This small, rugged hunk of land is loaded with ecotourism activities, above and below water.

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Pronounced "SAY-bah" by locals (who should know) and "SAH-bah" by Europeans, this Dutch island is a popular daytrip from St.Maarten/Martin. Saba is a tiny place , only 5 square miles including all its islands and cays.

Unlike most islands , most of Saba 's terrain is steep and vertical. It juts upwards as high as 2,854 feet to form the summit of Mount Scenery . Saba looks exactly like what it is, an exposed mountaintop.

As such, it doesn't have a single beach . Not one. The only sand is a 20-foot wide strip that appears seasonally near Fort Bay from April to November .

Underwater , Saba 's terrain is just as remarkable with submerged pinnacles that approach within 80 feet of the surface. These coral encrusted sea mounts are magnets for large ocean roaming fish difficult to see elsewhere. The Saba Marine Park encompasses the island's shores down to the 200 foot mark ; these people are serious about protecting their resources .

Dutch engineers concluded in the 1930s that Saba was too rugged for any sort of road. Islanders would have to continue using the steep footpaths , as they had since the island was settled in 1640 .

But then in the 1940s , one resident took a mail-order engineering course , organized a band of workers and opened The Road's first ¾ of a mile in 1943 . It took another 20 years for it to be completed, placing a road exactly where Dutch engineers said it couldn't be done .

Called The Road , this 15 -mile roundabout known for its hairpin curves links Saba 's 4 villages.

A ferry ride between St. Maarten and Saba takes 60-90 minutes , a small commuter plane only 15 minutes without the problem of rough seas. However, the rugged landscape makes for a challenging and memorable approach for any pilot.

The airport , located atop a mountain with cliffs at both ends, has one of the world's shortest runways (1,312 feet). The experience is often compared to landing on an aircraft carrier .

Saba 's main town, The Bottom , is situated at 820 feet above sea level . It's not local humor . The name actually derives from a Dutch word meaning "bowl."

The main sights are elsewhere, particularly Windwardside, the second largest settlement, which is placed between 2 ravines at 1,968 feet . The big attraction is climbing the 1,060 stone steps up Mount Scenery, another 886 feet above Windwardside.

It's a pleasant hike , especially with a picnic at the end, but often chilly at the top . Saba offers numerous other hiking trails, most of them steep.

At Hell's Gate Hill , the community center behind the medieval-looking church (built 1962) is the best place to buy tea towels, blouses and tablecloths of renowned Saba lace.

Saban women decided to make lace their special island trademark after many of their men who left to leave to work as sailors or on oil rigs in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Detailed Background: Facts & Map
Courtesy of the CIA