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.

Diver’s Checklist

  1. Choose a local dive shop, especially if you are diving on St. Maarten for the first time
  2. Prep your gear by disinfecting it in a 5% chlorine bleach solution to prevent stony coral tissue disease
  3. Purchase your diving tags and register your personal vessel if applicable
  4. Read through the regulations and recommendations established for St. Maarten’s dive sites
  5. Find out more information about local dive sites and their location relative to the shore
  6. Check up on our press releases and news articles for updated information about diving
  7. Peruse our database of flora and fauna to familiarize yourself with local marine life
  8. Take note of emergency contact numbers and make a plan in case of diving problems

Local Dive Shops

The Nature Foundation recommends that all visitors dive with a local St. Maarten/St. Martin dive club unless they are well-acquainted with the area. The depths of the reefs and wrecks vary from 5m/15 feet to 30m/110 feet and may change rapidly. Many have unique features and weather-dependent characteristics that would be best and most safely enjoyed with the use of a local dive guide. The Dutch side dive shops are as follows:

Emergency Contacts

St. Maarten Medical Center910 or +1 721 543-1111​
Ambulance Services​912 or +1 721 542-2111
Coast Guard913 or VHF Channel 16
Note: The nearest decompression chamber is located on Saba and requires a flight to the island. Take all precautions when diving!

Resource Downloads

FAQ

I am visiting St. Maarten and diving with a local dive club on their boat. What do I need to register for?

Just the dive tag, but most local dive clubs will include the dive tag fee in their package so visitors don’t have to do anything. We recommend that visitors verify that their tags have already been purchased by the dive shop.

I’m a local resident on St. Maarten, not a visitor or tourist. What do I need to do to dive?

St. Maarten/St. Martin residents are not required to purchase dive tag. However, locals still have to register their vessel and pay an annual fee if they are diving from their own boat anywhere in St. Maarten.

Do I need to register with the Nature Foundation when diving on French sites, such as Creole Rock?

No. The Nature Foundation only manages the moorings and dive sites belonging to the Dutch side of St. Maarten. For information about diving on the French side of St. Martin, please contact the Réserve Naturelle.

I have my own boat and want to dive on St. Maarten. Can I do this?

You must register your vessel with the Nature Foundation and pay an annual fee via check, cash, or wire transfer. If you are a visitor to the island, you must additionally purchase dive tags for each user.

Where can I find the coordinates of the dive sites?

Unfortunately, the specific coordinates of the dive sites are not publicly available, but you can find their general location by visiting our map page and looking out for nearby buoys. We strongly recommend diving with a local dive school to visit our more difficult-to-find sites.

Can I anchor if I don’t have surface support?

Anchoring is prohibited in the Marine Park and within 50 meters of local dive sites. Always anchor within designated anchorage zones. Endangered seagrass and small coral heads can be found anywhere near the reefs, and it is easy to damage them with an anchor. Since anchoring near dive sites is banned, all vessels require surface support in the event that the mooring line or bowline breaks. The Nature Foundation is not liable for the breakage of the moorings. Never leave your boat unattended!

Can I snorkel over the dive sites instead of diving?

Sure! But, the diving tag for visitors and boat registration fee apply, and surface support is still required. Please beware of adverse conditions because strong winds and currents are common in St. Maarten. The best snorkeling can be found via a snorkel tour on shallower sites.

What is the best time of year to dive in St. Maarten?

While the the summer boasts the calmest winds and warmest waters, hurricane season and tropical storms can dramatically alter conditions and upend your diving plans. However, St. Maarten has excellent conditions for diving all year round. Because so many species are migratory, there is always interesting wildlife to find at different parts of the year. Always be sure to slow down and take your time looking for wildlife!

What is the average depth of diving sites on St. Maarten?

18 meters (60 feet), but we have sites as shallow as 5 meters (15 feet) or as deep as 36 meters (120 feet).

Can I spearfish while diving?

No — it is illegal to possess or use a speargun anywhere on St. Maarten, whether in the water or on land, without the possession of a legal speargun license. The license is a weapons permit obtained through Korps Politie Sint Maarten, our local police department.

Can I use gloves while diving?

Within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, you may not use gloves as per the park’s regulations. This rule is in place to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and damage to coral and other marine life.