11 Best Sights in Saba

Mt. Scenery

Fodor's choice

Stone and concrete steps—1,064 of them—rise to a mahogany grove at the roughly 2,900-foot summit. En route, the steps pass giant elephant ears, ferns, begonias, mangoes, palms, and orchids—six identifiable ecosystems in all. Staff at the Trail Shop in Windwardside can provide a field guide (by advanced reservation). Have your hotel pack a lunch, wear sturdy shoes, and take a jacket and water. The three-hour round-trip is best begun in the early morning.

Cove Bay

Near the airport on the island's northeast side, this 20-foot-long strip of rocks and pebbles laced with gray sand is really the only place for sunning. You can also swim in a small tide pool, which the government has managed to keep clear of problematic sargussum seaweed. Beach shoes are recommended as it is rocky, and bring snorkel gear for underwater adventure.

Flat Point

This is the only place on the island where planes can land. The runway here is one of the world's shortest, with a length of approximately 1,300 feet. Only STOL (short takeoff and landing) prop planes dare land here, as each end of the runway drops off more than 100 feet into the crashing surf below.

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Fort Bay

The end of the Road is also the jumping-off point for Saba's dive operations and the site of the St. Maarten ferry dock. The island's only gas station is here, as is the 277-foot pier that accommodates tenders from ships. On the quay is a decompression chamber, dive shops, and Saba's Marine Conservation center.

Harry L. Johnson Museum

Small signs mark this 160-year-old former sea captain's home, surrounded by lemongrass, clover, and a playground for small children. It has been renovated, but period pieces like the handsome mahogany four-poster bed, an antique organ, and the kitchen's rock oven still remain. You can also look at old documents, such as a letter a Saban wrote after the hurricane of 1772, in which he sadly says, "We have lost our little all." The delightful stroll to the museum down the stone-walled Park Lane is one of the prettiest walks in the Caribbean. 

Saba Archaeological Center

A small museum in Windwardside reveals some surprising facts about Saba's past thanks to the diligent efforts of island archaeologists, who also encourage local youth to take part in their digs. Visitors enjoy the illuminating displays and exhibits at the Cultural Heritage Center. Check their Facebook page for the latest of special exhibitions and events.

Saba Dutch Museum

A family's interesting and extensive collection of antiques, paintings, Dutch pottery, antiquarian books, and other interesting items related to Saba's Dutch heritage are exhibited in a traditional cottage.

Saba National Marine Park

Established in 1987 to preserve and manage the island's marine resources, this marine park encircles the island, dipping down to 200 feet. It's zoned for diving, swimming, fishing, boating, and anchorage. A unique aspect of Saba's diving is the submerged pinnacles at about 70 feet deep. Here all forms of sea creatures rendezvous. The information center offers talks and slide shows for divers and snorkelers and provides literature on marine life. (Divers are charged $3 per dive to help maintain the park facilities.) Before you visit, call to see if anyone is around.

The Bottom

Sitting in a bowl-shape valley 820 feet above the sea, this town is the seat of government and the home of the lieutenant governor. The governor's mansion, next to Wilhelmina Park, has fancy fretwork, a steeply pitched roof, and wraparound double galleries.

On the other side of town is the Wesleyan Holiness Church, a small stone building with white fretwork. Though it's been renovated and virtually reconstructed over the years, its original four walls date from 1919; go inside and look around. Stroll by the church, beyond a place called the Gap, to a lookout point where you can see the 400 rough-hewn steps leading down to Ladder Bay. This and Fort Bay were the two landing sites from which Saba's first settlers had to haul themselves and their possessions up to the heights. Sabans sometimes walk down to Ladder Bay to picnic. Think long and hard before you do: climbing back requires navigating the same 400 steps.

Windwardside

The island's second-largest village, perched at 1,968 feet, commands magnificent views of the Caribbean. Here amid the oleander bushes are rambling lanes and narrow alleyways that wind through the hills; clusters of tiny, neat houses, cafés and shops; and the Saba Tourist Office. At the village's northern end, the Church of St. Paul's Conversion is a colonial building with a red-and-white steeple. A large community graveyard is across from the church.

Zion Hill

The Road makes 14 hairpin turns up nearly 2,000 vertical feet to what was once called Hell's Gate, but is now known as Zion Hill. Holy Rosary Church is a stone structure that looks medieval but was built in 1962. In the community center behind the church, village women sell their intricate lace. The same women make the potent rum-based Saba Spice, each according to her old family recipe.