St Maarten

St Maarten diving
scuba diving St Maarten

SCUBA DIVING IN st Maarten

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st Maarten DIVING HIGHLIGHTS

With a range of relaxed but surprisingly vibrant reefs and wrecks, St Maarten's varied dive sites offer a great introduction to scuba diving or a low-key break for experienced divers looking to explore underwater at a leisurely pace.

 

St Maarten DIVE RESORTS/LIVEABOARDS

Diving in St Maarten is predominantly resort-based although there is one liveaboard, Caribbean Explorer II, that splits its itineraries between St Maarten and Saba & St Kitts.

 

INTRO TO St Maarten

Located 190 miles off the eastern tip of Puerto Rico in the northeast Caribbean Sea, the island of Saint Martin is divided between the southern Dutch country of St Maarten and the northern French Collectivity of Saint Martin. As the best dive sites and the majority of dive operators are located in the south of the island, this guide will focus on diving St Maarten (also referred to as Sint Maarten).

Comprising over 35 dive sites along the island's south and southeastern coasts, diving in St Maarten features rocky, coral encrusted reefs, numerous wrecks, and some colorful marine life. St Maarten diving is particularly suited to novice divers and snorkelers, with many sites offering shallow, sheltered conditions perfectly suited to learning or improving dive skills.

Thanks to the formation of Marine National Parks, the marine life around the island boasts some of the best diversity in the Caribbean. As well as a host of tropical reef species, Caribbean reef sharks are a common sight, and specific shark dives are popular.

Caribbean Explorer II Caribbean Explorer II

Photos by Caribbean Explorer

 

WHEN TO GO

Diving St Maarten is great year-round, and the June to November hurricane season rarely causes much disruption.

 

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st Maarten DIVING INFORMATION

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MARINE LIFE & PHOTOGRAPHY SUBJECTS

The Man of War Shoal Marine Park covers nearly 8,000 acres of protected reefs, wrecks, seagrass meadows, and sand habitat to the south of St Maarten. The marine park protects a huge diversity of marine life including 700 reef fish species, sharks, turtles, rays, lobster, conch, and crabs. It also falls on an important migratory route for whales and dolphins.

Marine animals you can expect to spot diving St Maarten include:

  • Caribbean reef shark
  • Nurse shark
  • Hammerhead shark
  • Loggerhead turtle
  • Leatherback turtle
  • Green turtle
  • Hawksbill turtle
  • Bottlenose dolphin
  • Humpback whale
  • Grouper
  • Stingray
  • Barracuda
  • French, queen & gray angelfish
  • Parrotfish
  • Sharp nose puffer
  • Porcupinefish
  • Trumpetfish
  • Grunts
  • Filefish
  • Seahorse

 

Caribbean Explorer II Caribbean Explorer II

Photos by Caribbean Explorer

  

DIVING CONDITIONS

  • Water temperature: 79-85oF (26-29oC) in February dropping to 72-75oF (22-24oC) in late August.
  • Visibility: Up to 100ft (30m).
  • Depth Range: Most sites are shallow, around 60 feet (18m).
  • Diving Difficulty: Suitable for beginners and snorkelers.

 

 

 

BEST DIVE SITES

Here are some of the top dive spots in St Maarten:

1. Charlie's Shoal

A seldom-dived and undisturbed stretch of reef just outside Simpson Bay on the island's south coast. Charlie's Shoal is a fringing Reef with a maximum depth of between 50 and 65 feet (16 and 20m) making it perfect for Open Water divers. Calm waters and great visibility make for a very relaxing spot with a good chance of encountering turtles, rays, barracuda, grouper, and even nurse sharks.

2. HMS Proselyte

In the center of St Maarten's souths coat, HMS Proselyte is the most popular of St Maarten's 11 wreck dives and is only a couple of minutes from the harbor. This Dutch and then British Royal Navy frigate sunk in 1801 when it hit Man of War Shoal. It now lies in 20 to 55 feet (6 to 16m) and is a fantastic artificial reef, covered in corals and varied marine life.

3. Carib Ghost

The Carib Ghost, also known as Carib Cargo or RORO, was badly damaged by Hurricane Luis in 1995 and then 'removed' in 1996 by a commercial dive operation. Local dive centers finally found where she had been sunk in 85 feet (26m) of water directly south of Cay Bay. The site offers a good opportunity for new wreck divers to experience safe wreck penetration.

4. Fuh Sheng

Another of St Maarten's excellent wreck dives, Fuh Sheng is a 120 foot (36m) fishing boat that sank in 1995. With fantastic visibility, this slightly deeper wreck offers encounters with lobsters, stingrays, and large groups of garden eels. There are often sharks found patrolling the sandy bottom.

5. Fish Bowl

A bright and lively reef featuring the best of St Maarten's marine diversity, Fish Bowl is close to the harbor and a popular and easy-to-reach site. The maximum depth is 60 feet (18m) and a large arch swim-through featuring barracuda and reef sharks offers some extra excitement.

6. Big Momma

Next to Fish Bowl, Big Momma is the island's flagship shark diving site. Caribbean reef sharks are common in St Maarten's waters, and at an average depth of 40 feet (12m), this is the perfect place to experience these 10-foot (3m) long beauties.

Caribbean Explorer II Caribbean Explorer II
 
Photos by Caribbean Explorer

BEST SNORKELING SITES

Here are some of the top snorkeling spots in St Maarten:

  • Dawn Beach
  • Friar's Bay
  • Mullet Beach
  • Simpson's Bay
  • Anse Marcel Reef
  • Creole Rock
  • Happy Bay
  • Pinel Island
  • White Rock Reef


 

BEST TIME TO DIVE St Maarten

St Maarten's tropical climate means there is little variation in air and water temperatures throughout the year. The summer enjoys topside temperatures of around 89oF (32oC) and in the winter months, this can drop to 82oF (28oC). Summer is also the rainy season and brief daily showers are common however, this rarely disrupts diving.

December through April and also July and August are peak tourist seasons.

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TRAVEL INFORMATION

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HOW TO GET TO st Maarten

Fly into Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) in Simpson Bay from the majority of US east coast cities. The liveaboard embarks from Bobby's Marina in Philipsburg.

 

HOW TO DIVE St Maarten

 The majority of dive sites are very close to shore, and local operators run 1 or 2-tank dives from small boats on a daily basis.

 

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN st Maarten

Most vacation activities involve the ocean, with snorkeling and beach tours, and sailing expeditions readily available. There are also sightseeing tours of the island's interior as well as of historical Philipsburg.

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OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

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Practical INFORMATION

  • Currency: Netherlands Antillean Guilder/Florin (ANG), but USD are widely accepted.
  • Language: English and Dutch.
  • Time Zone: Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
  • Electricity: 110V. 
 

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GOT QUESTIONS? READY TO BOOK?

Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

And let us book your dream vacation! 

 

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