With unbelievably clear water and calm seas, the Caribbean is a scuba diver’s paradise. The French and Dutch island of St. Maarten is one of the best Caribbean destinations to explore the diverse marine world beneath the surface.
But don’t let St. Maarten’s size fool you. Although it’s a relatively small island, there are more than 50 known dive sites in the turquoise seas surrounding this spot of land. Embark on exciting underwater expeditions through shipwrecks, swim through labyrinths of coral and lively reefs, and discover sunken ships, all while marveling at vibrant schools of exotic fish.
St. Maarten scuba diving caters to all skill levels. Beginners, experts, and everyone in between will find a thrilling dive perfect for their island vacation. Grab your flippers and mask and get ready to witness the incredible sea life that awaits in St. Maarten.
Just offshore of St. Maarten’s French side, Creole Rock is a popular destination for snorkelers, as well as divers. For the novice scuba diver, this is a fantastic choice due to its accessibility, shallow depth, and protection from the wind and ocean currents by the surrounding rock formation.
Keep an eye out for sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, shrimp, sea anemones, and stingrays. Fish varieties that inhabit the area include barracuda, trumpet fish, angelfish, lionfish, trumpet fish, and parrotfish.
Let the striking colors of these graceful fish amaze you as you explore the waters. Listen for the clicking of nearby dolphins as they’re known to make an appearance now and again, too. Creole Rock is also known for being an incredible night diving destination, where you have the opportunity to view sea life such as octopus and a variety of slumbering fish.
Swim through a maze of vibrant coral on this scuba dive located in the rich underwater playground of Simpson Bay’s Man of War Shoal Marine protected area. The Maze is a popular dive spot that stretches 50 feet below the surface and features canyons lined with beautiful coral and tropical marine fauna.
It’s also a popular place for sea life, as eagle rays, moray eels, parrotfish, grouper, frogfish, and trumpetfish frequent this gorgeous underwater site. You may even have a good chance of seeing friendly sea turtles while exploring the labyrinth-like reef.
Dry off in the sun after your dive with a visit to Simpson Bay Beach. Unwind to the peaceful lapping of the waves, gaze at the azure waters, and bask in the warm, Caribbean sunshine. Watch as planes take off and land at the airport close by while sipping a cold cocktail at one of the seaside beach bars.
Located on the Dutch side of St. Maarten, Simpson Bay is a popular destination for diving enthusiasts. Explore caverns, colorful reef landscape, and several shipwrecks teeming with marine life.
Visit Gregory Wreck, one of the most well-known dive sites, and be prepared to discover a wide range of sea creatures. The barge shipwreck sank fifteen years ago and can be found approximately 55 feet below the surface.
Its flipped-over position provides a fun dive mission to uncover rich fauna and marine life, such as knife fish, snappers, scorpionfish, spider crabs, and barracudas. Various hard and soft corals, as well as tube and vase sponges, add to the diverse underwater scenery.
After a thrilling dive, check out the neighboring Maho Beach, one of the best beaches in St. Maarten. Hop on a jet ski, try windsurfing, or just lounge in the sun. Watch a spectacular sunset to cap off your day in this Caribbean paradise.
Previously Simpson Bay’s Bridge, this dive site is a haven for sea life and perfect for beginner or intermediate skill levels. Dive down approximately 50 feet, where you’ll find the bridge’s remains as well as the artificial reefs crafted by a few yachts that were purposely sunk. After hurricane Irma, a vessel used as a popular floating bar joined the artificial reef line-up, as well.
Swim around the bridge pillars while spotting starfish, urchins, eels, sea turtles, and stingrays. You might even spot a reef shark swimming nearby. In addition, the collection of artificial reefs around these sunk structures serve as the island’s coral nursery, infusing life to damaged coral reefs.
This underwater oasis near Philipsburg is one of the most famed diving sites in St. Maarten. Located in Great Bay, the site’s main draw is the HMS Proselyte, an ancient British warship that ran into the reef in the early 1800s during a journey to St. Kitts.
View the unique artifacts that can be seen at around 50 feet underwater including giant anchors, barrel hoops, cannons, and cannonballs that were thrown overboard when the beaching of the ship occurred.
Proselyte is also situated within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, home to a wide array of interesting sea life. Glide around the beautiful reef, where you’ll find a canyon drop-off that provides the perfect hiding spot for triggerfish, stingrays, lobster, conch, crabs, and barracudas.
You may even see some Caribbean reef sharks trolling the waters, or whales and dolphins if you’re lucky. This diving site is known for having fantastic visibility as well; another reason why it’s one of the top St. Maarten scuba diving destinations.
The Fish Bowl
Named after the abundant and diverse species of tropical fish that inhabit the reef, the Fish Bowl is one of the most celebrated dive sites in St. Maarten. Also located within Man of War Shoal Marine Park, this circular-shaped site includes 60 feet of depth to venture around. With warm, welcoming water and incredible clarity, this dive is appropriate for all skill levels.
Explore the colorful reef and discover the two famous coral arches during a swim through the amazing natural formations. Keep watch for exciting Caribbean reef and nurse shark sightings, as they are said to frequent this area. Other sea creatures you might encounter include spiny lobsters, blue tang, and barracudas.
La Renee Shipwreck
Experienced divers will enjoy this deep dive to the tugboat wreck called La Renee. Located between the northeastern coast of St. Maarten and the offshore island of Tintamarre, this dive site promises a thrilling underwater exploration experience.
Descend almost 140 feet, where you’ll find yourself swimming amongst the tugboat remains and encountering schools of exotic fish like barracudas and large trevallies. Watch as stingrays and eagle rays glide effortlessly through the clear waters and make sure to look out for sharks, known to frequent this area.
Spend the afternoon exploring around Tintamarre Island, a natural gem only a couple of miles offshore from St. Maarten. Catamaran sailing trips and snorkeling are popular activities to enjoy the warm, sunny climate of this Caribbean paradise. Walk the nature path or lounge on the gorgeous island beaches. Sea turtles are known to inhabit these waters around the island, as well.
On the edge of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, you’ll find Carib Cargo, a sunken cargo ship and popular diving destination for all skill levels. Also referred to as Carib Ghost, the wreck sank during the wrath of Hurricane Bertha. It now hosts an amazing array of sea life ready to dazzle any divers swimming by. Venture towards the sandy bottom surroundings, which are a popular attraction for stingrays.
The crystal clear visibility creates an ideal portal to the underwater world for divers and underwater photographers alike. As you explore, look for reef sharks, sea turtles, moray eels, lobsters, schools of snapper, and eagle rays. Every once in a while you might even have the opportunity to see a playful dolphin, too.
This popular St. Maarten scuba diving site features the wreck of a Taiwanese fishing vessel that sank in the mid-1990s. Because of the 114-foot total depth, it’s only recommended for advanced divers.
The still-intact Fuh Sheng structure stretches a lengthy 120 feet along the sandy ocean floor and is host to a rich variety of marine life. It’s easy to see the sunken wreck as you descend from above because of the incredible visibility of the sea.
As you make your way around the deck and bow, swim around the stern first. Marvel at the sea creatures you’ll encounter which might include garden eels, eagle rays, stingrays, lobsters, and even sharks. Encounter schools of tropical fish like trumpetfish, angelfish, and blowfish as you explore this massive shipwreck known to be a top St. Maarten diving site.
This dive site is a true underwater playground. Located on the northern edge of Tintamarre Island, you’ll have the opportunity to view a diverse selection of sea life while exploring a thrilling underwater landscape.
Discover the magical world below during this fun dive that features a set of mysterious caves and exciting tunnels. Search for interesting marine life along a sea wall that goes down 65 feet in depth.
The unique topography creates fantastic hiding spots and ideal habitats for a spectrum of underwater creatures that you might not get to see on other St. Maarten diving sites. Lobster, glassfish, sergeant majors, and wild dolphins are just some of the sea life you might get to swim beside.
Also known as Flat Island, Tintamarre Island is host to a French Nature Reserve on the southern coast. Here, divers of all skill levels can explore a reef garden at a depth of approximately 60 feet.
Discover how this site earned its namesake as you swim above rows of hard and soft coral, which sandwiches pristine sand and gives it a “garden” appearance. Marvel at sandy canyons as you view schools of tropical fish, lobsters, stingrays, spotted moray eels, curious sea turtles, and nurse sharks.
Big Mama’s Reef
Although it has a funny name, this dive spot will appeal to those interested in shark diving. Located off the southeastern coast of St. Maarten, Big Mama’s Reef is composed of a sandy channel and a massive, rich reef.
You’ll have the opportunity to swim with graceful Caribbean reef and nurse sharks, as well as capture amazing underwater imagery of these large creatures. The maximum depth is approximately 160 feet and provides excellent visibility.
In addition to sharks, you’ll also have the opportunity to see massive grouper, stingrays, angelfish, squirrelfish, lobster, and barracuda. Prepare to be wowed by Mother Nature’s undersea creations of elkhorn coral, too.
If it’s turtles that you’re after, head to Turtle Reef in Grand Case Bay. This location is well-known for its many sea turtle sightings and fantastic visibility. In addition to the star attraction, it’s possible to see a varied collection of marine life while swimming around two distinct rock towers.
You’ll swim amongst vast schools of vibrant tropical fish, spot eels, lobsters, arrow crabs, stingrays, and eagle rays hiding in crevices backed by a beautiful landscape of coral-encrusted rock, soft sand, and clear blue waters.
Make sure to carve out some beach time in this area, as Grand Case Beach is one of the top beaches in the Caribbean. Lounge on the powdery sands and relax seaside with a beautiful view out to the neighboring island of Anguilla. If you’ve worked up an appetite, grab lunch at one of the beach bars and restaurants that offer authentic local fare.
Embark on an undersea adventure of a lifetime in the eastern Caribbean. A luxury cruise is a fantastic way to discover the best St. Maarten scuba diving destinations. Browse cruises from St. Maarten on our website and book your dive-inspired vacation today.