St Maarten Scuba Diving
Friendly and Relaxed
You will never see an article about St Maarten Scuba Diving in any major dive magazine (at least I've never seen one). Still hundreds of divers show up every year, c-card in hand to dive the warm tropical waters around St Maarten. What brings these divers to this unique Caribbean island that is not typically known to be a dive destination?
The half Dutch, half French island of St Maarten/St Martin has long been known as a mecca for vacationers. Every year thousands of people come to St Maarten for the warm Caribbean sun, the azure tropical waters, and duty free shopping. Among this throng of vacationers there are many divers. They enjoy the relaxed, easy diving that the dive operators offer. They can make one or two dives in the morning, relax on a beautiful sandy beach in the afternoon, and have dinner at a chic French restaurant. Life doesn't get much better than this.
For the more serious diver St Maarten is the center of some really great diving. They can scuba St Maarten for some relaxed diving and then book day trips to some of the near by islands like Saba, Anguilla, St Eustatius, or St Barth's. These islands offer some world class scuba diving.
The divers that come to do St Maarten scuba diving are rarely disappointed. They can find everything from shark feedings to close encounters with dolphins. In season, if they are lucky, they spot pods of pilot whales and hump back whales. For the adventurous newly weds, they can arrange an underwater wedding.
St Maarten scuba diving is not deep, usually 60 feet/18 meters or less. Over the years there have been several wrecks purposely sunk to create some artificial reefs. Divers will also find rock formations encrusted with some hard corals and brightly colored sponges. There are fields of bushy gorgonians and other soft corals. Divers who scuba St Maarten will find an abundance of fish life. Sergeant majors, blue tangs, surgeon fish, blue and brown chromis, filefish, trumpet fish, and French grunts all make their home on the reefs of St Maarten.
Most of St Maarten scuba diving is off the southern coast stretching around the eastern side of the island that faces St. Barth's to the northern tip at Tintamarre.
The most popular dive sites for divers who come to scuba St Maarten are just a ten minute boat ride from Great Bay (Phillipsburg) or Little Bay and about twenty minutes from Simpson's Bay. Here you will find Proselyte Reef. Named after the HMS Proselyte, the reef has five ridges. The ridges have been broken up into several different dive sites. From the tunnels and canyons of Mike's Maze to the ledges and swim thoughts of the Fish Bowl you can find some amazing underwater terrain and sea life.
On the reef you will find the final resting place of the HSM Proselyte . The Proselyte was a small British frigate that ran aground on the shallow part of the reef (known then as Man-of-War Shoals) and sank. All that is left of the old girl today are three huge anchors, several cannons, ballast plates, and barrel bands scattered around the reef.
The waters around the Dutch side of the island are protected by the Nature Foundation of St Maarten. This marine park was established several years ago to help ensure the future and well being of St Maarten's marine environment. They have installed and maintain moorings on most of the dive sites. With the help of the local dive operators they work hard to educate divers and the local residents about the importance of a clean, healthy marine environment.
If you are flying to St Maarten you will be landing at Princess Juliana International Airport. Their new terminal building handles arrivals originating in Miami, New York, London, Paris, and Amsterdam. A passport and return ticket are required to enter St Maarten.
You can also visit St Maarten on one of the many cruise ships that visit the island every year.
More Useful Information
If you are planning to do some St Maarten scuba diving, you should know...
There are eight main dive centers and one live aboard on the island.
The dive operators of St Maarten/St Martin are seasoned professionals dedicated to giving their divers a safe and enjoyable diving experience. Feel free to contact any of these dive centers for more detailed information about diving around St Maarten/St Martin and the dive packages they offer.
You can see who our favorite watersports and dive center is here
For information on hotel and accommodations contact:
Department of Tourism St Maarten (5995) 22 337
Department of Tourism St Martin (0590) 87 57 23
St Maarten scuba diving is alive and well. It is enjoyed by hundreds of divers from all over the world. St Maarten/St Martin, the Friendly Island, it truly an enjoyable place to dive. To see what I think about living on St Maarten for over ten years, click here.