Swanky Day Trip!


Day tripping and mentally tripping as you land on the world’s shortest commercial runway — Do people even say that anymore? Does not matter because facts are facts and minds will be blown. I have yet to see anyone land on this, the world’s shortest commercial runway (1,300 feet long – think aircraft carrier) and not gasp, smile, and almost kiss the ground when stepping off the perfectly sized WinAir aircraft that take you on that 12-minute journey from St. Maarten to Saba. The aircraft needs to meet certain specifications and the pilots need to be trained specifically for this runway. I can imagine the simulator they practiced on screaming, “Terrain! Terrain! Terrain!” for about the last 2 minutes of flight. Not only do you have a short runway (the shortest), surrounded on three sides by water, but as the descent begins, you glide right by the rock face of this mountain that is Saba.

Anyway, that’s getting there, or at least landing there. The next step is a quick jaunt through the one-man immigration office and out to your awaiting taxi. This is where another part of the adventure begins as you wind your way up the side of this dormant volcano that about 2,000 locals call home. The island’s singular road was dug by hand! Going uphill. That feat in and of itself is amazing. Driving up it is punctuated by beeps on the horn of your driver. Two beeps seem to mean, “Coming through.”  While three short bursts appear to be “Watch out, I can’t see you around this corner, and the fish-eye mirrors that are on the street to assist in navigating this steep road while making a hairpin turn aren’t what I am entrusting my car to, so I am beeping…” Some beep just to say hello and that appears to be a quick single tap. The island is so condensed. It’s like a pocket-sized candy bar. The Caribbean condensed.

The islanders speak Dutch and English and there’s a clear European flare throughout the dining experiences around the island. The hiking, diving, birding, and art are some of the most compelling reasons tourists visit, but coming to disconnect must be top of the list as well. Although spirited events and street parties do exist, the nature of this island invites visitors to unwind. There are no beaches to speak of. The one that appears from time to time does get some attention when it shows itself, but it’s not the reason folks flock to Saba. Folks come here to reconnect with nature, friends and family, or explore and take on their next adventure. We went for a day and took in as much as we could. Hiked a trail called Mas’Cohones to a spot where we could look down on the Bottom, the island’s capital, the largest of its four villages. We ate at a lovely local Bakery called Bizzy B, took in a museum that showcased the history of the island, grabbed lunch at Island Flavors, and blew a glass bead. We did this all in under 7 hours, before hopping back on the flight to St. Maarten!

The takeoff was far less adrenaline inducing than the landing for me. No close calls with the side of a mountain, just Caribbean Sea to avoid by pulling up quickly on the yoke. These pilots are professionals and 12 minutes later, we were back in St. Maarten. This is the kind of day trip we love. How swanky is it to have the luxury of living this island-hopping life? Another country visited, another passport stamp, a quick cultural exchange, delicious international fare, some outdoor fun, and venetian glass bead making. Packing it in without stressing out! We highly recommend taking a day to check out Saba. Their villa scene is also pretty swanky, so maybe you turn it into a Swellegant Stay and kick back on the island for a little longer.



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