The island of Saba is a fine example of ecotourism in action. Tourism is relatively new to Saba, considering the airport opened in 1963, and the pier was
completed in 1972. Being so small and so remote, few travelers visited before the 70's. Those who did were themselves well-traveled and found Saba to be a truly unspoiled paradise. Locals were filled with pride as these visitors
marveled at Saba's unique beauty.
Yearly less than 25,000 tourists come to Saba, and those who do treat the
island and her people with respect and admiration. Even though the island has
modern facilities and technology, their attitude is strongly conservative
towards their nature, development and industry. They love their island as much
as you will.
As part of our commitment to our environment, we have established the Saba
Conservation Foundation to preserve and manage our natural and cultural
heritage. The Foundation oversees the running of the famous Saba Marine Park.
The Tourist Office, the Saba Conservation Foundation and many local supporters have
adequately marked and maintain trails for easy trekking. Some trails need a guide, all
the better to fully appreciate the botanical and historical parts of Saba. Everyone can
easily hike over and into Saba's rain forest, tidepools, historic ruins, and rich nature
wonderland. Even a walk along Saba's winding road will lead you to a magical view, and a
Please note: Real hiking shoes are really a necessity for making the Northern Trail.
Paula Litzel, Evette Peterson and local bird expert Mandy McGehee were all smiles when they returned from a morning of birding in March 2002. They discovered the first Red-billed Tropicbird chick return since their work began 5 years ago. After many a dawn start, hair raising cliff walking, bird bites and twisted ankles, the team feels rewarded for their efforts with what may be scientific proof of McGehee's original hypothesis. By banding the birds, marking nest sites and recording all hatchlings, McGehee has collected years of data, waiting for this day of proof. Her study shows that Red-billed Tropicbirds leave the nest at the young age of 85 days and go off to sea for 4 or 5 years and they do not land except to rest on the ocean surface. At this mature age, they return to their original nesting area, perhaps thousands of miles from their travel, to mate and lay their eggs.
In February 2002, the first verified chick return, was found in a new nest only a few meters from where he/she was hatched almost 5 years ago. A second returning chick, hatched in early 1998 was found 2 weeks later. McGehee is also looking to ascertain if the Red-billed Tropicbird mates for life. Saba's dramatic cliffsides and lack of coastal development make Saba not only a great place to study this bird but a key nesting area to keep the species from becoming endangered.
Saba provides interesting birdwatching. Saba's "birder" is Martha "Mandy" Walsh-McGehee: "A Guide to the Birds of Saba" is her work in progress.
© Lynn Costenaro, Sea Saba Dive Center, 2003