To dive in St. Maarten, each visitor must purchase a diving tag and vessel operators
must register and pay for their personal boat. Learn more here.
A variety of measures are in place to protect the safety, stability, and longevity of our reefs, wrecks, and marine life. Follow the following regulations and recommendations when on any dive site in St. Maarten, but especially the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, a marine protected area (MPA).
Stony Coral Tissue Disease alert
Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is an aggressive and deadly coral disease that has greatly affected the health of the coral reefs of St. Maarten since 2018. This disease can be spread in several ways, including physical contact by divers of a diseased colony, who then touch a healthy coral. The disease can also live on diving gear, even after traveling for several days. To help stop the spread of this deadly coral disease, the Nature Foundation asks all divers to practice the following recommendations:
- In order to protect our coral reefs and prevent the spread of the disease a 100% NO TOUCH policy is in effect on all St. Maarten dive sites. Scuba divers found touching coral reefs could risk a fine.
- All scuba diving gear entering our island must be soaked in a 5% chlorine bleach solution, rinsed in plenty of fresh water, and dried in the sun. Dive schools will need to forward this message to their customers, and we recommend that visiting divers rent local gear or use dive shop-provided gear.
- Do not use any single-use plastic item onboard a boat or close to the ocean.
The presence of chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate in some sunscreens are considered a threat to coral reefs and other marine organisms. The chemicals have been associated with signs of distress in coral, including coral bleaching, DNA damage, and growth abnormalities. The Nature Foundation recommends that visitors to the reefs:
- Use “physical” titanium dioxide and zinc oxide-based sunscreens when entering the water instead of “chemical” sunscreens.
- Wear UV-protective items such as sun shirts and hats to limit the amount of product entering the water.