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25.07.16

7 reasons to dive the Dominican Republic

Pro Dive International gives seven top reasons to dive the Dominican Republic.

1. Dominican Republic has it all!

More than 300 days of sunshine, turquoise sea and miles-long sandy beaches! Surprised?

Whatever your diver heart desires, the Dominican Republic has it all, and for everyone. Whether you are an experienced diver, just completed your diving course, are interested in learning to dive, or boost your skills, the year-round warm Caribbean waters (28C/ 84F) are perfect.

Where else offers so much diversity within a short time and distance - not only on the spot, but also when flying over? With direct flights to Punta Cana available from almost any location globally, the second largest Caribbean nation is easily accessible.

Renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, lush tropical scenery, mountain peaks, waterfalls, rich wildlife, long pristine sandy beaches, beautiful marine parks, drop-offs and coral reefs in excellent condition, dozens of wrecks, as well as an extensive network of freshwater caves and caverns, the Dominican Republic is an ideal destination for families and couples who seek relaxation combined with fun-in-the-sun watersports activities.

2. Well-preserved reefs and an abundance of marine life

Imagine yourself descending into a tropical aquarium, surrounded by soft corals, hard corals, sponges, fans of all sizes, green turtles, hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks and reef sharks cruising around, schools of colourful fish swimming by, macro life and crustaceans hiding in the small overhangs and caves, eagle rays flying by, dolphins occasionally sneaking a peek, sea stars decorating the sandy bottom in crystal-clear blue waters. You are diving in an underwater wonderland, the dream of any photographer!

The coral reefs on the Caribbean side are very well protected, whereas the conditions on the Atlantic side might be little rough at times. Here are our hotspots:

BAVARO

The most developed area of the East Coast resort strip, Bávaro is dotted with hotels, restaurants and gift shops, along the white sandy beach, which extends 30miles/48km, and is located on the edge of coral reefs. The perfect spot to start your diving adventure.

BAYAHIBE

As a small fishing village located on the south coast of the Dominican Republic, Bayahibe is showing off its Caribbean paradise with plenty of diverse and shallow dive sites, like El Peñon, St. George, Atlantic Princess and Viva Shallow (including its underwater museum), as well as many others. 

CATALINA ISLAND

This diverse collection of ecosystems, including natural sand dunes, mangroves and reefs, is located 1.5miles/2.4km from the mainland. Catalina Island features one of the Dominican Republic's most spectacular drop-offs and reefs, the Santa Catalina Wall and Aquarium Reef.

SAONA ISLAND

Separated from the mainland by the Catuano Channel, the largest island in the Dominican Republic features some magnificent dive sites. Isla Saona is renowned for its unspoiled beaches, lush tropical scenery, crystal clear water and bustling marine life. Most of the shore areas are only a few feet deep with many natural sandbars, which let you easily spot stingrays, turtles, sea stars and colourful fish. This government-protected natural reserve is part of the East National Park.

CAYO LEVANTADO

This tiny coral reef island, also known as "Bacardi Island", is located in the bay of Samana on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Cayo Levantado is heaven on earth, with one of the world's best wall dives, an abundance of sea life and a stunning setting in the Caribbean Sea. Between February and March, even humpback whales can be watched between Samana and La Romana, as large colonies come here to breed, using the warm waters as a giant nursery.

3. A heaven for wreck lovers

There are shipwrecks all over the place! Some were sunk on purpose, others during hurricanes, or battles. Located at a range of depths on either side of the island (Atlantic and Caribbean), everyone can explore them!

On top of our favourite wrecks clearly stands St George in Bayahibe, a thrilling dive for all wreck lovers! Mysteriously lying in the channel between Bayahibe and Catalina Islands, St George was built in 1962 in Scotland to transport wheat and barley between Norway and the Americas. It was used for about 20 years, but finally abandoned in the port of Santo Domingo. Named after the hurricane George that hit the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico in September 1998, the ship was sunk about 800 metres off the beach in June 1999, and has developed into a fantastic artificial reef, which is home to all kinds of marine life and schools of fish, especially barracudas. The wreck measures 85 metres in length and lies at a maximum depth of 44m. 

The Astron is also very popular. Located off the coast of Bavaro, the 127-metre, 27,990-tonne freighter sits at 12-15m. It ran aground during a storm in April 1978 on its way to Cuba, and broke into two pieces, with the bow above the water and the stern underwater. An outstanding variety of marine life awaits visiting divers.

These are just two of the many wrecks, as the list goes on with Gipsy, Coca, and Monica, to name a few...

4. The magic of deep diving

Have you ever noticed that the marine life gets sparser around 30m at many dive sites around the globe? Not so in the Dominican Republic! The level of coral conservation and protected marine areas provide plenty of life deeper down.

Dive sites brim with life in all shapes and colours at sites like Santa Catalina Wall and Cayo Levantado - they are must-dives during your dive vacation, and will leave you mesmerised.

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