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Dive Review of Ocean Explorers Dive Center/Simpson Bay in
St. Maarten

Ocean Explorers Dive Center/Simpson Bay: "Ocean Explorers, SXM", Apr, 2017,

by Chip Wright, KY, US ( 1 report with 2 Helpful votes). Report 9540 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments I'm an airline pilot, and I got snowed into SXM for 4 days during the March snow storm (rough life, I know), so the other pilot and I decided to do some diving. We stayed in the Simpson Bay resort, but their boats were full, so we asked them for a recommendation for a shop, and they recommended OE, which is a short walk away.

The shop is small, minimal, and rustic, but the staff was great. Originally, they were full as well, and we asked for their own recommendations for a place to go. They recommended our hotel (we hadn't told them where we were staying). It's always good--reassuring--to see shops honestly recommend each other. Alternatively, when we asked a place or two to avoid, OE gave us a few names (I don't recall them).

Turns out, some spots opened up due to all of the flight cancellations, and we were able to go. The rental gear (remember, this wasn't planned) was okay, and they made sure we had a good fit, but the water was cold. The first day, we were shivering. We mentioned it when we returned, and they had a selection of undergarments/skins for us to use the second day, and we were much more comfortable.

OE doesn't cater to the beginner. You're expected to have a degree of experience, competence and confidence. You board the boats by wading into the water and climbing the ladder, and everyone is expected to help in getting everything on the boat. It's well organized, efficient, and it makes the best of not having a dock. The boats are small, and don't have a lot of room, and essentially, no dry storage, so plan to bring as little as possible. The shop is attended while you're gone, and we felt safe leaving our stuff there.

The briefings were less than stellar (except for the shark dive--more in a bit), and there was no roll call upon returning to the boat. My OWSI card got my buddy and I a bit of leeway the first day, and the second day, we were pretty much allowed to do our own thing, which was great. We'd proven ourselves, and we were rewarded with some recognition that we could fend for ourselves. On the first dive of the second day, we were the first ones in and the last ones out. It was much appreciated.

The main highlight of the 2 days of diving was the shark dive. We had several follow us on Day 1, which I thought was the shark dive, but the we were politely informed with a smile that we hadn't seen anything yet. On Day 2, the shark briefing was incredibly detailed and thorough, and everything went exactly as expected: hold the line, get to the bottom, crawl as instructed, and just wait. We all (a group of about 12) had a rock to hold onto (the surge and current are pretty strong, and we all were given extra weight to keep us negative), and the dive leader lined us up for a series of fantastic photos. Best of all: no feeding. We didn't need it. Several dozen reef sharks showed up and kept us company, and we all got photographed with sharks near us. We were in the water for an hour, and the experience exceeded our expectations.

I've also been diving with the Simpson Bay resort shop on a previous trip, and they too were professional and eager to help. They also seem to do have more of the beginner-type clientele. OE had slightly bigger boats. Both are worth using, but both shops are spartan in an island sort of way.

The water can be rough, so if you're susceptible to seasickness, plan accordingly. The diving is not the best, but not the worst. It's worth doing if you're on SXM, but I'm not sure I'd plan a trip just to dive there. But, if you're there, make the effort.

The best part of the deal, though, is this: OE will take a ton of pictures, and instead of charging per shot, they charge $25/person to receive an email link to the uploaded pictures on Reddit, and you can download as many as you want. It's a fantastic, money-saving service, and the photos are first-rate and brochure-worthy.

Also, many shops--and both of these are no different--will offer substantial discounts for airline crew members with an ID. OE offers 20% off, which just about covered the Nitrox we used.
Websites Ocean Explorers Dive Center   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving All 3 USVI, all 3 Caymans, Guam, Chuuk, Kosrae, Hawaii
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 70-75°F / 21-24°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 80-150 Ft/ 24-46 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Don't be a diver who is a dumbass.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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