|Sint Maarten & Saint-Martin|
Sint Maarten, or Saint-Martin, refers to the half Dutch, half French island in the Caribbean. The capital, Philipsburg, is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars galore and is a popular cruise ship port. We first visited St. Maarten in November 2014 aboard the Regal Princess and were very taken with the island. While we did not have time to venture all around the island and see sights like Maho Beach, but we appreciated the welcoming nature of the islanders and definitely loved the diving! For the die-hard shoppers out there looking for a high quality, easy-to-work-with jewelry shop, you’ll find it here. (I’ve been many places looking for settings for some gems gifted to me years ago as a wedding gift and finally found those settings in St. Maarten with Caribbean Gems; high quality and finally a reasonable price.) And don’t forget to pick up some sort of guava rum product. It’s a local specialty.
Where to Stay
Large and small cruise ships make port in Philipsburg, which is the capital. Our diving excursion with our excursion vendor took us maybe 30 minutes from the cruise port to Little Divi Bay and its resort which borders on a marine park. We transferred from the shore to a smaller boat to reach the dive boat then headed out with St. Barts along the horizon. Our small group and knowledgeable dive masters made for a trip we still cherish to this day. Highly recommend the dives!
There are some amazing hotel options in both the Dutch and French side of St. Maarten/Martin. From all-inclusives to European plan hotels, the options are varied. There are also villa rental options for those with a large family or special occasion looking to have more privacy than a hotel might offer.
Sites We’ve Dived
Split rock, Cable Reef to St. Barts, Wreck of the Tieglan. Whatanamazingdive. In addition to swim-throughs, we had a black tipped reef shark join us on the dive, two pairs of eagle rays, sea turtle and fish aplenty.
Lucy’s Barge. More sharks on this dive, too, from a nurse shark to another black tipped reef shark. Add some eels to the mix along with the partial wreck and it added up to a second amazing dive. Pictures available here from these dives!