Saba Reopens With A Host Of New Offerings

Saba, the Dutch Caribbean island known as “The Unspoiled Queen” and an ecotourism paradise, reopened its borders May 1, 2021 and lifted quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated visitors. With more than 85 percent of the population vaccinated and the island’s focus on outdoor adventures and sustainability, Saba says it is the ideal post-pandemic destination. 

Islanders spent the time under lockdown, upgrading accommodations and tourism infrastructure, as well as enriching its already abundant natural attractions. The secluded island is ready to welcome visitors with fresh hiking trails, new hotel, dining, and flight options, and a recently discovered mysterious underwater archaeological find for divers.

Here’s a look at what’s new:

New Flight Option

In addition to the regularly scheduled flights on Winair, travelers can now also charter flights on SXM Airways, only the third airline with permission to land on the world’s smallest commercial runway. SXM Airways, based on St. Maarten and offering private charters in the region, provides greater flexibility for travel to and from Saba or between neighboring islands. Flights cost approximately $1,200 with a maximum capacity of six passengers.

Hiking Trails

The Saba Conservation Foundation works hard to maintain and reestablish the network of trails used by previous generations of Sabans to traverse the island. It aims to make the trails accessible and safer for today’s travelers with the addition of boardwalk planking and steps where possible. The Elfin Trail was completed and connects Sandy Cruise Trail to the Mt. Scenery Trail, leading to the top of the mountain. While Mary’s Point Trail was completely restored and now offers a viewpoint with stunning views that was previously impossible to reach. The Trail Shop, the island’s hub of hiking activity in Windwardside, has started building a new botanical garden with plans to plant local fruit trees and medicinal plants as well as species that once grew in larger numbers on Saba but are now hard to find. The new garden’s goal is to restore a piece of Saba’s natural heritage, enhance the island’s green identity, and provide an immersive cultural experience for visitors.

Hotel News 

Many of the island’s hotel owners used the lockdown period to upgrade their properties and amenities. Including the eco-friendly El Momo Cottages perched atop Booby Hill, which added a new pool deck with magnificent views among other upgrades. And, while there will be more announcements in the coming year, here are a few recent hotel news items:

  • Juliana’s Hotel launched its new Captains’ Suites, four oversized guestrooms with magnificent views. The new rooms are a celebration of Saba’s sea faring history and current artistic traditions. "The Captains’ Log," a book custom made for the suites, features historic content and images of the four Saban sea captains for which each suite is named and whose historical portrait hangs in his signature suite. Paintings by local artist Heleen Cornet grace the walls, while accent pillows and blankets were made by island artist Anna Keene using Japanese shibori and dyed with local indigo.
  • Queens Garden Resort & Spa added a beautiful sky yoga deck to its wellness offerings of the Frangipani Spa. Tucked away in the trees this deck provides breathtaking sea views in tranquil and serene setting. 

Diving News

Scuba divers now have a new find to explore off the Saban coast. The Saba Archaeological Center discovered two large ship cannons crossed one on top of the other during a sea-floor survey. They are both about eight feet long, and as no evidence of a shipwreck was found in the area, it appears they were intentionally sunk, either to reduce weight on a beached ship, or perhaps to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

Entry Rules and Protocols

Saba started welcoming international travelers on May 1, 2021. Travelers can apply to enter Saba via the Electronic Health Authorization System, or EHAS, on Fully vaccinated adults must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival or an antigen test within 48 hours and are not required to quarantine. Non-vaccinated travelers must quarantine for five days and take a rapid antigen test on day five. Transit travelers connecting through St. Maarten prior to visiting Saba must follow St. Maarten's entry requirements in addition to those for Saba. However, a completed EHAS form for Saba will be accepted by St. Maarten, as both islands utilize the same platform. For full requirements, visit Vaccinated day-trippers are also welcome with no prior permission.

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