Saba – The Unspoiled Queen

Our decision to use St. Maarten as our vacation hub has always been largely based upon its close proximity to neighboring islands.  This geographical arrangement makes for a handy retreat to slightly more remote beaches when on St. Maarten the cruise ships come calling.  But head to an island without beaches?  What could possibly be the allure?  We would soon learn a wonderful lesson in eating crow!

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Credit – www.skipharper.com

The Dutch island of Saba, weighing in at a scant 5 sq. mi. of land area, lies just 28 miles SE of St. Maarten.  There are two distinctly different means whereby one can reach this quaint retreat.  Winair offers a short 20 minute flight five times daily, and there are two boating excursions offering 1 hour 20 minute rides aboard competing Vomit Comets.  For obvious reasons, we chose the former rather then the latter.

The flight was quick, and exhilarating.  The approach takes a heading directly towards a rocky face, before suddenly dropping to a smooth landing along an ancient lava flow.  A  breeze through the terminal’s Immigration booth and we were off to explore the highest point within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[rule]

Mount Scenery, 2,855 ft., and 1,064 steps.  But who’s counting!
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The climb up Mt. Scenery is a hike well worth its promotion.  A rainforest so dense and arid it brings to mind the tales of Bilbo Baggins in his heroic quest.
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We began the morning with a quick breakfast at Scout’s Place, and even found it a welcome reward following our epic climb.
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The island is dotted with scenes that feel a world apart from the beaches and shopping of most Caribbean tourist destinations.

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windwardside
                                                                  Windwardside from Mt. Scenery

Windwardside is a picturesque town that plays well the part of post card and picture puzzle subject.

Be sure to check out the islands celebrated art and gift reputation.  The handcrafts of the ladies of the island is well known, as they still create their own hand made lace.  These pieces each create a beautiful and delicate finish to any table.  One of our favorite stops was the studio of glass artist Jo Bean.  Jo makes stunning hot glass creations unlike anything we had seen before.  The colors were so brilliant and her effusing personality was a perfect punctuation to our day on Saba.

An island without a beach, what could possibly be the attraction?  We found the answer to be its people, its quaint villages, its stunning scenery, its bars and restaurants, its thriving art community…

We encourage you, take the diversion off the beaten path and visit Saba, The Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean.  But we also encourage you, take the plane, not the Vomit Comet!

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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Climbing Mt. Scenery -Saba

There are times we all find ourselves lost in dreams of beautiful sun-kissed days on a pristine stretch of sand.  But maybe you’re more of a participant than a spectator.  Perhaps you long for more of an Eco-adventure when you travel.  Or maybe, like us, you just long to see if you still have it in you.  Follow along as we share a short tale about our climb up Mt. Scenery, the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Mt. Scenery from the Saba Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport

Saba, a quaint island retreat located a short 12 minute flight from St. Maarten, is aptly named The Unspoiled Queen of The Caribbean.  We landed at the world’s shortest commercial runway, and were quickly whisked through the shoebox size terminal.  As we exited towards our awaiting taxi, we saw our prey looming overhead.

 

Our affable driver dropped us off in the small village of Windwardside to get our bearings, and to pick up our rental “car”.  It was early and the shops were just opening, so we figured no time better than the present to get our climb underway.  With no clear direction as to where to begin, we headed off down the street, seeking adventure.  We suspected we may have stumbled upon the trail head, as we rounded the bend in the road, and encountered this small sign in a clearing amidst the overgrowth.

With the phrase “No Time Like the Present” fresh on our lips, we boldly marched off and began our ascent of the 1,064 steps.  “One… Two… Three…”  With a terse backward glance from my wife and climbing partner, I knew I should probably just close my mouth and keep climbing.  The views even from the lower elevations were quite serene and breathtaking.  We marched on with great anticipation.

The fauna and overgrowth teemed with life.  Climbing upward we pierced the cloud bank and an eerie fog enveloped us.  At times you even went through periods of descent, while still on your way upward!

 

At one point I was quite sure we passed Frodo, and Bilbo Baggins!  Bilbo’s words rang loudly in my ears “Also I should like to know about risks… What am I going to get out of it, and am I going to come back alive?”

 

Windwardside as seen from our descent.

The views from the summit were stunning and surreal.  Clearly this was something we would not soon see in our flatland mid-western existence

 

 

In the final analysis, the descent was far and away the most treacherous part of the climb.  Heavy dew, and a mossy covering made the hand-hewn treads a true test for your footing.

Scout's Place, where you can be a Rock Star!

We concluded our trip with a stop in Scout’s Place for a quick lunch and some cool drinks.  The rewards at the end make the toil all worthwhile.  Having conquered our stated goals, we now even have the certificate to prove it.  So for a truly unique Caribbean adventure, we highly recommend a climb up Mt. Scenery.  It really is deserving of it’s name!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

 

 

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