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Snorkelling


Saba is an unspoiled gem in the Caribbean Sea, with a pristine, natural beauty. Saba's beauty extends below the waterline into an exciting marine environment of rock and coral formations and a diverse marine life. Saba is a dormant volcano and rises dramatically from the ocean and Saba's unique and wonderful underwater world starts very close to shore. The amazing range of underwater features provide a wide variety of habitats for a diverse marine life to thrive - colourful sponges and coral, hundreds of species of small "reef" creatures and some of the larger, ocean-roaming species.

Saba's underwater world is now recognised as being unique. One of the most exciting marine environments in the world. The ocean conditions here are comfortable and the island is very relaxed - no queues or crowds.  Saba is a very special place. A tiny island - off the beaten track - it offers snorkellers a new and exciting holiday destination - a chance to see marine life you will not see elsewhere.


 
                            Saba is the unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean - above and below the ocean surface.
                          Beautiful and exciting above the water - breathtakingly spectacular below the surface.
                         Varying ocean conditions and unique underwater features produce a variety of habitats.
                                      Which are home to a huge variety of interesting and exciting marine life


                       


But Don't Take Our Word For It . . . .


BBC News Channel :    
MARINE TREASURE 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 find was made in the Saba Bank Atoll, a coral-crowned seamount. It is ranked as the third largest atoll in the world and has an enormous active reef. "Potentially it Saba can be the keystone for protecting biodiversity in the Caribbean" Dr Michael Smith, Conservation International. 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. 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.


The Best of Both (Underwater) Worlds

Saba faces the Caribbean Sea on one coast and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. On a small island, the influence of both gives Saba a fantastic variety of marine life.  The Caribbean is well known for its diversity of marine life - huge sponges, colourful reefs, tropical fish and creatures. The Atlantic, another type of habitat, is home to much larger, ocean roaming creatures. Saba is close to St. Martin, and both islands are known for the "bigger stuff", rarely seen elsewhere, like sharks, rays and huge shivers of hammerheads!
Recent sightings in Saban waters include : blue tangs, big eyes, flying gurnards, batfish, sand tile fish, jawfish, long-lured frogfish, orange seahorse, manta rays,  spotted eagle rays, sergeant major fish, spotted drum, french grunt, blue-striped grunts, Southern stingrays, octopus, groupers, snappers, barracuda, and jacks. There are a variety of sharks, hammerheads, white tips, Caribbean reef sharks, black tips, reef and bull sharks regularly cruise the ocean around Saba.  The sea grass on the edges of the reef provides nourishment for Saba's sea turtle population. Large barrel and drooping sponges and yellow cup corals are a colourful backdrop while sergeant majors, queen angelfish, french angelfish, black margates, frogfish and dog snappers swim past. Huge boulders and rock formations provide a sheltered starter-home for the young of various species.


The Reef

Lava tunnels and hot springs are evidence of the dramatic birth of the island as a volcano. The small leeward side of the island has wonderful rolling spur and groove lava formations in shallow water - yet another habitat full of marine life, particularly colourful "reef" creatures, sponges and fans. Snorkellers will be able to see many species of marine life due to the clear water and relatively shallow depth of many of these features. Saba's underwater cliffs and pinnacles are a spectacular underwater scene. The famous Saba pinnacles are the peaks of huge underwater mountains that rise dramatically from the depths of the ocean to within 20 metres of the surface. Large sea fans and huge, colourful sponges make the pinnacles a fantastic sight. The most famous is The Eye of the Needle, close to the Third Encounter site. Powerfully impressive as natural wonders in themselves but, with the other lava formations, they provide a varied and healthy range of habitats for a large diversity of marine life. The pinnacles are a favourite of larger fish and ocean roaming species.

The Atlantic coast is more dependent on weather conditions although currents are rare. Most of Saba's underwater features are volcanic coral encrusted boulders but Greer Gut and Giles Quarter Deep Reef are true coral reefs. The white sand ocean floor gives them a very distinctive look and the marine species here are different from other sites around the island. This coast has many large hard coral formations: elkhorn forests, large plate and mushroom shaped star corals and brain corals.


Some Favourite Snorkelling Sites

On Saba the ocean and island conditions are quiet, easy and relaxed - no queues or crowds here. Saba has no permanent beaches, consequently snorkelling is from boats. 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. Apart from the sites in deeper water or those with more challenging ocean conditions, most are suitable for snorkellers. It's a very small island so you won't be more than a few minutes to the boat dock. The boats take small groups each morning so it's an easy schedule and relaxed snorkelling experience. Boat dives need to be planned and it is best to book. There are special snorkelling trips and the boats will always stay with you. Click the diving or nature:underwater links for more information. In the diving section there is a map with a description of Saba's superb dive sites - the best snorkelling sites are indicated. 

Man O' War Shoals and Diamond Rock are classified as pinnacles with sandy bottoms between 20m and 25m. There are many nooks and crannies that are home to every imaginable species. Schools of blue tangs, big eyes and juvenile barracuda patrol these areas. The dark volcanic sand around these sites is home to species like flying gurnards, batfish, hard working sand tile fish and jawfish. These sites are excellent examples of the healthy reefs and thriving marine life around this special island.
Ladder Bay.  The sites here are called Custom House, Porites Point, Babylon, Ladder Labyrinth and Hot Springs. Volcanic lava flow has formed a natural maze of spur and groove formations. Nurse sharks, turtles, white spotted filefish and tarpon are common here. The sea grass on the edges of the reef provides nourishment for Saba's sea turtle population, and you may see spotted eagle rays and seahorses.
Tent Bay - on the sandy top of the reef you will see hundreds of garden eels, razor fish and southern stingrays. Colourful molluscs, large barrel and drooping sponges and yellow cup corals. Octopuses are a common sight here.
Well's Bay and Torrens Point are the most sheltered area of the coast - excellent snorkelling. A series of patch reefs, dotted with huge boulders, provide a sheltered area for the young of various species. You'll see moray eels, sharp-tail eels, gold spotted eels and the less common spotted snake eel that hides in the sand.


The Ocean

The ocean around the island is warm and clear, 26c to 28c most of the year and the visibility is around 30 metres. This crystal clear water allows snorkellers a great view of the spectacular underwater life, marine life you probably won't see anywhere else in the world. Snorkelling is rarely disrupted by the weather. The weather is almost always warm and sunny - the air temperature ranges from 26c to 30c with a cooling breeze - very comfortable for Europeans. Our main advice to snorkellers is to wear a T shirt - and don't forget to breathe ! When you see the ocean around Saba it will take your breath away.


Saba Marine Park

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. 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 60 m, as well as offshore sea mounts.  The introduction of strict controls, and the efforts of locals and divers, has managed to protect and preserve the underwater environment. Due to this protection Saba's reefs are pristine. Annual scientific surveys indicate that fish density, variety and size are increasing and the growing number of shark sightings is clear evidence of this.


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.  Due to its "anonymity" and lack of commercial development Saba is an unspoiled gem. If you want to take some boat trips, special courses or excursions, you should book in advance. Boat trips and excursions are in small groups and can get booked up. We can reserve any trips or excursions you might wish to enjoy whilst on Saba. Booking your on-island services with us is a little cheaper and we can include that into your ATOL protected holiday itinerary.