5 Iconic Dive Sites in Dominican Republic
Planning which dive sites you’ll be exploring is always one of the most exciting aspects of your dive vacation. The planning process makes the wait before a dive trip even more enthralling as we day dream at our desk, imagining what we might encounter underwater in our upcoming adventures.
After exploring dive sites throughout various regions of the Dominican Republic (such as the charming northern coast of Puerto Plata and fishing village of Bayahibe) I’ve compiled a list of some of the best dive sites in Dominican Republic— explored and loved by many divers. With more than 50 dive sites located throughout the Island that vary from reef to wall dives, caves or shipwrecks, the Dominican Republic offers a diversity of dive options all dive levels.
The following 5 dive sites really take the cake. So if you’re planning an upcoming vacation to Dominican Republic and need some scuba-inspiration for your dive vacation, then here are the top locations to go scuba diving in Dominican Republic.
5. The Aquarium, Catalina Island
One of the top dive destination in the Dominican Republic is the captivating national park island of Catalina. Located 8 kilometers off the southern coast of Dominican Republic, Catalina is a haven for Caribbean fish species. Although ‘the Wall’ is widely advertised as the real charm beneath the surface, it is the Aquarium Reef that is home to an impressive array of Caribbean fish. At an average depth of 40 feet, the Aquarium is home to stingrays, puffer fish, yellow trumpet fish, angel fish and barracudas. Divers interested in Scuba Diving at Catalina Island will be able to organize a full day trip to the island where the can explore the dive sites but also relax at one of Catalina’s quiet beaches.
4. Airport Wall, Puerto Plata
We couldn’t continue our list without adding an off the wall dive experience. For divers who enjoy the thrill of descending off a vertical façade into the depths, a Wall dive is an experience like no other! The Airport Wall, although lesser known, is an excellent wall dive for advanced divers. Located in the northern coast, as the name states, this striking coral wall is located right by Puerto Plata International Airport. With depths of 35 meters, divers can experience a flowing sensation that is unexpectedly relaxing and exhilarating, during descent along the wall. One of the unique aspects of the Airport Wall, is the swim through caverns and tunnels found within the wall were eagle rays and reef sharks often hide.
3. The Aquarium, Playa Blanca (Punta Cana)
Although most divers are familiar with the Aquarium at Catalina Island, the lesser known Aquarium at Playa Blanca makes the list as one of the top reef dives near Punta Cana. The aquarium is a protected dive site teaming hundred of Caribbean fish including snapper, blue striped grunt and sea breams. With a maximum depth of 10m/33ft, the Aquarium is excellent for divers of all experience levels and offering advanced divers the option to explore various swim-through caverns. As a protected dive site, divers will be able to visit the coral restoration projects and see how critical coral species that are replanted back to the surrounding reefs. If lucky, you might just meet Francoise, our resident barracuda swimming through with a large school of small sennets. Divers interested in exploring the Aquarium can visit the protected dive sites along the eastern coast of the island during a eco dive trip to Playa Blanca
2. Penon Reef, Saona Island
Catalina Island might be a popular destination for divers, however it is the reefs surrounding the National Park of the East that are an unexpected surprise for many underwater lovers. Although lesser known, Penon reef made the list for its superb coral formation and diversity of marine life. Visit Penon more than once and you’ll still be impressed as every visit will involve new underwater encounters. The home of a large spotted moray eel, who frequently peeps out to greets visitors. Glowing squid, scorpion fish, stingrays and giant puffer fish are a few of the species that are often spotted at Penon. If you are lucky, you might even come across one of the larger local residents of the East National Park: docile Manatees. A Scuba Diving Excursion to Saona Island is the best way to experience all that the East National Park has to offer, including Penon Dive Site, the Natural Lagoon and Saona Island.
1. Enriquillo Wreck, Playa Blanca
For wreck dive enthusiasts and history buffs, the Enriquillo Shipwreck is a must visit. One of the marine protected dive sites in Playa Blanca, the Enriquillo RM22 sits at a depth of 60 feet (18 meters) and is home to an impressive number of Caribbean fish species. The ship was donated to the Dominican Navy by the United States in the early 80’s. After more than two decades in service, in 2006 it was sunk off the eastern coast of Punta Cana as an artificial reef.
The Enriquillo has a long and interesting history dating back to World War II, it was built in 1944 as ATA-193 and served during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. After it’s WWII service, the ship was decommissioned and sent to Texas but was later sent to service in the Persian Gulf. The Dominican Navy renamed it Enriquillo in memory of the Taino Leader that rebelled against the Spanish invasion in the 16th Century. Today Enriquillo wreck is home to large schools of yellowtail snappers, horse mackerels and sea breams. Divers can also observe hawksbill, leatherback turtles, green sea turtles and large southern stingrays to name a few. Due to its unique history, marine protection status and diverse marine life that call it home, Enriquillo made the list as the top wreck dive in Dominican Republic.