Saba, Dutch Caribbean, Front, aerial view
Written by: Sandra Baksh
Life is simple and relaxing on this charming 5-square-mile island. There is no duty-free shopping, no bustling traffic, no mangroves…not even a permanent beach. However, in what it lacks, Saba definitely makes up for in two specific areas—diving and hiking.
Landing and takeoff on the airstrip, can only be described as unnerving. Saba’s Juancho E. Yrausquin airport, offers an unforgettable adrenalin-rush. Located 80 feet above sea level on the northeast tip of the volcanic island, it probably has the shortest runway in the world. At only 1,300 feet long, it is flanked on the south by high hills and at either ends of the runway, by sheer cliffs. Most noticeable aerially, is the distinct zigzag pattern of Saba’s famous main road, literally called, The Road.
In 1938, Josephus Lambert Hassell (“ Lambee”), with the assistance of his fellow Sabans, no heavy machinery and mainly manual labor, embarked on what seemed to be an impossible task of constructing a road through extremely difficult terrain. The vital access road from Fort Bay to Saba’s capital, The Bottom, was completed within 5 years. This first stage of the road was inaugurated in 1943. Four years later, the first motor vehicle arrived.
In 1951, the road to Windwardside and St. John’s was opened and 7 years later, The Road (a simple and memorable name), a marvel of engineering and creativity, was completed.