Endless Caribbean - Saba Scuba Diving

Saba Scuba Diving: 31 Thrilling Underwater Sites to Explore

When an island is very direct about why you should visit, you must take the advice. Saba is a hike, dive and dine destination and has all the tools needed to make it happen. The excellence of a Saba scuba diving experience may be attributed to its location in the Caribbean Sea as well as its dramatic coastline. Although the island is famous for its unique topography (it’s a dormant volcano), it is one of the best places in the Caribbean to see whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and manta rays.

Saba has a reputation of being one of the best snorkelling and diving destinations. There are at least 30 unique Saba scuba diving sites, each with a thriving marine environment. The island is nicknamed “The Unspoiled Queen” and everyone who visits will agree that the island lives up to this moniker in many ways. The continuous preservation of the island’s natural beauty is made possible through collaborative efforts by the 2,000 residents to protect the island and its surrounding waters.

The Saba Conservation Commission is a non-profit nature management organization also plays a major role in protecting the island. The organization, which has been in operation since 1987, is tasked with preserving and enhancing Saba’s marine and land environments. They actively manage the Saba Marine Park and enforce a zoning system that protects the marine environment, whilst allowing for recreational and business activities.

Saba Marine Park

The Saba Marine Park which was established in 1987 is a unique undertaking that has benefitted Saba. Although the marine resources around the island were not being exploited, the park was still created to ensure that the habitat would never be compromised in the present or the future.

The park is approximately 1300 hectares and consists of the entire coastline of Saba from the high-water mark to a depth of 200 feet (60 meters). This means that the valuable seabeds and overlying waters are all protected under the park designation.

Saba Marine Park is self-sustaining and thus revenue is earned through visitor fees, souvenirs and collectibles, and donations. Admission is free for residents, whilst visitors pay US$3 per dive.

Aquatic Life in Saba

There are many different types of fish around Saba and specifically in its marine park. The abundance of fish is the result of fishing and anchoring restrictions as well as educating divers about rules and regulations. The list of marine life and tropical fish in Saba includes:

  • Turtles: Green Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles, Leatherback Turtles, Loggerhead Turtles
  • Sharks: Hammerheads, Whale Sharks, Black-tip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Caribbean Reef Sharks
  • Rays: Manta Rays, Spotted Eagle Rays
  • Corals and Sponges: Gorgonians, Sea Fans, Barrel Sponges, Chimney Sponges
  • Nassau Groupers: Graysbys, Hinds, Coneys
  • Pelagics: Horse-eye Jacks, Great Barracuda, Wahoo, Tarpon
  • Schooling Fish: Wrasses, Blue Tangs, Chromis and Surgeonfish
  • Reef Fish: Parrotfish, Triggerfish, Angelfish, Snappers, Grunts, Sea Horses
  • Sand Dwellers: Lizardfish, Sand Divers, Flying Gurnards, Garden Eels
  • Shellfish: Conch, Lobster, Crabs, Shrimp

Saba Scuba Diving Sites

The marine life in Scuba can be spotted at dive spots around the island. Habits include towering walls, sloping reefs, and magnificent peaks. Here is a list of Saba’s scuba diving sites:

1. Mt. Michel

Location: South of the main plateau with the two pinnacles
Maximum Depth: 110 feet (35 meters)
Marine Life: Turtles, mahi-mahi, wahoo, sunfish & coral

2. Third Encounter

Location: Eastern end of the horseshoe-shaped seamount
Maximum Depth: 110 feet (35 meters)
Marine Life: Sharks, snappers, groupers, creole wrasses

3. Twilight Zone

Location: Easternmost point of the seamount
Maximum Depth: 110 feet (35 meters)
Marine Life: Sharks, groupers, barrel sponges, cowfish, triggerfish

4. Outer Limits

Location: Northeast of the Twilight Zone at the end of the ridge
Maximum Depth: 110 feet (35 meters)
Marine Life: Chromis, creole wrasses, black jacks, green moray eels

5. Shark Shoals

Location: Half a mile east of Well’s Bay
Maximum Depth: 130 feet (40 meters)
Marine Life: Sponges, wahoo, mahi-mahi, hammerhead sharks

6. Diamond Rock

Location: Large rock to the northwest of Saba
Maximum Depth: 80 feet (24 meters)
Marine Life: Stingrays, eels, octopus, horse eye jacks, flying gunards

7. Man O’ War Shoals

Location: East of Diamond Rock
Maximum Depth: 70 feet (22 meters)
Marine Life: Sergeant majors, Atlantic spadefish, banded jawfish, black coral

8. Otto Limits

Location: Off the northern coast of Saba
Maximum Depth: 55 feet (18 meters)
Marine Life: Roughhead blennies, bearded fireworms, hawksbill and green turtles

9. Torrens Point

Location: Protected area on the west coast
Maximum Depth: 50 feet (16 meters)
Marine Life: Lobsters, flatworms, barracudas

10. Saba Coral Nursery

Location: Coral nursery to the south of Torrens Point
Maximum Depth: 60 feet (18 meters)
Marine Life: Coral trees, conch, stingrays, green turtles

11. Customs House

Location: West coast of Saba
Maximum Depth: 120 feet (38 meters)
Marine Life: Groupers, stingrays, eels, sponges, black coral

12. Porites Point

Location: West coast of Saba, to the south of Saba Coral Nursery
Maximum Depth: 110 feet (35 meters)
Marine Life: Yellowhead jawfish, spiny lobsters, burrfish, peacock flounders

13. Babylon

Location: West coast of Saba, to the south of Porites Point
Maximum Depth: 100 feet (30 meters)
Marine Life: Sharks, moray eels, crabs, horse-eye jacks

14. Ladder Labyrinth

Location: West coast of Saba, to the southwest of Babylon
Maximum Depth: 80 feet (24 meters)
Marine Life: Yellowhead jawfish, pikeblennies, lancer dragonets, tarpons

15. 50/50

Location: West coast of Saba, to the southwest of Ladder Labyrinth
Maximum Depth: 75 feet (22 meters)
Marine Life: Squat lobsters, green turtles, tarpons, spotted drums, flounders

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16. Hot Springs

Location: West coast of Saba, to the south of 50/50
Maximum Depth: 80 feet (24 meters)
Marine Life: Sharks, garden eels, flying gunards, stingrays, ostracods

17. Rays n Anchors

Location: Southwest coast of Saba, to the southwest of Hot Springs
Maximum Depth: 60 feet (18 meters)
Marine Life: Stingrays, angelfish, eels, lobsters

18. Tedran Wall

Location: Southwest coast
Maximum Depth: 110 feet (35 meters)
Marine Life: Arrow blennies, jacks,

19. Tent Reef Wall

Location: Southwest coast
Maximum Depth: 100 feet (30 meters)
Marine Life: Scorpionfish, angelfish, barracuda, sponges

20. Tent Reef

Location: South coast
Maximum Depth: 100 feet (30 meters)
Marine Life: Cherubfish, longsnout seahorses, frogfish

21. Tent Reef Shallow

Location: South coast
Maximum Depth: 80 feet (24 meters)
Marine Life: Spotted drums, eels, seahorses, spaghetti worms, mantis shrimp

22. Tent Reef Deep

Location: South coast
Maximum Depth: 120 feet (38 meters)
Marine Life: Yellowtail snappers, creole wrasses, giant anemones, garden eels

23. Mooring/ Much Dive

Location: South coast
Maximum Depth: 70 feet (21 meters)
Marine Life: Octopus, Moray Eels, Flounders, Crabs, Lobsters

24. Greer Gut

Location: South coast
Maximum Depth: 90 feet (28 meters)
Marine Life: Sharks, spiny lobsters, scorpionfish, red snapping shrimp

25. Big Rock Market

Location: South coast
Maximum Depth: 60 feet (18 meters)
Marine Life: Nurse sharks, green moray eels, yellowhead jawfish, barracudas

26. Big Rock Deep

Location: South coast
Maximum Depth: 80 feet (24 meters)
Marine Life: Groupers, chubs, scaly-tailed mantis shrimp, sailfin blennies

27. Hole in the Corner

Location: South coast to the east of Big Rock Deep
Maximum Depth: 85 feet (26 meters)
Marine Life: Blue tang, Bermuda chubs, nudibranchs, eagle rays

28. David’s Dropoff

Location: Southeast coast
Maximum Depth: 120 feet (35 meters)
Marine Life: Queen angelfish, hawksbill turtles, Pederson shrimp

29. Core Gut

Location: East coast
Maximum Depth: 120 feet (35 meters)
Marine Life: Barracudas, tiger groupers, blackjacks, Queen conch, ceros

30. Cove Bay

Location: Northeast coast
Maximum Depth: 90 feet (28 meters)
Marine Life: Parrotfish, sharks, Juvenile yellowtail damselfish

31. Green Island

Location: North coast
Maximum Depth: 80 fee (24 meters)
Marine Life: Nurse sharks, fairy basslets, orange-spotted filefish

Further Reading

For more information about Saba scuba diving, visit the following links:

Sea Saba: Saba Dive Sites
Saba Conservation Commission: Life in the Saba Marine Park
Saba Tourism: Discover Pristine Diving in Saba
CAR-SPAW: Saba National Marine Park
NLM: Reef Fishes of Saba Bank, Netherlands Antilles: Assemblage Structure across a Gradient of Habitat Types
PADI: Top Dive Sites Around Saba
IMARES: Pilot study on behaviour of sharks around Saba using acoustic telemetry – Progress Report 2014 
Saba Park: Diving on Saba

Image: Giorgia Doglioni via Unsplash

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