Prospective travelers are confronted with a number of difficult choices as they plan their vacation. An important consideration that must not be overlooked is the budget to pay for lodging, food, transportation, and daily spending.
Vacationers are drawn to Saba to enjoy its diverse and stunning natural environments. While the island does not offer the shopping, beaches, or entertainment that nearby St. Maarten does, travelers should still plan for expenses that extend beyond the price of transportation, accommodations, and dining. Taxes, tips, souvenirs, tours, and eco-adventure can all significantly increase the amount of money you'll need on this small island.
There are no large and luxurious all-inclusive resorts on Saba, perhaps due in part to the island's lack of beaches and its small size of just five square miles. Accommodations on the island range from small guesthouses, cottages, and eco-lodges to luxurious, but small hotels and resorts. The small and secluded hotels and cottages are reflective of the isolated and peaceful lifestyle that many travelers come to Saba to find. Although there are no all-inclusive resort complexes, some of these hotels offer packages that may include meals, massages, and scuba diving. As in the rest of the Caribbean, prices at all of the island's accommodations will experience a significant increase during the high season from December to April.
Although relatively few tourists travel to the island each year, the limited number of accommodations on Saba means that travelers should book their accommodations several months in advance when visiting during the high season. Travelers may be able to save money by visiting during the off season, but should consider seasonal factors such as the Atlantic hurricane season. Many accommodation rates are based on single or double occupancy per night, although others may be simply per room per night. Many hotels add a 15 percent service charge to the bill. Travelers should always clarify details of quoted prices.
Although all-inclusive resorts are non-existent on Saba, travelers can purchase packages that include scuba diving for as low as $300(USD) to $775(USD) for stays of varying lengths. Other packages that include dives, breakfasts, massages, and other benefits can run from $3,000(USD) to $4,000(USD) for stays of seven to 10 days, respectively. Hotels and resorts on the island can start as low as $83(USD) a night and move up to $135(USD) to $155(USD) during the high season. Suites in the island's finest hotels will start at $200(USD) and move upwards to $850(USD) a night. Rates at the island's unique and colorful eco-lodges and cottages can be less expensive, with rooms ranging from $40(USD) to $90(USD) a night. Rental properties at island villas and cottages can run from $118(USD) to $445(USD) per night during the high season.
Package deals offering lodging, scuba dives, food, and other amenities may be more expensive than accommodations alone, but could end up saving travelers money in the long run. Travelers should consider the cost of what their package includes. Scuba diving, meals, and massages all come at a cost when they are not included in a package, and travelers who wish to take advantage of these benefits on the island should weigh their options. Travelers who choose to stay in pricier villas or cottages equipped with a kitchen can save money by preparing their own food.
In addition to accommodations, several other substantial costs, namely dining and transportation, should be factored into your travel budget. There are a number of dining options available on Saba, from pizza, burgers, and barbecue to West Indian Creole and fine French cuisine. Travelers can eat quickly and cheaply at island restaurants, delis, and snack bars for $5(USD) to $10(USD). Meals of seafood and other dishes prepared at the island's moderately priced dining establishments will cost from $10(USD) to $25(USD), while the most expensive meals on the island may move up toward $35(USD). Vacationers who enjoy sampling fine wines or expensive drinks should expect their tabs to be significantly higher. A service charge, when it is included, will generally be about 10 to 15 percent of the bill, although patrons can leave more for good service.
The cost of getting to Saba may be more expensive that getting to other islands, as travelers must first pass through St. Maarten before taking a small plane to Saba. Airfare may cost less during the off season, although travelers should remember the seasonal concern of Atlantic hurricane season. Roundtrip ferry fare from St. Maarten will run from $57(USD) for a same day return trip to $90(USD) for a return trip on a different day. Many travelers, however, do not need much transportation once they have reached the island. Many residents on Saba hitchhike or simply walk from place to place, although the steep terrain means that this requires a certain degree of physical fitness. There are no international rental car agencies on Saba, but several local rental firms have cars available for as low as $45(USD) a day plus gas, which can be expensive. Due to the steep and winding roads, visitors should drive defensively on the island. Taxis are another option for getting around. Fares for up to four people range up to $13(USD), and tips should be around 10 to 15 percent of the fare.
Travelers who want to take advantage of eco-tourism opportunities on the island should consider the costs of hiring a guide or renting scuba equipment. A double tank dive in a single day can cost $110(USD) per person, and lessons and certifications can also add substantial costs.
Travelers who wish to spend a significant amount of time shopping may be better off in neighboring St. Maarten, although Saba does boast a number of local items that are popular with travelers. Saba Spice is a strong local rum that is created in a number of different ways on the island. The famous lace of Saba can also be bought in island shops and boutiques. Locally made crafts, jewelry, and fine art are also popular purchases, as are books, souvenirs, and locally made fabrics and linens. Several dive shops on the island sell diving gear.
In addition to the service charges included in the bills of many hotels, there is also a combined tax that usually amounts to around 8 percent. The departure tax for leaving the island by plane to destinations outside of the Windward Islands is $20(USD). When departing for destinations within the Windward Islands, travelers must pay a departure tax of $5(USD).
The cost of traveling to any island in the Caribbean can be expensive, but travelers should not be daunted by the prospects of exorbitant bills. Travelers of all budgets should be able to plan a vacation to Saba if they carefully consider their itinerary and costs.
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