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Dive Review of Ocean Explorers Dive Center in
St. Maarten/dutch side of the island

Ocean Explorers Dive Center: "the very best dive operation!", Oct, 2018,

by don buswell-charkow, FL, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 10596.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The best dive company I have ever been scuba diving with and I've been diving since 1994! My wife and I have over 700 dives each and have been diving all over the world. We came to St Maarten because we needed to use a week of our time share in Grand Cayman that we had been unable to use due to family issues and were looking for some place different to go. We came with low expectations and just wanting to "blow some bubbles and have a good time". Little did we realize that we were about to discover one of the all time best dive masters. Jefferson (who owns the company and runs the show) is originally from Brazil. I have NEVER met a more observant dive master in my life.My wife and I both dive with minimal weights. We hadn't been diving in two years because of life issues and thought we would would each add one pound just so there would be no issues getting down. After our first dive, Jefferson told us that we were both diving with too much weight. He suggested that I go down one pound to 6 pounds and that my wife go down two pounds to four pounds. Mind you, we hadn't said a word and had no trouble with the dive. He assured us that if we thought we were having any trouble, he always carried extra weight and would be able to upweight us if necessary. True to his word, on one dive with a fair amount of surge, he came over to Sandi and put an extra pound in her BC. Other than that we were both fine for the whole trip (one week, 10 dives). Other divers came and went and in each case, he noticed little things about their diving and weight, upon which he was able to improve in a non obtrusive way. Issues of the technicality of diving aside, he pointed out all the little things that you expect from a dive master who knows the area. He found the little fish and creatures that we didn't see. We were't expecting much but were very pleasantly surprised with the variety of undersea life. We were particularly impressed with the sharks. AT one time, they used to do shark feeding on St Maarten, but not anymore. The sharks didn't get the government edict that it had been outlawed. When they see/smell/feel divers, they come around looking for a free meal. Jefferson does not feed them. However, if he finds a lion fish, of which there are quite a few, he doesn't have any compunction about spearing them and leaving them under a heavy rock. If a shark happens to find the dead lion fish, then so be it. In 24 years of diving I have never had so many beautiful reef sharks come so close. If they hadn't turned away at the last minute, I could have reached out an touched them. Of course, hands off. But this is one of the few chances in your life to get within a few feet of an animal that looks like a jet fighter. Just when I thought it couldn't get better, it did. We were on our last day, next to last dive. A green turtle came up to one of our divers and literally looked like it was asking to be petted! Jefferson waved the person off. The turtle swam over to him. He very gently took it by the shell and put it on the sandy bottom. He wrote on his slate, "He likes to be clean". He took some sand and placed it on the shell and rubbed it in. Then he took a little brush that I had noticed on his BCD (what is that for?) and started rubbing the turtles neck! The turtle closed it eyes obviously in pleasure. This went on for a few minutes. It turns out that several years ago, Jefferson found this particular turtle with one of those plastic holders that holds a six pack of beer or coke, stuck around it's neck. The turtle allowed him to remove it and ever since they have been fast friends. Also a year or two back, the turtle had inadvertently eaten a plastic bag (thinking it was a jelly fish). When Jefferson and his brother, Pete, found it, the turtle was attempting to defecate the plastic bag but it was stuck in it's rectum, They gently and slowly pulled it out. That cemented the relationship. So now when the turtle and Jefferson meet up under water, the turtle likes to hang out for most of the dive. If you have wanted to encounter a turtle that is not shy, this is your chance. This is not a luxury dive operation. They don't have a 42' Newton dive boat. There isn't a camera bench. They don't serve snacks between dives. They use a 24' open boat with twin 150 Mercury outboards. Entry to the water is sitting on the side and either backward roll or put your hands on the rail and slide in. Back on the boat is via a very serviceable ladder on the side of the boat. What they do offer is very personalized diving. They are very very attentive and go out of their way to give you a great dive experience. When you dive with this company, you are diving with professionals. If I were ever to get into trouble under water, I have no doubt that Jefferson would get me out of whatever problem I was having and would save the day. These guys are that good. If you come to ST Maarten and you like to dive, you owe it to yourself to dive with Ocean Explorers. You won't regret it and you will realize what you may have been missing all these years.
Websites Ocean Explorers Dive Center   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Extensive diving in the Caribbean, Fiji, Tahiti, and the "Forbidden Island" of Niihau in the Hawaiian Islands.
Closest Airport Princess Juliana Getting There we flew Spirit airlines from Fort Lauderdale. No problems

Dive Conditions

Weather dry Seas calm
Water Temp 80-80°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-60 Ft/ 15-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions They prefer that you stay with the dive master. Once the dive is done, ie back at boat, if you want to stay longer, that is fine.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments I normally use a Canon camera with underwater housing and flash. For the first time in 24 years I decided that I wouldn't take my camera and would just "enjoy" the diving. I wish I had taken my camera only because the sharks were the best I've ever seen. They came right up to us and I could have gotten some great photos. That being said, if you are an underwater photographer, you will be disappointed with this dive operation. No camera bucket and no camera counter. You can hold your camera or put it on the extensive padded area at the front of the boat.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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