The French West Indies territory of St. Martin has developed a strong reputation for good food, friendly people, beautiful beaches, and a wonderful blend of European and Caribbean culture, but everyone agrees that if you want to experience diving in St. Martin, check out nearby Saba.
Saba itself, like St. Martin's neighbor Sint Maarten, is a Dutch territory, the "smallest municipality of the Netherlands." It lies about 50 kilometers to the southeast of the island of St. Martin, and is accessible by plane and by boat. It takes about 90 minutes to reach Saba from St. Martin.
The island, formerly a volcano, rises steeply out of the ocean, and there are few sandy beaches for visitors to lounge on. Instead, the rocky slopes of the island plunge straight down into the warm waters of the Caribbean into an underwater world of mystery and excitement. The main destination for divers is the Saba Bank, a large submerged atoll of rich biodiversity, and a prime fishing ground, particularly for lobster. Its northeastern side lies about 4.3 km southwest of the island of Saba, and rises about 1000 m above the general depths of the surrounding sea floor. With a length of 60 to 65 km and a width of 30 to 40 km, the atoll offers plenty of space for divers.
The eastern side of the bank is lined with a ridge of living coral, sand and rock, nearly 48 km in length. The depths over the ridge range from 11 to 35 m. The Saba Marine Park circles the entire island from the high-water mark to a depth of 60 m (200 feet), including the seabed and overlying waters.
According to the Saba Conservation Foundation:
Saba is blessed with an abundance of fish in the Marine Park. This is the result of restrictions on fishing, anchoring and extensive diver education as to the rules and regulations. One dramatic indication of this is the large number of Nassau Grouper (Graysbys, Hinds, Coneys) that can be seen on every dive. Ecological surveys have recorded over 150 species, all with healthy populations. Some of the most common pelagic fish include Horse-eye Jacks, Great Barracuda, Wahoo, Tarpon and 5 species of shark. Schooling fish include Wrasses, Blue Tangs, Chromis and Surgeonfish. On almost every dive, Parrotfish, Triggerfish, Angelfish, Snapper and Grunts can be seen in abundance. In sandy areas, Lizardfish, Sand Divers, Flying Gurnards and Garden Eels predominate.
Here's some exciting video of an encounter with a barracuda, courtesy of Sea Saba, a dive company located on that island:
For more information about diving in St. Martin and traveling to Saba, please contact our front desk!