The 10 Most Interesting Islands in the World

4. SABA

Saba Airport (Sean Ganann/Flickr).

Saba Airport (Sean Ganann/Flickr).

Not far from Montserrat, on the other side of St. Kitts and Nevis, lie two Dutch islands: Sint Eustatius and Saba. Like many other islands on this list, Saba is essentially a volcano (Mount Scenery) rising steeply from the sea, technically the highest point in the Netherlands.

Saba is considered the “unspoiled queen of the Caribbean.” Columbus spotted the island in 1493 but did not land given its dangerous shores. The island switched back and forth between British, Dutch, and French control before finally becoming and remaining Dutch in 1816. Nevertheless, English remains the most spoken language on the island. As with Tristan and Pitcairn, the island’s inhabitants are mostly descended from a small founding population, in this case about six families of mixed Dutch, Scottish, African, and Irish heritage.

Most notable is the effect of the island’s topography on human settlement. For much of Saba’s history, anything brought onto the island had to be carried by hand up an ominous flight of 800 steps carved into the rock, called “The Ladder” by locals. The first car didn’t arrive on the island until 1947, and the only main road, called simply “The Road,” takes a perilous, winding course across the island connecting the few main settlements with a series of dozens of daunting switchbacks. The Road, finally completed in 1958, was built by a man who took a correspondence course in civil engineering after being told by Dutch and Swiss engineers a road couldn’t be built across the island.

Access to the island is by ferry from Sint Maarten or, for the more adventurous, via a 15-minute flight by propeller jet into Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (see above). The airport features a single 1299-foot runway, the shortest commercial runway in the world. The runway is bordered by a steep mountain on one side and high, steep cliffs dropping into the sea on the others. As seen in this video, the approach and landing is one of the scariest in the world.

4 comments

  1. Reblogged this on amazonka12579.

  2. Love your list…but you missed out Bora bora from Tahiti…

  3. great post!

  4. I had heard the Whitsundays are lovely. And Stromboli always seemed like an exciting destination, but I’m a sucker for an island. How about Isola Bella on Maggiore? That’s a fond memory. 🙂

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