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La Palapa Marina

#16 Airport Boulevard
Simpson Bay, St. Maarten
T: +1-721-545 3213





Safety Tips

Remember, it is your responsibility prior to snorkeling or diving to check the weather and sea conditions - do not snorkel or dive in conditions beyond your ability.

  • Prior to snorkeling or diving, check Local Weather and sea conditions.

  • Always snorkel or dive with a buddy.

  • Be visible - when snorkeling wear a brightly colored snorkel vest and in busy boat traffic areas, especially when further from the shore, tow a dive flag. When diving display your diver down flag prominently and use a safety sausage if ascending in busy boat traffic areas.

  • Be aware of your surroundings as they change while snorkeling and diving.

  • Manage your energy - remember, you need to swim back. If swimming with the current and/or the wind, constantly turn around and test your ability to swim back against it.

  • Do not touch the marine life (see Watch Out For These! below)

  • Watch Out For These

    The waters around St Maarten/ St Martin boast lots of different types of marine life. All creatures are harmless, even our nurse and Caribbean reef sharks, as long as you donít bother them. As you have been taught during your diving courses you are not supposed to touch or harm any creature under water, not only to protect them, but also yourself since some corals and fishes are venomous or have nasty stings with poison in them.
    Be sure you donít touch the following:

    Spiny Sea Urchin Ė the hard spines of this urchin even go through watershoes and dive boots, so try not to step on them. Youíll find them between rocks off our shores. Treatment: Get the spines out of your skin and soak your affected body part in vinegar. Keeping the area under hot running water breaks down the toxin.
    Fire Coral Ė just a soft brush against these corals can cause a nasty burning feeling. Treatment: Relieve the burn by washing it with some vinegar. Heat packs also work to break down the toxin.
    Lion Fish Ė the Lion Fish has long spines with venom in them, these fish wonít come chasing after you, they usually just hover around and seem to be very slow moving. Just make sure you donít corner it so it gets defense, because when you do get stung by a Lion Fish it is very painful. Treatment: Best thing to do is to keep the stung area under hot running water, as hot as you can handle for as long as you can handle, to break down the toxin. 

    This beautiful fish is unfortunately an invasive species in the Caribbean Sea. Marine Parks and Dive Centers are doing everything they can to prevent this fish from overpopulating our reefs. Since this species have been around here only since 2009, our local predators donít recognize it yet as prey which allows the Lion Fish to nourish unhindered on the juvenile indigenous fish which is bad news for our local fish life. 


    What to Wear In St Maarten Waters

    Wearing the right "clothing" while in the water will prevent sunburn and keep you from getting cold and losing the energy needed to return to the boat. Wearing something also prevents stings from jellies (which are far and few between, but we do get some).

    What to wear when snorkeling
    While warmth is not a great issue, we advise you to wear Sun Protection clothing like a rash guard. This will also protect you from any little stinging jellies in the water. If you do get cold in the winter months you could wear a neoprene rash guard or a shorty wetsuit.

    What to wear when diving
    Although the water is relatively warm, it is advisable to wear at least a 3mm shorty wetsuit. For our visitors, the ideal comfort would be provided by a thin neoprene full suit which also gives full body protection against stings. If you tend to get cooler than the rest, especially during the winter months on a double tank dive, a 3mm full suit will keep you nice and snug. You will find our divemasters and instructors, once acclimatized, most often wear a 5mm full suit during the winter months, some of them even layering this with a hooded vest Ė but then they are often times diving 3 or more times a day.

    Emergency Numbers and Information

    Divers Alert Network
    Divers Alert Network
    • Diving Emergencies (Remember: Call local EMS first, then DAN!)
      1-919-684-4326 (collect)
      1-800-446-2671 (toll-free)
      +1-919-684-9111 (Latin America Hotline)
    • Travel Assistance for Non-Diving Emergencies
      1-800-DAN-EVAC (1-800-326-3822)
      If outside the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, British or U.S. Virgin Islands, call +1-919-684-3483 (collect).


    Hyperbaric Chambers Information
    Saba Hyperbaric Facility
    Medical Director
    Tel: +1 599 416 3647 / 417 3604
    Dr. Jack Buchanan or David Merritt
    Tel: +1 599 416 3288
    Guadaloupe Hyperbaric Facility
    University Hospital, Dr. Perrier or Ducher
    Tel: +590 590 91 39 39
    Emergency Ambulance Service
    Tel: +590 590 89 11 00
    Arrange for transportation to chamber in an un-pressurised aircraft flying no higher than 900 feet or an aircraft pressurised to sea level. If the victim's buddy has dived the same profile, he / she should accompany the victim to the chamber.


    Regional Medical Centers
    Facility Name Phone Facility Size Language
    St. Maarten Hospital +1 721 543 1111 Medium English
    St. Martin Hospital +590 590 29 57 57 Minimum French (a little English)
    St. Barths Hospital +590 590 27 60 35 Minimum French (a little English)
    Saba Hospital +1 599 416 3288/9 Minimum English


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