Creole Rock Snorkeling
The MOST popular snorkel dive spot in St Martin - Sint Maarten.
Monday 25 March 2019 06:55 GMT
North of Grand Case off St Martin, the snorkeling at Creole Rock offers marine diversity among some healthy coral. It is considered the most popular snorkeling spot on the island. Creole Rock is a body-shaped rock formation known for colorful brain coral and gorgonian coral along with sea fans. During Creole Rock snorkeling, you may occasionally encounter blue striped grunts, sergeant majors, parrotfish, blue tangs, cow fish, octopus, eagle rays, barracuda, sea turtle, nurse sharks, dolphins, Caribbean octopus and "Roger" the barracuda among the coral reef covered with sea fans and fire coral.
Located at the northern end of Grand Case Bay, this boat-accessed snorkeling spot lies within a marine reserve. The reserve area around Creole Rock is marked by five yellow buoys about 750 feet offshore, and there are a half-dozen boat mooring buoys. The water depth ranges from surface to 30 feet deep. There are several snorkel charter tours that head out to Creole Rock. The region is known for heavy boat traffic and high currents, so exercise care. The area is most crowded from 11am to 2pm.
The best Creole Rock snorkeling is just before low tide on a windless, low-surf day with plenty of sun. Just outside the yellow boundary buoys to the south of the rock, there is a sea grass bed that is popular with stingrays, turtles and nurse sharks. On the southwest side of the rock inside the yellow buoys, there is a large stand-alone coral head that is about 20 feet tall. It is covered with brain coral and fire coral which provides habitat for plentiful reef fish. For advanced snorkelers, the best snorkeling at Creole Rock can be found on the outer edge of the southeastern point where the currents carry nutrients allowing for excellent coral growth. With the surf and currents, only experienced snorkelers should approach the eastern side of these rocks. But, they be treated to larger marine life, octopus and resting nurse sharks among the rocks. Throughout the marine reserve, the water visibility ranges from 10 feet to 25 feet of clarity.
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. Grand Case is located about 25 minutes north of the main international airport, although there isn't much open there anymore. The Grand Case Beach Club had being rebuilt after the last hurricane and the Creole Rock Watersports is based inside the gate at the resort. Just tell the gate guard you are going to the dive shop. Creole Rock Watersports provides twice daily boat trips for up to six people (advanced reservations recommended). Alternately, the Rhino Safari Tour out of Simpson Bay has their final destination as Creole Rock for snorkeling. There is a $5 fee from the Marine Reserve to snorkel at Creole Rock.
NOTE: The Grand Case area was particularly hard hit by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. In the past, Grand Case was known for its vibrant restaurant scene. Most of the buildings in the town have been abandoned and not many are being rebuilt due to lack of insurance.
Overall, Creole Rock is the 1st most popular snorkel dive spot of all 15 snorkeling dives in St Martin - Sint Maarten. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Creole Rock including Tintamarre Island, Happy Bay, Baie Rouge, Anse Marcel, Baie Orientale and Pinel Island.