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Diving in The Dominican Republic

With miles of pristine beach, the Dominican Republic is a favorite destination for divers in search of Caribbean reefs, wrecks and humpback whales.

Highlights

La Caleta National Underwater Park

Within the Park, two sunken ships, the Hickory and the Limon, lie within recreational limits. The Limon is today surrounded by healthy coral reef.

Cave Diving

Three water-filled cave systems near Santo Domingo, Bayahibe and Playa Dorada are ripe for exploration by tec divers. Several local guides can assist.

Pedernales and Barahona

Just beginning to be explored, Pedernales and Barahona offer scuba divers the chance to discover untouched coral reefs and a wide array of marine life.

Humpbacks in the Silver Banks

From December to April every year, humpback whales migrate near the island to calve and begin another mating season. The males put on a spectacular show.

Diving in The Dominican Republic

Quick facts

With nine distinct ecological regions, the Dominican Republic attracts scuba divers, hikers, spelunkers, birders and culture hounds. From December to April, the famed offshore region of the Silver Bank fills with the haunting melody of whale song, as humpback whales come to calve. There’s also a wonderful array of scuba diving sites off every coast, including vibrant, fishy reefs, light beam-filled caverns and a long list of brag-worthy wrecks, both natural and purpose-sunk. Warm water and generally good visibility make most of the Dominican Republic a year-round destination. Diving in the Dominican Republic is easy and trouble free. There are many dive operators that don’t plan their excursions but wait to find out from the occupants of the boats where they would prefer to go. Underwater environments in the Dominican Republic include mangrove forests, deep wrecks and a vast reef structure featuring cavernous swim-throughs and extensive coral formations. Many of the dive sites are suitable to beginners, and many of the island’s resorts offer discovery dives for those that have never blown bubbles before. However, beginners will feel most comfortable on the southern coast where currents are calmer. Advanced divers can explore both coasts as well as the deep wrecks and walls.

Recommended training

Take the PADI Wreck Diver, PADI Deep Diver and PADI Digital Underwater Photographer courses to get the most out of diving in the Dominican Republic.

When to go

Diving in the Dominican Republic is fantastic year-round. June to November boasts uncrowded dive sites, whereas December to May is best for humpbacks. On the north coast, summer brings calmer seas and better visibility while winter holds better sea conditions on the south coast. The average temperature across the year is about 25°C/77°F. Summers are hot and humid, while the winter months are cool and breezy. Keep in mind, June through October is the Caribbean’s hurricane season. Furthermore, on the Caribbean side of the island, water temperature averages 28°C/83°F in summer and 24°C/76°F in winter. On the eastern, Atlantic side, it is just slightly cooler with averages of 27°C/81°F in summer and 24°C/75°F in winter.

June to November

The Dominican Republic enjoys a hot and humid climate year-round, although June to November is considered the rainy season. It usually rains once a day, every day but for only short periods of time. However, the summer months bring the calmest seas to the northern coast, meaning this is the best time to dive this part of the country.

June to November is also hurricane season. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean during these months, consider taking out travelers insurance on the off chance a hurricane forms during your vacation. In recent years, the DR has not sustained a direct hit from a hurricane, but several pass nearby annually.

Air temperatures during the summer months range from 77-85°F (25-30°C) while water temperatures are 79-83°F (26-28°C).

Because June to November is considered the rainy season, this is also the low season in the Dominican Republic. If you choose to dive in these months, you’re sure to get a great deal on flights and accommodation.

If you enjoy getting the best deals, diving at uncrowded dive sites or wish to visit the northern coast, book your trip from June to November.

December to May

December to May is the dry season in the Dominican Republic. During these summer months, you can expect sunny, hot and mildly humid conditions. This is also the best time of year to dive on the south coast as the seas are calmest there during the winter months.

Air temperatures during the winter months range from 70-80°F (21-26°C) while water temperatures are 75-79°F (24-26°C).

In addition to great topside conditions for the southern coast, December to March is the best time to dive while listening to humpback whales. This is the time of year the island plays host to the humpback whales who migrate from the North Atlantic to the shores of Bavaro and calve in the bay at Samana. As the males are there to impress their females during this season they are incredibly active and often present a spectacular show of splashing and rearing.

However, December to May also represents high season for tourism in the Caribbean. Therefore, you should book early to get a good deal on accommodation and flights.

If you wish to dive on the southern coast or see the mating rituals of humpback whales, book your holiday between December and May.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Because of prevailing wind patterns, the calmest dive sites are found in Juan Dolio, Boca Chica and Bayahibe. The Samana Peninsula has advanced dives.
  • Bayahibe

    Bayahibe allows access to Catalina Island, Saona Island and miles of fringing reef. Come here to relax, leave with an abundance of diving memories.

  • Juan Dolio

    On the protected southern coast of the Dominican Republic, Juan Dolio attracts divers with its abundant and colorful marine life and historic wrecks.

  • La Romana & Saona Island

    With the calmest waters in the Dominican Republic, Diving in La Romana offers access to Catalina and Saona Islands, wrecks and miles of fringing reef.

  • Puerto Plata & Sosúa

    The premier scuba diving destination on the Dominican Republic’s north coast, Puerto Plata and nearby Sosúa are home to humpbacks, wrecks and reefs.

  • Punta Cana

    Named for its cane palm-lined beaches, Punta Cana features dive sites on coral reefs, intricate wrecks and a cavern or two for the adventurous.

  • Samaná

    The Samana Peninsula includes several resort towns with pristine beaches and decent dive operations to take you to wrecks, caves and coral formations.

  • Santo Domingo & Boca Chica

    On the protected south coast of the Dominican Republic, diving Santo Domingo, the capital, and Boca Chica offers pleasant reefs and historical wrecks.

USD 1,356Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
USD 2,321Per trip
USD 2,321Per trip

Snorkeling in The Dominican Republic

Most snorkelers will want to stick to the Dominican Republic’s southern coast in order to enjoy the calm and protected waters of the Caribbean Sea. The most beautiful onshore snorkeling sites are at La Romana and Sosua. You may also wish to consider a day trip to Isla Catalina, Isla Saona or the Silver Bank during humpback whale season.
* La Cueva, Punta Cana – A shallow dive that offers a fascinating collection of caverns and swim-throughs. Look for nurse sharks and stingrays. * Monica, Punta Cana – Sunk in a storm about 90 years ago, the remains of this wooden-hulled railway cargo ship harbor railway ties, sugar plantation machinery and hoards of squirrelfish. * Hickory and Limon, Boca Chica – Located close together in an underwater national park, the famous Hickory, a 44-metre/144-foot long freighter, rests on a flat sand bottom and the Limon, a 21-metre/70-foot long purpose-sunk tug boat, is surrounded by coral reef. These two wrecks are home to colorful tropical fish and an impressive collection of sponges and encrusting corals. * Catalina Island – This small offshore island is an uninhabited nature reserve and national park. It has two main dive sites – The Wall starts at about 6 metres/20 feet and drops to 30 metres/100 feet. Black corals and sponges abound, and it’s a hot spot for passing pelagics. The shallower site, called Aquarium, is only 12 metres/40 feet deep and is full of vibrant marine life. * Pedernales and Barahona – The area is just beginning to be explored, but it offers a pure, pristine, Caribbean dive experience. A large protected bay and a few offshore islands offer unspoiled reefs, caverns and a huge diversity of underwater life. * Luperon Wall, North Coast – This advanced dive showcases just how lush a Caribbean wall can be. It’s covered in hard corals, an array of sponges and is home to eels, barracuda and grouper. It’s also a favorite stomping ground for passing mantas, turtles and eagle rays. It may be the best wall dive in the north coast.

What to see

The marine life in the Dominican Republic is populated by four species of marine turtles, namely the leatherback, green, loggerhead and hawksbill. These sea turtles are regularly spotted on the colorful reefs. Also commonly spotted are tropical fish species - from grazing parrotfish to butterfly and angelfish. You can also find eagle rays, eels, nurse sharks and jacks, depending on your exact location. In the warm waters near the estuaries, live the manatees which form a special treat for the few divers who spot them. In the deeper water, barracudas are often seen and a lucky few may see sharks, such as the hammerhead. Whales can be watched nursing their young at the SilverBank near Samana Bay in the right season.

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

The Dominican Republic (or “the DR” as it is frequently called) is a mountainous, lush country that comprises the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola. It has been a popular Caribbean escape since Christopher Columbus first set foot on its shores in 1492. After 1492, the entire island became the headquarters of all the colonies in the Americas, and the capital of Santo Domingo was established soon afterwards. The entire island is known as Hispaniola, and only in 1795 the island was divided. Sharing a Western border with Haiti, the 10.3 million inhabitants of the country enjoy the bragging rights to the tallest mountain summit of the region, Pico Duarte, and an average annual temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). Most importantly, the biodiversity of the island, due to the tropical climate and the natural geographical features, promises scuba divers eventful excursions both above and below the water.

Other attractions

For the time spent out of the water getting your saturation levels down, the island can offer many distractions. There are 27 cascading waterfalls to climb in Damajagua in Puerto Plata, and all the necessary gear is provided by the tour operators at the venue. For a bit of culture and history, nothing beats the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, where the remnants of the Conquistadors still stand in middle of the capital metropolis. Don’t miss the Columbus House built by Christopher Columbus’ son. If you fancy a hike in the lush forests of the national parks, you’re in luck. These cover more than 25% of the landscape, and you can choose from Los Tres Ojos Acuario National Park or Manati Park for your adventure.

Getting there

The Dominican Republic is serviced by several international airports, including Punta Cana International Airport, Las Américas-JFPG International Airport, La Isabela International Airport , Cibao International Airport, Gregorio Luperón International Airport and Arroyo Barril International Airport. Nearby resorts provide the necessary shuttle services to and from the airport. Although taxi services are readily available off the street, they are very rustic.

UTC-04:00

Time zone

DOP

Currency

+1809

Calling code

120 V

Electric volt

A, 

B

Plug type

SDQ

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.