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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Juliana's in

Sea Saba/Juliana's, Jun, 2003,

by Peter J Maerz, FL, USA . Report 1426.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Juliana’s is a lovely if simple establishment. The view from any of the rooms I saw is divided by lush green mountains and misty blue sea. My room was spacious, with plenty of storage space, a good sized table for laptop and camera work and a great back porch with hammock and that wonderful view. It’s more like a motel than a hotel in terms of luxury, but, practically speaking, it was perfect. U.S. configuration plugs and U.S. 110 volt current make power supply hookups a breeze. U.S. Dollars, by the way, are universally accepted., though AMEX is not. The Tropic restaurant, on the grounds, also affords great views with its open air design. Wim, owner of Juliana’s with his wife Johanna, is an excellent cook. The air is surprisingly cool at night though unremittingly soggy.
The tiny “town” of Windwardside is a quaint,leafy, cozy jumble of artsy-craftsy shops, a well-stocked little grocery store, the Sea Saba office, and a sprinkling of restaurants and taverns. The roads throughout Saba all seem to tilt at a 45 degree angle or greater.
The dive routine: pickup at Juliana’s at 8:45 (read: 9:00) , a brief stop at the Sea Saba office where proprietor Lynn checks in on the group, and then a roller-coaster van ride down the mountain to the port. The port’s the least attractive spot in your travels, a muddy, rocky, dusty shelf carved out of the shore’s sheer red cliffs, with carcasses of old boat hulls and engines mingling with the diesel fumes and roar of the island’s power plant and the clanks and squeals of industrial cranes dredging and moving huge boulders about. .
Once on the boat,the Sea Saba crew takes over with extremely professional boat briefings, Nitrox analysis and documentation, a short trip to a dive site, an excellent, thorough and often entertaining site briefing and, finally, after backrolls off the side or strides off the stern of one of their very large and well-appointed 40’s, a well-led dive. As a single diver, once scrutinized for skills, I was allowed to choose my own profile. I could follow the DM (who, as is usually the case, knew where the good stuff was), buddy up with a particular diver or divers, or just loosely hang in the vicinity of the group.
Man o’ War Shoals and Diamond Rock are the standouts. The former, a twin-pinnacle site with valley in between, was thick with fish life and visually stunning. Lots of sea fans, corals, sponges and other stuff coating its surface. Diamond rock is about as wall-like a dive as you’ll see, also dramatic in its encrustations of sponge and coral and featuring plenty of sea life as well. Ladder Labyrinth has some interesting swim-throughs and arches. The undersea topography is interesting in general. All volcanic structures on which corals, sponges, gorgoneans, etc have grown.
Morning dives were deep, for the most part, somewhere around 100 feet. Nitrox is a godsend on these dives, yielding well over a half hour of dive time on all but the very deepest profiles.
Surface intervals were just over an hour, usually spent in a sheltered area close to shore, gently rocking on the boat. Second dives, starting close to noon, would average at 75 foot max depths and the optional third, afternoon dives, embarked on after a docked surface interval when the crew would restock the boat, were often in relatively shallow patchy sites. Water and lemonade are served on board, but other food or drink is the responsibility of the passenger. There’s a head and a fairly spacious changing area below in the bow of the boats. A large plastic tub serves as a camera bucket, but is filled with sea water, since fresh is a scarcity. Gear is rinsed each day by the crew before your departure but, again, the water shortage tends to lead to a perfunctory spritzing of BC and reg with the fresh water hose. Further rinsing (as of wetsuits) is up to you.
I found the diving, overall, to be very enjoyable, though I did not see the abundance or variety of fish life I’ve seen elsewhere, such as Bonaire, St. Vincent, Dominica or Little Cayman. Saw a number of relaxing nurse sharks but no white tips, black tips or reef sharks, though some of my fellow divers spotted one or two during the course of the week. Durgeons are in relative abundance, lots of Sgt Majors about the shallower “reef” tops, some triggers, plenty of Southern Stingrays in the sand, as well Peacock Flounders. A couple of spotted morays peeked out of the cracks. One seahorse and one frogfish were reported by other divers. I was surprised to find a couple of nice nudibranchs and I did spot a fish I'd not seen before, a member of the Balloon fish family called a Burrfish.
Do some hiking if you can; the hike to the sulfur mine is a breathtaking descent down the Oceanside cliffs. You needn’t hike all the way up to Mt. Scenery’s peak to appreciate the rainforest along the way. And just strolling about the impossibly narrow, quaint streets in the towns is very enjoyable. There is virtually no crime on Saba, by the way. I was not even given a key to my room.
Overall, Saba’s definitely a worthwhile experience. Certainly, it’s unique among the islands and the people, scenery and overall environment make up for any lack of spectacular diving.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Bimini, Bonaire, Cozumel, Dominica, Fiji, SE Florida (Home!) Guanaja (Bay Islands, Honduras), Little Cayman, Papua New Guinea, St. Lucia, St. Vincent
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy, noCurrents
Water Temp 84-86°F / 29-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 75-150 Ft/ 23-46 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco; no touching, molesting sealife
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments Rinse bucket with seawater only. Good handling of equipment by DM's.
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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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