Diving

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.

East-side Diving

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.

Sunken Warship

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.

Shark Dives

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.

Dive Deeper

A deeper dive can be conducted in the park on the site Tiegland, which shows remains of a sunken wreck.

Diving Guidelines

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.

St. Maarten Dive Site Map

Cable Reef

Cable Reef is named after the former Fiber Optic Cable that directly bisects the reef. It is the deepest dive site within the Marine Park starting at seventy feet. It is an area frequented by sharks, turtles and other large pelagic life. Wreck Depth: 45-65ft.

Carib Cargo

Carib Cargo is an old inter Island trader that sits upright in seventy feet of water. One of the island’s most popular sites it is home to schooling jacks, large schools of snapper, turtles, lobster, sharks, stingrays and a very curious bottle-nosed dolphin during the winter months. The Carib Cargo sits right at the edge of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area. Wreck Depth: 23ft.

Charlie’s Shoal

Charlie’s Shoal lies in approximately seventy feet of water and is home to numerous resident Green Sea Turtles. Reef Depth: 45-55ft

Cow and Calf

Cow and Calf is one of our more remote Atlantic Ocean dive sites. During the winter months migrating Humpback whales can often be heard signing while diving this site. Neat rock formations and fields of gorgonians characterize this rarely visited dive site that starts at sixty feet of water.

Fish Bowl

Fish Bowl is the most easterly dive site within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park. As the name implies this circular dive site that sits at approximately sixty feet of water hosts a large amount of fish life, including numerous Caribbean Reef and Nurse Sharks. Reef Depth: 45-60ft.

Frenchman’s Reef

Frenchman’s Reef one and two are one of our shallower reefs and a great night dive location. You can see lobster, turtle, stingrays and barracuda at this popular site. Depth: 15-20ft.

Fu-Sheng

The Fu-Sheng is one of the deeper dive sites on the western side of St. Maarten. This old Taiwanese trader lies upside down in ninety feet of water right on the drop-off. This site can sometimes have numerous large pelagics. Wreck Depth: 100-110ft.

Hens and Chicks

Hens and Chicks is an Atlantic Dive site that has a reputation as being very sharkey. It lies in sixty foot of water.

Isabella Reef

Isabella Reef is a small patch coral reef that starts at about eighty feet and ends close to one hundred feet. It is one of the deeper dive sites on St. Maarten and is home to a numerous array of sponges and gorgonians. Reef Depth: 60-80ft

Long Bay Reef

Long Bay Reef is very close to the wreck of the Gregory and is a popular night dive location. Web Burrfish Depth: 45-50ft

Mooring Management

The Nature Foundation manages and installs all dive moorings on the Dutch side of the island; in case of any complications please contact the Nature Foundation.

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