Photo: Kai Wulf

Saba Is the 'Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean' and the Perfect Island Escape for Nature Lovers

Caribbean Insider Guides
by JoAnna Niles Jun 27, 2023

Saba, a volcanic Caribbean island and municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is famously known as the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean.” As a leader in sustainability and recycling in the region, the entire five-square-mile island is powered by solar energy from two solar parks. A visit to this tiny island is a trip centered around stunning natural beauty, unmatched diving experiences, and a charming local community.

The best things to do on Saba

Roughly 2,000 people live on Saba, and there are four main villages connected by a single road known as “the road.” Each village has its own unique character: The Bottom (Saba’s Capital), Windwardside, Hell’s Gate (aka Zion’s Hill), and St. John’s. Windwardside is the second largest town and home to historic sites, grocery stores, local boutiques, art galleries, cafes, bars, and restaurants that make it the perfect home base on a trip.

Make glass art with Jobean

Artist Jobean Chambers has had a gallery and studio on Saba since 1992, and in addition to the glasswork that she shows and sells, offers glass making classes that run for a full day or a half day at her studio in Bobby Hill. Even if you don’t take a class, it’s worth making a stop for a one-of-a-kind souvenir and watch a glass blowing demonstration.

Jobean Glass Art: JQGC+2HQ, Windwardside, Caribbean Netherlands


hiking view form Mas cohones hill on saba

Photo: Kai Wulf

With 20 hiking trails, the island of Saba is great for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Of particular note is Mount Scenery, a dormant volcano that stands as the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This rewarding hike through the cloud forest ends with spectacular views of the entire island and the surrounding waters. Another option is to book a hike with James Johnson, better known as Crocodile James. This seventh-generation Saban native in his early 70s has been hiking Saba’s natural trails since his teens, and offered an insightful hike on Mas Cahones Hill.

Saba guided hikes: Departure locations vary

Scuba diving and snorkeling in Saba National Marine Park

scuba diving in saba

Photo: Chad Nuttall

Saba has some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean for divers of all levels. Explore Saba’s underwater world with Sea Saba Dive Center at Saba Marine Park, a protected area of water surrounding the island administered by the Saba Conservation Foundation. The marine park was established in 1987, and is a big reason why the wildlife in the area is thriving at the 30-plus boat-accessible dive sites that range from beginner to advanced. Under the surface, it’s easy to spot the vibrant marine life and coral reefs, as well as swim alongside sea turtles and tropical fish.

Sea Saba Dive Center at Saba Marine Park: Lambert Hassell Road #10, Windwardside, Caribbean Netherlands

Learn about Saba’s history and cultural heritage

saba museum

Photo: Laura Grier

Take a trip back in time and visit an old sea captain’s cottage built around 1840 that was turned into Saba’s first museum by Harry Luke Johnson in 1977. The building has been upgraded over the years with an eye toward keeping things as original and appropriate to the time period as possible. Rooms are furnished with centuries-old furniture, and there’s a room filled with artifacts like nautical instruments, seamen’s documents, and literature about Saba.

Harry L. Johnson Museum: JQH9+53F, Windwardside, Caribbean Netherlands

Where to Eat and Drink in Saba

Saba’s culinary scene is a fusion of Caribbean and European influences. Enjoy local specialties such as Johnny cakes, a type of fried bread, and the island’s famous rum punch using Saba Spice, a locally made spiced rum.

Rendezvous at Eco Lodge

Located in the heart of the Saba National Rainforest, Rendezvous at Eco Lodge serves dishes featuring quality meat and fresh seafood and produce to tables surrounded by nature. At the bar, happy hour specials start at 4:00 PM, with full dinner service from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. Reservations are required for dinner, and it’s only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday, no reservations are needed for brunch from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Keep in mind that the restaurant is cash only.

Rendezvous at Eco Lodge: Follow Mountain Road in the Saba National Rainforest

The Queen’s Hotel Restaurant

This luxury hotel has an on-site restaurant serving breakfast (daily), lunch (Saturdays and Sundays), and dinner (every day but Tuesday and Wednesday). The focus for all meals is on fresh and sustainable products that highlight bright flavors. For drinks, there’s a respectable wine menu with options from around the world. The associated Ocean Bar and Lounge offers lunch and dinner service as well and has signature cocktails, a gin and tonic menu, and a single malt whiskey collection.

The Queen’s Hotel Restaurant: Troy Hill Drive 1, The Bottom, Caribbean Netherlands

Island Flavor

Enjoy freshly blended fruit juices at Island Flavor (the lemon chiller with mint is a favorite). This restaurant is popular with locals during lunchtime and has an extensive food menu to choose from, too, with Caribbean and Caribbean-influences flavors. When the weather is nice, sit in the outside area while you enjoy herbs and vegetables hand-picked from an organic farm.

Island Flavor: JQG2+M5M, The Bottom, Caribbean Netherlands

Tipsy Goat Bar and Tropics Café

Part of Juliana’s Hotel, watch the sunset outdoors while having a Saba Sunset cocktail for happy hour at Tipsy Goat Bar. Happy hour starts at 4:00 PM, and drinks can be enjoyed by the pool. Menu items from Topics Café, which features an extensive number of dishes centered around fresh lobster, can also be ordered.

If you’re looking for a more formal dining experience, Tropics Café is a farm to table bar and restaurant featuring dishes with fresh produce from the in-house garden. Come here for their daily wine hour and beautiful views of the Saba mountainside and Caribbean Sea.

Tipsy Goat Bar: Located in Juliana’s Hotel at Park Lane, Windwardside, Caribbean Netherlands

Long Haul Grill

This local favorite for food and drinks is in the center of Windwardside. Enjoy live karaoke every Saturday night from 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM, and come by every day but Monday for cold beer and cocktails. Board and card games are open to use, and pizzas, burgers, comfort food, and seafood are available when you get hungry.

Long Haul Grill: JQH8+FXV, Windwardside, Caribbean Netherlands


Brigadoon is an old cottage turned restaurant with a pleasant romantic atmosphere. This restaurant has a blend of French, Mediterranean and French cuisines, and has a great selection of cocktails and wine and offers fresh fish and lobster.

Brigadoon: JQH9+WC2, EA Johnson Road, Windward Side, Caribbean Netherlands

Chez Bubba Bistro

Chez Bubba Bistro serves up a new dinner menu every week. Meals highlight locally produced ingredients along with imported goods. The highlight of the restaurant is the wine room that has over 300 bottles of fine wine, and there’s a rotating wine flight tasting that changes every week. The restaurant serves dinner every day but Tuesday and Wednesday, and is cash only.

Chez Bubba Bistro: JQH8+GRQ, Windwardside, Caribbean Netherlands

Bizzy B Bakery

A great place for meeting and interacting with locals and friends. Make a stop here for affordable, freshly baked goods and coffee for breakfast or sandwiches, paninis, and soups for lunch. The apple turnover and almond cookies are a favorite. The main location is in Windwardside across from the Saba Tourist Bureau, with a second location in the Bottom.

Bizzy B Bakery: Multiple locations

Where to Stay in Saba

We hope you love the spaces we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.

The Cottage Club

cottage club hotel saba

Photo: Expedia

I stayed in a Garden Air Cottage at The Cottage Club which has ten gingerbread-style cottages, each equipped with a kitchen, dining area, bed, tv, and telephone. The Cottage club is located in Windwardside and walking distance to restaurants, shopping, and the historic district. Catch views of the Caribbean Sea and the top of Mount Scenery from the outside balcony and the airport runway from the pool and garden area.

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Juliana’s Hotel

juliana's hotel saba

Photo: Expedia

Juliana’s Hotel offers garden and oceanview rooms and suites for guests with a modern decor. The property is close to museums and some of the best restaurants in Saba and also has an art studio that has workshops and private lessons of various artforms. The Tipsy Goat Bar and Tropics Café are both on-site.

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Queen’s Hotel

queens hotel saba

Photo: Expedia

A 10-suite luxury hotel, where each suite provides beautiful views of the tropical forest, mountains, or Caribbean Sea. The Queen’s Hotel also offers Experience, Honeymoon, Diving, and custom packages with various included activities off-site for guests that match their travel style.

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How to get to Saba

Saba is accessible by air and sea. The most common and fastest option for day visitors is to fly from St Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport and take a short flight to land on the world’s shortest commercial runway at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport in Saba.

Alternatively, visitors can take the Edge ferry, which is a 90-minute ride that docks at Fort Bay Harbor displaying scenic views of the Caribbean Sea and neighboring islands along the way.

Once there, there’s no public transportation in Saba so visitors often catch a taxi from the airport or ferry port to their point of interest. If your accommodations are in Windwardside, you can walk alongside the road as most shops and tourist attractions in the area are within walking distance. Hitchhiking is also common on the island. The Saba Tourism Bureau provides a list of taxi drivers on the island.

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