Under SXM : Creating Sustainable Underwater Experiences

Lauren Kania
By Lauren Kania  - Junior Travel Editor 9 Min Read

As the first Caribbean artificial reef snorkelling attraction in Sint Maarten, we dive headfirst into Under SXM with Managing Director, Nick Cambden, to learn more about the immersive eco-experience that empowers communities to harness the value of the ocean.


As one of the most well-known yet smallest travel destinations in the Caribbean, Sint Maarten is a truly unique combination of modernity and lush tradition. Enveloped by verdant forests, sugary white beaches, and aquamarine lagoons dotted along the coast, the country has been named by Tripadvisor as one of the top 20 destinations worldwide, inviting every sort of traveller to experience the unforgettable magic of the island and its people. 

One of the most tantalising attractions to those venturing to the island is the underwater sealife that offers a kaleidoscope of flamboyantly colourful fish and fauna. With sea turtles that seem to lethargically sway with the current, eagle rays with wingspans close to three metres (m), and myriad reef fish that seemingly dance beneath swimmers’ toes, it’s hard to resist the siren call that lures even the most hardened landlubber to the water’s edge. 

Recently, a new and exciting underwater experience has made its debut on the island, boasting an extraordinary opportunity that is not only unique for adventure-seekers but promotes long-term sustainability for the local environment and community. 

Located in Little Bay, Sint Maarten, Under SXM is an immersive eco-experience that features over 300 stunning artificial reef sculptures placed along a designated trail, all showcasing a vibrant celebration of Sint Maarten’s past, present, and future. 

Cast exclusively from members of the local community, the underwater exhibition brings the story of Sint Maarten to life through a series of distinct galleries, each paying homage to the island’s rich history and culture. 

“Beyond celebrating the island’s heritage, these sculptures play a crucial role in creating a protected new habitat for marine species to thrive,” informs Nick Cambden, Managing Director of Under SXM. 

Crafted from environmentally friendly, pH-neutral materials and featuring an array of bespoke habitat spaces, the Under SXM sculptures seamlessly blend with, and enhance, the marine ecosystem. 

“The structures provide an inert substrate for corals, sponges, and biomass to settle and grow, whilst internal voids and shelves create sanctuaries for juvenile fish to thrive,” Cambden continues. 

Prepare for an unforgettably breathtaking new attraction where art, nature, history, and culture converge in perfect harmony.



Underwater attractions, such as sculptures, present a unique opportunity to highlight the beauty of the natural ocean resource while celebrating the country they are located in. 

These benefits include: 

  • Creating an artificial reef.
  • Integrating species-specific habitat spaces.
  • Developing a protective zone for marine species.
  • Removing tourists from the natural reef.
  • Opportunities to engage visitors and the community in conservation.


Under SXM is the first artificial reef snorkelling attraction constructed within the Caribbean. 

With the aim of inspiring visitors to embrace local history and culture whilst keeping in mind the importance of the surrounding marine environment, the sculpture park stands as a beacon of inspiration, fostering a harmonious relationship with nature and radiating hope for a sustainable and beautiful tomorrow. 

“A key objective for us is to create an engaging focal point for marine research and habitat restoration in Sint Maarten,” insights Cambden. 

Ultimately, the company works to provide visitors with an ephemeral encounter with the underwater realm in an exciting and engaging manner while leaving a positive legacy for the environment and community. 


Gently floating above the underwater exhibition, guests can admire the sculptures that serve to celebrate the island’s vibrant culture and history while providing a protected habitat for marine species to thrive. Ultimately, it allows for an extraordinary opportunity to witness the otherworldly life that exists just below the water’s surface. 

What makes this exhibition even more tantalising is that the sculptures are cast exclusively from hand-picked members of the local community, who serve as iconic, memorable characters readily recognised and embraced. 

“We have cast King Beau Beau, the island’s calypso singer; DJ Outcast, a local DJ and radio personality; Miguel, the local beach bar owner who spends every day on the boardwalk greeting guests and locals alike; and many more. All these people come together with the same love for their island – the true spirit of Sint Maarten,” enthuses Cambden. 

At an average of only only 5m deep, the underwater sculpture park is easily accessible to a variety of guests with no previous snorkelling experience required, just an excitement for a new aquatic adventure!


Underwater sculpture attractions present a series of educational opportunities for visitors and local communities. Developed in partnership with educational institutions and conservation charities, UnderSXM aims to use the installations as a platform for research and learning to improve the management of marine resources.  

These opportunities include: 

  • School outreach programmes
  • Online resource development
  • Community eco-art workshops


Dedicated to the enhancement of subaquatic ecosystems, Under SXM, developed by British company DeepBlueSee, provides an opportunity to engage visitors with the beauty and fragility of the underwater realm while supporting the local community. 

To leave a positive legacy for the environment and community, revenue generated by the attraction is reinvested into the local community with a focus on ocean education and conservation. 

“As a social enterprise, we reinvest a percentage of profits into local initiatives that serve to improve the social and environmental conditions in the locality,” Cambden expands. 

“Our objective is to raise awareness, funding, and engagement with the management of the marine resources by the local community in which they are based.” 

Under SXM has partnered with a local swim team with the objective of teaching 50 children how to swim each year, alongside partnering with a community arts initiative that supports seniors on the island in creating craft goods sold to tourists with sales revenue used to support local families. 

“We are constantly thinking of new and exciting ways to partner and collaborate with small businesses to raise awareness of the island and, in turn, encourage more tourists to see the island as a year-round destination.” 

The underwater attraction delivers undeniable environmental, media, and economic benefits, ultimately adding to the value of Sint Maarten. This unique experience highlights the beauty of the natural ocean resource whilst celebrating the rich heritage and culture of the small but mighty island. 

This is truly an experience that cannot be missed, so don your swimsuit, lather on some sunscreen (paraben-free, of course), and prepare for an adventure unlike any other as you dive into the turquoise waters and immerse yourself in a world of history, beauty, and intrigue.



Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine