Snorkelling in St Martin – the cosmopolitan Caribbean island owned by France and the Netherlands – is an absolute joy. December to May is the most popular time when the weather is hot but not overbearing and there is very little rain – perfect for exploring the reefs and spotting brilliantly coloured fish.
Cupecoy Beach and the adjacent Mullet Bay are both on the west coast, just inside the Dutch part of St Martin. Cupecoy can be accessed from Sapphire Beach Club, while Mullet Bay is open to everyone. This series of beaches – overlooked by cliffs – has a very liberal vibe and is popular with nudists and gay bathers. The reef is easily accessible on the left side of Mullet Bay beach – look out for puffers, octopus and lionfish.
Located in the south of the island between Philipsburg and Simpson Bay, Indigo Beach is deliberately free of the commercial trapping found elsewhere in the region. This is thanks to the chic, eco-friendly Indigo Beach Bar and Restaurant on its shores. Spot rays, parrotfish and angelfish darting around the colourful coral reef – or take a swim around the small wreck, just poking out of the water.