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


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.

Catalina Island

An uninhabited island now protected as a national park, it’s two dive sites are a haven for pelagics and a wealth of colorful, tropical fish species.

Diving in Juan Dolio

Quick facts

Juan Dolio has the advantage of being a safe and gorgeous resort area and also having wonderful underwater environments to explore. Because of the protected bay and nearby protected marine areas, diving in the area is easy and enjoyable.

Just off-shore, where the waves break before entering the Juan Dolio bay, you will find a well-preserved reef with a variety of life. This is an easy dive with lots of marine biodiversity. For more advanced divers, there are a variety of wrecks in the area. The Alto Velto, the Tanya V and the Hickory all lie within recreational depths. These three historical wrecks are now overgrown with hard and soft corals. If you feel like venturing further afield, Catalina Island with its amazing dive sites is merely 1 hour by boat from Juan Dolio.

There are a limited number of shore dives in Juan Dolio. Most of the dive operations in the area utilize catamarans and small speed boats to ferry divers to nearby sites.

Keep in mind that insurance is mandatory for anyone who wants to dive in the Dominican Republic.

When to go

Diving in the Juan Dolio is good year-round. June to November has uncrowded dive sites whereas December to May has the best all-around conditions.

June to November

Juan Dolio 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.

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 Bayahibe. 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 or diving at uncrowded dive sites, book your trip from June to November.

December to May

December to May is the dry season in Juan Dolio. During these 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 at this time.

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, this is the time of year the island plays host to the humpback whales who migrate from the North Atlantic to nearby shores. 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 in locations like Juan Dolio 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

Beginners can stay at the dive sites along the Juan Dolio house reef. Advanced divers can head deeper to the wrecks in the area. Tec divers can try the caves.

    Snorkeling in Juan Dolio

    The bay just in front of Juan Dolio offers great conditions for snorkeling. The waters are generally clear and warm. However, visibility may be slightly lacking when compared to other destinations in the Dominican Republic. With that said, you’re sure to see a variety of colorful fish life and interesting critters if you wade in with a snorkel from the beach.
    There are more than 20 dive sites near Juan Dolio. You’ll also have easy access to the sites near Boca Chica, in La Caleta National Underwater Park and around Catalina Island. Close to shore, Tortuga Reef, Coral Garden and Paradise Reef all offer easy reef dives close to shore. Tunnel Reef, Rock Beauty and Montana Azul feature the underwater rock formations and tunnels that the area is famous for. Advanced divers can check out the wrecks of the Tanya V nearby the resorts or the Hickory and Alto Velto further afield. El Abismo and Little Wall are a distance from shore, and therefore closer to the open ocean. With a little more current, these are great destinations for big fish lovers.

    What to see

    Much of the Dominican Republic’s marine life is threatened by overexposure and harmful underwater practices. However, steps are being taken to create protected marine areas in the hope that plentiful marine life will soon return.

    One thing you are sure to see in Juan Dolio is beautiful corals. The island is home to 35 species of coral and 12 types or gorgonians.

    In addition to these gorgeous corals, you might also spot stingrays, eagle rays, reef sharks, barracuda, small schools of fish, moray eels and crabs. Lucky divers have a chance of seeing a manatee. Of course, the invasive lionfish has created issues for the local ecosystem. If spotted, expect the dive master to kill this poisonous species.


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    The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola. Haiti takes up the western half. On the south, central coast of the Dominican Republic, you will find Santo Domingo, the bustling capital of the island country. 31 miles (50 kilometers) to its east, Juan Dolio lures foreign guests to its luxury resorts and beautiful waters. The area sits on the Caribbean Sea and is protected from harsh currents by its southerly location.

    Before European settlement, Juan Dolio was home to the indigenous Arawaks. In 1973, the town was legally separated between farmers, fisherman and tourist destination. However, the tourism industry in the area has had its ups and downs. With the invent of the all-inclusive resort in the 1980s, Juan Dolio experienced such a boom that it had a daily average of 5,500 tourists. However, the 90s brought damaging hurricanes, including Hurricane Georges. Rather than rebuild, many investors sought to move their money elsewhere in the Dominican Republic and relocated to Punta Cana. Very recently Juan Dolio is back on an upward trend. Today, the resort area is nicely equipped with luxury apartment rentals and the activities typically found in major Caribbean tourist destinations.

    Other attractions

    Juan Dolio is famous for its relaxing atmosphere. With a long, sandy beach, protected bay and palm-fringed roads, what more could you ask for? There is also the variety of activities one would expect from a resort area. You can enjoy the area’s two golf courses and a horse ranch. Try your luck at the casino or, if visiting with children, visit the water park. Water sports other than diving include parasailing, snorkeling and jet-skiing. You’re sure to have sunny memories of your time in Juan Dolio.

    Getting there

    Juan Dolio can be accessed via Las Américas International Airport. Flights to the airport originate from cities throughout North America and the Caribbean.

    It is also possible to enter the Dominican Republic overland from Haiti. Buses and taxis will take you as far as the border, but won’t cross it, so be sure to arrange additional transport to meet you on the other side.

    You can choose to get from the airport to your accommodation by chauffeur, rental car or local transportation.


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    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.

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