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Snorkelling with Turtles in St Maarten, Dutch/French Virgin Islands

ZZ Ninja Kid and the Giant “Ninja” Turtles

When our cruise stopped in St Maarten, a Dutch/French Island in the West Indies for a day we wanted to go on a snorkelling boat trip to check out some of the Caribbean sea-life. Having seen some of the massive groups organised by the cruise ship on their excursions in the Bahamas & St Thomas I decided to book our own tour with a local company. I booked online last minute and my criteria was literally which are the top recommendations on TripAdvisor, we struck lucky with Captain Alan’s 4 hour, 3 Island Snorkelling Adventure.

Our group was small with only 10 people and our mode of transport for the day was a 38ft speedboat with twin 300hp engines so Ninja Grandad was suitably impressed !

It was a hot, sunny but windy day so the first 15-20 mins were pretty choppy as we crossed the bay to our first snorkelling location. ZZ was whooping as we flew over & through the waves, getting absolutely soaked, Ninja Grandma on the other hand was clinging on for dear life with her eyes closed !

Snorkelling with Turtles

Tintamarre Island is an uninhabited 2.5 sq mile island just off the French coast of St Maartens, Its a protected nature reserve where if you’re lucky to get to see giant turtles swimming in the shallows.

Well we were VERY lucky indeed ! ZZ & I spent over an hour snorkelling with about 10 giant turtles ! They were eating from the seabed about 15M below us but as they come up to the surface to breathe every 15 minutes there was always one of them right next to us bobbing around in the waves. Its forbidden to touch them but had we reached out we were easily within touching distance, they just looked at us and ignored us ! An amazing experience.

Feeding Giant Iguanas

After a Carib beer and a snack on the deserted beach we headed off to Pinel Island for some more snorkelling and to check out the iguanas that live in the bushes on the beach.

As ZZ couldn’t eat the bread from his snack lunch the crew told us to take it over to the island to feed the iguanas. I was rather dubious that we’d entice an iguana out of its habitat with a piece of bread but ZZ was keen to try. I wish I could have seen the look on my face when ZZ started to call the iguanas and throw bits of bread near the bushes and I swear that 50+ very large, cat sized iguanas came running out of the shrubbery towards him, I wasn’t sure whether to lift ZZ out of the way of their stampede, hot foot back to the boat or take a photo.

Im glad I opted for the photos or I might think Id dreamt it. They were like little dragons in incredible shades of green, they were climbing over each other to get to the bread, they’d have taken it out of his hand if he hadn’t thrown bits of it to as many as he could. We fed them for about 10 mins before they suddenly all shot back into the undergrowth, we turned around and saw a dog ambling up the beach which is what had obviously disturbed their bread-fest.

A totally recommendable day trip if you’re ever in St Maartens.  Ive always wanted to swim with turtles so thats a tick on my bucket list. ZZ voted this his best day so far & can’t stop talking about the turtles & iguanas.

We paid $75 USD per adult & $49 USD for ZZ (plus $60 USD return taxi to the marina from the cruise ship, its only a 10 mins ride but they charge $7 per person per ride)

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