Saba World's Shortest Commercial Runway

Saba, Dutch Caribbean – Home of The World’s Shortest Commercial Runway

Kerwin McKenzieDestination Information

Destination Information – Saba

I’ve wanted to visit Saba for eons and finally had a chance to do so in March 2022. I was able to fly in from St. Maarten on a Winair Twin Otter. This was after flying into St. Maarten from Miami, FL (MIA) on American Airlines. The landing in Saba was amazing! In case you want to take the trip, and I hope you do, here is some information to help you.

Saba Shores

 

Where Is The Caribbean Island Saba?

Saba, not to be confused with Sabah in Malaysia. Saba is located in the Caribbean. just off the shores of St. Maarten and west of the U.S. Virgin Islands and north west of St. Kitts & Nevis.

Saba Map

 

 

What Caribbean islands are Dutch?

It is one of the Dutch territories along with Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius.

Saba is about 13 square kilometers in size. It is actually one of the smallest countries in the world. It’s tiny and mountainous. I’m quite impressed by how much they’ve built on this island as you will see from the photos below and when you visit.

On a clear day you can actually see Saba from Maho Beach on St. Maarten.

Saba seen from St. Maarten

 

And you can also see St. Eustatius from the Saba airport.

St. Eustatius from St. Maarten

 

Here are some things you should know about this lesser known Caribbean island:

How To Get Here

The island of Saba is quite remote and is only accessible by a ferry from neighboring St. Maarten as well as air travel , also from St. Maarten via the lone Saba airport. There is only one airline that serves the airport at this time; that’s Winair.

The name of the ferry service is operated by the Saba Ferry Services to/from Saba to St. Maarten. Check their website for pricing and schedule.

Port of Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Port of Philipsburg, St. Maarten

 

Airport Name

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SBH) – World’s shortest paved commercial runway at 400 meters (1,312′). Not to mention that it sits on a cliff with the sea on either side of it. Landing here was equally exciting as when I landed in Westray Airport in the Orkney Islands.

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB) on approach

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB) on approach

 

Why Is Saba Island Dangerous?

The main reason why this airport is dangerous is due to the length of the runway and the winds that comes down from the mountains to the runway. Look at the photo above and the one below to see what I mean.

Watch the video of my landing here at https://www.youtube.com/shorts/PQtyqfLJaiw and you will see.

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB)

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB)

 

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB)

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB)

Airlines Serving Saba

Winair (WN). There are also charter airlines serving the island. There are flights from St. Maarten (SXM) and St. Barthélemy (SAB).

Wimair's Twin Otter in Saba (SAB)

 

Airport Tip

The airport is tiny and very easy to navigate. Arrivals and departure are on the same ground level and at the time of this writing, there are no jetways. Check your schedules on passrider.com.
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Airport Lounges

There are no airport lounges here. However, there is a restaurant onsite.

Saba Flight Deck Airport Restaurant

Saba Flight Deck Airport Restaurant

 

Airport To The City (The Bottom)

Take a taxi or hitch a ride from a local. The island is very small so its quite easy. You can also ask the Winair agent to call a ride for you.

Saba Airport Taxi Stand

Saba Airport Taxi Stand to the right

 

Currency

The US Dollars (USD) is the currency of record in Saba. Which is odd since they are a Dutch territory; one would think it would be the Euro.
 

Language

The languages spoken in Saba are Dutch, English and Papiamento. Also, people from other Dutch Caribbean islands and Suriname come here to live and work.
 

Visa and Health Requirements

If you are a U.S. citizen, a visa is not required at this time for Saba Dutch Caribbean. However, one may be required for citizens from select other countries though. Use this link to check visa requirements for other citizenship.

Here is some additional information from the U.S. State Department including visa and health requirements.

In addition, be sure to check https://www.sabatourism.com/travel-requirements/ for the most current travel restrictions and requirements for the island before you start your travel plans. And, this is super important, you have to transfer via St. Maarten to get here which means that it is necessary to also check the transit requirements for St. Maarten. You will more than likely have to fulfill these requirements in order to visit Saba.

Check-in area at the Saba airport

Check-in area at the Saba airport

 

Airport Wifi

Wifi is available free of charge in the one building terminal.
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Accommodation

There are not that many hotels in Saba, but the one that are here are very cool. You can find a list from the Saba Tourism website at https://www.sabatourism.com/business/category/hotels/. Also, you can go to https://www.passrider.com/hotelscombined to book your hotel or use the box below.

 

 

Juliana's Hotel

Juliana’s Hotel
 

Here’s a Map of Hotels on the island

 

Where To Eat on Saba

I only spent a few hours on the island and didn’t eat at any of the establishments. I did walk around Winwardside though and saw a few place along the main road and also off the beaten path.

Guido's Place Bar & Restaurant

Guido’s Place Bar & Restaurant

I tried to have something at the restaurant at the airport (Saba Flight Deck), but they didn’t really have anything I wanted. I was disappointed that they had burger and fries. I was looking for something local.

 

Things To Do

How about relax and enjoy the island? Of course you can go diving, hiking and swimming too. The island is very mountainous, so get out your walking shoes and hiking gear as you will need it. And possibly an umbrella as it does rain. If you drive around the island, be cognizant that the roads are narrow and very windy. Exercise caution.

The views are epic!

Saba, Dutch Caribbean

 

My favorite house on the island

My favorite house on the island

 

Saba, Dutch Caribbean - The views

 

Saba, Dutch Caribbean - The views

 

Saba, Dutch Caribbean - The Bottom

The Bottom

Museums

If you prefer museums, there are three on the islands. I did walk by the Harry L. Johnson Museum, so take a look. It just nestled in the neighborhood too.

Harry L. Johnson Museum - Saba, Dutch Caribbean

Harry L. Johnson Museum – Saba, Dutch Caribbean

 

Additional Information

Tourism Board

 

Saba Tourism Office

Saba Tourist Bureau. Located on the main street on the Windwardside. Just walk in and say hello.

 

Saba University School of Medicine

One more interesting fact about this island is that there is a medical school here. Established in 1992, tt’s called Saba University School of Medicine and is located in The Bottom. As I waited for my flight, some of the charter flights were bringing in patients from St. Maarten and there was a waiting ambulance.

 

Saba Airport

Saba Airport

Please leave a comment below about your own experiences and tips.