Go The Most Beautiful Island You’ve Never Heard Of
Saba remains one of the area’s most remote islands in large part due to the difficulty of landing a plane at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, which is ringed by high hills and boasts a shred of a runway—known as the world’s shortest commercial runway at 1,300 feet. “If you’re brave enough to fly here, which is an adventure in itself, be prepared for a nerve-wracking landing,” Roy Wender says. “Most people coming from Anguilla, however, simply opt for a ferry ride.” Either way, your reward is an idyllic slice of paradise that’s not overrun with crowds. “This is not a tourist hotspot,” explains Roy. “You won’t find franchises here, only locally owned restaurants and bars.”
Though the island has a relaxed, slow-paced quality, don’t expect to spend hours lounging on a beach—Saba doesn’t have any. “If you’re arriving from Anguilla, there’s no need to visit another place for its beaches,” says Roy. “You come here for other reasons.” Indeed, Saba’s mountain ranges and underwater formations are ripe for exploration. Because tourists tend to skip over islands without beaches, the crystal-clear waters around Saba have remained pristine and perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. “You’ll find incredible reefs and volcanic mountains in the water, both of which play host to tropical fish, tarpon, stingrays, turtles, and the occasional shark or dolphin,” Roy says.
Meanwhile, 2,910 feet above sea level lies Mt. Scenery, the island’s dormant volcano that last erupted in 1640 and is known as the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “Climbing the mountain’s 1,064 stairs was the first thing I did when I arrived at Saba because I wanted to beat the rain forecast that day,” says Roy. “The ascent is challenging and slippery with plenty of switchbacks, but you feel as if you’re in a Jurassic Park-like forest the entire time.”
Speaking of movies, Saba has even played a small role in one—starring as the backdrop of King Kong’s Skull Island home in the original 1933 movie. But it’s more likely that this beautiful island’s 15 seconds of fame are only just beginning.