The magnificent island with two nationalities, French in Saint-Martin and Dutch in Sint Maarten, presents the same face: a dream place nestled in the middle of the Caribbean whose landscapes are idyllic in every way. The coastline is dotted with bays sheltering beaches as beautiful as each other: there are more than thirty of them on this 93 km² of paradise.
A road encircles the coast of the island allowing to go to all the areas to visit absolutely. The rule is as follows: book a rental car at the Grand Case l'Espérance airport and embark for the most memorable natural sites. Visiting Saint-Martin is possible as a couple for a most romantic trip, with friends to enjoy the pleasant evenings on the "Friendly Island" or with the family for a stay combining discovery, relaxation and water activities. Depending on the situation, opt for a city or compact class, a mid-size or sedan, or a minivan, respectively.
As for scuba diving enthusiasts, whatever their rental vehicle, it will serve them above all to travel from cove to cove, from North to South, or from East to West, to appreciate the wonders of the underwater fauna and flora. Sometimes it is sheltered by the impetuous Atlantic Ocean on the one hand, and by the tranquility of the Caribbean Sea on the other. One more advantage of this free port is that distances from one point to the other are not far. A few tens of minutes are generally enough to cover the kilometers from one place of immersion to another: the island reveals more than forty of them! Here are, for those in a hurry, the top 5 diving spots of Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.
1- The Creole Rock
Being part of the nature reserve of Saint Martin, this dive site is protected and regulated. Shallow, the Creole Rock is accessible to beginners as well as to the most experienced divers. This allows, for example, to easily practice snorkeling and to initiate the beginners to diving.
Many marine species can be seen here, such as barracudas, groupers, morays, and rays. The flora is composed of hard and soft coral, Neptune's brains, sponges, and tubular.
The back of the rock is a great place to enjoy drift diving. The depth is 10 meters maximum, visibility is good and the current is almost non-existent.
Close to the Creole Rock, you will find the Scuba Zen diving club, located in Anse Marcel, on the French side of the island, north of Saint-Martin, on the Radisson Marina.
2- The Tugboat
This dive site, located north of Tintamarre Island, is an opportunity to explore the wreck of a tugboat lying at a depth of 15 meters underwater. In addition to the discovery of this 18 meters long vessel, the reef reveals a rich fauna of lobsters, stingrays or leopard rays, and other turtles.
A dive at this spot between February and May increases the chances of encountering dolphins. This spot is suitable for divers of level 1 or Open Water and above. The visibility is good, without any sea current.
Located on Orient Bay road, behind the peninsula, at Grand Case, the Buble shop dive club offers 1h30 snorkeling for about $42 per person, and a possible option with a guided tour.
3- Proselyte Reef
To explore a 32-gun frigate, which has been lying at a depth of 20 to 55 feet since 1801, Proselyte Reef is the place to go. Easily accessible from the main port, the vessel, which was made of wood, has become a place where corals and marine species of all types proliferate among its cannons and anchors.
The welcoming committee is made up of affable small sharks that live amidst plenty of sponges.
This site is suitable for all levels of divers, visibility is good and there is no current.
For people new to scuba diving, or more experienced divers, the Club Octopus Diving, located in Grand Case, offers you courses you need.
4- The Porpoise
In front of Simpson Bay, this 35 meters long tug was intentionally sunk after Hurricane Louis in 1995, when it was damaged, in 20 to 28 meters of water. During the dive, you will discover blue and gold-tinted gorgonians, moray eels, and stingrays. A very large barracuda that has bombarded itself guarding the wreck, do not hesitate to bite the most daring divers from time to time. It is possible to penetrate inside the superstructure to admire the seabed at leisure from the ship's portholes. This artificial reef is accessible to all levels of divers.
Located on Nettle Bay, Blue Odyssey Diving is a diving school in the Water Sport of Hotel Mercure. For rates, you need to contact them directly.
5- The Roro
This ancient 300-meter-long ro-ro is an artificial reef lying at a depth of about 20 meters. Scuttled in 1996, the open wreck allows you to explore its meanders down to the holds, in the company of barracudas, trunkfish, batfish, and stingrays among other squatters. Beginner divers can access it without difficulty.
In general, the common characteristics of dive sites are that the water temperature is between 22°C and 29°C throughout the year and the visibility is over 100 feet. As for the rates charged by dive clubs, they vary little from one spot to another in Saint Martin. It is necessary to count about $54 for a snorkeling excursion, $87 for a Scuba Diving discovery trip and about a hundred euros to be able to make two dives.
Concerning the courses, the prices depend on the level: it costs less than $549 for a Padi Open Water or Rescue Diver and less than $439 for a Padi Open Water Advanced. Add a little more than $100 to obtain the Emergency First Responder certificate.
Finally, the Divemaster course costs around a thousand dollars. To make sure your stay remains pleasant, make sure you don't leave any valuables in your rental car in the parking lot.