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Diving on St. Martin / Sint Maarten

St. Martin / Sint Maarten is a small island in the Caribbean. Its position one coast facing the Caribbean Sea the other facing the Atlantic combined with spectacular underwater volcanic features - gives St. Martin / Sint Maarten a unique character with a range of exciting underwater adventures for divers and snorkellers. The variety of ocean conditions and underwater features provide a wide range of habitats home to wonderful diversity of marine creatures. The Caribbean is famous for its warm clear water tropical fish, colourful sponges and coral. The Atlantic coast is home to larger, ocean roaming creatures. St. Martin/ Sint Maarten is in the east Caribbean Sea, 186 miles east of Puerto Rico. The islands of Anguilla, Saba, Sint Eustatius (Statia), Saint Kitts are visible on a clear day. Keen divers might like to consider St. Maarten/Martin as the centre of a diving area that includes Saba, Statia, Anguilla and St. Barts even if it is just a day trip !

                                     Wonderful variety of ocean conditions - an exciting diversity of marine life -
                             spectacular volcanic underwater features - coral "canyons" and "mountain ranges" - 
                               lots of interesting wrecks including the wreck of an English battleship from 1801.
                            Perfect weather - warm clear water - diving in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
                                    St. Martin / Sint Maarten has something for everyone who enjoys the ocean.


St. Martin is just 7 miles by 6 - like the other Dutch Caribbean islands, it's easy to get to the whole coast line more importantly the ocean surrounding the island. The weather and ocean conditions are generally very easy and comfortable. An average daytime temperature of 27c. Water visibility is 30 to 40 metres, sometimes more.  The water temperature is warm - ranging from 27c in January and February to 32c in September and October ! A 3mm shortie is usually enough, but you may dive deeper and, in such wonderful conditions, more often or for longer than usual. Over several days you may "feel" the cold a little more. Dive centres have a full range of equipment for sale or hire. The island is ideal for families/groups of divers and non-divers. Wonderful weather - excellent beaches and lots of activities - warm, clear water wrecks a thriving underwater world - great snorkelling and lots of excursions keep everyone happy while the divers get busy.

St. Martin / Sint Maarten is a volcanic island offering divers and snorkellers exciting underwater features like: lava tubes, caves, large craters, coral encrusted rock walls, walls of sponges, corridors of coral "canyons" that the waves have carved out of the rock (great to swim through), plus coral covered ridges formed from old lava flows, underwater "mountain ranges" with breathtaking pinnacles of coral formations, a very healthy eco-system where marine life thrives. Not all of St. Maarten/Martin's "reef" sites are coral reefs, many are rock formations encrusted with sponges, hydroids and coral. Proselyte Reef for example was formed by lava flows. The island rises dramatically from the ocean - the walls and volcanic features are all close to shore.

There is some shore diving but diving is mainly by boat. The island is surrounded by over 30 official dive sites, including 11 shipwreck sites. The proximity of the island to the open ocean combined with the varying topography and water conditions, means each site has a different, often unique, environment. This allows a huge diversity of healthy marine life to flourish in the ocean around the island. Even the "truck wreck" is covered with beautiful coral and has created a wonderful home for lots of fish. The different features and ocean conditions also provide a range of different "types" of dive making each dive different.

St. Martin / Sint Maarten, with its variety of sites and ocean conditions, has something for everyone - from novices to the most experienced divers and snorkellers.

Diving / snorkelling is generally in shallow water, usually 20 metres or less, in protected sites with a thriving and beautiful marine life.  Most dive sites are less than 15 minutes from shore. At times the open ocean makes for more challenging ocean conditions, but there are more than enough sheltered dive sites to keep you busy for the whole of your holiday.  Please click the DIVE SITES link above for the location and brief description of the dive sites. You can snorkel from just about everywhere on the island. Many of the superb reefs are in shallow, warm water, close to shore. A unique snorkelling experience that might usually require scuba gear. There are many boat trips designed specifically for snorkellers, but dive boats will also welcome snorkellers. The dive site descriptions on our dive sites map link above - notes which sites are good for snorkellers.  Also see the snorkelling page link on the banner above.

The sites are a mixture of pristine reefs, fantastic lava formations and some great wrecks - including cargo ships, tug boats, sailing boats, coral encrusted cannons, huge anchors, an articulated lorry, the remains of a bridge (! ) and the wreck of an English battleship dating back to 1801. All are now encrusted with wonderful coral formations, sunken gardens of orange, red, pink and deep purple sponges fan and "mushroom" corals - home to an amazing range of creatures. The incredible variety of natural (and artificial) underwater features creates a magnificent underwater "landscape" both beautiful and exciting  - for divers and snorkellers to enjoy.

St. Martin/ Sint Maarten has a huge number and diversity of marine creatures from the numerous colourful reef fish of gold, purple and red (including seahorses) to some of the larger ocean dwelling creatures.  St. Martin / Sint Maarten is famous for its sharks. Although there are no guarantees underwater it is common to see nurse sharks, black tip reef sharks, Caribbean grey reef sharks and an occasional hammerhead or two.
The dive site map see above has a brief description of the sites and will mention those where sharks are more likely to be seen.  Other "regulars"  are great barracuda, hawksbill and green turtles, tarpon, flying gurnard, moray eels, stingrays, manta rays, sergeant majors, blue tangs, surgeonfish, blue and brown chromis, frogfish, octopus, reef squid and many more - far too many species to list here. Some are seasonal like the spotted eagle rays, dolphins, African pompanos etc.

St. Martin /Sint Martin has dedicated marine reserves, crucial for the protection of the marine environment to maintain the wonderful diversity and health of the reefs around St. Martin /Sint Martin which are in excellent condition. The reefs and wrecks are part of the St. Martin and St Maarten Marine Parks.  Moorings are provided for dive boats to protect the reef from anchor damage.  A hyperbaric chamber is available at the Saba National Marine Park at Fort Bay Harbour, maintained by the Saba Conservation Foundation.

We work closely with the dive centres on the island. The custom dive boats are comfortable and well equipped for the short ride to the reefs and wrecks. Dive groups are small, usually 6 - 8 people. At most sites there will be just you and few (new) friends - very relaxed and comfortable. As the boats only take small groups they get booked up very easily. It is important to pre-book any diving you might intend to do. Booking your diving with us will save you money - it will be part of an ATOL protected holiday itinerary - and you will be sure to have a place on the boat. We can include all your diving requirements as part of your ATOL protected holiday itinerary. Follow the diving, snorkelling links above for a dive site map and more information about the fantastic diving on Sint Maarten / St. Martin.