Where Are the Best Snorkelling Spots in St Martin?

Known for its stunning reefs and colourful fish, St Martin has some of the best snorkelling spots to discover
Known for its stunning reefs and colourful fish, St Martin has some of the best snorkelling spots to discover | © Jochem Wijnands / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Michael Karam
10 November 2021

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.

Snorkel around St Martin for a day by hiring a yacht with SamBoat. Chartering a yacht with Dream Yacht Charter means a longer look around under the sea.

Baie Rouge in Les Terres Basses

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Reclining beach loungers and umbrella on Baie Rouge, St Martin, Caribbean
© ICP DE / Alamy Stock Photo
In the west of St Martin, Baie Rouge offers the best snorkelling on the French part of the island, named after its reddish sands. The main attraction is the nearby David’s – or Devil’s – Hole, a dramatic sinkhole that’s 24m (80ft) in diameter that can be accessed from the sea, as well as the 50m (165ft) reef extending from the shore. Swim to the eastern end of the beach and spot hundreds of tropical fish.

Creole Rock near Grand Case

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Creole Rock in St Martin, Caribbean
© Don Mennig / Alamy Stock Photo
There is dramatic snorkelling off the islet of Creole Rock – situated on the leeward north of the island – which is very popular with guided snorkel groups. The most prominent part is the “head”, which is said to resemble the profile of a supine man, while the lesser submerged parts are the rest of the body. Hop on a boat to explore the reef beneath the mini island – the “feet” offer the most vibrant coral, but it is also where the current is strongest.

Happy Bay Beach near Grand Case

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Happy Bay beach in St Martin in the Caribbean
© ICP / Alamy Stock Photo
Down the coast from Creole Rock is Happy Bay Beach, a secluded and rarely crowded beach – especially before lunch – that attracts nudists and those avoiding the crowds. Access is via a relatively steep trail near Friar’s Bay beach. Happy Bay Beach is recommended for those who wish to snorkel as well as simply spend a day sunbathing on the golden sands – head to the right corner to spot plenty of tiny reef fish. There are no amenities here – aside from the odd refreshment seller – so come prepared.

Tintamarre Island in Orient Bay

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Snorkelers off Tintamarre, reached by boat tour from St Martin
© Debra Behr / Alamy Stock Photo
The uninhabited Tintamarre Island is the largest of the Orient Bay island group, located 3km (1.8mi) off the northern tip of St Martin. It is a protected marine reserve with very few amenities but its offshore location promises more varied sea life including turtles, nurse sharks and even dolphins. Also off Orient Bay is Pinel Island – reached by boat from the village of Cul de Sac. Like Tintamarre, it is also a protected marine reserve with a designated snorkelling route on the south of the island.

Cupecoy Beach and Mullet Bay in Maho

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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.

Dawn Beach in Oyster Pond

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Dawn Beach on St Martin, Caribbean
© Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo
On the east of the island is Dawn Beach, famous for its spectacular sunrises – hence the name – and clear waters that make it popular with snorkellers. Swim out from Scavengers Beach Bar to beautiful coral formations, alive with fish and reef squid. However, because it’s on the windward side, it is exposed to the Atlantic swell, so take suitable precautions. It’s not advised for families with young children.

Little Bay Beach near Philipsburg

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Little Bay and Fort William in the Caribbean Island of St Martin
© Gaertner / Alamy Stock Photo
Little Bay Beach is an easy walk from the capital of St Martin, just past the 17th-century Fort Amsterdam. From here, you can snorkel over six wrecks – including a helicopter – and cannons dating back to the 1500s. Forgot your mask? Buy a spare from the mini-mart at the east end of the beach. Fuel up beforehand with breakfast at the Gingerbread Cafe – or a rum cocktail come sunset.

Indigo Beach near Philipsburg

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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.

Explore St Martin for a day by when you hire a yacht with SamBoat. Alternatively, stay for longer when you charter a yacht with Dream Yacht Charter

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