Pinel Island Snorkeling
The 3rd most popular snorkel dive spot in St Martin - Sint Maarten.
Monday 25 March 2019 06:28 GMT
Northeast of Grand Case off St Martin, the snorkeling at Pinel Island is highlighted by old decaying coral formations and low visibility of 10-15 feet. Pinel Island is part of a National Marine Park located off the coast of Cul-De-Sac. The most popular place to snorkel at Ilet de Pinel is the protected reef off the south end of the island. There used to be a Reserve Naturelle's special underwater trail that offers a good introduction to Pinel snorkeling, but it is no longer there (though its on some old maps). The snorkeling is usually gentle off the southwest side of the island, but more scenic off the rougher southeast side where you'll need a calm surf, windless day to explore safely. Typically, there is a fast current running east to west along the south end of the island.
There is a crowded 10 minute long ferry by Caribbean Paddling at the pier every 30 minutes providing access to the island. The ferry boat is first-come, first-serve, and runs from 10am to 4pm. It's a small boat that they jam with up to 30+ people. The cost is $12USD per person roundtrip paid right on the dock in cash (there are no kids prices). For the best Pinel Island snorkeling, make sure to head out very early, especially if there are cruise ships in port. With the big crowds, it's best to pick a day when cruise ships are not in port. There are two restaurants operating on the island that were rebuilt after the 2017 hurricane. If you don't want to take the ferry, you can rent a sea kayak to head out to Pinel Island, but there is usually a strong headwind going outbound.
If you plan to use your own boat, there are a few permanent yellow mooring buoys. If possible, try to get to some of the other islands in the marine park to snorkel, especially Petit Clef, Green Key or Tintamarre Island.
To reach the snorkeling on Saint-Martin by air, fly into Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM). Note, there is a $30USD departure tax collected at the airport. The ferry boat pier is located east of Grand Case on the east coast. Note, there are some snorkel boat tours that include Pinel Island on their full day charters.
Overall, Pinel Island is the 3rd most popular snorkel dive spot of all 15 snorkeling dives in St Martin - Sint Maarten. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Pinel Island including Creole Rock, Tintamarre Island, Happy Bay, Baie Rouge, Anse Marcel and Baie Orientale.