St. Kitts & Nevis, Statia, Saba & St. Maarten Island group
The North Eastern Caribbean is an intriguing area offering a blend of Dutch, British, French and native cultures on some of the most scenic islands of the Caribbean.
Sitting north-east of Monserrat, Guadeloupe and Dominica, these colourful and multi-cultural islands offer a lovely mix of above and below water beauty. The diving is diverse, with a wealth of coral colours on shallow pinnacles, walls, sandy gullies and deeper marine sea mounts. On land, picturesque coves with brightly coloured fishing boats, laid back villages and lush rainforests offer the chance to experience a little Caribbean life.
St. Kitts & Nevis, Statia, Saba & St. Maarten
The diving is diverse, with a wealth of coral colours on shallow pinnacles, walls to drift by, sandy gullies with wonderful light and deeper marine sea mounts at 20 - 30 metres. Sponges and sea fans crowd together in a low lying water forest for macro species and schooling fish to hide.
The marine life provides divers with multiple sightings of moray eels, hawksbill turtles, jacks, barracuda and stingrays and divers will also find frogfish, seahorses and nudibranchs buried in the reefs.
Usual water conditions are calm and warm with great underwater visibility. Across the islands, the dive sites offer fantastic hard and soft corals, reef plateaux, pinnacles and walls.
Owing to the structure of many of the reefs, the calm, warm water conditions and proximity to landfall, this destination also offers a fantastic holiday for snorkelers and non-diving partners.
The majority of the Caribbean Explorer II’s itinerary is spent in the area of Saba and St. Kitts.
Saba Marine Park and sea mounts
In 1987, the culmination of 3 years’ work between Tom van t’Hof (who played a key part in the set up of Bonaire’s marine Park in 1981), the Saban government, Saban locals, dive shops and fishermen resulted in the early establishment of Saba’s Marine Park. This has resulted in the conservation of its reefs to a very high degree and the benefits to fish stocks are clearly visible. It is also home to a hyperbaric chamber.
Saba offers 30 quiet dive sites, all within the confines of the park. Just off the west of Saba lies a smaller volcanic sea mount that offers 4 dive sites, with dramatic drop offs, walls and gullies.
St. Kitts & Nevis’ little wrecks
The wreck of the M.V. Corintian (The Tug) lies at an easy 18 - 20 metres, with a lovely reef encrusted around the bow, growing towards the surface.
M.V. Talata has a small volcanic vent to keep you even warmer around the wreck, close to the capital’s harbour of Basseterre, lying at less than 18 metres.
These shallow dives provide plenty of interest at the beginning or end of your liveaboard diving week.
Dive St. Kitts
Based on site and owned by Bird Rock Beach hotel, the friendly, hospitable dive staff will ensure you enjoy the wonderful reefs and the odd wreck too.
The diving is carried out from fast, fibreglass dive specific boats, offering quick and short access to a variety of sites including three wrecks. Most dives are carried out as single tank dives, as the dive centre is so close by with boats leaving directly from their jetty. Freshwater showers and storage lockers are available at the centre.
A simple shore dive site, Bird Rock reef, can be accessed from the shore. All dive sites accessed from Bird Rock Beach are relaxed with very little current; even the odd dive carried out on the Atlantic side tends to not be that challenging.
Dive Pack Prices
Options available include 3, 4, 5 and 6 days dive packages (2 boat dives per day). Please discuss your requirements with the Regaldive team, who will prepare a quotation suited to your needs.
A range of diving courses is available for those looking to learn to dive. Please enquire for details.
Taxis, car hire and local excursions can easily be arranged through the hotel, your local agent representative or the liveaboard boat crew.
Average 27ºC (air) year round.
Light, informal clothing may be worn all year, thought a light layer may be required for evenings in the winter months. You may want a relaxed outfit if dining in plantation restaurants. Guests should not wear skimpy clothing whilst visiting towns and villages.
Slightly cooler during the Winter months at 24ºC, rising to 29ºC during the Summer.
Currents and Visibility
In general with the exception of a few dive sites, currents are gentle. Water visibility is usually very good year round at 20+ metres
GMT -4 hours
£1 - $1 = 1.52
Eastern Caribbean Dollar in St. Kitts also accepted. 2.7 XCD = 1 USD
Saba - ATMs are located in Windwardside and The Bottom
St. Kitts & Nevis – ATMs are located in Basseterre
Credit cards are widely accepted.
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Tip around 10% of the boat cost is recommended.
Other activities include museums, horse riding, Mount Scenery walk, island crafts, beaches, small villages to wander around, bird life.
Flights are with British Airways and depart on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Gatwick. The flight has a touchdown in Antigua.
Flights are with British Airways and depart on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Gatwick to St. Kitts. The flight has a touchdown in Antigua.
For guests on the Caribbean Explorer liveaboard, a flight from St.Maarten to St. Kitts on LIAT Air or similar will be arranged on day of disembarking as part of your package.
Flight Duration: 9½ to 10 hours
Departure tax: $20 - $30. Please refer airline notes on confirmation.
Passports & Visas
Please always check your own entry requirements regardless of your nationality. Your passport should always have at least 6 months validity on date of return travel.
British Nationals are currently granted one month tourist visa on entry.
Always check for last minute changes in entry requirements on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
Nationalities other than British citizens should check with their own consular office.
Vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure. For the most up to date advice please consult your travel clinic or GP. Further information regarding vaccinations for travel to this country can be found at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk and from your local healthcare provider.
There are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to St. Kitts & Nevis, but we always recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and polio.
Caribbean Explorer II
We Saw Turtles on Virtually Every Dive!
"I had a lovely holiday. This trip stands out for several reasons: there were no other boats/divers on any of the sites, the coral is exquisite and the macro and other wildlife is abundant. We saw turtles on virtually every dive, reef and nurse sharks and too many other groovy things to mention. Ooh yes, and the water is a steady 29 degrees. Only a shorty or Lycra skin needed. There was little or no current, apart from on one of my dives.
I am happy to report that I had no problems at all while I was away. I did not do the night dives, but it might be worth mentioning that they insist everyone has a tank light as well as a flashlight per diver.
• Accommodation - on the boat I was fortunate that the female stand-in crew member I was meant to share with decided to sleep in a crew bed instead. I was really relieved about this as the cabin would have been very claustrophobic with two of us in it. The top bunk is accessed by standing on the bed below. I could not have got up to it easily and the ceiling was extremely low. However, not all cabins have this arrangement. Generally, the boat is much older than those on which I have previously done a liveaboard dive holiday (Egypt, Maldives, GBR). It all worked - the air con was fierce! But not the same spec generally as the Blue O2 fleet, for example.
• Food and other services - the food was outstanding. There was always plenty and freshly cooked. ALL drinks are included, even alcohol! The tip for the crew at the end of the trip was a bit awkward. The US culture is so different - in the end I parted with 15% of the boat price. And the purser wanted even more! But generally, the crew were always on hand and extremely attentive. The captain shared his dry British humour every briefing, which went down especially well with the mainly American guests!
• Dive sites/itinerary - the dive sites are really well identified and the crew incredibly knowledgeable. There was someone in the water with us on every dive, which I really appreciated as a lone traveller. There were no other divers or boats on any of the sites all week. That has to be a bonus! I don't know about flights to St. Maarten from the UK, but guess they would go from Amsterdam. I think I happened to do the itinerary in the best order, although the very early morning flight from St. Maarten to St. Kitts is a bit of a drag - a long wait for the BA flight and I missed the last dive the day before, although I could have risked it as the altitude of the flight is low.
• Dive Centre Staff/Liveaboard Staff and Crew - the crew was a great team and they were all very helpful. There are five dives available every day except for the last day, when there are two. This is great value - each site was very different and it was good to have the fourth dive at the same site as the night dive. The main reason I did not do the night dives was because I wanted to enjoy my dinner without risking indigestion. The night dives all occurred after dinner. The first dives also took place after breakfast. The surface intervals are therefore a lot shorter than I am used to, so I ended up switching to Nitrox after two days because my deco was building up.
• Transfers and ground arrangements were all very straightforward. I also did both land tours on St. Kitts ($33 paid to the driver) then on Saba ($20 paid on the boat), which were very interesting. You do miss a dive, usually - although as almost all of us did the Saba tour there was no dive. On the final day, Percy took me over to the Marriott from the airport and picked me up again - he charged £40 for these two trips. I enquired about the cost of a day room, but baulked at $150. So I went to the on-site Spa instead! Use of the whole facility is included - sauna, plunge pools, steam, shower and hairdryer, etc. - if you have a treatment. And there was hardly a soul there. Bliss! Gave me a chance to sort out my wrecked hair!
If I were to do the trip again, I would certainly spend some time at either end ashore and explore more of the islands. The flights on BA via Antigua were great - timing it just right for arrival especially.
There is no longer any departure tax to be paid on leaving St. Kitts. You may also be interested to know that the boat sails every week no matter how many guests there are on board. I was told that one Christmas week, there were only two guests. Incredible!"
Caribbean Explorer II
I Had a Fantastic Time!
"The holiday was everything I expected and more! I had a fantastic time as normal - the team on board did everything they could to make it a great week. The transfers were perfect, like clockwork. There were no problems - everything was perfect.
Liveaboard is an old boat, but everything is in excellent working order and kept clean and tidy. I love it and I have been on it many times over the years. Food is fabulous - good quality and selection with a good range of wines and spirits.
The dive sites and itinerary were perfect - I had some great dives. The staff/crew are ALL fantastic. One of the highlights was making new friends and having a great week with a great group.
Great service from Regaldive and I will most certainly book again with you.
Bird Rock Beach Hotel
Bird Rock Beach Hotel, St Kitts
"I thought you might like some feedback on Bird Rock.
The hotel itself is not pretentious: it is a good base for diving and exploring the surrounding area, and only a (hot) half hour walk from the centre of Basseterre itself. The dinner menu changes daily, the food is excellent local cuisine and all freshly prepared from fresh ingredients (one night I had the lobster: a complete, large, reef lobster), and, although there are other restaurants a short taxi hop away, I would recommend anyone staying there to consider the half board as it was excellent value. The breakfast selection is good, and the Rockies Beach Bar does a mean Buffalo Wings.
If you are a beer drinker, the local brews are Carib and Stag; both brewed on the island and exported around the islands, Carib is sweeter and Stag is marginally stronger.
The Dive Centre is very laid back. Tony and Danny, the two resident instructors are calm, relaxed and have two young guys learning the ropes, Tucker and Alex. Captain Crabby is famous (or infamous?) for his 'attitude', but is very serious about the safety of the boat and the divers: a thoroughly competent and professional team. The hire equipment is predominantly ScubaPro, and in excellent condition, the boat is clean and fast! Obviously, being that side of the 'pond', things like metres, bar and litre tank sizes are tolerated with some amusement, anyone taking DIN fittings will need to take an adaptor (being a well trained Divemaster, I had that eventuality covered!).
The diving is nearly all within 10 minutes fast boat ride. The closest dive sites are almost within a stone's throw of Rockies Bar, a long series of reefs ranging from shallow to not quite as shallow with an intriguing coral covered anchor (the site is called Spanish Anchor, but I believe it is a 19th century Royal Naval issue). Not much further out, and you have the two local 'must dive' wrecks. MV Corinthian, a purpose sunk tug in about 22 metres, and the bashed about River Taw, which is a delight for photograpers, with big barracuda living on the deck of one half of the boat, macro life everywhere and the possibility of pretty wreck shots at all angles. "