Diving and Snorkeling

Saba is one of the world's premier scuba-diving destinations. Visibility is extraordinary, and dive sites are alive with corals and other sea creatures. Within ½ mile (¾ km) of shore, seawalls drop to depths of more than 1,000 feet. The Saba National Marine Park, which includes shoals, reefs, and seawalls rich with corals and fish, is dedicated to preserving its marine life.

Divers have a pick of 28 sites, including Third Encounter, a top-rated pinnacle dive (usually to about 110 feet) for advanced divers, with plentiful fish and spectacular coral; Man of War Shoals, another popular pinnacle dive (70 feet), with myriad fish and coral; and Ladder Labyrinth, a formation of ridges and alleys (down to 80 feet), where likely sightings include grouper, sea turtles, and sharks.

Snorkelers shouldn't feel left out: the marine park has several marked spots where reefs or rocks sit in shallow water. Among these sites is Torrens Point, on the northwest side of the island. Waterproof maps are available from the marine park, the Saba Conservation Foundation, and dive shops.

Expect to pay about $60 for a one-tank dive, around $110 for a two-tank dive. There is also a mandatory $3 per dive fee imposed by the marine park and a $1 charge per dive for the hyperbaric chamber.

Sea and Learn. Every October, local dive operator Lynn Costenaro, of Sea Saba, orchestrates a month-long series of events that has become an international attraction. Pharmacologists, biologists, and other nature experts from all over the world descend on Saba to give presentations, lead field trips, and show off research projects, all of which are designed to increase environmental awareness, mostly about the sea. Past events have included monitoring undersea octopus checkpoints and studying the medicinal value of indigenous plants. There are even special events for kids. And best of all, it's free. You can sign up online. 599/416–2246; www.seaandlearn.org.

Dive Operators

Saba Deep. For a personal, one-on-one dive experience, try this outfit, which tends to take out smaller groups. The company provides PADI certifications from beginner to dive master and offers Nitrox diving and equipment if needed. A one-tank dive is $60; two tanks, $110. Fort Bay, n/a Saba. 599/416–3347; www.sabadeep.com.

Saba Divers. Offering multilingual instruction, this company is a great option for those interested in meeting international divers or in practicing their language skills. It's the only outfit on the island that lets customers dive with Nitrox for free. Fort St. #9, Windwardside, n/a Saba. 599/416–2526; www.sabadivers.com.

Saba Freediving School. Luis Barnola leads two- to four-day AIDA Freediving courses as well as animal encounter expeditions for those seeking to push their limits beyond snorkel or tank. Main St., Windwardside, 599/416--9213; www.sabafreediving.com.

Sea Saba. All excursions are accompanied by at least two dive instructors and can include up to 10 divers on one of two 40-foot boats. The staff is both knowledgeable and jovial, making a day on the boat illuminating and enjoyable for any diver. Windwardside, n/a Saba. 599/416–2246; 800/883–7222; www.seasaba.com.

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