Welcome to the second post in our new series where women who have lived on multiple rocks compare the lifestyles of different islands. If you missed the first one, click here. This site receives so many questions in the realm of “What’s it like to live on *insert island here* compared to *insert another island here*?” that I wanted to start a comparative post series. Please keep in mind that the opinions represented here are simply based on an individual writer’s experience. If you have follow-up questions, pop them into the comments’ section at the end of the post and the writer will do her best to reply. If you’ve lived on multiple islands and would like to share your perspective, please visit our Write with Us page and join us as a contributor – we’d love to have you!
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Are you a Maui Girl or a Saba Girl?
I see you. Peering through frosted window panes, dreaming of anything but a white spring. You would trade your hot chocolate for a rum punch in a heartbeat. No more shoveling snow, no more taking 45 minutes to gear up for the icy blast waiting to smack you in the face on the other side of your front door. I know of a couple islands you might keep tossing back and forth in your mind. Both are small, although one is microscopic. In fact, I am impressed if it has even come to your attention.
Perhaps you’re dreaming of island life, trying to decide which island is the best fit for you. Having lived on both the island of Maui and the island of Saba, I can give you a bit of an insider’s peek into which one may best match your vibe. Take this quiz and find out!
A) Beaches are an absolute must! Mai Tais and bikinis are what my daydreams are made of.
B) I love the ocean, but I’m not much of a sand girl… gives me a rash. I would rather spend my days gazing at the ocean from my cliffside porch.
A) I want to sweat while I dance. Big beats, bold colors, late nights – those are my jam.
B) I am more into slow, rhythmic dancing, perhaps combined with nudity and a sacred chant.
A) Slack key guitar forever!!!!!!
B) SOCA forever!!!!!!!
A) I NEED Costco! Modern infrastructure is a must.
B) I can do with a handful of mom and pop grocery stores whose inventory is almost entirely dependent on whether or not the cargo boat arrives that week.
A) I am obsessed with Asian and Polynesian cultures!
B) I am obsessed with African, Dutch, and South American cultures!
A) I prefer the option to be anonymous from time to time in my daily excursions.
B) I don’t mind if everybody knows who I am and knows all my business.
A) Hurricanes give me panic attacks.
B) Tsunami (and or ballistic missile) warnings give me panic attacks.
A) I prefer my coffee locally grown and roasted.
B) I don’t really care where my coffee comes from.
A) I do appreciate having drive-thru culinary options.
B) I am clutch when it comes to preparing all the meals. If I happen to want to go out one night for a casual burger, I don’t mind spending upwards of $15.
A) I get car sick really easily.
B) Concrete roller coaster? Bring it on! I live for hairpin turns and blind spots.
A) Living amongst hundreds of thousands of tourists and their entitled ways every day doesn’t bother me one bit.
B) I prefer living amongst a population of less than 2,000 and giving the occasional tourist a ride to their accommodations or dinner plans.
A) Wild iguanas terrify me.
B) Wild mongoose terrify me.
A) Hiking should be shared with strangers and include lots of waterfalls, wild raspberries and lilikoi, the occasional lava tube, and absolutely NO snakes.
B) Hiking should be entirely private and pristine with stunning sea views, pirate cliffs, maybe a sulphur mine, and rainforest. I don’t mind the occasional blind snake and goats.
A) I am comfortable paying upwards of $1800 a month for a two bedroom place – cockroaches and mice included, utilities not included.
B) $1800 a month better give me three bedrooms and utilities.
A) Cockroaches everywhere including inside of my car? Not a problem. I don’t get anxiety driving at night with critters skittering across the dashboard, or flying in my face when I try to take a walk or have dinner outside with a friend.
B) Cockroach interaction should be limited. I understand luscious plants means luscious bugs, but they shouldn’t be confused with the national bird.
A) I prefer a municipal water supply.
B) Depending on the sky for my water is fine by me.
A) I have kids and want multiple options for schooling.
B) I don’t have kids but if I did, I don’t mind having only one school to choose from.
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If you answered mostly A’s, then Maui may be your dream destination. With 88 beaches to explore and endless options for entertainment, dining, and shopping (there’s even an aquarium, lavender farm, and multiple zip lines), you will never find yourself wondering what to do with your time. When I lived on Maui, I spent every day acutely aware of the tropical dream I had fallen into. Although the culture was different than where I came from, I still had access to the conveniences I would have living on the mainland (Target, fully equipped hospital and doctors’ offices, Safeway, art galleries, hair and nail salons, and T.J. Maxx – to name a few). Maui has the perfect blend of nature and modern infrastructure. You can live off the grid if you want, or live in a luxurious mansion. I loved that within thirty minutes, I could splash around in a secluded jungle waterfall, or get in world class shopping and dining at the Shops at Wailea. Another bonus is the tight knit community of moms on the island. Maui loves their keiki (children) and there are a myriad of kid-friendly beaches, hikes, luaus, excursions, and theaters. I would love to someday return to Maui.
If you answered mostly B’s, then Saba may be calling for you. Saba is a different kind of paradise – isolated from the outside world by its tiny size and accessibility only by a small WinAir hopper flight from St. Maarten. With its sheer cliffs and winding coastline, reminiscent of Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Saba’s landscape is mesmerizing. Once a haven for pirates, Saba is full of secrets and legends. I love imagining the stories that have never been told, lingering in the caves and ruins. When I go hiking, I am transported. It is lush, colorful, and quiet; a step back in time, which is simultaneously awesome and frustrating (particularly for moms of little kids). I do love that I can walk around and not worry about being heckled or robbed. The locals are kind, helpful, and care for their island with passion and pride. Daily life may be a bit more rugged, but the peace, beauty (seriously – storybook kind of magical), and simplicity of a small town community soaking up the colorful Caribbean sun makes the small inconveniences totally worth it.
My advice? Try both! If you’re like me, you won’t be disappointed.