Saba is a tiny island about five square miles that sits on top of a volcano. The island is characterized by sharp peaks and relatively little space. The only flat part of Saba, in fact, is the landing runway for the airport. Flying into Saba can be a thrilling (or frightening) ordeal. Saba, however, is worth the trouble it takes to get there. It is isolated and untouched by time, looking as it did hundreds of years ago even in spite of modern tourism.
Nicknamed the “Unspoiled Caribbean Queen”, Saba was first spotted by Christopher Columbus in 1493. The French claimed it in 1635 but did nothing with the island. The Dutch were the first to settle it in 1640, after which Saba was fought over numerous times between the English, French, Spanish, and Dutch. By 1816, the island was firmly in the hands of the Dutch. Because the island was and still is so mountainous, the Dutch built 800 stone steps in order to create a capital village in the valley, which they called “The Bottom”. More steps were needed for other towns like Windwardside, Fort Bay, Crispeen, and St. John’s. In the 1940s, they constructed The Road, which enabled residents to traverse the island. Other modern conveniences like the television and electricity were not available until the late 1960s. But islanders prefer this slow pace of life, hoping to keep their “unspoiled Caribbean Queen” unspoiled.
Saba’s main attraction is hiking. The Conservation Foundation has created several trails of varying skill and difficulty. The hike up Mount Scenery is one of the more popular trails. There is another that takes visitors to Hell’s Gate, which is the favorite place to go to enjoy sunrise. Fort Bay, on the other hand, is for sunsets.
Scuba diving is the other major activity. The island is completely unspoiled and teeming with various fish, even whales and porpoises. The underwater features of Saba include coral forests, underwater mountains, and eerie caves, which are fun to explore. The dive centers are found in Fort Bay and Windwardside.
Some of the best sights of Saba can be found between Flat Point, the island’s airport, and Windwardside, which is the island’s second largest village. Between Flat Point and Windwardside, you’ll find banana plantations and beautiful tropical foliage. Windwardside is characterized by tiny houses, tiny shops, and most of Saba’s inns. The highlight of the village is the L. Johnson Memorial Museum, the old abode of the famous seafaring captain. For spectacular views of the island and beyond, you can climb up the 1064 steps that lead to the top of Mount Scenery. In St. John’s, be sure to check out the bowl-shaped valley that is 820 feet above sea level. The town is also near Ladder Bay, which is the landing point of the first settlers.
Saba is best known for its lace and Saba Spice. Saba lace has been produced since the 1870s, started by a woman who learned the technique at a convent. Windwardside and The Bottom have most of the shops that sell these beautiful handiworks. Saba Spice, on the other hand, is a type of rum. It is sold in many of the shops in Windwardside.
The nightlife in Saba is not that bad, surprisingly. There are clubs in Windwardside and The Bottom where you can dance all night. You can also find many lounges and bars at Windwardside.