Adventurers Dive Log: Scuba Diving in Saba

Diving in Saba

by Paul Janosi

There is a cone shaped extinct volcano jutting out of the Caribbean Sea 28 miles South of St Maarten. This five-square mile rock, carpeted with lush tropical vegetation until recently has been a well-kept secret amongst scuba divers.Sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, Saba changed masters 12 times before it permanently became Dutch. Although the official language is Dutch, Saba has always been English speaking. The single road that crosses the island was built entirely by hand. It is filled with hairpin turns, zigzagging from Fort Bay to a height of 1600 feet.The population of about 1200 people live in villages at various elevations. The capital of Saba is known as The Bottom, is located at an elevation of 800 feet. Derived from the Dutch word "Botte", which means "Bowl Shaped", this village is nestled on a plateau and surrounded by rocky volcanic domes. Perched on the crest of two ravines at elevation of1500 feet, is the village of Windwardside, the site of the two largest inns and most of the shops. Teetering on the edge of a mountain at a still higher elevation is the village of Hell's Gate.The Saba Government and the Netherlands Antilles National Parks Foundation established the Saba Marine Park in 1985. It stretches around the entire island to a depth of 200 feet below the high water mark. The main goal of the park is to manage Saba's marine resources.There are 26 spectacular dive sites scattered around Saba, but there are still many more yet to be discovered sites. Third Encounter, Twighlight Zone, Eye of the Needle and Shark Shoals are submerged offshore mountains or pinnacles that rise to a depth of 90 feet. Divers are often greeted by Nassau and Tiger groupers, Jacks and occasionally by a Caribbean Reef shark or hammerhead. The pinnacles are covered with beautiful corals and sponges and most have vertical drop offs lined with deep water gogonians.There are also shallower dives such as Tent Reef. This is a long shallow ledge with undercuts and overhangs gradually changing into a steep wall known as Tent Wall. I have seen large barracuda, hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks, longlure frog fish and sea horses here. There is also an abondance of reef invertebrates.The vertical walls of Man of War Shoals provide a haven for large colorful anemoneas, barrel, tube and encrusting sponges and schools of various fish. Diamon Rock is one of my most favourite sites. This is a huge rock pinnacle that sits in about 80 feet of water on a sandy bottom and juts 90 feet above the surface. In a full circle swim of the rock you can expect to see friendley coney, rock beauties, blue tangs, horse eye jacks, schools of bigeyes, schools of barracuda, stingrays, flying gournards, goatfish and the occasional Caribbean Reef shark. The walls of the rock serve as a base for many varieties of anemones and sponges.My favorite way of diving the Island is from the 106 foot custom designed live aboard dive vessel M/V Caribbean Explorer. Although I have completed 12 voyages, each trip is unique and better than the previous one. I am looking forward to returning to Saba.

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