Dive Sint Maarten, Activities on the water




By Robyn Dekker

St. Maarten/St. Martin is known for its lush green hills and tropical beaches, but some of the island’s most impressive sights are not immediately apparent to the average traveler. Some views and creatures will take your breath away, but to access these elusive sights, you’ve got to step off the beach and into the ocean.


The waters surrounding the island boast an underwater ecosystem that encompasses a variety of sea life — from tropical fish to beautiful corals, stingrays, and several different shark species, including nurse and reef sharks. Some days, you could be lucky enough to spot sea turtles floating through the water, while other days, you may share your swim with barracudas or spotted rays. While there is never a guarantee of what you will see, one thing is certain: Your dive won’t disappoint.


“The wonderful thing about scuba diving in St. Maarten/St. Martin is that there is something for any age and experience level,” says Robyn Gerrist-Dekker of Dive Sint Maarten, located at Bobby’s Marine in Philipsburg. “The island features almost 30 dive sites which include 11 wrecks and a few deep dives. Just off Great Bay, we have several options, including Carib Cargo, Teigland, Fish Bowl, and Mike’s Maze. It takes just minutes to get to a great dive site here in St. Maarten/St. Martin.”


Scuba diving in the waters surrounding St. Maarten/St. Martin is a unique experience. There is a wide variety of dive options for experienced and novice divers alike. Starting from age 10 and up, Dive Sint Maarten offers a Discover Scuba Diving course that will get you acquainted with the world of scuba. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can head to one of the many wrecks and experience the other side of St. Maarten/St. Martin.


Carib Cargo, a popular dive site, is an old interisland trader that sits upright in about 70 feet of water. It’s home to snapper, lobsters, turtles, sharks, stingrays, crabs, and, if you’re lucky, a bottlenose dolphin who visits during winter months. This dive site is situated on the edge of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, which encompasses almost 8,000 acres of protected reefs, historical wrecks, seagrass meadows, and open sand.


Another popular dive site is HMS Proselyte, a stunning wreck that was once a 32-gun Royal Navy frigate. Built in 1770 in Rotterdam, her crew mutinied and turned her over to the British in 1796, where she served in the Royal Navy until she wrecked in 1801. While making her way to St. Maarten/St. Martin from St. Kitts, the ship struck the Man of War Shoal. Boats from Philipsburg hurried out and rescued her crew, and this stunning vessel came to rest on her starboard side about 50 feet down. Ballast bars, cannons, anchors, and more lay scattered throughout the water surrounding this wreck. This site has become heavily encrusted with coral over the last 200-plus years and is a top-rated dive site among both visitors and locals.


Some dive sites are reserved for the more experienced divers and, due to their location, are only accessible when weather permits. One Step Beyond, Molly Beday, and Hen and Chicks dive sites can be found on the east coast between St. Maarten/St. Martin and St. Barths; these feature healthy reefs with large sponges and corals.


Dolphins and whales are frequently seen in the waters surrounding St. Maarten/St. Martin from December through April, shares Dive Sint Maarten’s Captain Willem Dekker.


“I have been lucky enough to see many dolphins over the years,” he says. “They enjoy accompanying our divers near the wrecks, and when we head out in the mornings, they often play in the waves off the bow. I know it will be a great dive when we see them.”


Still not sure about adding a dive or two to your island itinerary? What if we told you that by diving in St. Maarten/St. Martin, you’re helping to preserve the island’s underwater ecosystem? Each diver must purchase a dive tag. Dive tag fees are collected by dive shops, with all proceeds going to the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, which earmarks the funds for managing protected areas, funding conservation research, and maintaining moorings. By diving in St. Maarten/St. Martin, you become a part of this important effort, preserving the island’s enchanting dive sites for generations to come.



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