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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.

Highlights

Punta Cana Underwater Museum

The Punta Cana Underwater Museum is a snorkelling destination featuring submerged sculptures representing important symbols of the native Taino culture.

The Wrecks of Punta Cana

The Enriquillo and Patricia are shallow wrecks, each easily accessed from Punta Cana’s coastline and home to all kinds of fish, corals and sea creatures.

Relaxed Afternoon Diving

The clear waters along Punta Cana’s coastline are calmer in the afternoon than the morning, offering a unique opportunity for ultimate relaxation and top-class diving.

Diving in Punta Cana

Quick facts

The coastline of Punta Cana is home to the longest reef in the country which stretches north to Bavaro. Here you’ll find an exciting variety of dive environments from caves and canyons to shallow reefs and wrecks. Night diving is a popular excursion in front of Punta Cana Resort. Nearly all of the dive sites in the area are shallow, making this a great place to pick up an initial certification or gain some experience as a new diver. The eastern tip of Punta Cana can pick up Atlantic currents, creating ideal conditions for drift diving.

When to go

March till July is regarded as the best time for divers to visit, when the seas are at their calmest and clearest.

June to November

Punta Cana 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 marks the beginning of hurricane season. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean between June and November, consider taking out travelers insurance on the off chance a hurricane forms during your vacation. However, the likelihood of this happening is low as in recent years the country has not sustained a direct hit from a hurricane.

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

December to May

December to May is the dry season in Punta Cana. During these months, you can expect sunny, hot and mildly humid conditions.

Air temperatures at this time range from 70-80°F (21-26°C) while water temperatures are 75-79°F (24-26°C). At this time of year, winter squalls move through the northern coast which can create creating rough seas and currents.

However, at this is the time of year the island plays host to 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.

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

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

You’ll find several wrecks near to Punta Cana, but the majority of sites stretch north to Bavaro. Excursions to Catalina and Saona Islands are also possible.

    Snorkeling in Punta Cana

    Snorkeling in Punta Cana is a popular activity. While many of the resorts will have house reefs, the best snorkeling is further from shore and accessible by boat. You can even try snuba on many of these excursions. In addition, topside spotters may wish to seek out the Punta Cana Underwater Museum where they can see traditional sculptures submerged on the seafloor.
    There are 24 well-known sites near Punta Cana that range from 26-80 feet (8-20 meters) in depth. Here you are guaranteed of seeing a multitude of tropical fish species as well as some of the larger game fish drifting by. If you are qualified, there are the wrecks of Astron and Monica. These wrecks house well-established ecosystems of coral and sea life and divers regularly report seeing masses of squirrelfish, particularly on the Monica. The weathered stern of the Astron is even impressive from the surface as the bow is visible on the boat ride to the dive site. The stern of the wreck extends 300 feet (120 meters) long and is rests at a depth of 48 feet (14 meters). If you are in search of nurse sharks and stingrays, then your best bet is La Cueva. La Cueva is particularly popular due to its cavernous features and at depths of between 26 to 43 feet (8 to 13 meters) even the beginner diver can enjoy it. Divers interested in underwater photography should check out the Punta Cana Underwater Museum and if night diving is on the itinerary, be sure to book a dive at El Deseo.

    What to see

    Game fish and larger species like small sharks and rays are a common sight on the reefs and wrecks of Punta Cana. Nurse sharks are the most seen inhabitants in this region of the Dominican Republic and are more than likely hiding away in the caverns and wrecks. You’ll only see them if you can get past the multitude of squirrelfish.

    At night, the lobsters, morays, and octopus actively hunting for the dinner, so schedule at least one night dive. But if this is not an itch you need to scratch, turtles, eagle rays and all forms of tropical fish are in abundance on the shallow coral reefs. Lucky divers might even hear the song of the humpback whale while under the water.

    Calendar

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

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

    Area

    The region of Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, was almost unheard of until 1969 when a group of American developers bought up a 30 square mile (77 square km) portion of the coastline. In 1971, the first hotel was built. The transformation from uninhabitable jungle to over 60 all-inclusive resorts happened in just 30 years. Of the total amount of tourists visiting the DR, 60% head for Punta Cana.

    The country's main income generator, tourism, has flourished with the influx of holidaymakers to the area and Punta Cana is now responsible for almost a quarter of the country’s income. Nicknamed the coconut coast, Punta Cana is one of the Caribbean's busiest spots and embraces its Spanish and African cultures in a diverse melting pot with the ancient Taino heritage. Originally conquered by the Spaniards in the mid-1400’s, slaves were brought to the island from Africa and hence the Dominican Republic has this unique blend of ethnicity.

    Other attractions

    Beach buggies, horseback rides and truck safaris are some of what is on offer to fill your topside intervals in Punta Cana. These are voted by tourists and locals as the 3 best ways of viewing the extensive coastline and lush Dominican jungle. You can even zip line between the towering trees inland or go exploring the ancient Taino caves where petroglyphs inscribed on the walls date back to centuries before the Spanish conquered the island. Nearby Bavaro Adventure Park offers zorbing, paintball and bungee trampolines for the adventure inclined.

    Getting there

    Punta Cana has its own international airport and can be accessed from major North American airports. There is an express bus to Punta Cana if you prefer to fly into the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. Driving around on the highway or ‘autopista' is the easiest way to explore the region by car.

    UTC-04:00

    Time zone

    DOP

    Currency

    +1809

    Calling code

    120 V

    Electric volt

    A, 

    B

    Plug type

    PUJ

    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.