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#tbt Saba: The Unspoiled Queen

6/12/2014



I was feeling a bit nostalgic so I decided to do a throwback post to one of the places most dear to my heart: the small island of Saba in the Caribbean. What, you haven't ever heard of Saba? Well neither has most of the world, but for me it's a place I remember knowing most of my entire life.

The story goes that my ancestors during the 18th century were making their way across the Atlantic in order to immigrate to the U.S. when their boat got pirated and were sent to live on the island of Saba. My great grandfather, who was born on Saba, decided to leave and go to the U.S. because he didn't want to be a fisherman, which is basically what most men on Saba became back then.  Although I'm not 100% sure of the validity of this story it's what I always like to tell people when introducing Saba because it sounds cool. It also makes sense since Saba was once a sanctuary for pirates who had been deported from England to live in the Caribbean colonies.

Today it is the smallest municipality of the Netherlands and has the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mt. Scenery. Unlike other islands in the area it doesn't have any beaches, but attracts tourists looking for a remote escape and offers hikes, climbs, and spectacular diving.

Anyways, having been told the stories of this magical place from my mom which had been passed down from my grandparents it had always been a dream of mine to visit Saba. In sixth grade we were given an assignment where we had to create a budget for a imaginary adult who was given to us, part of which was planning a vacation. Naturally, I chose Saba. Little did I know that nearly a decade later I would get to actually go on that exact trip.

During my junior year of college my mom randomly asked me one day if I would like to take a vacation to Saba with her. Of course my answer was yes! We were both ecstatic to finally be able to visit a place we had dreamed of since we were little.

How do you get to Saba? Saba is a 5 square mile island in the middle of the Caribbean so the answer is not easily.  In order to get to Saba you must first fly to its larger neighboring island, St. Maarten. Then you have a choice between taking a ferry or a tiny plane to Saba. Many people opt for the plane since the ferry ride is rough resulting in a lot of sea sickness.

We chose to go by air which is definitely an exhilarating way to begin a trip. The plane that takes you to Saba is tiny! It holds about 16 passengers and has seats that resemble those on a school bus. Saba's airport boasts the world's shortest commercial runway.  As you approach the island you feel as if the plane is going to crash right into it. Then you somehow miraculously and gently touchdown, coming to a stop before the runway ends at a steep cliff which goes directly into the ocean. Despite these conditions, Winair (the airline that flies to Saba) has never had an accident...and they operate 4 flights each day!

Inside our tiny plane to Saba!
Our first glimpse of the island!
Our first destination once we got to Saba was the town Windwardside which is named because it is on the windward side of the island (you'll start to see a pattern with Saba's naming techniques) and stayed in a lovely place called the Cottage Club.

View from our balcony in the Cottage Club
Probably one of the most unique things about Saba is how quickly people end up feeling like family. The entire of population of Saba is under 2,000 so it is definitely a tight knit community. We had people take us on hikes, give us a tour of the island, talk about our ancestry, and we even hitchhiked (which is a perfectly normal thing to do there)!

House my great grandfather was born in!

The town of Windwardside with a view of Mt. Scenery


After spending a few days in Windwardside we took The Road to The Bottom. There is one main road on Saba, it is called "The Road".  The Road was constructed by locals after Dutch and Swiss engineers told them it couldn't be built so they decided to take on the task themselves.
Queen's Garden's Resort
The Bottom is the capital of Saba and the largest town.  It's the place where we spent the last part of our trip. We stayed at Queen's Garden which clings to a cliff above The Bottom. This is actually the hotel that my 6th grade self researched and decided to stay in for my project. It was more amazing than I could even imagine. Our room had its own jacuzzi that overlooked the rainforest and part of the Caribbean. As you can imagine we spent most of our time simply relaxing, rewinding and enjoying the sounds of nature.
Another view from Queen's Garden




Well's Bay...there is occasionally a beach here

Hike through the rainforest
Honestly there's so much I could say about Saba that I could go on typing for hours and hours and still not do it justice. Instead, check out these resources if you'd like to learn more:
http://www.sabatourism.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saba

I'm thinking of doing more throwback posts since there are so many places I've been that I haven't had a chance to write about so hopefully this will become a weekly thing :)

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