Scuba Destinations

 

St Martin/St Maarten

The smallest island in the world ever to have been partitioned between two different nations
Overview:

Shoal of fish - Vanessa Lafaye St. Martin/St. Maarten has been shared by the French and the Dutch in a spirit of neighbourly cooperation and mutual friendship for almost 350 years.

The border is almost imperceptible. and people cross back and forth without ever realizing they are entering a new country. There are four boundries, Belle Vue / Cole Bay, French Quarter / Dutch Quarter, Low Lands / Copecoy and Oyster Pond, testifying to centuries of peaceful cohabitation and the treaty that made the arrangement possible.

All the same, each side has managed to retain much of the distinctiveness of its own national culture. The French tend to emphasize comfort and elegance. The beaches are secluded, the luxury resorts provide lavish accommodations, and the restaurants offer the finest dining experiences anywhere in the Caribbean.

All the same, each side has managed to retain much of the distinctiveness of its own national culture. The French tend to emphasize comfort and elegance. The beaches are secluded, the luxury resorts provide lavish accommodations, and the restaurants offer the finest dining experiences anywhere in the Caribbean.

On the other hand, St. Maarten with its busy cruise port and bustling commercial district, has long been an active center for trade and tourism. More developed and at the same time more informal, it is very Dutch in flavor and still has strong ties with fellow compatriots in the other Netherlands Antilles.

Located midway through the chain of islands in the Caribbean, just as the Antilles begin to curve to the south, St. Martin is sunny and warm year-round, averaging 82 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and just 2 degrees cooler in winter. The island is buffeted by cooling trade winds that keep things temperate all year long. Average annual rainfall comes to about 45 inches, most of which occurs around late summer and early fall.

What to see:

The diving is generally fairly shallow, typically 60 feet or less, and the sites are a mixture of artificial reefs made by wrecks, old coral reefs, and encrusted rocks.

There are numerous wreck sites, but probably the most famous, because of the story behind it, is the Proselyte Reef with the remains of the frigate HMS Proselyte which sank in 1801.  As it was a wooden ship the only remains you will see are coral encrusted canons and anchors.

Need to know:

Not all of St. Maarten/Martin's reef sites are actually coral reefs. Many of the sites are rock formations encrusted with sponges, hydroids and coral. In the north, in particular, there are some interesting layered rock formations. In the south, Proselyte Reef was formed by lava flows. In other areas, old coral reefs can be seen below new growth of coral and sponges.


IMPORTANT NOTICE

If you are diving on the French side and according to French regulations, all diving centers must adhere to Arrete 2008, which states that 'all diving professionals must have a minimum diving qualification of BEES 1 in order to legally take divers out. Further, there can be no more than 4 open water students in a diving group per BEES 1 instructor.'

Please check with the dive center you choose that they meet these standards.  If not, then they are operating illegally.

These regulations are very strict and so, dive instructors who are certified to BEES 1, are super-trained.  This might be something you'd like to take into consideration when deciding whether to dive on the French or Dutch side of the island.

Useful stuff:
Language: Dutch (St Maarten), French (St Martin). Although English is widely used
Currency: The Netherlands Antillean Guilder (St Maarten), Euro (St Martin) or US $
Time: GMT - 4
Climate: Tropical
Natural hazards: None. South of hurricane alley
Diving season: 12 months
Water temperature: Jan to March - 26C/78F
June to October – 28C/82F
Air temperature: 26-28C

Caribbean - St Martin, St Maarten: Latest User Reviews

First time diver 2013  Ocean Explorers, St Martin, St Maarten 5 Star Rating Added: 5th March 2013 by Maddie01
Doing my Open Water diving certificate with the crew from Ocean Explorers in St Maarten was a pleasure! I went along with three other friends and we all really enjoyed ourselves. The instructors were very thorough and calm, making us feel very prepared when we did our first ever dive....
Fantastic Referral Dives  Ocean Explorers, St Martin, St Maarten 5 Star Rating Added: 14th November 2012 by jtcomer
I wish I needed to do the referral dives all over again, they were so enjoyable! From the organized reservation process to handling the paperwork to explaining each dive, I was very well taken-care-of. All the staff were patient, friendly, and professional. The 4 dive sites each offered different conditions,...
Every dive is an amazing underwater adventure  Ocean Explorers, St Martin, St Maarten 5 Star Rating Added: 21st October 2012 by AQRQdive
We have enjoyed diving with Ocean Explorers for 5 summers. We started with them literally the day after we got our scuba certification. The one to one attention underwater has taught us so much about becoming better, safer, and more aware divers. Jef has taught how to locate the many...
Excellent course director, dive shop and instructor development course  Caribbean Dive College (CDC), St Martin, St Maarten 5 Star Rating Added: 22nd July 2012 by Erinkelly
If you're looking for the best dive shop to get certified in any PADI course, CDC is the Caribbean premier location. Michel Wouterse and his staff are professional and extremely knowledgeable with exceptional experience in the diving world. I just finished my IDC/ IE with CDC and it was the most...
Out of the Way, Good Diving on Caribbean Explorer II  Caribbean Explorer II, St Martin, St Maarten 4 Star Rating Added: 10th March 2012 by rtfette
We went on the St. Maarten to Saba to St. Kitts trip in late February 2012. The diving was good, with very limited other divers in the area it was also very relaxing. The reefs seemed like they were coming back, with Saba being in better shape than St. Kitts, but...
Life Changing Experience!  Ocean Explorers, St Martin, St Maarten 5 Star Rating Added: 26th February 2012 by katyufereva
Diving with Ocean Explorers was & still is a fantastic experience! The crew, instructors & reception is VERY professional, patient, always friendly & attentive to each student/client individually! Pre-dive Boat Briefing is explicit & clear which gives you that bit of reassurance & confidence you need if you didn't dive...
Advanced diver  Ocean Explorers, St Martin, St Maarten 5 Star Rating Added: 24th January 2012 by katebutling
My boyfriend and I completed our Advanced here and felt completely satisfied with the diving and the service that we received at Ocean Explorers. Total confidence in the safety and the instruction from all the instructors in small groups. The dive sites were great too - lots of wrecks!! Will definitely...
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