Scuba Diving St. Maarten and St. Martin
St. Maarten (Dutch) / St. Martin (French)
St. Maarten/St Martin is an island in the Caribbean Sea East of Puerto Rico divided between French and Dutch cultures, although there are rarely checks at the border between the two sides of the island.
The island is just three hours from New York City and two hours forty-five minutes from Miami.
The tiny French-Dutch island of St. Martin, covering just 88km², is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Much more than a beach-lover’s paradise, the island of Saint Martin is teeming with natural, cultural and human riches. Thanks to its climate and untouched natural heritage, the island offers unparalleled year-round watersports and outdoor activities. The capital of duty-free shopping, St. Martin is also renowned for its friendly welcome, culinary delights and lively nightlife.
SCUBA DIVING ST. MARTEEN and ST. MARTIN
The tale of two islands in one. St. Maarten is a great dive destination. The outlying wreck and reef sites offer fantastic dives and excellent photo opportunities. A wide range of wrecks and reef dive sites, all a short boat ride away from the dive centers. Whether admiring the colorful sponges and soft corals as you glide through the swim throughs of the Maze or hovering over the 200 year old anchors and cannon of the doomed HMS Proselyte, your dive guide will point out the species native to the warm tropical waters around St Maarten/St Martin.
Dive Season – You can dive the St. Marten all year long, but the tropical, rainy season runs from October to January. Hurricane season is June to the end of November.
Visibility – Generally the visibility runs 40-100 feet. While the weather is consistently good year-round, during the rainy season (roughly October to January) visibility can dip below the usual 20-60 feet.
Water Temperature – The weather in Saint Maarten is very consistent year-round with temperatures not varying much. Although people generally assume it’s going to be much hotter in the summer than in the winter months, that is normally not the case. Daytime highs near the coastal areas range from about 22 to 30 degrees Celsius (72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Currents – Mostly mild, but can vary by location
Weather – Warm tropical weather is the norm, with little change in temperature from winter to summer. Average annual temperature is 85° F/29.4° C. Humidity is usually high, especially from May to September.
Diving Skill Level – Divers of all levels will find the St. Marten exciting.
Dive Access– Most of the diving is via boat. Although St. Marten also offers accessible shore diving to great coral reefs with little to no current.
Featured Creatures – There is stunning variety of coral, sponge and marine life in its many reef walls, wonderful rock formations, pinnacles, arches and trenches. Frogfish and seahorses are almost common, but you are more likely to see large gorgonians, black coral trees, massive barrel sponges, turtles, nurse sharks, angelfish, and golden-spotted eels, to name just a few.
CLIMATE: The weather in Saint Maarten is very consistent year-round with temperatures not varying much. Although people generally assume it’s going to be much hotter in the summer than in the winter months, that is normally not the case. Daytime highs near the coastal areas range from about 22 to 30 degrees Celsius (72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit).
LANGUAGE: In addition to English and French, Spanish, Dutch, Creole and Papiamento are also widely spoken on both sides of the island.
ELECTRICITY: French side: 220V / 60Hz. European sockets, Dutch side : 110V / 60 Hz. American sockets
On both sides of the island electrical goods stores selling electrical appliances, hi-fi and cameras sell transformers and American and/or European adaptors that allow you to use your electrical appliances in both Saint Martin and Saint Maarten.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The two official currencies on St. Martin are the Euro on the French side and the Florin (Netherlands Antillean guilder or florin) on the Dutch side.
US dollars are also accepted across the island. There are many change points and banks on St. Martin. Be aware that many places do not accept cheques from foreign cheques but most will accept major credit cards.
GRATUITIES: You will keep everyone happy with an amount around 10% to 15 %. Don’t be shy to ask about the house policy regarding tipping.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: International dialling codes are +590 for Saint Martin and +1-721 for Sint Maarten. Internet service providers: Orange Caraïbes, Dauphin Telecom, Médiaserve and Caribserve.
Broadband internet (ADSL) is available in most districts. Wifi internet can be accessed in some areas in the north of the island and in Terres Basses.
You can also access the internet at one of the many internet cafes on the island. The vast majority of hotels have internet access, as do the Marinas.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. and Canada nationals must be in possession of a valid passport and a return ticket or continuing ticket. Naturalised citizens must present an original naturalisation certificate with an identification photo.
CUSTOMS: St. Martin/St. Maarten is a duty-free port and there are no particular customs procedures. Products for personal use (tobacco, cameras and video cameras, etc.) are permitted in small quantities without being subject to specific procedures or taxes.
DEPARTURE TAX: St. Marten now requires you to pay a tax upon departure. Make sure you have enough cash with you. Persons returning to the United States pay $30.
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