Best diving & snorkeling spots in St Maarten/St Martin
By Kerry Biddle on 2nd October, 2020
Diving and snorkeling in St Maarten / St Martin is an amazing experience. The stunning fish, shipwrecks, and coral reefs are a big draw for most water lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Snorkeling can be done around the rocks right off most beaches, however, there are a few must-visit dive and snorkeling sites.
Pinel Island Snorkeling Trail
For one of St Martin’s best underwater excursions, head to Pinel Island to experience the snorkeling trail. Snorkelers will be taken through a diverse ecosystem of coral reefs with a myriad of colorful fish as they follow the shallow underwater path clearly marked with serveral panels explaining what one will likely see on that section of the trail. Bio-marine guides are present to educate snorklers and ensure safety at all times, as well as offering special guided tours.
A small island located 2 miles east of St Martin, Île Tintamarre is a divers paradise. The Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea collide on the far side of the island, producing a unquie marine enviroment, and amazing diving. Here more hard corals, like the endangered elk horn coral and stag horn coral are present, and a plethora of gorginia sea fans that some of the dive sites look like patchwork quilts.
St Maarten Dive Sites
The Dutch side of the island is known for its exciting wrecks, some of which were intentionally cleaned and sunk, while some ended up on the ocean floor the old-fashioned way. St Maarten’s reefs are not to be missed, with a great diversity of sea life, including huge barrel sponges.
Marine Life To See In St Maarten/St Martin
Diving or snorkeling around the St Maarten/St Martin will reveal a whole new world. Not only are you breathing underwater, but there are a myriad of wonderful things to see below the surface of our azure waters. See if you can spot any of these sea creatures on your next dive or snorkeling trip.
A beautiful, but rather unwelcome visitor to the reefs, the lion fish is not indigenous and is a voracious feeder that will eat anything that can fit into its mouth. They are considered a threat to St Maarten’s / St Martin’s fish populations and should be reported if spotted.
All those beautiful white beaches are thanks to the parrotfish. Living corals are their food. They use their hard beaks to break off and crush chunks of coral into a finely grained powder, which they swallow, digesting the edible parts and the rest eventually ends up on the beach.
Take care. A stone fish is rather a grumpy fellow that should be given a wide berth, particularly the poisonous spines on its back. They tend to lie very still waiting for prey and are masters at camouflage. Often you will only notice them when they move to snap up a passing morsel.
Blue Striped Grunt
They commonly swim in schools and hang around coral. During the day they stay close to caves and walls and at night they will be out hunting for food on the drop-offs. They are called grunts because of the grunting sound they produce by rubbing their flat teeth plates together.
Being a largely shallow water fish, the striking blue chromis can be found at depths of between 10 and 15 feet (3 and 5 meters). They can be found in small groups or alone and tend to stay close to the reefs where they feed on plankton. The male tends to maintain a solitary territory where he will breed with several females and will then guard the eggs until they hatch.
Read more: The Best Things to do in St Maarten / St Martin