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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Flamboyant Cottage in
Saba/Netherland Antilles

Sea Saba/Flamboyant Cottage, Apr, 2008,

by David Vickery & Suzanne Leeson, NJ, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 4161.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The freakish April rain rattled like hail on the fuselage of the DeHavilland Twin Otter, crammed with 16 passengers, and night was falling. Off into the fog, no island in sight. The plane banked to port and vertical cliffs of black rock appeared to the starboard. The pilot announced that we would circle until the rain lightened. The runway in Saba is only 1300 feet long. The plane made the final approach, bounced down, skidded, slammed on the brakes and we stepped out into the rain. At the “terminal” we went through Immigration again, while two burly Dutch police scanned the crowd for the Usual Suspects. A cab driver sent by Sea Saba said he would take us to Flamboyant Cottage, but won’t go down the driveway because of the rain. He left us and all our gear at the top of a 30 degree decline with a final bit of advice: don’t put the wheeled dive bags behind you, they’ll push you over. So I put them in front of me, and they pulled me over.
Flamboyant Cottage with its two bed rooms is large enough for four, but just. The master bed room had a queen bed, while the second bed room held two singles.The master bath had an odor of sewage that increased as the week progressed. (When we got home the Sea Saba staff emailed and said they’d check it out) The kitchen was basic, but Sea Saba had stocked it for us before we arrived. The living room held a TV, couch, CD and DVD players, and French doors that opened onto a porch with chairs. One level down was the pool, and chaise lounges. In the days to come we would eat our lunch at the cottage, gazing over a turquoise sea at St. Eustatius, Kitts and Nevis in the distance.
We opted to hike the next day and climbed into clouds toward Mt. Scenery until a local guy cutting grass warned us not to go any higher without water. Nevertheless we saw hikers in flip-flops scrambling over gnarled roots and wet rocks. We opted for a lesser peak and when the clouds cleared we could see the shoreline below, in bright sunlight.
We were picked up at 9:00 the next day and taken to the dock at Fort Bay for a 10:00 two-tank departure. Sea Saba has the best boats for diving on the island. The Sea Dragon and Giant Stride are each 42’ with a 12’ beam. The Dragon doesn’t have a head; the Stride does, but it was out of service. The tank racks hold AL 80’s of air and 32% EANx. 100 cube tanks are available. Fills were always 3000 psi. The crew sets up your gear for the first dive; you can set it up for the second dive or they’ll do it for you. Be advised, there is no rinse tank for cameras, just an empty plastic bin. Fresh water is an issue on Saba, and an excuse not to rinse gear after the dive day is done; the staff gives it a quick shot with a hose and that’s it.
Saba has the oldest Marine Park in the Caribbean and it shows in the health of the reefs. Our first dive was at Customs House. Huge barrel sponges dotted the small bommie with evidence of recent spawning. The reef was healthy and coral did not appear to be bleached. A second dive at Babylon was eel heaven, with spotted and golden morays as well as a sharp tailed snake eel. A large school of tarpon appeared at the end of the dive and we hung out while the low air folks surfaced. Afterward, DM Troy Hooper repaired my bubbling Dive Alert. He and the rest of the staff were helpful and friendly. Staff at the Sea Saba office were happy to arrange taxis and dinner reservations.
At Twilight Zone, a pinnacle beginning at 90’, we saw our first shark, a Caribbean Reef. Over the next few days we would see nurse and black tip sharks as well. There were interesting macro critters too. Troy used a mirror to coax a sail fin blenny out of his home. Yellow headed jaw fish seemed to be everywhere. We saw Pedersen’s shrimp, banded coral shrimp, arrow crabs, and a bat-wing coral crab.
The eagle rays at David’s Drop Off hung around for 5 minutes. Turtles seemed unafraid. Groupers are large and schools of jacks were seen frequently. Second dives were good. Overhangs were crammed with fish, healthy sea fans and gorgonians. The signature dive is Diamond Rock, a sharp pinnacle resembling a mountain placed on a sand bed. Nurse sharks and turtles, healthy coral, sponges and canyons to explore.
Top side we enjoyed Indonesian Night at the Eco-Lodge, after a 2 minute hike in the dark. Good food and inexpensive wine. Most nights found us in one of the burger-steak-fish restaurants like the Swinging Doors, Scout’s Place or Brigadoon. Be aware that if you are not staying in Windwardside, you may find yourself walking up hill after dinner to your private cottage as the taxis may not show up for such a short ride. The Gate House Café is worth the trip to Hells Gate. Michel and Lyliane Job are gracious hosts serving upscale French/Caribbean dishes with lots of wines by the glass.
WinAir rescheduled our return flight to St. Maarten an hour later than planned, giving us no time to make our connection. We had to return on the ferry, a.k.a. the “Vomit Comet” for the two hour ride to the main island.
If you’re tired of Bonaire and the prices in the Caymans, give Saba a try. Elegant it ain’t; shorts and T-shirts everywhere, no casinos, discos, or beach. WinAir will annoy you. But the diving is very good, the locals are friendly, the prices are reasonable, and there is no other place like it.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Caymans, Bahamas, Pueto Rico, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, Hawaii, Fiji, Yap, Palau, PNG, Australia, Bikini Atoll, Maldives.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-100 Ft/ 18-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 1500 psi turn-around, max depth 130', safety stop at 15' for 3 minutes, 500 psi back on boat.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments We'd give a 4 for UWP's because of the subject matter. The facilities were zip.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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