Saba Travel Guide & Saba Photos |


Luke Handzlik

Welcome to the Island of Saba, part of Netherlands Antilles, in the Caribbean -™

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Saba: Dubbed the 'Unspoiled Queen,' low-key Saba (pronounced SAY-ba), population 1,500, has strikingly little tourism. Both the smallest and loftiest of the Netherlands Antilles, the island isn't a typical Caribbean powdered-sugar beach destination - in fact, it has hardly any beaches at all. Island of Saba is an extinct volcano.

Instead, ruggedly steep Saba has beautiful scenery, good hiking and pristine diving. Its handful of villages are spotlessly neat, close-knit and quiet - making Saba better for peaceful unwinding than for rollicking nightlife.

Saba is ideal for the traveler looking for a secluded haven, in peaceful and friendly surroundings. Rising steeply from the azure sea, the tiny island in the Caribbean is a magical experience far away from the cares and worries of today's hurried world. Four small villages are as quaint and charming as the gentle, friendly manner of the Saban people, descended from hardy 17th century pioneers.

Visitors feel they have stepped back in history, yet many modern luxuries are here to be enjoyed. Saba is a monument to nature's best above and below the ocean's surface. The famous Saba Marine Park is second to none. Saba is a magical place for scuba diving, hiking, admiring the nature or honeymooning.¹


Our twenty-passenger Winnair turboprop plane flight left Island of St. Maarten's Princess Juliana Airport on schedule for the short hop to Saba. Saba is only five square miles, however it appears much bigger when seen from the plane during the final approach. The island came into sight ahead of us beautiful, lush and green. We continued to get closer and closer. The mountainside was looming straight ahead and way above us, I had prepared myself for the Saba landing but was not ready for this. It seemed that we would surely crash into the mountainside until at the last moment the pilot banked a sharp left and we had about seven seconds to look at the runway ahead of us. That was a runway, was this a joke? It looked about a city block long and brought screams and cries from some passengers on the flight. We touched down quickly and to everyone's relief came to a very quick stop at the airport terminal.

SABA - Island of Saba - Dutch Caribbean - - Luke Handzlik
Saba | View from the airport
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Taxis were awaiting our arrival at the airport. We got into the car and then started our first ride up Saba's famous road. Dutch engineers told the Sabans that the road could not be built however Josephus Hassell decided it could be and he and a crew of locals spent 18 years building it entirely by hand. Before the road was built everything that arrived on Saba had to be brought up what was called the ladder, 400 steps straight up the mountainside to the customs house. If you could not carry it yourself Saban porters would haul for $1 per trip. Everything from building materials, household goods and even a baby grand piano were hauled up those steps. We passed through the village of Hells Gate and continued on to Windwardside.

Saba itself is a very beautiful lush island that reminded me of Disneyland because it was so pretty and neat. Small Dutch gingerbread cottages line the hills and valleys and the views are breathtaking. There is virtually no crime, we never locked our doors and roamed the streets at night with no fear. Everything in Saba is clean and sparkling, the streets are clean, the houses all look like they have been recently painted with their white siding, red roofs and green shutters.  

The smiles and friendliness you get from the locals are genuine and on an island with only 1000 inhabitants it is easy to make friends quickly. Two items not to be missed on Saba are the Drawn Lace handmade by local ladies and the Saba Spice, a sweet liquor also made at home by several different ladies on the island. You can purchase either of the above from one of the ladies homes in Windwardside or The Bottom.

We decided to spend our first afternoon climbing Mt. Scenery which is 2855' high with a total of 1064 steps. Unfortunately, my travel buddy Jennifer, had fallen on her butt right at the very first step -- I couldn't tell whether she was crying or laughing -- she went back to our cottage and made no further attempts. Watching Jennifer flip didn't stop me from climbing the volcano.

SABA - Island of Saba - Dutch Caribbean - - Luke Handzlik
Saba | Path leading to top of Mount Scenery
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I didn't keep track of how many stone steps I had climbed, but I was quite high given the fact that I was virtually surrounded by clouds. It was still mid-afternoon; nevertheless, visibility was getting worse as I was climbing higher and higher. It was just me and no one else. Here is this path in front of me. Steps are getting slipper and bigger. It was getting darker and colder.

I heard weird sounds. I though someone was following me -- it wasn't human -- it may have been some jungle creature. I couldn't tell, and I couldn't see. I though I was going delirious. I felt alone and scared. I was holding on to my camera and water bottle. I figured if something were to happen to me, at least I would have something documented on my 35mm film. I would use my water for survival or maybe scare something away. Eventually, I couldn't see anything around me. I didn't know where I was going. I had to follow the path, but it was impossible to see, so I had stopped and looked around to see where I had ended up.

Suddenly, it became dead quiet and air around me reeked of sulfur gas -- the crater of Mt. Scenery was nearby, I assumed. You could only hear me breathing. I was hoping I had made it to the top, but I didn't -- I didn't know where I was. I freaked and turned back. I actually started running with caution, of course. These steps were wet and dangerous. I just wanted to get to Windwardside -- I was at least half-way from from where I wanted to be. I felt like someone was following my footsteps -- paranoia took the best of me. As I got lower, I could finally see better.

The path was bringing me closer to that very first step which almost killed Jennifer. If you're going to attempt this journey, be sure to bring good hiking shoes as this is an Elfin rain forest and the steps get very slippery in some areas.

The lush vegetation was beautiful and the large Mountain Mahogany trees were a spectacular sight. The national flower is the Black eyed Susan which were everywhere. It takes an 1 1/2 hour each way on the trail and the view from the top was well worth it.

I am now in what is called the cloud forest. It is said that as the clouds part you can see the villages far below. Unfortunately, I didn't successfully complete my journey to the top. I'll miss experiencing one of the most beautiful views in the Caribbean.

SABA - Island of Saba - Dutch Caribbean - - Luke Handzlik
Saba | Typical cottage-style house in Saba - Mt. Scenery surrounded by clouds in background.
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All to soon it was time to leave Saba. The takeoff from Saba was almost as exciting as the landing. We rolled down the runway and dropped off the end of it not knowing if we were going to go up or down! Saba is definitely a great island experience.

Main Page About the Island of Saba Around the Island   Diving in Saba How to get to Saba Map of the Island Airfare & Hotel Info Contact Us Advertise Here Home Page Guide to Amsterdam - Holland Guide to St. Maarten - Netherlands Antilles

           *1: Source: Saba Tourisim