Saba (pronounced SAY-bah) is a tiny (13 square km) volcanic island, about 45km/28mi south of Sint Maarten which features world-class scuba diving and ecotourism. Saba bills itself as the "Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean" and for once the tourists brochures are right. Saba is a beautiful, but very quiet island due to the fact that all beaches are small, there are no casinos or high rise hotels, and the nightlife is nearly non-existant. If you want to see a quiet island of the Caribbean; this is it. The hiking is great too.
Mas Cohones is a little brother to nearby Mount Scenery and gets almost no attention, but it does have one big advantage over Mount Scenery. Mount Scenery is often shrowded in the clouds and often has no view. Often times when this happens, Mas Cahones is often clear and sunny since it sits partially in the rain shadow. If you don't get a view from Mount Scenery and the skies appear to be clearer over Mas Cahones, climb this one.
Mas Cahones is humorously named. It's spelled wrong, but it means "more testicles" which symobilized "more macho" in Spanish. A lot of other places in Saba are also humorously named. The Bottom; Booby Hole; Booby Hill; The Bottom; Big Gut; All Too Far Bay; The Gut; Cave of Rum Bay; Viper Hole; and Pirate Cliffs are just some of the other humorous names.
The island has four villages, The Bottom being the capital, but Windwardside is the biggest. There are no rivers and there are only small streams on the island. This is not a difficult climb for anyone in reasonable shape. The trail is well defined and has stone steps every few yards (1064 in all.) The crater of the volcano contains a rainforest jungle consisting of ferns, tropical flowers and mahogany trees. At the top, the hiker is treated to stunning vistas of the island and views of nearby St Kitts & Eustatius. The summit is often covered in clouds, though.
There are 12 signposted trails for hiking on the island and the hike to Mas Cahones goes through the cloud forest. The trails cross private property, so please stay on the trail. A cloud forest is interesting in itself: "Tropical montane cloud forests are a rare type of evergreen mountain forest found in tropical areas, where local climatic conditions cause cloud and mist to be regularly in contact with the forest vegetation. These forests support ecosystems of distinctive floristic and structural form and contain a disproportionately large number of the world’s endemic and threatened species."
Most visitors arrive in Saba by air.
Several carriers take you to Sint Maarten on Netherlands Antilles (SXM).
From Sint Maarten, Winair has several flights a day to Sint Eustatius, via Saba, a 15-minute hop for each leg. Since you have to stop in Saba anyway, you might want to stop there for a day or two to do some hiking or diving.
From Anguilla, Trans Anguilla has flights from Anguilla, Sint Maarten, and Saint Kitts. Taxi or walking is the best way to get around, as the island is not that large. Valid passports are required for all visitors including US and Canadian citizens. A round trip or onward ticket is officially required.
Dawn II is based at Fort Bay, Saba, traveling three times a week to Dock Maarten Marina, Great Bay, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten.Tuesday, Thursday, and SaturdayDeparts Saba at 7:00 am ~ Arrives Dock Maarten at 8:30 amDeparts Dock Maarten at 4:30 pm ~ Arrives Saba at 6:00 pmReservations Recommended. Check-in at least 30 mins. prior to departure to clear immigration.
Wednesday, Friday, and SundayTravels to Saba from Sint Maarten (from Simpson Bay/Pelican Marina) on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, departing Sint Maarten at 9:00 a.m. for the 1 hour 20 minute trip and returns from Saba, departing Fort Bay harbor at 3:30 p.m., arriving back on Sint Maarten at 5:00 p.m.
The US dollar is the currency used here. If you don't have US dollars, it is recommended that you exchange your money before getting to Saba.
Getting Around and to the Trailhead
Saba is small, so the best way to get around is walking or using a taxi (usually shared taxi).
From the airport, shared taxis will take you to the trailhead. They are waiting when every flight arrives. The cost was $10-12 per person in December 2018.
You can also walk up "The Road" to theWindwardside in an hour or two. The trailhead is on the west side of town near the Trail Shop and is the same trailhead for Mount Scenery. It is well marked with signs.
There is really only one route to the top of Mas Cahones. From the trailhead, follow the staircase up the hill for a short distance. Turn left at the first junction. The path is marked for Mas Cahones Hill.
Follow the trail to the summit. There is some minor scrambling involved if you want to reach the highest point. Enjoy the nice views.
The hike will only take an hour or so, but most people will want to combine this one with the climb up Mount Scenery.
Camping is allowed on the island at Down Gut, Gray Bush, Mary Point (though this was closed since Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the future status is unknown), and The Flat.
The Saba Tourism Office has a list of places to stay below:
Hiking in the drier season is best, but the summit can be visited year round as long as the weather isn't extreme. August through October have the highest chances of hurricanes. There are no real dry season on the highest slopes of the mountain, but some seasons are certainly wetter still than others. Bright sunshine or heavy rains are possible at any time. On average, February, March and April are the driest months, followed by December and January. June through November are wetter, although the difference from the dry season is not always dramatic. From about mid-December through early May is the best time to climb, but even in the driest seasons, it rains frequently up high.
Weather averages for the Camp Jacob (Guadeloupe) at an elevation of 1750 feet/533 meters are below. Information is from the book World Weather Guide, page 323. Although Camp Jacob is on Guadeloupe, weather conditions at Camp Jacob are more representative of climate of Mas Cahones Hill than the weather stations near the coast.
|Month||High (° F )||High (° C)||Low (° F )||Low (° C)||in. Rain||mm Rain||Rain Days|