Scuba Diving + Snorkeling

In addition to discovering exceptional beaches along the DR’s thousand-mile long coastline, you’ll soon realize that the DR’s underwater world—a handful of which is protected as a national park—is equally fascinating, revealing features such as coral reefs, caves, remains of galleons, shipwrecks, and a world of multicolored marine life. Explore 40-meter (131-foot) wall dives off the islands of Catalina and Saona, spot turtles and eagle rays off the remote Playa Frontón in Las Galeras, or snorkel amid colorful fish at Cayo Arena. Whether south, east, or north, PADI-certified dive and snorkel shops know the best underwater adventures.

While you can dip in our waters year round, the best time to dive is between June and September, when the waters are calm and offer good visibility—optimal conditions for immersion. Year-round sea temperatures range between 24°C to 29°C (75°F and 84°F), allowing diving even in the middle of the North American “winter,” when temperatures hover around 25°C (77°F).

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SCUBA DIVING + SNORKELING IN DR 

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Creole Reef

Reached from Las Terrenas’ shores, Creole Reef is a kilometer-long (0.6 miles) coralline chain covered with a variety of gorgonian sea fans, and frequently visited by large Atlantic stingrays.

Las Terrenas, Samaná

Diving in Boca Chica

Forty minutes east of Santo Domingo, Boca Chica’s large bay is home to the majority of marine life thriving on the island of Hispaniola: corals, sponges, octopuses, reef fish, crustaceans, starfish, seahorses, and sole fish.

Boca Chica, Santo Domingo

Diving in La Romana

La Romana, Bayahibe, Dominicus La Romana-Bayahibe are considered the best choice for snorkeling and diving in the Dominican Republic because of water clarity and availability of dive sites. The La Romana, Bayahibe and Dominicus resort areas have some of the best diving in the Caribbean located off Catalina Island National Park and the National Park of the East. Expect pristine coral reefs, walls, wrecks and great areas for snorkeling, too. The coral reefs off Bayahibe and Dominicus beaches, and the island of Catalina and Catalinita sand bar, as well as the coastline bordering the National Park of the East are exceptional and have easy access. International diving certification programs are open to anyone over the age of 12. Also offered are dives to areas known as a natural habitat for sharks, rays and dolphins. Divers can also visit sunken cargo ships and galleons populated by flocks of colorful tropical fish. Among these are the freighter St. George and the replica of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. A 240-foot (73 meter) steel freighter, the St. George stands upright in the sand providing a new home for marine life at approximately 120 feet (37 meters). This ship was sunk in 1999 as a dive attraction close to the resorts in Dominicus and has accumulated marine life growth and a resident fish population. Catalina Island is a 20-minute boat ride from La Romana city. There, a wall drops from 20 to 120 feet (6 to 37 meters) with the vertical descent adorned with colorful sponges and soft corals. Right off the island, the Captain Kidd Living Museum of the Sea is where remains of the pirate’s newly found ship can be observed, including 500-year old cannons. Take the Saona Island excursion to see well-preserved coral formations, sponges, sea-fans and active fish life in the National Park of the East. There is exciting cave diving in the Padre Nuestro area between Bayahibe and Dominicus near the ecological trail route, with its many lagoons, translucent water and underwater stalagmites and stalactites.

La Romana, Scuba Diving + Snorkeling, Water Sports

Diving in Montecristi

On the northwestern side of the country, Montecristi is for experienced divers. There are dozens of real shipwrecks from the time of the Spanish armada sunk due to weather and in battle with English and Dutch pirates. Snorkeling is wonderful at the Cayo Siete Hermanos islands. The infamous pirate Francis Drake used Montecristi as a base for supplying his ships and hiding from the Spanish fleet in the 16th century. He and other pirates attacked countless Spanish ships, looting the treasure and sinking the vessels off the coast of Montecristi. Many of the estimated 150 shipwrecks have been discovered and a number of them are close to shore and at depths shallow enough for the adventure diver.

Montecristi, Scuba Diving + Snorkeling, Water Sports

Diving in Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata, Sosua, Cabarete, Rio San Juan The north coast faces the Atlantic Ocean and is literally a highway for dolphins, kingfish, wahoo, mantas and the humpback whales. In the Puerto Plata region, there is scuba diving and snorkeling in Puerto Plata, Sosua, Cabarete, Rio San Juan and Laguna Grí Grí. To the west, scuba diving and snorkeling are exceptional in the shallow waters of Montecristi rich with 16th century shipwrecks and preserved coral life. The coastline ranges from flat sand beaches to mountainous cliffs that plunge vertically into the ocean. From January to March, inspirational whale encounters in the Silver Banks area are possible for the never-to-be forgotten experience of listening to whale song as the humpback whales mate off the North Coast from January to March. The best months for diving in the north, nevertheless, are June to September when the water is at its calmest and visibility is at its best. Be sure to bring your snorkeling gear when visiting Puerto Plata to enjoy the tropical fish and plant life at the Sosúa Underwater Marine Park. To the west, experience of reef snorkeling at Cayo Arena (Paraiso) sandbar is hard to beat. The boat trip from Punta Rucia takes about half an hour. Punta Rucia is a two-and-a-half hour drive from Puerto Plata. Dive operators will also offer tours for both snorkelers and divers. Part of the fun will be the boat trips, often through mangrove forests and lagoons as tourists make their way to secluded beaches with crystal-clear and turquoise-blue water and coral reefs to see sea creatures of all colors, shapes and sizes as they co-exist in harmony. Inland, dive operators in the Dominican Republic take advanced divers to visit the freshwater caverns, located at shallow depths, 25 to 60 feet (7.6 to 18.2 meters) with stellar underwater visibility of 200 feet (61 meters) or more. The Dominican Republic sits above a limestone base honeycombed with a system of freshwater caves, tunnels, caverns and grottos, many of which have been opened up for dive tours.

Puerto Plata, Scuba Diving + Snorkeling, Water Sports

Diving in Punta Cana

This is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. The shoreline is lined with soft white sand beaches and the corals offshore form an underwater barrier reef configuration running parallel to the coast. A well-tended coral garden, offshore wrecks and cave diving are the highlights. The Puntacana Resort and their Ecological Foundation maintain an underwater coral garden off their beach that can be visited. Ask about ongoing work on the most outstanding wreck in the area, the Punta Cana Pewter Wreck, a Spanish ship lost in the 1540s nearing the end of its outward voyage from Seville to the colonies in the New World. Salvage crews have recovered around 1,200 pieces of pewter tableware. Up the coast to the north, the modern Astron and Monica shipwrecks are now covered in marine plant life and tropical fish and are a swimmable distance from the coastline. The underwater cave, Cueva Taina Macao, a short drive from the Bávaro resort area is easily accessible. With a depth of no more than 26 feet (8 meters) this cave is around 54 yards (50 meters) long with an impressive variety of stalagmites and stalactites in crystal clear waters.

Punta Cana, Scuba Diving + Snorkeling, Water Sports

Dolphin Wreck

Originally used for marine research, the Dolphin was sunk in 2000 off the coast of Las Terrenas, in Portillo, to create an artificial reef. Advanced divers can explore its remains lying at a whopping 28 meters of depth (92 feet).

Las Terrenas, Samaná

El Frontón

Those who explore El Frontón, at just 17 meters (56 feet) deep, will also benefit from a visit to the gorgeous, unspoiled beach of Frontón. The reef facing it protects the beach–bring fins to spare your feet from sea urchins, and view the area’s abundant marine life and corals.

Las Galeras, Samaná

Las Ballenas

Off the coast of Las Terrenas, beginner divers and snorkelers will spot large schools of sergeant majors, surgeonfish, and colorful corals thriving amid the rocks at Las Ballenas.

Las Terrenas, Samaná

Las Cuevitas

Known for its abundant coral reef formations, and rocks with swim-through openings at beginner-level depths, Las Cuevitas is one of the most popular dive sites from Las Terrenas.

Las Terrenas, Samaná

Piedra Bonita

Piedra Bonita is one of the most spectacular and unusual diving spots in the entire northeast region, available to advanced divers. Also known as La Torre, the dive begins at 60 meters (197 feet), after an initial free fall of 30 meters (98 feet).

Las Galeras, Samaná

Piedra Marcel

Located off the shores of Las Terrenas, a series of rocky mounds stretched along a sand floor are home to a great variety of corals and marine life at depths ranging between 12-18 meters (39-59 feet).

Las Terrenas, Samaná

Portillo

Perfect for snorkeling enthusiasts and beginner divers for its shallow yet abundant two-meters of depth (seven feet), this dive site off Portillo boasts a huge coral reef, and a wide variety of fish–including angelfish, trumpet fish, and groupers.

Samaná, Scuba Diving + Snorkeling

Punta Rucia

A paradise for snorkeling fans, this area boasts some of the most abundant marine life in DR, with corals and sponges that surround the cay, including schools of surgeonfish, sergeant majors, damselfish, angelfish, and yellowtail snappers swimming around your feet.

Montecristi, Puerto Plata

Sunken Ship

After a terrible fire over 30 years ago, this 80-meter (262-foot) long cargo ship sank about two kilometers (1.2 miles) off the coast of Las Galeras. Also known as Barco Hundido, it’s ideal for beginners, thriving with barracuda, pufferfish, stingrays, and schooling fish.

Las Galeras, Samaná

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