Travel: Islands 2008: Travel
Tiny in Size, Big on Fun: Five Islands and What They Offer

Some of the Caribbean's smallest islands really let you get away from crowds.

Just getting to them can be an adventure. Hundred-foot cliffs line Saba's quarter-milelong airstrip, for example, making for a white-knuckle landing. Ferries are the main and sometimes only way to islands, including St. John, and you generally don't need a reservation. From unspoiled beaches to ruins of sugar plantations, here's what fi ve of the smallest islands offer.

Contact www.saba




Size 5 square miles 35 square miles 8 square miles 36 square miles 28 square miles
Population 1,700 12,000 8,450 10,000 About 5,000
Getting There Fly to St. Maarten, then either fly (12 minutes) or take a ferry (80 minutes). The only airline that goes to Saba is Winair (from $82 round trip); ferries are the Edge ($100 round trip) and the Dawn (80 round trip). Fly to San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua or St. Maarten, then catch a smaller carrier. For example, from Antigua it's a one-hour flight on LIAT ($91-$187 round trip); from St. Maarten, it's seven minutes ($93-$204 round trip). Or take a 20-minute ferry ($24-$30 round trip) from Marigot, St. Martin, to Blowing Point, Anguilla. Fly to San Juan, Guadeloupe or St. Maarten, then catch a smaller carrier. From St. Maarten, it's a 15-minute flight on Saint Barth Commuter (about $161-$298 round trip) or Winair (about $42-$200 round trip). From St. Maarten, ferries include the 45-minute Rapid Explorer ($125 round trip) or the Edge ($90 round trip). Fly to St. Maarten, San Juan, Antigua or St. Kitts, then take a smaller plane or ferry. American Eagle flies from San Juan to Nevis ($418 round trip in March). From St. Maarten, catch a 10-minute flight on LIAT ($85-$115 each way) or Winair ($30- $71 each way). From the St. Kitts airport, take a taxi to the ferry, which costs $16 to $19 round trip. Fly to St. Thomas, then taxi over to the Charlotte Amalie waterfront (about $7) or Red Hook (about $14) to catch a ferry to Cruz Bay. From Red Hook, passenger ferries take 20 minutes (about $10 round trip); from Charlotte Amalie, 40-45 minutes (about $22 round trip). Or take a car ferry ($42-$50 round trip, including passengers). Ferry info.
Best for... Divers, who can explore Saba Marine Park, and hikers. Sunbathers, who can choose from 33 uncrowded white-sand beaches. Fans of seashell-covered beaches (rare in the Caribbean), a French vibe, nightclubbing and celebrityspotting. Beach and watersports lovers, as well as nature, history and archaeology enthusiasts. Nature lovers and families.
What to Do Shop for Saba lace, made locally since the 1870s, and Saba Spice rum-and-herb liquor. Visit the Harry L. Johnson Museum, a former sea captain's cottage with Victorian furnishings and artifacts from archaeological sites. Cut loose at Carnival, the last week of July. Choose from 15 eateries, ranging from Pop's Place Snack Bar to the elegant Willard's. Snorkel and sail. Hike to Koal Keel, a former sugar and cotton plantation, and Sandy Ground, an old salt factory. Ride horses on deserted beaches. Attend the annual music festival (March 27-30 this year). Meet the locals, including fishermen, boat builders and sailors. Windsurf, water-ski, sail. Fish for barracuda and blue marlin. Play on 14 white-sand beaches, many secluded. Stop in Corossol and see the Inter-oceans Museum's 7,000-seashell collection. Shop duty-free for Hermes and Cartier in Gustavia. Eat crepes at sidewalk cafes. Enjoy smoke-free air: Since Jan. 1, smoking is forbidden in enclosed public spaces. Hike to the top of a 3,300-foot extinct volcano. Listen to monkeys chatter on a rain forest hike. Visit the sleepy Victorian capital, Charlestown. Smell orchids at the Botanical Garden. Tour Herbert Heights Village's thatched-roof cottages. Ride horses along the 9-mile Upper Round Road Trail. Visit refurbished plantation houses. Check out the Culturama festival July 25-Aug. 5. Hike the Reef Bay Trail in Virgin Islands National Park. Explore more than 35 beaches, including Trunk Bay, renowned for its snorkeling. Go bird-watching; there are 140 species, including an abundance of hummingbirds. Dodge wild goats while trekking from Salt Pond Bay to Ram Head Point. See the Annaberg Plantation sugar mill ruins. Get in the water: Snorkel, dive, sail, kayak and windsurf.
Lodging About 120 rooms are available in 8 small hotels, several villas and 14 cottages. Options include Scout's Place and Hotel (rooms from $106). Daphne's Cottage ($130), built in 1850, is in a Windwardside neighborhood. The House on the Path ($175) is 1,500 feet above the sea and a 5-minute hike from neighbors and vehicles. Choose from 21 hotels, guesthouses and miniresorts, plus about 30 villas and condos. Low-end options include the Sea View Apartments ($60 year-round). Villa Bellamare on Shoal Bay Beach (from $270) and Eden House Villa (from $1,810 a week) are two midrange choices. About half the beds are in houses and apartments, including Villa Casa Coco (from $1,600 a week) near Gustavia and Salines Garden beach cottages ($132 a night). Family-run hotels include the 21-room Tropical Hotel (from $189) and Le Village St. Jean (from $249), where cottages and rooms are in a tropical garden. With 416 hotel rooms and suites and more than 100 villas, options range from apartments and guesthouses to historic plantation inns and a 5-star resort. Options include the Hermitage Plantation Inn (from $170), the stone-cut buildings of Old Manor Hotel ($290-$380) and the Banyan Tree B&B (from $135), a working farm with Barbados Blackberry sheep. St. John has everything from park camping to exclusive resorts. B&Bs include Garden by the Sea ($160) and Hillcrest Guesthouse (from $185), where a tropical garden includes an Amish gazebo. The Caneel Bay resort (from $395) has 166 luxe rooms, sans phones and TVs. Camping at Cinnamon Bay costs $27 for a bare tent site, or $80 including tent; cottages start at $110.

NOTE: All rates listed are subject to change. Lodging rates, unless noted, are for double rooms. Bag and port fees may apply for ferries; airfare taxes and fees are additional.; WEB EDITOR: Christian Pelusi -

© 2008 The Washington Post Company