The tiny island of Saba is rapidly becoming recognised as one of the best diving destinations in the world. Saba is an unspoiled gem in the eastern Caribbean, 170 miles east of Puerto Rico and 30 miles south of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. Covered in dense rain forest, the island has a natural beauty which is virtually untouched. Saba's beauty extends below the waterline into an exciting marine environment rich in corals and marine life. A dormant volcano – the island rises steeply from the ocean - depths of 300 metres and more within 750 metres (half a mile) of the shore. Deep water close to shore - warm clear water 26°c to 28°c - and astonishing visibility of 30 to 40 metres. The variety of underwater features and ocean conditions cannot be over emphasised. As every diver knows, varying conditions means a range of habitats, which in turn means a huge diversity of marine life can thrive. From colourful, small "reef" creatures to some of the larger, ocean-roaming species.
This "undiscovered" diving heaven has an almost unique combination of features that will take your breath away.
Precious things come in small packages - and Saba proves the point.
A small island - peaceful above the water - spectacular below the water.
Saba has a huge variety of creatures and underwater features -
perhaps the most exciting diving you will ever do.
One coast faces the Caribbean Sea the other the Atlantic Ocean.
The Caribbean is well known for the diversity of marine life - small reef dwelling creatures and colourful tropical fish, huge sponges as well as some of natures more fascinating species – like octopus and rays.
The other side of the island faces the open Atlantic – probably nearer the 26°c end of the water temperature range – but yet another special habitat – for much larger ocean roaming creatures – just a few minutes boat ride from shore. Saba is close to St. Martin, and both islands are known for the "bigger stuff", rarely seen elsewhere, especially sharks and rays - huge shivers of hammerheads !
Recent sightings: White tips, black tips, reef and bull sharks, humpback whales, Caribbean reef sharks, manta rays, hammerheads and whale sharks. The ocean roaming species are seasonal visitors. The rock and coral formations support healthy colonies of long-lured frogfish, orange seahorses, pipe horse, web burrfish, spotted eagle rays, sergeant major fish, spotted drum, french grunt, blue-striped grunts, Southern stingrays, dolphins and octopus, to name but a few. Click the DIVE SITES tab above to see map with brief descriptions of Saba's superb dive sites.
Lava tunnels and hot springs are evidence of the dramatic birth of the island as a volcano. Sheer cliffs and pinnacles - the peaks of underwater mountains just 25 metres down – give divers a breathtaking underwater scene to enjoy. The pinnacles are a particular feature of at least 5 dive sites - very exciting and real thrill for all divers. The small leeward side has wonderful rolling spur and groove lava formations in shallow water - yet another habitat for more marine life. Along Saba's sheer walls divers will see many species of marine life - including turtles and rays of all shapes and sizes.
Divers will find a wonderful choice of diving conditions, breathtaking geographical features - an enormous variety of habitats - an exciting diversity of marine life. Each one of the many dive sites offers divers a unique experience. Just as importantly they will experience sites at a range of depths and conditions - and divers of all levels will find something interesting and worthwhile - in conditions they will be able to enjoy. The close-to-shore sites offer interesting and extremely varied diving, while the offshore dives will leave you speechless.
On Saba ocean and island conditions are quiet, easy and relaxed - no queues or crowds here. Saba has no permanent beaches, consequently diving is from boats. The island is small and dive boats can reach all sites within minutes. The 30 dive sites are close to shore, the farthest is no more than a 20 minute boat ride away, and the dive centres have excellent boats. The boats take small groups each morning so it's an easy schedule and relaxed diving experience. Boat dives need to be planned and it is important to book. The boats are happy to take snorkellers - and the crystal clear water gives snorkellers a wonderful opportunity to see marine life they will not see elsewhere. There are plenty of sites particularly recommended for snorkellers. Click the "Snorkelling" link on the menu above for more information.
Diving is all year round - rarely disrupted by weather. Almost always warm and sunny - the air temperature ranges from 26°c to 30°c with a cool breeze - very comfortable for Europeans. The water temperature ranges from 26°C to 28°C. A 3mm shortie is usually enough, but you may dive deeper and, in such wonderful conditions, more often than you would usually. You may be underwater for much longer than you are used to on each dive. Over several days you may "feel" the cold a little more. The dive centres have a full range of equipment, including suits, for hire.
The fantastic diving on Saba has only recently been "discovered" - a new destination for many divers - which really must go "on the list". "Organised" diving only started in the 1980s. Del Bunker and Wilson McQueen brought scuba cylinders to Saba in 1981 - making Saba a relatively "new" diving destination. Saba Marine Park ("SMP") was established in 1987 - which introduced strict regulations for the conservation of the environment - based on the Bonaire Marine Park model. The introduction of strict controls has protected reef life and an appreciation by locals and divers together of this pristine, delicate environment. Weekly slide shows are given to entertain and inform divers of Saba's special marine life. Saba's Marine Park has received several awards and remains the only park of its kind in the world to be completely self-sufficient in its operation. The park surrounds the entire island and covers the waters and seabed from the high water mark down to a depth of 200 feet, as well as offshore sea mounts.
We work with the dive centres and hotels on the island. As an ATOL bonded tour operator we can organise the whole itinerary - flights - accommodation diving etc. Saba will appeal - very directly - to people who enjoy peace and tranquillity and appreciate an unspoiled natural world. Due to its "anonymity" and lack of commercial development Saba is an unspoiled gem.
A new addition to the list of "must dive" destinations - Saba deserves to be near the top.
The Dutch navy donated a four person recompression chamber - administered by the Saba Marine Park and operated by a staff of specially trained volunteers. It has been operating since 1980 and serves the Eastern Caribbean region.
MARINE TREASURE TROVE FOUND
By Rebecca Morelle - BBC News science reporter
An underwater mountain with some of the richest diversity of marine life in the Caribbean has been found by scientists. During a two-week dive researchers discovered scores more species of fish than previously known in the region and vast beds of "seaweed cities". The researchers are hoping to get the area protected by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The find was made in the Saba Bank Atoll, a coral-crowned seamount, 250km south-east of Puerto Rico in the Netherlands Antilles.
New species : It is ranked as the third largest atoll in the world and has an enormous active reef.
During the dives, the researchers counted a total of 200 species of fish, over 150 more than previously known. Among their find were two new species of fish, both gobies, which have the distinctive feature of fused pelvic fins on the underside of their body which forms a sucker. Dr Smith, a scientist on the expedition from Conservation International said . "It's still known from a single specimen, and it is so very, very distinctive that it is probably a new genus." The sighting of vast and luxurious seaweed beds were also astonishing, with at least 12 new species of algae discovered. Dr Mark Littler, a marine botanist at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History and a diver on the expedition, declared the Saba Bank the richest area for seaweeds in the Caribbean. Seaweeds form the base of the food chain in coral reefs, from which the rest of biodiversity depends.
"When we add everything together - the species of new fish, the dozen new species of algae - that means during the time we were there we discovered a new species every day. That's pretty exciting," said Dr Smith. Saba Bank's unique location makes it a prime candidate for conservation. ".....many of the Caribbean reefs are close to shore and have damage that is of a land based source," he said.
"But Saba is free of all of that, so potentially it can be the keystone for protecting biodiversity in the Caribbean."
We know Saba very well. We are an ATOL bonded tour operator - a diving specialist travel company and the only UK specialist for Saba We are uniquely able to tailor make a holiday itinerary for you which can include not just flights and accommodation – but a full diving package – tailored to suit your wishes.