Scuba Diving in St. Martin and St. Maarten
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Diving in St. Maarten/St. Martin is mediocre at best, but those who want to dive will find a few positives. The water temperature here is rarely below 70°F (21°C). Visibility is often 60 to 100 feet. The island has more than 30 dive sites, from wrecks to rocky labyrinths. Right outside of Philipsburg, 55 feet under the water, is the HMS Proselyte, once explored by Jacques Cousteau. Although it sank in 1801, the boat's cannons and coral-encrusted anchors are still visible.
Off the north coast, in the protected and mostly current-free Grand Case Bay, is Creole Rock. The water here ranges in depth from 10 feet to 25 feet. Other sites off the north coast include Ilet Pinel, with its good shallow diving; Green Key, with its vibrant barrier reef; and Tintamarre, with its sheltered coves and geologic faults. On average, one-tank dives start at $55; two-tank dives are about $100. Certification courses start at about $400.
The Dutch side offers several full-service outfitters and SSI (Scuba Schools International) and/or PADI certification. There are no hyperbaric chambers on the island.
Dive Safaris. Dive Safaris has a shark-awareness dive on Friday where participants can watch professional feeders give reef sharks a little nosh. The company also offers a full PADI training program and can tailor dive excursions to any level. 16 Airport Blvd., Simpson Bay. 721/545-2401. www.divestmaarten.com.
Ocean Explorers Dive Shop. Ocean Explorers Dive Shop is St. Maarten's oldest dive shop, and offers different types of certification courses. 113 Welfare Rd., Simpson Bay. 721/544-5252. www.stmaartendiving.com.
Octopus. Octopus offers PADI diving certification courses and all-inclusive dive packages, using the latest equipment and a 30-foot power catamaran called Octopussy. The company also offers private and group snorkel trips starting at $40, including all necessary equipment. The dive shop also services regulators. 15 bd. de Grand Case, Grand Case, 97150. 590/29-11-27. www.octopusdiving.com.
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