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The best place to dive in the Caribbean is Saba’s Shaals

THE BOTTOM, Saba (AP) — The small propeller airplane lands quickly and softly, like a butterfly, on one of the world’s shortest commercial runways on the rainforest-capped island of Saba, which rises stunningly out of the Caribbean. It won’t take long for visitors to see why the sign outside declares: “Welcome to The Unspoiled Queen.”

Saba’s Mount Scenery, at 2,877 feet (877 meters) high, is touted as the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. (The island became a Dutch municipality following the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles.) Still, some of the island’s most sought-after peaks are underwater near Saba’s sharply rising shores. The small island’s volcanic nature has sculpted the seascape for unique recreational diving, as its coral-encrusted pinnacles and seamounts top out within recreational diving limits of 85 to 120 feet (26 to 36 meters). Yellow sulfur deposits on the sand at the dive site known as Hot Springs shows volcanic activity continues. If you stick your hand in the sand, you can feel its heat.

Forget the beach. There isn’t one. No casinos, either. After hiking and diving, one of the next best things to do is simply relax and wait for the symphony of whistling frogs that fills the night with song.

Many who take the time to visit this remote and verdant island about a 15-minute flight from St. Maarten are scuba divers who come to explore some of the most colorful and vibrant underwater life on this side of the world. A main draw for divers are the pinnacle dive sites, where magma pushed through the sea floor to create underwater towers of volcanic rock that start at about 300 feet (91 meters) down and rise to about 85 feet (26 meters) beneath the surface…

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