Diving into Dominican Republic’s hidden scuba gems
Santo Domingo (Globe Newswire Press Release).- Beneath Dominican Republic’s picturesque azure waters lies a diver’s oasis filled with colorful coral reefs, mysterious underwater caves and shipwrecks, and some of the region’s most unique sea creatures. With comfortable water temperatures between 75-82°F and high underwater visibility, scuba divers, snorkelers and underwater photographers will fall in love with the country’s subaquatic playground.
“From divers-to-be to serious aficionados, Dominican Republic offers one-of-a-kind dive sites for every level of experience,” said Magaly Toribio, Marketing Advisor for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism. “Our country has it all with developed tourist areas boasting world-class hotels, including off-the-beaten-path options for the adventurous, independent travelers looking to experience unique diving.”
Dominican Republic’s north coast, stretching from Montecristi to the west to Samaná in the east, is a Caribbean mecca for adventure and water sports. The town of Sosúa in the province of Puerto Plata is a convenient northern hub for divers. Only a few minutes by boat from the coast of Sosúa, Three Rocks is a favorite dive site among novice divers.
These three coral rock pinnacles surrounded by white sand are home to the rare yellowtail snapper and the sergeant major fish. More experienced divers can go down to Jardines de Coral to a depth of 24 meters (79 feet) and observe groups of gorgonians, sea fans and sea whips.
Advanced divers may also choose to explore Larimar I and Larimar II near Sosúa. Starting at Larimar I, divers can visit this small wall covered with soft corals and then swim to the deeper Larimar II.
This wall is 16 meters (52 feet) under the water and reaches a maximum depth of about 32 meters (105 feet). It is home to an array of marine life including moray eels, trumpet fish, lionfish, crabs and octopuses. Another ideal spot for the more experienced divers, the Zingara is a 40-meter (131 ft) long cargo ship that was intentionally sunk in 1992. It is home to a healthy variety of corals, sponges and fish, including giant barracudas and 2-meter (7-ft) long green moray eels.
Frequented by regular visitors to the Sosúa area and suitable for all levels of certification, the Airport Wall is considered by many to be one of the best—and most beautiful—dive sites in the country. This is one of the richest dive sites in terms of coral life, thanks to the wall covered with soft and hard corals and sea whips. Marine life abounds, from large and small fish that find shelter in cracks and protrusions, to cleaner shrimps and crabs.
Heading east from Sosúa to Las Galeras in the Samaná province, Piedra Bonita offers one of the most spectacular dive sites in the region. Advanced divers can dive 60 meters (197 feet) down to “The Tower” while taking in a front-seat view of sea turtles, wrasse fish, porcupine fish and boxfish. Due to the strong currents, only advanced divers should venture down to Piedra Bonita.
On the west side of the north coast in Montecristi Bay, underwater nature lovers will find the perfect setting for a fascinating adventure in the beautiful Caribbean waters. Los Siete Hermanos Keys boast rich underwater landscapes, from submerged forests and sand bottoms to large rocky walls. The keys are located about 10 km northwest of the nearest coastal border, so you can easily reach them in a short 30-minute boat ride.
Visitors staying in or near the capital city of Santo Domingo are a short drive away from La Caleta Underwater National Park—a delight for beginners and experienced divers alike. With fascinating reef and wreck diving, La Caleta is known for attracting multicolor fish and for being home to an underwater museum of submerged mud and clay statues of different Taino Gods. In nearby Juan Dolio, the Tanya V shipwreck attracts advanced divers eager to catch a glimpse of gorgeous corals and sponges.
A short day trip from the capital in La Romana, the Atlantic Princess Shipwreck offers a scenic site for divers of all levels to explore the marine life that flourishes in the remains of the Atlantic Princess cruise ship. The small ship was to be deliberately sunk, but sank of its own accord ahead of schedule in 2009 during Tropical Storm Fay.
On Saona Island off the coast of Bayahibe, divers ranging from novices to experts can visit La Paguera—the most popular dive site in the country—with depths ranging from 9 to 33 meters (30 to 100 feet) and home to snappers, rays, turtles and various schools of colorful fish.
For family-friendly diving fun near Punta Cana, the Igneri Caribe Taino Underwater Museum offers beginners an opportunity to dive to depths between 3 meters (10 feet) and 7 meters (23 feet), exploring more than 20 sculptures celebrating the country’s indigenous culture.
For an advanced level dive near Punta Cana, the Enriquillo RM-22 shipwreck is a can’t-miss. At 44 meters (143 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) wide, the ship was donated to the DR Navy by the United States in 1980 and sunk for tourist exploration in 2006.
Despite strong currents, visibility around the shipwreck is good, offering the opportunity to observe large schools of Atlantic horse mackerel, sea breams and yellowtail snappers, as well as hawksbill, leatherback turtles and green sea turtles that come to the coast to spawn.
To learn more about Dominican Republic’s top destinations for divers and start planning your underwater itinerary, visit www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.