Scuba Diving in Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic (Republica Dominicana) is a country located on the island of Haiti. The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Haiti is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican economy is developing rapidly, but tourism is still one of the main sources of the country's revenue.
Diving business is quite developed and offers everything for diving at the highest professional level. However, the region itself boasts no rich and diverse marine life. The diver's ultimate treasures in the Dominican Republic are caves located in the regions of Santo-Domingo, Costa Norte, Bayahibe, La Altagracia and others. Besides, local diving regions are perfect for beginners and trainees.

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The Bayahibe area has interesting wrecks that can be explored both inside and outside. St. George cargo ship lies at a depth of 15 to 44 meters. Atlantic Princess cruise ship is just 12 meters below the sea surface and is accessible even for beginner divers. You can see wrecks of old crashed ships, which turned into coral reefs, in La Caleta National Park, located in the southern part of the country.
Caves are the main advantage of diving in the Dominican Republic. They remain one of the top ten best dive sites in the world. Some caves, namely, La Sirena, La Roca and El Tildo, are located on the way to Santo Domingo. Near Samana, you can find famous caves El Dudu and Cueva de Lily, linked through a passage. The Bayahibe area has caves named El Chicho and Padre Nuestro, as well as El Cangrejo and La Negra cave systems. Most of them are intended for cave and techno divers.
The best coral reefs of the Caribbean shore in the Dominican Republic are located in the area of La Romana near Catalina island and Saona. Here, you can see tropical fish, barracudas, and, if you are lucky enough, marine turtles and even marlins. Reef sharks can be found in the Northern regions of Puerto Plata. Stingrays and small reef sharks live in the eastern waters. There are dolphins in Samaná Bay, but diving is impossible from January to March due to the migration of the humpback whales during this time.
Dive sites in tourist zones are perfect for beginner divers. Near the island of Catalina, you can find a canyon with the same name and The Wall dive site. A coral garden ends abruptly at the depth of 6-10 meters and plunges down to 30 meters. You can see tropical fish and many sea urchins here. Similar dive sites- Casa Estrella and Angulas Paradise- are located in the National Park of the East (Spanish: Parque Nacional del Este).
La Caleta National Park in Santo Domingo boasts a collection of antique ships, coral-coated wrecks of which lie deep at the bottom. At the depth of 20 meters, you can explore El Hickory and El Limon, sunken at the end of the last century, as well as Nuestra Senora Guadalupe and El Conde de Tolosa, which sunk to the bottom in 1724. And also there is Capitan Alsina lying at the depth of 35 meters. Only techno divers can reach El Don Quico because the depth there exceeds 50 meters.

Diving Destinations in Dominican Republic

If you are experienced enough, you may practice techno and cave diving in caves of Bayahibe. By the way, they are included in the top ten best dive sites in the world. Two nice wrecks, St. George and Atlantic Princess, are also located here. There are some good caves for cave divers in the Santo Domingo area. The famous Dudu cave is located on the Samaná Peninsula. Beginner divers will enjoy dive sites of La Caleta National Park, Saona and Catalina islands (Spanish: Isla Saona and Isla Catalina), as well as the Punta-Cana area.

Memo Notes
Currency DOP - Dominican Peso
Languages English, Spanish
Timezone UTC -4
Phone code 1767
Emergency Help 999
Electricity

Type D - 230 V, 50 Hz

Type G - 230 V, 50 Hz

Type A - 110 V, 60 Hz

Type B - 110 V, 60 Hz

Dive Shops in Dominican Republic

You can find dive shops of main international systems in any tourist zone of the country: Bavaro/Punta-Cana, Puerto Plata and in Samana. The dive shops offer one-day fun trips, training services, insurance, equipment for rent and sale, comfortable ships and speedboats. High-profile cave diving is usually organized in advance; in some places, it is available exclusively upon request.

Сlimate & Seasonality
Spring

The hot and humid season starts in May when spring showers come. The air temperature then reaches up to +32°С, and the water warms up to about +27°С. Samaná Bay is unavailable for diving in March.

Summer

Summer is the low tourist season with heat and torrential rains. The air temperature is around +32 °С, and the water warms up to +28 °С. Diving is possible all year round, but visibility can be rather low in August-October due to a chance of hurricanes.

Autumn

Autumn is the low season here, and there is a possibility of hurricanes in September. Rains practically stop in November; the air temperature slightly drops to about +31°С, and the water temperature remains between +27-29°С. Atlantic diving can be difficult in September and October.

Winter

Winter is the high tourist season here. The air temperature is about +30 °C and the water temperature reaches +27-28 °С. Rains are unlikely. Diving activity is booming, but the Samaná Bay (Spanish: Bahía de Samaná) is closed because of the whale mating season.

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The Best Dive Sites

The best dive sites on the Caribbean coast are located near the islands of Saona and Catalina. St. George and Atlantic Princess wrecks, located in the Bayahibe area, are the most well-preserved shipwrecks here. The best caves in the country are La Sirena, La Roca, El Tildo, Dudu, El Chicho, Padre Nuestro, as well as El Cangrejo and La Negra cave systems.

Health & Safety

In case of an emergency, you can receive qualified medical help in private clinics in the country's capital, Santo Domingo, as well as in the main tourist locations. Besides, there are many small medical practices, although their equipment and qualification of doctors may not be considered satisfactory. Travel health insurance is mandatory, and diving insurance can be provided on the spot. Vaccination is not necessary. The safety level is generally appropriate. It is rather safe to go outside in the capital, large cities and tourist areas. The most common are petty crimes and home thievery, as well as petty scams.

Dangerous Marine Life

It is highly unlikely that you will meet sharks or other dangerous marine predators at Dominican dive sites. At best, you may face small reef sharks, but they don't normally concern themselves with humans. Sharp corals and sea urchins are the main dangers for beginner divers with poor buoyancy control. You will remember the moment you accidentally touched a sea urchin's spikes for the rest of your life.

Eat & Drinks

The Dominican cuisine blends African, European and local traditions. Many recipes include bananas, beans and vegetables. Every tourist should try a local dish La Bandera, which is a chicken, pork or beef stew with fried bananas, rice and baked beans. Another popular recipe is a thick rice soup Asopao, cooked with chicken, vegetables, shrimp, lobsters and mussels. It is served with a glass of an orange sauce.
The country's signature drink is rum; there are 15 types of this alcoholic beverage in the Dominican Republic. Also, you can try Mamajuana, an alcoholic drink made by concocting bark and herbs that steep in red wine. Dominicans' favorite desserts are juicy fruits and nuts: mangoes, bananas, guavas, oranges, coconuts, chinolas (passionfruit) and pineapples. Since tap water here may be unsafe to drink, it is advisable to consume only bottled water.

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