Snorkel in St. Martin, photo by John M.
For those who are passionate divers should take their boats off the south coast, on the Dutch side of the island, where you can appreciate coral reefs (soft corals, sponges) and varied marine life. These places include Cooper Island(halfway between St Martin and St Barth’s) and Ile Fourchue, a virtual aquarium with turtles, barracuda, moray eels and lobsters. For beginners, there is the north side of the island, in places such as Tintamarre, Green Cay reefs and Creole Rock. Experienced divers should try the French side, including the geological fault Spanish Rock, the caves at Circus and La Pointe, and the Tug Boat Wreck. We present you our recommended St Martin Snorkeling Spots.
Do you already know St Martin’s Best Beaches?
In Mullet Bay, you will find an interesting reef near the ruins of the large units in the north of the Bay. Although it doesn’t have much coral, it has much to discover: sea urchins, crabs, octopus, colorful fish. You can snorkel along the rocks on the right side of the beach until you get to Cupecoy Beach and then go hang out at Cupecoy Cave.
TIP: Stay close to the coast when you snorkel because sometimes catamarans and jet skiers come pretty close to the shore!
Cupecoy Beach is a small beach at the southwest corner of St Martin. It is lined with beautiful rock formations and caves and has a reef with some interesting fish.
This sugar white powdery sand beach is located on the East side of the island. It has become popular in the recent years, because of its sand and the facilities provided (umbrellas, beach chairs, snorkeling gear, bar, restaurants).
The name says it all: early risers may enjoy spectacular views of the sunrise with St. Barths in the distance, which is always in the background.
Snorkeling in Dawn Beach is absolutely incredible. You will have to swim a bit to get to the best spots as the coral reef is a bit off the shore. The surf can sometimes be a little challenging, so is not an ideal beach to go with children.
This tiny island is located on the north end of St Martin and is a must see on your visit!
Protected by a large coral reef, this place is ideal for snorkeling. The water is calm and crystal clear and is protected from pounding surf, you will likely find lobsters hiding in little crevices in the rocks. This makes it one of the best St Martin Snorkeling Spots!!
Just after the southern point of the island, there is a snorkel trail, marked with a buoy system to protect you from boats. The reef has good visibility and vibrant marine life. Here you can see tropical fish and spotted eagle rays, lobsters, barracudas; possibly even sea turtles.
Discover beautiful underwater gardens, vibrant reefs and shipwrecks, like the most famous of the Caribbean: “RMS Rhone”, this 310 foot Royal Mail ship was sunk during a storm in 1867 and now rests on the west side of Salt Island, just minutes from Cooper Island.
This very small island is located between St Martin and St Barths. it has largely been denuded of vegetation by goats, the island’s only residents. It has a wonderfully protected anchorage encircled by the arms of what appears to be a collapsed caldera.
This 2.5 square miles island is uninhabited and has the awesome beach and magnificent views. You will snorkel with turtles and really enjoy this incredible snorkel spot, on a nature reserve and a coral reef.
The local habitants of this island are the occasional goats, lizards, iguanas and crabs.
Green Cay is a small, quiet island located a short kayak ride from Orient Bay, St Martin’s most popular beach. It is an excellent place to start snorkeling, where you can find soft corals.
Creole Rock is part of protected seashore that allows a wide variety of sea-life on the rocky island. One side is very protected, and the other is open to deeper water and pelagic life. Here you can see turtles, rays, barracuda, tarpon and an assortment of reef fish.
You can find completely different ecosystems on the inner and outer shores of the island, due to the nutrient rich current that flows along the outer.
TIP: The best part for diving is the back of Creole Rock, where the coral is fed by the rich Atlantic waters, passing jacks, barracudas and eagle rays are an awesome and regular sight!
This precious reef lies in the channel between St Martin and Tintamarre. It is characterized by slabs of rocks that have become completely covered in corals and surrounded by fish. Here you are likely to see juvenile sharks, lobsters, barracuda and exceptional corals.
TIP: You can only dive here when the weather is calm enough.
This amazing spot is located on the northern eastern tip of Tintamarre. Here you can find various caves where you can swim through, which make an awesome experience.
The Bridge (or La Pointe in French) is a dive site on the Dutch side, just in front of the entrance to the Simpson Bay Lagoon. This old bridge doesn’t look so much like a bridge when you see it underwater, it is more a mix of unrecognizable slabs of wood and metal; but it has attracted a lot of life here, especially lobsters and stingrays, and often a huge green turtle. A great St Martin Snorkeling Spot!!
Located on the northern side of Tintamarre, the Tugboat was intentionally sunk about 15 years ago. Beds of eelgrass are all around it, with eagle rays and sting rays hunting for food.
Over the years it has become covered in coral and surrounded by fish. During January, February and March you can even see dolphins here!
About 100 feet away from the wreck there is a beautiful reef with a small wall that comes up from the sand at 45 feet to about 20 feet. You can see all sorts of marine life here, even a free swimming octopus!!
These are some of the species you will find in St Martin Snorkeling Spots:
Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta, Eretmochelys imbricate and Dermochelys coriacea) visit the large beaches of the east coast and the islets to lay their eggs.
From January to May the offshore zone is a gathering area for Humpback Whales, who are particularly fond of the shallow waters in the mating season, as well as large Dolphins.
The offshore area is composed of marine flowering plants and many coral formations. The trees, like the coral reefs, provide shelter for many species of invertebrates and mollusks (such as Starfish, Sea Urchins, Lobsters, Slipper Lobsters and Conches) and many fish species (Coffer- fish, Grouper, Surgeonfish, Parrot-fish, Tarpon, Barracuda and Angelfish).
Planning to travel to St Martin on your next vacations? See our St Martin Yacht Charter Itinerary!!
Surgeon Fish, photo by Stefan David. CC BY