in order to get back to the boat quicker. We noticed it, and so did the crew. The divemasters addressed the issue in a very discrete manner.

While some of the shallower dive sites were so-so, the better known sites were impressive. My favorite was man o’ war shoals. The twin peaks made for a figure 8 fashion of exploring the reef. The site starts at a relatively shallow 70’. The dive group can spread out and explore while circumventing the two peaks. Between the two peaks is a yellow sponge that is the home of a frogfish.

We also like the Needle, Third Encounter, Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. In approaching the Needle, the visibility was less than 30 feet, but once we got closer to the pinnacle, the viz improved (to show a reef shark circling the mount top). The yellow sponge/reef environment of Twilight Zone was very unique (making a green moray to stand out).

We saw a handful of very large green turtles (and a small, but persistent, hawksbill), several reef sharks, one nurse shark, schools of tarpon, lobsters, some unique slugs or nudibranches, and, of course, a yellow frogfish.
Websites Sea Saba   Juliana's Hotel

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac, Grand Turk, Dominica
Closest Airport St. Marteen Getting There Short flight on Winair from St. Marteen

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 77-79°F / 25-26°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Many of the dive sites are deep, which limited the profile.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Sea Saba provided a water bucket for cameras, but not a separate table. The lack of a table wasn't an issue for my GoPro set up, but it was a challenge for divers with more extensive gear.
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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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