Off the Beaten Path Caribbean – Saba
Those seeking to travel to someplace warm and truly unique can still find hidden and relatively untouched Caribbean islands that offer their own unique style. One of our favorite off-the-beaten-path destinations located in the Caribbean is the island of Saba. Accessible from St. Martin via a fifteen minute plane ride or an hour and a half ferry ride, Saba is known as “The Unspoiled Queen.” Those who fly are in for a thrill ride. That’s because Saba’s airport has the shortest international runway in the world which sits on the largest and flattest portion of land. This land is sixty feet above the ocean with sheer cliffs on each side of the runway leading to rocky depths. With the risk of over-shooting the runway and falling into the ocean, many pilots rate this as the world’s most dangerous airport, even though no major tragedies have occurred there.
Saba is a volcanic island with cliff faces and rocky shores unlike a reef island. It does not have the sandy beaches notable throughout the Caribbean, however, the island still attracts visitors with its diverse ecosystem and unique diving experiences. There are four small villages on Saba: The Bottom, which is the largest and the capital of the island; Windwardside, the second largest village and home to most of the shopping and tourist activity; Hell’s Gate, the first village visitors see when traveling from the airport; and St. John’s, the smallest and most residential. To get around, you can either walk, take a taxi or even rent a car.
Saba is a magical place for scuba diving, hiking or just admiring nature. In fact, it is one of the top destinations in the world to go scuba diving. Its sheer underwater cliffs, pinnacles and many diving locations surrounding the island offer a unique experience. Wall dives are popular and offer lots of nooks and crannies in which sea life can live and hide. The hiking trails offer a nice view of Saba’s unspoiled landscapes and unique beauty. Some of the trails pass old ruins, some delve into caves and some lead to the uninhabited side of the island. All of the trails are well marked and in pretty good condition. Some trails can be treacherous and very difficult, so if you only have flip-flops, stick to the easier paths.
My Kitchen, found in Windwardside behind the Sea Saba dive shop, is a “must try” for dinner. They have outside tables and some of the best food on Saba. The Saba Treasure Inn and Tavern, also located in Windwardside near the Sea Saba dive shop, gets its name from the interior which resembles the inside of a boat. It is relatively cheap and has great pizza. While not famous for high-end nightlife, there are options available on both weekdays and weekends and there is no official closing time. Many of these bars, like Swinging Doors located in the middle of Windwardside, are filled with locals at the end of the day and are a great way to absorb the local culture.
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