Diving in the Marine Park

Saba’s dive tourism, which started in the early 1980s, introduced scuba enthusiasts to the wealth of Saba’s underwater world. The establishment of the Marine Park in 1987 assured the continuing health of the undersea environment and thus the sustainability of dive tourism. Today eco-tourism is a major contributor to the island’s economy.

The reefs are populated with schools of tropical fish and healthy coral. Sheer close-to-shore walls are covered with sponges of all sizes and the heavily encrusted deep-water seamounts attract pelagic creatures that are not normally seen by divers. Unusual and exciting sightings are always possible in Saba’s waters including frequent shark encounters.

Saba offers year-round diving with seasonal differences in water temperature and surface conditions. The water temperature varies between 26C and 28C (77F-84F). Visibility ranges from a minimum of 20m (60ft) to virtually unlimited. Swells and heavy rainfall may influence visibility, but typically it clears again very quickly.

Due to the steep coastal zone, shore diving is virtually impossible. Therefore, all diving is done safely from a boat with one of Saba’s licensed dive centres. You can dive in the Saba National Marine Park only under the guidance of one of the local dive shops. For more information please visit their website: Sea Saba, Saba Deep, Saba Divers.

Although we have 36 dive moorings in place we recognize 25 unique dive sites. Every dive you contribute US$ 3 to the marine park. These fees contribute to the maintenance of all the parks facilities and its equipment.

This bathymetry of Saba shows the steepness of the sea floor in 10 meter intervalls.

Divesites around Saba

Map displaying Saba's Dive Sites. View in a larger map.

There are different types of dive sites around Saba, each with their own unique character.

The Pinnacles (5 dive sites)

The fascinating Pinnacles that rise from the ocean floor up to depths of 30m (100ft) were formed by past volcanic activity and are nourished by deep ocean currents. The Pinnacles are covered with corals, sponges and other invertebrates. Abundant fish life including large groupers, jacks and turtles are attracted to this area and provide a spectacular diving experience. Shark encounters also occur frequently around these waters. Black-tip reef sharks, Grey reef sharks and Nurse sharks are the most common species sighted. The most unique structure not to be missed is the Eye-of-the-Needle, a pinnacle that rises up to 17m (90ft) just off in the deep blue waters from Third encounter.

From Torrens Point to Diamond Rock (3 dive sites)

The large spires at Wells Bay and Torrens Point form a protected cove, an ideal location for snorkeling or shallow diving. Underwater caves and tunnels are interesting structures to explore and the diver can encounter many aquatic life forms. Schools of Blue tangs, Goatfish, and Parrot fish are characteristic in this area.

Man 'O War Shoals and Diamond Rock appear to be submerged and semi-submerged extensions of Torrens Point headland. They do not exceed depths of 25m (80ft), allowing for more bottom time to explore the rich waters and enjoy the magnificent fish life that abounds. Schools of Black-durgons and Barracudas swarm around the mooring lines while Black-tip sharks merge into the blue. Sting rays hover over the grey sandy bottom. Walls and rocks are covered with colorful sponges, smaller corals and Sea fans. Be cautious while diving around Diamond Rock because of strong currents. While this site may present challenging diving conditions, it also attracts abundant fish life.

The Ladder Bay Area (5 dive sites)

The original steps that Sabans used to access the island is known as The Ladder. Prior to the building of the Fort Bay harbour, goods were brought by boat to the rocky shore of the leeward coast. Sabans carried the cargo by foot up the nearly vertical stairway to the village. Diving in this area unveils Saba's volcanic origins. A natural labyrinth of groove formations and protrusions developed as a result of lava flow. If you bury your hand in the sand where it is yellow/brown colour, the temperature differences of the sea floor become quite evident. Large boulders and grey sand dominate the area and the most common species of coral are Star coral, Brain coral and Gorgonian. Curious Barracudas may approach divers very closely.

Tent Reef Area (4 dive sites)

Just west of the Fort Bay harbour is another unusual geological structure known as Tent Reef. It is an extended rock ledge that starts at only 4 m (13ft) deep but becomes progressively deeper as you head northwest. The ledge is deeply undercut at some points, providing shelter to large snappers. It turns into a sheer wall that gradually becomes fragmented and appears as a series of steep coral outcroppings separated by deep sand channels. Tubular sponges, Elephant ear sponge and Black coral dominate the steep wall. Tent Reef is also a favourite site for night dives with frequent octopus, sleeping turtles and Spiny lobster sightings.

East side diving (8 dive sites)

Diving on this side of the island depends on suitable weather. However, visibility tends to be exceptional when the weather is calm. Most of Saba's diving offers views of coral encrusted boulders of volcanic origin, but only Greer Gut and Giles Quarter are true coral reefs (i.e. made out of limestone). Diverse species of reef fish and other marine life along with the white sand covering the sea floor provide a very different diving experience compared to Saba's other sites. Exposure to the Atlantic side yields the development of hard coral structures more often than soft coral. Close to shore, well-developed Elkhorn coral formations occur although the risk exists of periodic destruction by wave action and storms. The coral branches are fragile, but they tend to recover quickly due to high growth rates.