Fewer than 2,000 people live on this small island, in four small villages. There are no "built up" areas, and everywhere you go you on the island you will be able to enjoy the natural world of this special island. Be it lizards, aphids, sea life, or otherwise, Saba offers a level of diversity that seems impossible given its extremely small size. Due to Saba's rugged topography, and rich volcanic soil, there are six distinct ecosystems on the island, from the seal level meadows to the summit of Mt. Scenery : coastal area, shrub land, deciduous forest, evergreen forest, tropical rainforest and the tropical cloud forest. Each of the six areas is a different habitat for wildlife to thrive. Saba has exciting landscape to explore and enjoy, home to a diverse and interesting wildlife and some unique species.
Saba is known as "The Unspoiled Queen" due to the protection of its unique ecosystem.
Although small, Saba's rugged landscape is covered by several distinct vegetation types,
A variety of habitats for a fascinating diversity of creatures, some found only on this island.
Visitors will enjoy being surrounded by Saba's unique and wonderful natural world.
Saba's dominant feature is the impressive peak of the volcano (long dormant). Mt. Scenery is the highest point in the Dutch Kingdom at 877m ! The mountain is covered in a dense, jungle like, rain forest with a huge variety of creatures. The island's vegetation varies according to altitude and rainfall leading to an interesting variation in the wildlife in each area. The top of Mt. Scenery is often lost to sight in the clouds and the peak and upper slopes have cloud-forest environment. Further down the mountain, in the High hilltops to the lower slopes region, there are lots of Mountain Palms, Tree Ferns, Elephant Ears, Heliconias and Wild plantain trees are abundant. Closer to sea level there are Redwood, Sea Grape, White Cedar, Turpentine trees and cacti.
The Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), a non-profit organisation, was established in 1987, to continue that legacy of protection of this extraordinary environment. The Saba Conservation Foundation has established, marked and maintained trails for visitors to enjoy Saba's countryside. The "Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean," has some fantastic hikes around rain forest, tide pools, historic ruins, and rich natural wonderland often with breathtaking views. Visitors are drawn to Saba by their appreciation of the island's healthy ecosystem and the well marked trails are easily the best way to get close to nature. There is a hiking trail to go up the mountain that starts just outside Windwardside. It's best to start early as the summit is shrouded in cloud by the afternoon. On a clear day you'll be astonished at the beautiful view of the neighbouring small islands in the bright blue Caribbean Sea - St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Kitts, and St. Eustatius.
As well as the numerous trails through the dense vegetation of the heart of the island there are some interesting coastal walks, to see the many bird species for example. The Tide Pools of Saba are remarkable rock pools, a short hike around the coast. These pools are crevices and gullies between the ancient lava flows. The crystal clear water gives you a fantastic view of some unusual species, various types of sea urchins, small colourful fish and sea flora. You also have dramatic views of the Caribbean Sea and the northeast side of the island. Keep one eye on the ocean, when the tide comes in, it can produce some big waves.
Saba's plant and animal life is a mixture of native and introduced species. Tree frogs, goats and chickens are all introduced species. Indigenous species include: Saban Anole lizard (found only on Saba), Green Iguanas and Red-Bellied Racer Snakes (completely harmless).
Saba is home to over sixty species of birds, many of which are seabirds. Bridled Terns, Sooty Terns and Brown Booby birds breed every year in late spring on Green Island. Red Billed & White-Tailed Tropicbirds nest in crevices and ledges of the sheer cliffs while Frigate Birds and Brown Boobies swoop and dive close to the rugged coastline. Regular visitors include the Common Ground Dove, Bridled Quail Dove, Red-tailed Hawks, Thrashers, Hummingbirds and Bananaquits. The rich waters surrounding Saba are feeding grounds for a wide variety of other seabirds, including Storm-petrels, Pelicans, and Gulls. Many migrating birds visit the coastline to rest and feed before continuing their journeys across the ocean. All of this diversity comes from Saba's unique ecology.
There is one species of amphibian on Saba - the Tree Frog or Johnstone's Whistling Frog or the name I like best the Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog. Tree frogs are nocturnal, and small, so you are more likely to hear them than see them. You might be lucky enough to see them in damp areas, sleeping in plant bowl bases, under leaves or, as you might expect, in trees. Saba's frog does not need water for the development of the tadpole. Instead the tiny frogs hatch from the egg without passing through a tadpole stage. Females have been known to guard their clutches until they hatch. Saba's frog eats some invertebrates but mainly insects. The Latin name - Eleutherodactylus johnstonei - comes from Eleutheros and daktylos, both Greek words describing the 'free finger' of this amphibian. The "johnstonei" was the
Chief Justice of Grenada who, in the early 20th century, sponsored collectors of the first specimens.
Including marine turtles and introduced species, there are 11 reptile species on Saba. Red-Footed Tortoise, Scaly sea turtles, Loggerhead Turtle, Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Leathery sea turtles, Leatherback Turtle. Sad to say all the turtles species are endangered species.
The Saban Anole (Anolis sabanus) is an indigenous species of anole lizard that is unique to the island of Saba and a common sight around the island. Males reach a length of 7cm., and are a pale ash-gray or yellow underneath, with irregular dark tan patches on their backs and head. The dewlap is pale yellow with a green or orange tint, which they inflate to assert there dominance, when mating or in territorial disputes. Females are smaller with less distinct patches and a mid-dorsal stripe.
The Red-bellied Racer (Alsophis rufiventris) is a species of Colubrid snake, endemic to the islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, and Nevis. Males have black-edged patches that develop into a dark stripe along the middle of their back. Females have a series of streaks and patches on their backs. Other common names include the Saba Racer and the Orange-bellied Racer. The non-poisonous and harmless Racer snake is a common sight along the trails and roadsides. Usually they disappear quickly into the undergrowth, but sometimes, when stalking prey, you can approach quite closely. This species is only found on Saba and St. Eustatius.
House Gecko, Saba Least Gecko, Turnip-Tailed Gecko, Green Iguana
The Saba Least Gecko (Sphaerodactylus sabanus) is a gecko endemic to Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, and Nevis. Both sexes reach a maximum length of about 3cm., with a brown coloured back and an orange tint to the head. Its belly varies from white to light brown, with a white or yellow throat. Its head is covered in dark stripes or spots. It has a dark spot on the back of its head, and its body and tail are usually covered with lighter, smaller spots.