Pinel Island Snorkeling
The 2nd most popular snorkel dive spot in St Martin - Sint Maarten.
Monday 10 December 2018 06:28 GMT
Northeast of Grand Case off St Martin, the snorkeling at Pinel Island is excellent. 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. There is a Reserve Naturelle's special underwater trail that offers a good introduction to Pinel snorkeling. The snorkeling is best off the east and north sides of Pinel Island where the maximum water depth is 20m.
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 9:30am to 4pm. It's a small boat that they jam with 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 up to three restaurants operating on the island. If you don't want to take the ferry, you can rent a sea kayak to head out to Pinel Island.
If you plan to use your own boat, there are 15 permanent yellow mooring buoys. If possible, try to get to some of the other islands in the marine park to snorkel, especially Petit Clef or Green Key.
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.TIP: Plan for a few extra days on your snorkeling trip to St Martin/Sint Maarten to make use of the ferries to other nearby islands. There are two ferries providing service to Anguilla, and one ferry heading over to St Barts. Matter of fact, many tourists use these ferries for day trips to the islands.
SPECIAL NOTICE: In September 2017, the island of St Martin/Sint Maarten took a direct hit from the destructive Hurricane Irma. The island infrastructure was severely damaged and will take significant time to rebuild. The hotels should begin the reopening process in late Spring 2018 and should be fully open by Winter 2018-2019. While there have been no reports on the exact impact on the coral formations, the high surf associated with hurricanes of this magnitude typically result in coral smoothering due to sand and the breaking of large coral structures. Therefore, the quality of the snorkeling should be adversely impacted for many years to come.
Overall, Pinel Island is the 2nd 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, Turtle Reef, Tintamarre Island, Happy Bay, Baie Aux Prunes and Baie Rouge.