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Review of Dive Shops on St. Maarten

Discussion in 'Lesser Antilles' started by Thomas Ciampi, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. Thomas Ciampi

    Thomas Ciampi REEF Volunteer

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Texas
    I was here for a week and stayed at the Divi Little Bay, which had an Aqua Mania shop on property.

    Ocean Explorers
    By far the best shop on the island. It is located in Simpson Bay and is not too far away from many of the top dive sites. Jeff takes care of captaining the boat, leading the dives and most importantly, he makes sure that all of his divers are accounted for and are enjoying their dive. Their focus is on safety, comfort, and efficiency. My dive buddy had struggled to find the right amount of weight and Jeff added weight and removed weight throughout the dive to ensure that she was properly weighted. His wife, Luciana, runs the front end of the shop and takes care of all of the bookings and payment. She was personable and seemed to take her job very seriously. This shop is run extremely professionally. Despite the appearance of a small shop and small boats, they make everything run smoothly and efficiently and they prep you to enter and exit the boat in the quickest, easiest, safest way possible. Another reason I found this shop to be the best on the island was their number of dive sites. On our last dive, we dove at one of their sites and a turtle that they rescued swam up and interacted with all of the divers on the trip. I can't say enough how much I liked this shop when compared to the others on the island.

    Dive Adventures
    This is another family-run shop on the island. This is the shop that I reached out to before getting to the island. They are extremely friendly and seem to know a lot about diving here. Unfortunately, they had a family emergency and had to leave the island when I arrived. I did stop by their shop to look around and I would say that they had some of the best gear on the island for sale. If you need to buy top of the line gear gets it from this shop.

    Aqua Mania
    STAY AWAY! This shop was a mess. They have hands in too many activities other than diving. They are not worth your time. They are not professional at all and run their boats as an experienced outsider would. On the one dive, I did with this shop the two dive masters were joking about one of their patrons from the other day who got bent. Just not the shop you want to dive with if you are looking for a smooth streamline dive shop. Their website prices and what you actually pay in person are totally different. Just stay away if you can.
  2. Nivek Llekots

    Nivek Llekots Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives:
    Location: Curacao, Caribbean
    I agree with you 100% with regards to Ocean Explorers, I've been diving with Jeff and Lu since 2013 and have always had great dives. I had tried a few other operators before I dived with them and was convinced the diving in Sint Maarten was not that great, but after diving with Ocean Explorers my eyes were opened and I now look forward to my trips there, in fact I will be there again in a couple of weeks :)!

    Big thumbs up for Ocean Explorers !!!!
    Thomas Ciampi likes this.
  3. rick00001967

    rick00001967 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: canada
    we have been to st maarten a number of times and used a few different shops over the years. i would like to comment about your review of dive adventures and aqua mania, and point out something you may not know.
    aquamania is located in simpson bay along the water at the simpson bay resort. they are essentially a booking company that books diving and many other activities as you correctly stated.
    dive adventures has two locations. one is at divi and one is in simpson bay. it runs right along with aquamania.
    it would be incorrect to say that dive adventures was good but aquamania was bad for diving. aquamania is not a dive shop. the diving out of divi and simpson bay are both run by dive adventures.
    i can tell you in all honesty that we have had several major issues with aquamania when it comes to bookings. that goes for diving and a bunch of others.
    but as far as diving with the crew at dive adventures, we highly recommend them. we try to deal directly with vinnie or damien. things will go a lot smoother.
    we have not been back since the hurricanes and cannot wait to return.
    MegsUnderWater likes this.
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    What did you think of the island topside as a destination? Usually I’m focused on the diving, but I’m guessing this island would be about a mixed vacation with some diving, maybe a family with non divers along. So the topside experience becomes a big deal.
  5. Thomas Ciampi

    Thomas Ciampi REEF Volunteer

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Texas
    My family had a ton of fun when we were not diving. Renting a car and just going out and finding something to do was amazing.
  6. mac66

    mac66 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: SE Mich
    Dived in St. Maarten in April. Booked online through Aqua Mania, dived with Dive Adventures at their shop about 1/2 mile from the cruise ship port. No problems with booking or diving. Dive Adventures is who the cruise lines book with. There was a cruise excursion going out with 14 divers on it at the same time the boat I booked privately with had 5 divers.
  7. Diver below 83

    Diver below 83 Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: SoFlo
    I dove with adventures through the ships. We had 14 on board. This must be their cruise numbers
  8. Jersey

    Jersey Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: SE PA/ Southern NJ
    Correct - ton of lovely beaches if the family is into that. Always keep the snorkel gear with you. Driving around up and over the roads gorgeous. One island - two countries! The food scene is amazing. Shopping on both French & Dutch sides. Marigot on the French & Phillipsburg on the Dutch. Casino's (nothing Vegas style, but still something to do). Sunset cruises. Butterfly farm. Zip line. Diving is all boat, so dive in the morning and plan the afternoon around an activity. Brought the folks and mom did morning water aerobics, then drive to Marigot for coffee & croissants when the diving was done, a little shopping, strolling the markets.
    Hike up to several forts - one at Divi, Pic du Paradise or Fort Louis in Marigot (walk off those croissants). Also has several protected bays making it mega-yacht provisioning & celebrity spotting destination.
    Fine dining in the evening. Rinse and repeat.

    Also like Ocean Explorers & Dive Adventures. OE - one of the first shops on the island, previous owner was amazing guy, believe the current owners worked for him & maintain the same level of service. Dive Adventures introduced me to diving, did 'try scuba' in the pool at the resort. Didn't go well. Inspired me to do a day long 'discover scuba' at their shop. THAT didn't go well either. Came home determined to master this diving thing, that was 1999.
    drrich2 likes this.
  9. GrafCanuck

    GrafCanuck Barracuda

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: London, Ontario
    If you have the time, highly recommend taking the ferry to both Anguilla and St Barts.......to either snorkel, dive or just hang at the beach......both islands are polar opposites to SXM....and in a good way.....
    Ty Wilson likes this.

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