Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Caribbean: Saba, Netherlands Antilles, 2002

These are some of the 1,064 stone steps that lead to the top of Mt. Scenery, the tallest mountain in the entire Kingdom of the Netherlands. The mountain is on the island of Saba, part of the Dutch Windward Islands, which includes St. Maarten and Statia (aka St. Eustatius).

Mt. Scenery is about 3,000 feet high and towers above the small town of Windwardside, which is small and picturesque. I started my walk at 5:15 AM just as the sun was coming up and arrived at the top beside the radio tower around 7:00 AM. The top was covered in clouds, as it often is, and the highlight of the trip is not so much the occasional view but rather the rich plant life of the cloud forest. I was back down at the starting point at about 9 AM.

Saba is unique among Caribbean islands. It is small - only 5 square miles - but is like a large rock protruding out of the water, so much so that it does not have any beaches, with the exception of a beach in Well's Bay that is submerged most of the year. It is a favorite spot for divers, who enjoy exploring the marine life around the island.

You can get to Saba by plane or ferry. The plane ride is 15 minutes from St. Maarten and the runway is one of the shortest in the world at 1200 feet, on the only flat part of the island. The pilots are skilled in landing there and when I flew there the pilot only used half of the runway - you feel like you're in a cross between a plane and a helicopter. The ferry ride is longer - over an hour - and the crossing tends to be rough. If you don't mind either of these trips, you'll find that Saba is a quiet, relaxing place and an antidote to the hectic pace of the modern world.

Visit my webpage on the Caribbean at http://www.latinandcaribbeantravel.com/caribbean.html
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