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Dive Review of Sea Saba/Cottage Club in
Saba/Saba is a very small island

Sea Saba/Cottage Club: "Getting back in the swing of things", Jun, 2018,

by Fred Kolo, NY, US ( 2 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 10355 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling 1 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments My own diving history is not typical. I first learned to dive at the Club Med in the days when it was J-valves and weight belts, no BCD. I did a fair amount of diving with them in several different locations but I knew I would have to take on more conventional equipment at some point, so I went to Saba to get my PADI certification at Saba Deep, which is currently closed but rumored to be re-opening. This was 30 years ago and Sea Saba was the new kid on the block. It was also the very year that their Marine Park was established--they were very early to realize that what they had must be protected.

I continued to dive in some marvelous locations but now my first Saba trip is already 30 years ago. I had had some extraordinary early experiences and over the next 15 years that continued but I began to see, on return visits, that the reefs were being damaged, not so much by divers as by what we eventually began to call global warming. It was a trip back to the Grand Turk area, which had been pristine the first time I saw it, but had become algae-covered and depressing, that led me to take within that year a one week sign-off trip from diving with a full week of diving in Rangiroa. I had dived Rangiroa briefly more than a dozen years before and while the diving during the week was thoroughly engaging even there it was diminished from what I had once seen. So I completely stopped diving after that trip in 2002.

In any case I now have some rather remote travel coming up in which I would like to include diving so I really needed to do my PADI refresher course and get some dives under my belt. I chose Saba because I had been there when the Marine Park was established and I wanted to see how it had held up. So enough preamble: how was Saba and Sea Saba?

The shop is a very well run facility. They will book a dive package with accommodations and transportation to and from the airport and the pier for diving. The main town of Windwardside is at 1500' so one gets driven to the pier as part of the diving. The staff is engaging and skilled. One gets picked up at 8:45 and after a two dive morning one is then driven back to one's hotel (too grand a word for most of the appealing but simple choices there) in plenty time for lunch. The town is small and easygoing with excellent restaurants and a very friendly vibe. While it is a Dutch island it was settled long ago by groups from the British Isles, so English is the principal language. The island is full of hiking trails but if diving one has to think carefully about the elevation. The central peak rises to 3000'. The island is a complex series of volcanic peaks which plunge steeply down to the sea. There are no beaches, hence no beach resorts, so the tourist scene is very small. The permanent population is only 1,900. Many will be charmed by the island and enjoy it fully, others may find it a bit dull.

The Cottage Club where I stayed is a group of 5 duplex cottage units perched on the hillside. My room was large and airy with a full kitchen (the two supermarkets are just a block or two away), a spotless bathroom, wifi, television, and a ceiling fan--really everything one wants there. A good standard breakfast can be prepared by the staff, and there is a smallish free-form pool. My small balcony looked down to the sea and caught just the tip of the airport runway 1500' below. A quick trip to Google maps will show you the whole island very clearly. Many would find the roads and the runway hair-raising, but the drivers and the pilots are very experienced with them and very skillful.

So how did the diving compare with 1988? The sea was choppy while I was there so the viz was certainly not what it had been, but probably that is seasonal. The reefs were recognizeable as I knew them then, and the fish life of considerable interest but perhaps never quite as dense as I recall. What seems to have happened is a remembered clarity of form in the coral seems perhaps a bit smudged now. It is not pristine the way I remember it, and I don't think that was a function of the somewhat lesser viz. Medium size Caribbean reef sharks cruised by occassionally, one black-tip, and a not very big nurse shark tucked itself under a ledge, as did a green turtle--a loggerhead was free swimming. A large lobster came out of his hole to seemingly check me out--surprising behaviour! There is a good variety of common and less common reef fish and smaller creatures. We did not dive the extraordinary pinnacles which rise from below to just 100' and I recall as exciting dives, but the conditions did not lend themselves to visiting them. Their Marine Park has kept Saba in rather better shape than many locations in the Caribbean, but the pleasures of their reefs run to the mild side, at least in the sea conditions that I encountered this time. But for those who are susceptible it is a charming island and it's a real getaway from hustle and bustle. This should give you some cue as to whether you would want to visit.

My 8 full days including airport transportation, the PADI refresher course and dive, 3 more days of diving (the off-days were my own choice--I wanted to take it slowly), all the diving transportation and one additional trip to "The Bottom", the other small town on the island, and back, and 8 nights at the Cottage Club came to roughly $1900.
Websites Sea Saba   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Moorea, Rangiroa, Grand Turk, various Bahamas, Sipaden, Loma Loma Fiji, Martinique, Cayman and Little Cayman, Belize, more and not at all in that order
Closest Airport fly to Saba from St. Maarten Getting There direct flights to St. Maarten from NYC and MIA, and San Juan. The jump to Saba is a 12 minute flight that goes 3 or so times a day.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 80-80°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-65 Ft/ 15-20 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions This is group boat diving with a dive master and while a bit loose one is expected to remain in sight of the DM, but it is not regimented. Groups varied from 4 to 8, and were two dives with downtime on the boat. I think 10 divers would be a few too many, but they have two boats.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Not being a photographer I can't really comment, but no one diving had elaborate camera equipment. There were a number of digital point-and-shoot cameras. In the best viz on their most dramatic sites I think one could get some striking photos. There are small "finds" which excited several of those with cameras.
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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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