Little Bay Snorkeling
The 4th most popular snorkel dive spot in St Martin - Sint Maarten.
Thursday 28 February 2019 06:48 GMT
On the south side of Sint Maarten and west of Phillipsburg, the snorkeling at Little Bay is popular with locals and tourists alike. While the water clarity is pretty poor, there are several large underwater rock formations and wrecks to explore along the eastern edge of the bay. The best snorkeling in Little Bay is on very calm surf days with low wind and lots of sun. The water visibility ranges from 5 feet to 20 feet depending upon conditions. As you depart the sandy beach off the Sea Breeze bar at the east end of the bay, snorkel south along the rocks towards the southern point. The water clarity improves as you move south away from the sand. There are underwater boulders that are covered with new fire coral growth.
About two-thirds of the way to the point of the Fort Amsterdam peninsula, there are some off-shore docks that used to be the home of the Tiki Hut Snorkel Park, which was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. There are usually still some on-going SNUBA activities at the site. At the site, there are underwater wrecks of a helicopter, submarine, various boat parts and some aircraft parts along with three 16th-century cannons from Fort Amsterdam. This is still a popular stop with cruise ship excursions for snorkeling, so it can be crowded at times.
As you snorkel past the docks towards the point, the boulders become larger and more scenic in water that is about 20 feet deep. These rocks are covered with fire coral and brain coral Typically, there is some surf and surges among the rocks so use care. As you approach the point, the water clarity typically drops again due to sand carried in the current coming around from Great Bay. It can be a long swim back to the beach depending up on the currents, so make sure to save plenty of energy.
While snorkeling at Little Bay, you may encounter porcupine pufferfish, needlefish, angelfish, sergeant majors, grunts, parrotfish, damselfish and feather dusters on the rocks. Occasionally, you many also see a random Southern Stingray, hawksbill sea turtle or lionfish.
To reach the snorkeling on St Maarten by air, fly into Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM). Note, there is a $30USD departure tax collected at the airport. The Little Bay is located on the south end of the island just to the west of the Sint Maarten capital of Phillipsburg.
While Sint Maarten was hard hit by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the Little Bay area has recovered nicely. Both resorts on this bay have been fully restored and are even better than prior to the hurricane. The underwater marine life and corals are very slowly coming back, and they will take many more years to be fully restored. Much of the coral and sea grasses were smoothered by sand from the storm. Near by Phillipsburg is still undergoing restorations and there are many abandoned buildings especially on the west side of the pier. With Bobby's Marina located in nearby Phillipsburg, you'll want to consider making use of Great Bay Express ferry service to explore the snorkeling at nearby islands which include St Barths, Saba and Sint Eustatius.
After a long morning of snorkeling Little Bay, there are two beach bars from grabbing a cool drink or even some lunch. Both are within the Divi Little Bay Beach Resort. There is Gizmos Bar to the west of the pier and Seabreeze bar to the east of the pier.
Overall, Little Bay is the 4th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 15 snorkeling dives in St Martin - Sint Maarten. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Little Bay including Oyster Bay Beach, Cay Bay, Dawn Beach and Cole Bay.