St. Maarten/Martin scuba diving
St. Maarten/Martin scuba diving
Scuba diving in St Maarten means crystal clear waters, preserved marine environments and stunning colours and marine species. Scuba diving St Maarten will result in a unique diving trips with endless things to see. St Maarten/Martin is essentially split into two; the Dutch side and the French side, both which have their own unique dive sites, but most are on the Dutch side which is officially known as St Maarten while the French side is known as St Martin. Around the coast of the Dutch St Maarten you will have the chance to scuba dive around some wrecks, of which there are 11 here, which have all created their own ecosystems filled with corals and their inhabitants, old coral reefs and some areas are large boulders just covered in large sponges and gorganian corals. The dive sites around here are all quite shallow, around 18m (60ft) on average which means divers of almost all levels are able to experience them and it also means enough light for some amazing underwater photography. Another major plus point of this area is that there are a lot of Marine Protected Areas so everything is extremely well preserved, which makes it that much more impressive.
The north side of the island is the French St Martin which has dive spots with rock formations which create maze like dives for some exciting exploration along with tunnels and overhangs. Around these dive areas you are like to spot Nurse Sharks who rest here.
MARINE LIFE IN ST. MAARTEN/MARTIN
Due to the many protected areas around this island, the marine environment has had the opportunity to thrive and so the diversity is incredible here. There has been estimated to be more than 700 species of fish and so being the best in the entire Caribbean area. The flourishing reefs attract large amounts of different species who make them their homes. These include crabs, seahorses, lobsters, starfish, groupers, barracuda, moray eels and much more. Green sea turtles are often spotted here during dive safaris, and on lucky days you will come by a loggerhead turtle. Between February and June Humpback whales and dolphins come by here during their mating season, so during these months there is the chance to see them as well, slightly further out to see.
BEST DIVE SITES IN ST. MAARTEN/MARTIN
CHARLIE SHOALS: This is not an extremely well known dive site which results in quiet, well preserved dives. This dive spot is a coral reef ridge with a maximum depth of 20m (65ft) and an incredible amount of marine diversity. It is truly calming diving area as you see turtles glide by as well as stingrays, barracudas and large groupers. The gem of this dive site are the Nurse sharks which you might spot resting here. With great visibility here you are able to really enjoy all the beauty around you. The minimum required certificate is Open Water, or its equivalent, so open to many levels of divers.
BIG MAMAS REEF: The humorously named reef is the shark diving mecca of St Maarten. Here divers of all levels have the opportunity to go shark diving with Caribbean reef sharks which is a truly unique experience. These gorgeous, passive creatures can measure up to 2.7m (9ft) long and they are anything but scary! The maximum depth of this dive site is around 50m (164ft) with the visibility averaging around 20m (65ft) and as all safety measures are always taken very seriously, it is a truly great diving experience and the perfect opportunity for some great underwater photography.
BEST TIME TO DIVE IN ST. MAARTEN/MARTIN
SEASONS AND CONDITIONS: St. Maarten is an all year round diving destinations as there is no such thing as a real winter; winter here runs from November to March and the temperatures range from 24C to 30C (73F to 85F). In the summer which runs from April to October with the temperatures being between 27C and 38C (80F to 100F) so can get extremely warm but fantastic conditions for diving. June to November is the rainy season, it is still possible to dive during these months, but just more chance of rain.
WATER TEMPERATURE: The water temperatures here are extremely pleasant all year round with the temperatures being around 25C - 27C (77F - 80F) and so it is recommended only to wear a 3mm wetsuit during these months (of course depending on personal preferences). During the summer the temperatures vary between 28 C - 29C (81F - 84F) during which divers often only wear their swim suits or a shorty 3mm wetsuit.
EXPERIENCE LEVEL FOR DIVING ST. MAARTEN/MARTIN
Most of the dive sites in St. Maarten are suitable for divers with a minimum of Open Water certifications or the equivalent of this. The dive sites are not extremely deep with average depths between 12m (36ft) and 20m (70ft) with generally excellent visibility and no strong currents. Do always remember to bring your certification cards and logbook.
HOW DO I GET TO ST. MAARTEN/MARTIN?
The largest and main port of entry into St Maarten is the international airport on the Dutch side of the island; Princess Juliana International Airport. This airport is famous for the planes landing right over one of the beaches, so you might be relaxing on the beach and all of a sudden an incredibly large plane flies right over you at extremely low altitude! Flights arrive here from destinations such as other Dominican islands, multiple cities in Canada, the United States, Paris and the Netherlands. The airport itself is located in Simpson bay and it is only a short drive to anywhere on the island. If choosing a St.Maarten/Martin liveaboard to explore then the crew will usually arrange to collect you from the airport and take you to the departure marina.