Endless Caribbean - Dive Sites in St. Maarten and St. Martin

Dive Sites in St. Maarten and St. Martin

If you are a diving enthusiast, brace yourself for an underwater adventure of a lifetime in the island of Saint Martin. There is a plethora of dive sites in St. Maarten and St. Martin that cater to both novice and experienced divers. With clear waters, vibrant marine life, and numerous shipwrecks, St. Martin is a diver’s paradise. The island boasts crystal clear waters, an abundance of marine life and exciting shipwrecks waiting to be explored.

The diving industry in St. Maarten and St. Martin dates to the 1970s when the first dive shops opened on the island. Since then, the island has become a popular destination for divers from around the world. The island’s warm waters and diverse marine life make it an ideal destination for both recreational and technical diving. Whether you’re interested in exploring shipwrecks, coral reefs, or underwater caves, St. Maarten has something for everyone.

Key Takeaways

  • St. Maarten is a popular destination for divers of all levels.
  • The island offers a variety of dive sites, including shipwrecks, coral reefs, and underwater caves.
  • With warm waters and diverse marine life, St. Maarten is a great destination for both recreational and technical diving.

History of Diving in St. Maarten and St. Martin

St. Maarten/ St. Martin has a rich history of diving that dates to the 1950s when the island was first discovered as a tourist destination. Since then, it has become a popular spot for divers from all over the world.

In the early days, most of the diving was done using rudimentary equipment, such as snorkels and flippers. However, as the popularity of the sport grew, so did the technology used in the sport. Today, divers have access to the latest equipment and technology, making diving in St. Maarten an unforgettable experience.

One of the most notable events in the history of diving in St. Maarten was the sinking of the HMS Proselyte in 1801. The ship was carrying a load of silver and gold when it ran aground on a reef off the coast of St. Maarten. Today, the wreck of the HMS Proselyte is one of the most popular dive sites in St. Maarten, attracting divers from all over the world.

Another important event in the island’s history of diving was the establishment of the St. Maarten Marine Park in 1997. The park was created to protect the island’s coral reefs and marine life and has since become one the top dive spots in St. Maarten/ St. Martin for divers and snorkelers alike.

Diving Conditions in St. Maarten and St. Martin

If you are planning a diving trip to St. Maarten or St. Martin, it is important to know what the diving conditions are. Some of the key factors to keep in mind are water temperature, visibility, currents, and marine life.

Water Temperature

The water temperature in Saint Martin ranges from 78°F (25.5°C) in the winter months to 84°F (29°C) in the summer months. This means that you’ll likely be comfortable diving in a 3mm wetsuit year-round. However, if you tend to get cold easily, you may want to opt for a thicker wetsuit in the winter.

Visibility

St. Maarten’s waters are mostly clear and visibility can go as far as 100ft (30m) on a good day. However, visibility can vary depending on weather conditions and location. Most dive sites are shallow, around 60 feet (18m), thus ensuring good visibility when diving and snorkelling.

Water Currents

Water currents can be mild to moderate, but this depends on where you are diving and the time of the year. Some dive sites, such as the Proselyte Reef, have stronger currents and are only suitable for experienced divers.

Marine Life

St. Maarten is home to a diverse range of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, sea turtles, and even sharks. However, some species, such as the Nassau grouper, are protected and cannot be hunted or caught.

Wrecks

St. Maarten is also known for its shipwrecks, which provide unique opportunities for wreck diving. Some of the most popular wrecks include the HMS Proselyte, the Carib Cargo, and the Tugboat.

Best Time to Dive in St. Maarten and St. Martin

The island of Saint Martin has excellent diving conditions all throughout the year. But there are some periods when the water is warmer, when the seas are calmer and when visibility is at its best.

The peak tourist season, which is also the dry season in St. Maarten/ St. Martin is from December to April. During this time, the weather is generally sunny and warm, with low humidity. The water temperature is also warmer and ranges from 78°F to 82°F (26°C to 28°C). This is the best time to visit if you want to take advantage of almost perfect calm seas and clear visibility.

During the low season from May to November, St. Maarten experiences its rainy season, which also coincides with hurricane season. While hurricanes rarely hit St. Maarten directly, they can cause rough seas and poor visibility. However, diving during the rainy season can still be enjoyable, as the water temperature is still warm, and the marine life is more active. Just be sure to check the weather forecast before you go.

However, if you want to avoid the crowds and get the best deals on accommodations and diving packages, consider going to St. Maarten during the low season. There will be less people around and you might even get lucky and have the dive sites all to yourself.

If your aim is to see marine life and you do not mind the occasional rain shower, go during the rainy season from May to November.

Top Dive Sites in St. Maarten and St. Martin

There are many dive sites in St. Maarten/ St. Martin, but they are a handful that stand out. The list of sites that visiting divers should aim to explore are:

  • The Bridge
  • The Fishbowl
  • Proselyte Reef
  • La Renee
  • Mullet Bay
  • Circus at Tintamarre
  • The Gregory
  • The Maze
  • Basse Espagnole
  • Shark Hotel

The Bridge

The Bridge is a popular dive site located on the western side of the island, close to the Simpson Bay Lagoon. This site gets its name from the remains of an old bridge which is home to many species of sea life. Divers can explore the area around the bridge and see a variety of fish, as well as angelfish, parrotfish, and snapper.

The Fishbowl

The Fishbowl is another popular dive site in St. Maarten/ St. Martin. This site is located on the eastern side of the island and is known for its 60-foot-deep waters. There have been many sightings of diverse marine life at the site such as barracuda, groupers, moray eels, Caribbean Reef sharks and nurse sharks.

Proselyte Reef

Proselyte Reef is a great dive site for beginners and experienced divers alike. The reef is located just off the coast of Philipsburg and is seen as the premier dive site in St. Maarten/ St. Martin. The site, which is named after the H.M.S Proselyte boat has various depths that range from fifteen to fifty feet.

La Renee

La Renee is another popular dive site located on the St. Martin side of the island. Recommended for experienced divers, it is a shipwreck of the former tugboat La Renee that sits in 130 feet of water. This site is best known for its exotic schools of fish such as sting rays, eagle rays, sharks, barracudas, and trevallies.

Mullet Bay

Mullet Bay is a popular beach for surfing, snorkelling and diving in St. Maarten. Even though it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the island, it is also an excellent dive site for beginners. The bay is on the western side of the island and is known for its calm waters and abundant marine life.

Circus at Tintamarre

Circus at Tintamarre is a unique dive site located just off the coast of St. Maarten. This site is known for its mysterious caves, intriguing tunnels and a sea wall that goes as far down as 65 feet. These unique underwater formations are home to sea life that will not be found at other dive sites. Divers can get up close to dolphins, glassfish, and sergeant majors.

The Gregory

The Gregory is a shipwreck of a barge that sank in 2006 and now rests 55 feet below the surface. It is well known dive site that can be found on the eastern side of the island. The wreck is an interesting site because it lies in a flipped over position. This unique position has allowed many different types of marine life in St. Martin to thrive.

The Maze

The Maze is a great dive site for experienced divers. This site is located on the western side of the island and is known for its large coral formations and abundant marine life. Divers can explore the area around The Maze and see a variety of fish, including reef sharks, barracuda, and snapper.

Basse Espagnole

Basse Espagnole is a well-known reef with beautiful coral formations and abundant coral life, located on the eastern side of the island in St. Martin. The reef may be a bit difficult to access, especially if the weather is not at its best. Divers who reach the site successfully will be treated to corals, sponges, barracudas, and turtles.

Shark Hotel

Shark Hotel is one of those dive sites in St. Maarten, where the name says it all. It is an exhilarating dive site where divers can spot Caribbean Reef sharks. The site was once a feeding site for sharks, and these large creatures are still there to this day. In addition to sharks, you will see several grouper species, parrotfish, barracudas, lobsters, mackerel, and sting rays.

Marine Life

The island of Saint Martin is home to a diverse range of marine life, making it a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. Here are some of the marine creatures you can expect to see during your underwater adventure in the island:

Reef Fish

Saint Martin’s coral reefs are teeming with colorful reef fish, including angelfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, and triggerfish. You can also spot schools of snappers, grunts, and groupers darting in and out of the coral formations. Keep an eye out for the elusive frogfish, which is expertly camouflaged and can be difficult to spot.

Turtles

Green and hawksbill turtles are commonly found in the waters surrounding St. Maarten and St. Martin. These majestic yet graceful creatures can often be seen swimming through the coral reefs and resting on the ocean floor. If you are lucky, you may even get to witness a turtle nesting on one of the island’s beaches.

Sharks

Shark sightings are the norm at many of the dive sites in St. Maarten and St. Martin. The most common sharks that have been spotted over the years are Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks. Experienced divers also have the option to venture out to deeper waters to encounter larger species such as tiger sharks and hammerheads.

Rays

St. Maarten’s waters are home to several species of rays, including spotted eagle rays, southern stingrays, and manta rays. These graceful creatures can often be seen gliding through the water or along the sand, their wings flapping gently. Sometimes they may make their way close to the shore.

Lobsters and Crabs

Lobsters and crabs are also common sights in Saint Martin. Slipper lobsters and spiny lobsters can often be found hiding in crevices in the coral, while hermit crabs scuttle along the ocean floor. Keep an eye out for the bright blue and red colors of the Sally Lightfoot crab, a common sight on the island’s rocky shores.

Diving Equipment Rental in St. Maarten and St. Martin

If you are planning to go diving in St. Maarten or St. Martin, you will have to rent equipment. Fortunately, there are several dive shops on the island that offer rental gear for both scuba diving and snorkeling.

One of the most popular dive shops in St. Maarten is The Scuba Shop. The Scuba Shop is the authorized agent for Scubapro, AquaLung, and other top brands. They offer a wide range of rental equipment, including tanks, BCDs, regulators, wetsuits, and more. They also have a great selection of snorkeling equipment, including masks, snorkels, and fins. You can rent a quality mask, snorkel, and fin set for $10 per day or $30 per week.

Another great option for diving equipment rentals in St. Maarten is Ocean Explorers Dive Center. The center is a complete dive shop stocked with first-class quality equipment for rent or for sale at reasonable prices. They offer a comprehensive range of services, including guided dives, certification courses, and equipment repair.

Diving Courses in St. Maarten and St. Martin

If you want to learn how to dive in St. Maarten or St. Martin, there are plenty of options available for diving courses. There are courses for all skill levels from beginner to professional. Two of the professional dive centers in St. Maarten which offer course are Dive Sint Maarten and St Maarten Dive Adventures. Courses include PADI Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, and Rescue Diver.

If you’re new to diving, the PADI Open Water Diver course is a great place to start. This course teaches you the basics of diving, including safety procedures, diving equipment, and underwater communication. The course typically takes around three days to complete and includes both theory and practical sessions.

For those who have already completed their Open Water Diver course, the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course is a great way to improve your skills. This course includes five dives, including a deep dive and a navigation dive. You will also have the option to choose three other dives based on your interests.

If want to become a professional diver, the PADI Divemaster course is the first step. This course teaches you the skills and knowledge required to become a dive professional. You will learn about dive theory, diving equipment, and how to assist with courses and guide certified divers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few answers to questions about dive sites in St. Maarten and St. Martin:

What are some good dive sites for beginners in St. Maarten?

If you’re new to scuba diving, St. Maarten has some great dive sites that are perfect for beginners. One of the best options is Little Bay, which has calm waters and plenty of marine life to see. Another great site is Proselyte Reef, which is a shallow dive and home to a variety of fish and coral.

Which are the best dive sites in St. Maarten?

St. Maarten has numerous dive sites to choose from, each with its own unique features and marine life. Some of the best sites include the wreck of the HMS Proselyte, the Carib Cargo wreck, and the Big Mama dive site, which is known for its shark sightings.

Is there a map of dive sites in St. Maarten?

Yes, there are several maps available that show the locations of the dive sites in St. Maarten. You can find these maps at local dive shops or on the websites of dive operators in the area.

Are there any scuba diving options for cruise ship passengers in St. Maarten?

Yes, there are several dive shops in St. Maarten that offer scuba diving excursions for cruise ship passengers. These excursions typically include transportation to and from the cruise port and all necessary scuba gear.

What are some recommended dive shops in St. Maarten?

There are several reputable dive shops in St. Maarten, including Dive Adventures, Octopus Diving, and Scuba Fun Dive Center. It’s important to choose a dive shop with experienced instructors and a good safety record.

Can you go shore diving in St. Maarten?

Yes, there are several locations in St. Maarten where you can go shore diving, including Little Bay and Simpson Bay. However, it’s important to note that shore diving can be more challenging than boat diving, and it’s recommended for experienced divers only.

Booking.com

Learn More about the Dive Sites in St. Maarten and St. Martin

For more information about diving and the dive sites in St. Maarten/ St. Martin, please visit the following links:

Dive In: 12 Dive Sites in St. Maarten in 2023
Bluewater Dive Travel: Diving in St. Maarten – St. Martin
Nature Foundation St. Maarten: Marine Park Map and Local Dive Sites
PADI: Diving in St. Maarten
The Scuba Shop: Diving St Maarten and St Martin
Easy Dive 24: Diving in St. Maarten
Guido Leurs: First Shark Tagged at SXM
Nature Foundation St. Maarten: Man of War Shoal Marine Park
Celebrity Cruises: Best Scuba Diving in St. Maarten

Image: Liona Toussaint via Unsplash

Endless Caribbean - Pinterest - Dive Sites in St. Maarten and St. Martin

Related Posts