Saba: Getting There
There are two ways to get to Saba and I have a feeling they’re both an adventure! We took the WinAir flight from St. Maarten which is a quick 15 minute flight. If you’re not into small planes (I’m learning to hate them less) or want to save some dough there are also two ferries that leave on various schedules. The Dawn II leaves from, wait for it, the “Dock Maarten.” Any grunge lovers from the 90s will appreciate the sentiment. The ferry takes about 2 hours & I’m sure it’s gorgeous to watch the island coming into view from the ocean. We get horribly seasick so we opted for the flight. Plus we wanted to see the arrival and departure firsthand.
Saba is the current title holder of the “shortest commercial runway in the world.” Pair that with an island that juts straight out the ocean and you’re in for an interesting arrival. The runway is perched at the bottom of the island on a small flat area. For most of the flight you can only see the ocean which is a beautiful dark blue. Side note: almost all of the water around Saba is the same dark blue because it’s so deep. There are depths of 1000ft or more just offshore & there are just a few small areas where you can see the classic turquoise water-color that comes to mind when you think of the Caribbean.
For the best view of the approach, sit on the right side of the plane closest to the front. Once the island comes into sight through the cockpit windows, the pilots start banking to the left giving the right side spectacular views.
As soon as the wheels touch down the pilots slam on the brakes to ensure they stop before the end of the runway. It ends in a cliff leading to the ocean in case you’re curious 🙂 There’s no fence or guard rail since this is the direction they takeoff in. For the best view leaving Saba, sit in the front or second row in the aisle seat on the right hand side (the side with two seats). This will give you a view out of the cockpit windows which shows the end of the runway speeding toward you as the plane takes flight at the last second. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience!
Have time to kill in St. Maarten? Don’t just sit at the airport! There are some great options just 10 minutes away and a wall of cabs waiting to take you there. Check your bags and head to one of these popular spots:
1. Sunset Bar & Grill at Maho beach – this is a great place to watch the arriving flights. The planes come scary close to beach-goers. It is VERY loud though, so keep that in mind. There are chairs and umbrellas for rent on the beach too but flights taking off produce a lot of wind and sandblast everyone on the beach … so it’s not a good place to chill on the beach but it is a great place to take pics your friends will think you photo-shopped.
2. Mary’s Boon – is located on Simpson’s Bay and has a gorgeous white sand beach and turquoise waters. There are lounge chairs, umbrellas and picnic tables free to anyone patronizing the bar/restaurant. The bartenders will even bring your food and drinks out to the beach for you, very nice! This is what we opted for. We spent a week in St. Maarten a few years ago and spent an afternoon at Maho so we were more interested in a beach day. They’ll also hold any bags for you securely in the office. This was hands down the best layover we’ve ever had!
Stay warm everyone! It’s back to feeling winter-like here and raining again. This has been the rainiest winter I can remember here!
Next up: the diving!
Warm thoughts to all!