Sint Maarten (Dutch Saint Martin)
Dive Operator: Ocean Explorers Rating: 4.8 stars
In Sint Maarten (Dutch Saint Martin) we stayed at Diamond Resorts in Simpson Bay. There was no dive operation associated with the hotel. However Ocean Explorers dive shop was located only about 300 feet away. Ocean Explorers is a family run business and was the first dive operation on the island dating back about 50 years. The people who work there are extremely nice as is the case with pretty much everybody on the island - at least on the Dutch side.
The dive shop isn't huge but is more than adequately equipped. They had two center-console boats but no dock. It was necessary to wade out to them but no more than waist deep and only a short distance of perhaps 20 feet. I cannot comment on their rental equipment as everyone we dove with during the week had their own gear.
On the boats the divers were kept up front until it was time to dive. There was more than enough room. When it was time to dive the divemaster/instructor and the boat captain would bring two divers at a time to the back and assist each one in getting their gear on. In fact, prior to that they put each divers gear together. The water seemed a little less saline out there. As such most divers tended to be overweighted, so the divemaster was extremely helpful in adjusting each divers weight in order to get them properly weighted.
In the water the divemaster carried a high-end camera that had a GoPro attached as well. In addition to pointing out things on the dive, he took hundreds of still photos. These were magazine quality. I thought that this was something special. Many dive shops take video, but it is rare to have one take still photos. The dive shop only charged a total of only 50 dollars for all of the photos taken that week. I was personally in 300 of them. For 50 dollars I felt that was a great deal for the divers.
Dive times were not limited by the operation. Instead each diver was allowed to stay down as long as their air supply or decompression limits allowed them to. That was a nice bonus as all of my dives exceeded an hour each.
I rate Ocean Explorers 4.8 stars. In my opinion they are one of the best outfits I have ever dove with. I highly recommend them.