The Man of War Shoal Marine Park is excellent for scuba diving and is home to some of the island’s last pristine reef areas. The park protects a range of habitats from globally threatened coral reefs and seagrass beds to open water.
Spoilt for Choice
The coral reefs are diverse with coral reef pinnacles, patch reef and fringing reef. Scuba divers are spoilt for choice within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, the park even includes shipwrecks and sunken artificial reefs. During your dive in the Marine Park you can encounter many types of reef fish, sea turtles, species of shark, lobsters and the rare Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas). It also is a migratory stopover point for many marine mammals, including whales and dolphins.
The eastern side of St. Maarten also shows excellent dive sites around the small islands Molly Beday, Pelican Rock, Hen and Chicks and Cow and Calf. These excellent dive sites are breeding grounds for marine birds, fish, sea turtles and other marine life. Pelican Rock is recognized by Bird Life International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) for resident and migratory birds including the Audubon’s Shearwater and the national Brown pelican.
St. Maarten’s most famous dive site, Proselyte Reef, is the site of a Spanish Warship that sank in 1801. Artifacts such as large anchors, cannons, barrel hoops, cannon balls, and pottery are still evident on this popular dive site, which is considered a marine archaeological treasure.
Large Coral Formations
On the dive sites Mike’s Maze and Coralita several massive Elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) and patches of Staghorn Coral (Acropora cervicornis) can be seen.
Although sharks are seen frequently on all our dive sites in the marine park, the sites Pelikaan Reef and Fish Bowl are hotspots to see our friendly St. Maarten sharks. Carib Cargo provides an excellent wreck dive including abundant approaches with sea turtles.
A deeper dive can be conducted in the park on the site Tiegland, which shows remains of a sunken wreck.
When you are scuba diving the Man of War Shoal Marine Park please follow these simple guidelines to make sure you are an Eco-friendly diver.
- Respect the marine environment.
- Do not chase, harass or try to ride marine life.
- Do not remove anything living or dead from the water (except recent trash).
- Do not throw anything overboard.
- Do not feed marine life. It changes natural behavior and diet.
- Leave historical artifacts undisturbed to allow future divers to enjoy them.
- Maintain good buoyancy control – Do not stand or kneel on the bottom, except where there is sand.
- Secure all gauges so that they cannot get caught on or drag along the bottom.
- Do not wear gloves unless you are going up or down a mooring line or wreck diving.
- Always pass seaward of Marine Park mooring buoys, and always steer clear of dive vessels.
- Always place ‘diver down’ flag when diving.
- Never leave your vessel unattended.