Saba IslandsSaba (pronounced SAY-ba), with a land area of just 5 sq. miles, is the smallest island of the Netherlands Antilles, a non-sovereign overseas territory of Netherlands in the Atlantic. It is located in the north-eastern Caribbean, about 28 miles south of St Maarten. Saba, along with St Maarten and Statia form the Windward Islands of the Dutch Caribbean, which falls under the administration of the Dutch Kingdom.
Historians record Saba as being spotted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, but for some reasons he chose not to land there. The island remained away from attention for more than another century until a group of ship wrecked Englishmen landed in the island. They recorded the island as uninhabited when they were finally rescued by other shipmen. The island was finally taken over by the Dutch West India Company in 1816. Saba was added as an extension of their already established colony in the nearby St. Eustatius Island. Saba also has a history of brief English occupation in the Napoleonic era.
Saba - known as the ‘unspoilt queen’ of the Caribbean – is a famous tourism and ecotourism site in the Caribbean. The major attraction of the island is its pristine beaches that stretch all along the entire circumference of the island. The rich coral life around the islands makes it a famous site for scuba diving. There are umpteen opportunities for trekking, hiking, and birding as well.
In fact, the major attraction of Saba is the knowledge that the island sits on an extinct volcano – the Mount Scenery – that stands tall at 888 m above the sea level. It is the highest point on the mountain and in the Netherlands itself. One can climb to the top of the mountain, but need to follow the marked trails and after hours of exhausting trekking on end.
But the trip to the island won’t be complete unless one visit its numerous historic sites and ruins scattered around that speaks volumes on its relatively small history. It is believed that Saba was once the haven of sea pirates. The remains of their settlements can still be seen on the island.
Now a word of caution, late summer and early fall are hurricane season all across the Caribbean. All other seasons are ideal for tourism.
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For tourists, valid passports are necessary documents for entry, the exception being Canadian and US citizens, who just need to produce a valid proof of their nationality. The currency of the island is Netherlands Antilles guilder or florin, even though US dollars are also widely accepted.
Saba has a commercial airport - Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – that has regular flights to St Maarten, the major aviation hub nearby. Also, there are frequent motorized catamaran services between the two islands. Inside Saba, it is advisable that the tourists hire a taxi so that they can move around without any hitch.