(PUJ) Punta Cana International Airport in the east, the busiest in the country
(AZS) Samana, also known as “El Catey”, located between the towns of Nagua and Samana on the north coast
(JBQ) “La Isabela” airport in Santo Domingo, mainly for domestic flights but also receives some flights from other Caribbean islands
(LRM) La Romana on the south east coast
(POP) Puerto Plata, also known as “Gregorio Luperon” on the north coast
(SDQ) Santo Domingo, also known as “Las Americas” on the south coast close to the capital city Santo Domingo
(STI) Santiago also known as “Cibao International” in Santiago de los Caballeros (the country’s 2nd largest city)
Currency: The Dominican currency is the Dominican Peso (DOP). As of April 2011, the exchange rate was 37.85 DOP/$1 USD. US dollars are accepted in most areas.
Climate: Tropical maritime with little seasonal temperature variation. There is a seasonal variation in rainfall. The island lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and is subject to severe storms from June to October. It experiences occasional flooding and periodic droughts.
Water Temperature: sea water temperatures peak in the range 28 to 29°C (82 to 84°F) on around the 31st of August and are at their coldest on about the 1st of March, in the range 25 to 26°C (77 to 79°F).
Language: The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. You will find some Spanish-English bilingual locals especially in Santo Domingo and tourist areas. If you speak some Spanish, most Dominicans will try hard to meet you half way and communicate. If you have a problem, you can probably find someone who speaks sufficient English (or probably French and possible German, Italian or Russian) to help you out. Dominicans are quite friendly and will be quite helpful if you are polite and respectful.
Bayahibe offers diving opportunities with a variety ranging from easy, for beginners, to more advanced sites, including caves.
Here you can find sea grass beds, mangrove forests, nice and conserved coral reefs, lobsters, eagle rays, manatees, turtles and even whales, sharks and dolphins.
It’s possible to dive all year and Bayahibe is known for its calm waters since it is a protected large half-bay.
A big advantage of Bayahibe is that most spots are reachable within 15 to 25 minutes by speed boat, the water is nicely warm and the visibility is usually 30-80 ft.
Some of the best dive sites of the Dominican Republic are located here in the southeast. The corals are healthy with predominantly hard corals, gorgonians, sponges and tropical reef fishes populating the reefs. Small critters abound, especially arrowhead crabs, green anemones, pedersen shrimps, fire worms, sea cucumbers, hermitage crabs, etc. Ideal for beginners as the depth varies from 10-25 meters.
More advanced divers can enjoy the adventure of diving to the wreck of the “Saint George”an 80 meter long steel freighter sunk a while ago whose depth ranges from 17 to 40 meters.
The wall off Catalina Island or the dive sites around the smaller island Catalinita, where hammerheads, big rays and black tip sharks can be seen are also interesting for the advanced diver
Boca Chica diving has fascinating dive spots to offer to all levels of divers as it’s dive sites range from shallow dives to wreck and cave diving. It has a 500-meter long reef, which closes off the bay to form what is otherwise known as the world’s largest pool. The bay is sheltered from the waves by the Islands “La Matica”and “Los Pinos”
There are many dive spots to choose from as it takes a few minutes to access many sites in the neighboring Juan Dolio and la Caleta national park. Some of the interesting sites to visit from Boca Chica are:
The Wessel Reef has a max depth of 18m. It is parallel to the west coast and has sand channels that run from east to west. It is suitable for beginners. At approximately 30 meters wide it starts at 13 meters and falls to a depth of 18 meters ending in sand.
The coral formations are spectacular and different colonies of pillar, elk corals, soft and horn corals can be seen. During this dive it isn’t rare to see stingrays, different kinds of moray eels and trumpet fish. Strangely, it’s been observed that many of the reef´s formations have the shape of sunken ships.
Angels Ravine which is at a depth of 17 meters follows the coral reef, which runs parallel to the beach. This site drops to a depth of around 30m to the north the and reaches a sandy depth of 35 meters while to the south it drops off with an inclination to 40 meters. The reef is covered in wrinkled boulder star corals. Lobsters and moray eels have been sighted here. Black durgeons, schools of mackerels and yellow head wrasses are not a rare sight.
Wreck dives are available in La Caleta National Underwater Park, not far from Boca Chica. There are four wrecks in the La Caleta national park.
”Hickory” Is a treasure hunter ship lying at a depth of 18m and which was countersunk by the international diving sports organization in 1980 (depth: 18m).
“Limon” is an old tow boat at a depth of 20m and not far from the “Limon” are shapely hard corals and picturesque flower corals and sponges.
“Captain Alsina” an ancient wreck at 40m is difficult to find because it’s completely covered with corals. It is the deepest of all of Boca Chica´s wrecks and is worth the dive.
“The Ocean Spring” is a small tugboat wreck found on the sandy bottom, southeast of the Boca Chica Bay. The hull´s interior is empty, but some of the boat´s instruments can still be seen. The inside and the outside of the hull shelters a lot of yellow goatfishes and the wreck is covered in small hard corals. This wreck is an excellent opportunity for photographers
Cabarete diving has a wide variety of dives from wall diving to wreck diving for the experienced diver.
The bay’s broad, peninsula shaped reef begins 15 feet from the surface, dropping down to a depth of 60 feet on one side and 45 feet on the other with a narrow slit that cuts through it, forming a small canyon. Outside the bay, a second system featuring a broad network of patch reefs known as “Tropical Garden” follows the bottom’s easy sloping contours from a maximum depth of 100 feet, stretching back up to 30 feet, ending on a site named Three Rocks.
Three Rocks is a shallow reef going to maximum 9m which makes it suitable for all types of divers. Here plenty of sergeant majors and snappers, parrot fish and trumpet fish can be seen. A few scorpion fish have also been spotted.
Most dive shops in Cabarete take divers to nearby Sosua area which has clear turquoise waters, just 15 minutes from Cabarete.
For advanced divers there are many opportunities to discover walls, coral reefs and even underwater caves in the area.
For divers looking for wreck diving there’s the Miguelina Wreck at max. 24m that sunk due to a heavy storm and which has become a popular attraction. Near it is the 250 year old anchor covered with algae and corals.
Juan Dolio diving has a lot of dive sites to offer and small life forms are abundant which make great macro opportunities for are underwater photographers. The house reef has interesting U/W formations consisting of deep channels and ravines, a large diversity of soft and hard corals and the smaller but very colorful typical reef fish.
In the nearby sites which range from a depth of 10m to aproximately 25m divers can see lobsters, crabs and colourful schools of fish. Stingrays are often sighted. These sites are suitable for beginners.
For more advanced divers there interesting wreck dives.
The wreck “Alto Velto” a small wreck of a former tug boat is between Juan Dolio and Boca Chica and is covered with corals and sponges. Around and in the whole structure there is an amazing quantity of fish and the Green moray eel is often encountered.
Another wreck The Tanya V wreck was sunk on October 21st 1999, creating a new dive site. Approximately 195feet/65m. in length, the Tanya V now rests quietly on a sand bank at depth of 22-34m, making it a good deep dive for experienced, advanced divers. Although it’s going to take time and patience for marine life to flourish, already Tanya V has acquired her very own barracuda guard!
The “Limon” is certainly one of the best preserved wrecks in the underwater national park of “La Caleta” as it is still very intact. Once the former tug boat was a powerful ship and today it rests at a depth of 22m/80ft slightly bent to it is starboard side on a sand area. 3 powerful propellers with the middle one as the biggest can still be seen.
A special treat for wreck diving lovers is the “Hickory” that lies leaning to it’s starboard side at a depth of approx. 18m/60ft surrounded by a nicely composed coral reef. The hull, especially at bow and stern, are encrusted with lots of different brain corals and sponges.
It’s a good hiding place for lots of fish like glassfish and many invertebrates find refuge inside the wreck.
La Romana diving comprises of typical local reef dives and some interesting wrecks lying at depths from 40-150 feet. If you’re an experienced divers or just want to learn diving La Romana is an excellent destination.
A popular excursion from this region is to take a shuttle boat to Catalina Island. Catalina Island is best appreciated by experienced divers. The site is 20 minutes by boat from the dock in La Romana. This is probably one of the few places to see very large fish, such as the grouper. Catalina’s shallower dive of about 25-30 feet off the island is simply beautiful. An abundance of purple sea fans, orange, brown and grey gardens, and a variety of multi-coloured, fluorescent fish surround divers as they wander about. There is excellent visibility of 90-100 feet and good light refraction.
Near to La Romana is Bayahibe where large schools of fish are used to be seen.
The coastline of the National Park of the East, namely the western stretch, has some diverse coral formations, A popular area for diving in the park is Saona Island, which can only be reached by boat from La Romana. The island is a protected sanctuary and there is abundant wildlife and marine life, such as turtles, whales, sharks and a good chance of seeing big fish.
Divers can also enjoy visiting the sunken St. Georges barge. The ship has created a natural protected habitat for coral reef species that are in danger of extinction. The ship has several small protected cells in which species are reproduced, safe from human and sea predators.
Las Terrenas is well known for having a large variety of crustaceans, lots of different coral and a great amount of fish. The landscape is totally different on each place and goes from canyons to nices caverns.
Many dive excursions are organised to the neighbouring half Island of Samana which has very abundant fish life.
From Las Terrenas daily trips can take you to the nearby coral reefs and “Whale Rocks”- Las Ballenas. The maximum depth is 17m. It’s great for beginners and here you can find a huge variety of flora and fauna, overhangs, grottos, caverns, canyons, etc. This area is known for its shoals of Bermuda chub, and its huge lobsters, morays, and king crabs.
The outer reefs are suitable for the more advanced divers. These start at 22m and you are likely to see huge hard and soft corals and barrel sponges, morays, crabs, barracuda, lobsters, large puffer fish, and great shoals of reef fish, and also a small wreck teaming with fish life.
Carbo Cabron close to the end of the Samana peninsula is a great divespot known for it’s walls. Special highlighs are the “Ojo Blanco” and “The Cathedral” at Punta Tibisi. “The Tower”, a rock, formed like a needle, coming from 70m close to the surface is a must. Here you might also sight Hammerhead sharks.
Another highlight is the fresh water lake “Cueva Dudu” (a Cenote). Two crystal clear fresh water lakes are connected by two tunnels with an average depth of 10 m (30 feet). Due to the speleotherms and many trees in the main lake you get unique views at a comfortable temparature of 24 degree celsius.
Not to miss if planning to travel here from December to April it is humpback whale season. They pass by in large numbers to their local breeding ground, where 80% of the worlds humpbacks breed. The whales sing as they make their way along the coast which you can hear as you are dive, which ofcourse is an unforgettable life experience.
Puerto Plata diving allows divers of all levels to enjoy shallow reefs, fresh water cave diving, and deep water diving. Most dive sites are located in areas with little or no current conditions which makes the diving easy.
There is a great variety of dives among which are the “5 Rocks”, where you will encounter 5 huge underwater rocks with splendid coral formations. The good visibility in this area allows you to see a lot of marine life, including lobsters and crab and well-preserved coral.
For those who have not yet been initiated to wall dives there is the Mini Wall At 20 ft. the drop-off is a soft descent to 65 ft. with good visibility all the way.
The Arenaso Reef is great for beginners and certified divers, with its flat reef of sand and coral where there are many caverns and swim troughs. This dive is great for photography.
The Luperon Bay takes you to beautiful elephant ear coarls, sponges and large sea fans. Marine life includes small tropical fish, barracudas, large groupers and snappers while as the Luperon Wall which is a 75 to 130 foot wall dive is for advanced divers.The Luperon Caves, one very popular dive site, with large caves, easy for all levels of certification is 30 feet deep.
Airport Wall is frequented by experienced divers and for that reason, the delicate sponges and fragile fan corals remain unspoiled. With good visibility at a depth of 70 ft, this site features the “little cave” where you can expect to see little cave dwellers such as lobster and eel, who also find refuge in the carpet of coral.
The Caves, two of them to be exact, are recommended for experienced divers yet still give way for very easy maneuverability. Characterized by their grand entrance, they extend approximately 50 ft. in length at a depth of 80ft.
Last but not least for cave diving enthousiasts there is the sunken cargo boat “La Zingara”. The Zingara is a 45-meter long cargo ship.
Punta Cana diving counts numerous dive sites. These range from beautiful dive sites grown with corals, sponges, canyon style incisions and hundreds of tropical fish to wrecks.
Punta Cana diving is great for learning and beginners since the waters are shallow, the deepest dives are no more than about 18 meters.
Located on the exposed eastern tip of the island Punta Cana is swept by Atlantic currents and the occasionally rough seas of the Mona Passage. It’s best to avoid diving here in winter(Dec, Jan and Feb) as the blowing winter winds may make the sea too rough to dive at all or the visibility on the reef may be very decreased.
A lot of the dive sites in Punta Cana consist of coral blocks which can easily be surrounded. You could meet nurse sharks, sting rays or eagle rays here. Some dive sites are also made of stone and coral formations with pretty caves and swim-throughs. La Cueva for example is a reef with many caverns and caves to dive and Batato are impressive rock formations with many small passages
Dive excursions to Catalina and Saona Islands are good for both beginners and advanced divers.The Saona Island, a protected sanctuary has lots of wildlife and marine life, like turtles, whales, sharks and big fish. Divers can also see the sunken St. Georges ship.
Catalina Island is appreciated by experienced divers. The “wall” is probably one of the few places to see very large fish, such as grouper. Catalina’s shallower dive of about 25-30 feet off the island is also very beautiful and has lots of purple sea fans, orange, brown and grey gardens, as well as a variety of multi-coloured, fluorescent fish.
The following wrecks are also to be seen:
Astron Wreck where fauna and wreck are fantastic. Here divers see both the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean fauna. It’s gigantic propeller is now home to rays and barracudas. The particularity of this wreck is that it is close to the beach and can even be seen from the surface.
Another wreck “Monica” is considered One of the most beautiful wrecks in the Dominican Republic and surely worth the dive.
Samana diving is considered as the best diving of the north coast of the Dominican Republic as the rocky coastline with high cliffs leads to an extraordinary underwater world of drop offs and pinnacles rising from 165 feet to 15 feet of the surface.
The dive sites are suitable for divers from beginner to advanced level and there are plentiful corals, sponges, canyon style incisions and hundreds of tropical fish.
The sea floor varies broadly from shallow, reef sites featuring lots of deep undercuts, to systems honeycombed with large caves, tunnels and swim-throughs such as those surrounding the small rock islands of Las Ballenas (The Whales). Beneath the moderate depths of 30 and 50 feet, their vast collection of cave and tunnel formations, are numerous.
The Cave Dadu is a must for cave lovers. To access the cave there’s a jungle which goes into a tunnel ending up in a lake. It’s a beautiful cave with a lot of stalagtites. The entrance has big stalagmites that gives it the aspect of a big mouth.
Samana is reputed for it’s whale watching during the whale season from December to March. They can be seen in the protected reef of Banco de la Plata (Silver bank) just outside Samana. During these months approx. 2000 to 3000 humpback whales migrate from the cold North into the warm sea in order to mate or to breed. This is without any doubt a breathtaking spectacle watching these giants of the sea measuring up to 16m and weighing around 40 tons jumping and diving in the water. Humpback whales are said to be the most entertaining whales of all, especially during mating season.
Sosua diving offers ideal conditions as the bay is relatively calm all year round, with very little current or surge, making this a perfect place to discover the underwater world for beginners. For the more experienced of you Sosua offer deep, wall and wreck dives.
There are plenty of hard and soft corals, sponges and fish, with the average water temperature between 26°C and 29°C. Occasional visitors to Sosua shores include Manta Rays, Whales, Nurse Sharks and Whale Sharks.
For beginners there are a lot of interesting sites like, the Three rocks and the Five Rocks. Both sites don’t go any deeper than 19m and have a lot of fishes and nice corals.
Pyramid is a dive spot for beginners who like to dive in caves as it’s at a depth of 5-18m while as Palmera is a nice coral covered wall with overhangs and small tunnels.
More advanced divers can enjoy the Zingara Wreck at a depth of 28-36m. In the year 1994 a small cargo ship with loading crane and tonnage was sank for divers. Doors and windows were taken away to give a safe dive. In this new habitat some fishes have settle down.
Some operators offer excursions to Las Galeras at the East coast or to Bayahibe, isla Catalina, Isla Saona at the South coast in the Caribbean ocean.