The Dominican Republic


Surface swim at Paradise Island, Punta Rusia

On the eastern side of the island shared with Haiti called Hispaniola, the DR is a haven for divers from around the world!  On the north coast you can enjoy stunning shallow dives filled with underwater islands of coral, surrounded by sand and perfect for exploring, photography, and learning to dive!  Only 5 minutes away, you will be able to also enjoy extensive wall diving that starts at 10m (30ft) to +35m (115ft) with millions of caves and crevices to point your torch into and see what you can find!  You’ll be able to discover fascinating animals like eels, octopi, lobsters, squid, scorpion fish and king crabs and seasonally dolphins and humpback whales.  Don’t worry, there aren’t any jellyfish either.  Our reefs are very healthy with a variety of hard and soft corals and sponges with every colour imaginable being preserved by both national parks and reserves and Project Aware and Coral Reef Conservation projects.

If the natural underwater world isn’t enough for you, why not explore the remains of the original pirates of the Caribbean galleon artefacts or artificial wrecks that have interesting stories and adventures to explore!  Or experience the thrill and magnificent beauty of a freshwater cavern, which this gorgeous island has extensive opportunities to offer!

The regions in the Dominican Republic that I have been diving and the descriptions of the dive sites are listed below…

Sosua/Puerto Plata area Dive Sites

Three Rocks (10m/30ft):

This is one of the most famous dive and snorkel sites on the north coast featuring three large underwater coral mountains surrounded by a clear sandy bottom. You will have the opportunity to see so many different kinds and colours of corals while beautiful tropical fish swim around you! This is also the site where an artificial reef has been installed and nurseries are established to rejuvenate the virtually extinct Staghorn coral. Every dive you will see something new!

Coral Garden and Coral Garden Wall (18 m/ 60 ft):

You can either descend at Three Rocks and follow the artificial reef down to Coral Garden or get the captain to drop you at the depths of the wall and explore, explore, explore your way all the way back to Three Rocks. Every time I go here, I go a different route. Endless pinnacles of coral surrounded by white sandy pathways to lead you through the Coral Garden maze.

Larimar I & II (12-25m/40ft-50ft):

Is a fun dive site just in front of the hotel, Sosua by the Sea, only 5 minutes by boat from Sosua Bay. It is a small wall dive with the top of the reef at only 10m/30ft and the bottom between 12 and 14m. I love this wall, not because of the corals, but because of the animals! You may be able to look in the crevice where Oliver the octopus lives or in any other space to see so many different sizes, shapes, and colours of moray eels! When you venture deeper, you can reach the spectacular deep dive, Larimar II, which ventures down to 25m and the top of the reef at 18m. This reef is endless exploration at it’s best!

The Canyon (18m/ 60ft):

This lovely wall dive on the outskirts of Sosua Bay begins on the inside of the reef at only 12m/40ft and continues through a break about 4m wide that you will swim through and marvel at the finger and fan corals reaching out to you. Practice your buoyancy as you hover over a garden of soft corals gently moving with the waves and peer into the giant barrel corals that are home here. When you venture a little deeper, you will discover an old fishing boat that sank in 2006 called the Miguelina. Don’t forget to check out the fantastic coral mountain on the way back to the boat!

West Wall (30 m/ 100 ft):

Just opposite to the Canyon, on the other side of Sosua Bay, lies West Wall. This is a great wall dive with a lot of options! Depending, which direction you go, you will find different cool things!. Swim towards Canyon and you can explore a ton of caves and crevices to check out; swim towards the point and explore La Puntilla’s giant boulders that have fallen from the cliff’s edge. Something new everytime!

Mini Wall (30 m/ 100ft):

I love this dive site! Every time I go beneath the surface at this site, I discover something new and enjoy the tranquility diving offers us. This is a deep dive with the top of the wall at 18m/ 60ft and going down much deeper. Here you can see the baby barracudas swimming in a school; if you move slowly towards them, the curious animals will stop and marvel at just who’s checking them out! Don’t forget to venture around the mountain where the mooring line is anchored, you will often see moray eels, sweet angelfish, and baby squid at your safety stop!

Puerto Plata Airport Wall (24 m/ 80 ft):

Everyone wants to go to Airport Wall! This dive site, about 10 minutes by boat from Sosua Bay offers spectacular underwater cliffs, overhangs, and swim throughs to explore!  The underwater features always puts me in awe and wonder at how it’s possible that something like this could exist so perfectly for our enjoyment underwater.  The top of the reef hosts healthy corals that, if you look carefully, swift octopi glide in and out of the crevices.

The Zingara Wreck (36 m/ 118 ft):

The Zingara is a favourite for all divers coming to the region, whether you are an avid wreck diver or not; however, this is also a deep dive, so divers should be Advanced level or have much experience with dives below 18m/ 60ft. The Zingara is an artificial wreck that was purchased in Rio San Juan and brought to Sosua along the coast. Unfortunately, the towing line broke and so the location of the wreck is a little bit further from Sosua than planned (10 minute boat ride). It also lies a little deeper than planned, so divers can enjoy the wreck as well as the reef that lies next to it. Don’t forget to check out the coral covered surprise next to the wreck!

Pyramids (10-18 m/ 30-60 ft):

This dive site is something I’ve never seen before.  This is a drift dive and best done in the morning when the ocean is more calm.  Depending on the current, the captain will drop us at one end and we drift to the next. It is filled with beautiful healthy brain corals, strange overhangs and all kinds of massive boulders and swim throughs.  On a sunny day, when the light is shining just right, you will be mesmerized with the beauty.  Endless exploration here with eels and lionfish galore!

Dudu Caverns (4-12m/12-40ft)

The Dudu Caverns or Blue Lagoon, as some people know it are a dazzling set of lagoons and underwater caverns located about 1.5 hours east of Sosua/Cabarete.  This is a wonderful place for both divers, snorkellers/free-divers, and family picnics for all ages.


Punta Rusia area Dive Sites

Paradise Island/Cayo Arena (10m/30ft)


Paradise Island, Dominican Republic Google Earth Image

This is Mia’s favourite dive site in all of the Dominican Republic!  It is a little over 2 hour drive from Cabarete/Sosua through a gorgeous countryside and ending in a small fishing village called, Punta Rusia.  From here, we board a boat and travel not far from the coast for about 20 minutes until you can see a shimmering white line in the distance.  As the boat moves closer, you will see that this line, is in fact, a tiny natural island sand bar made of pure white sand without a single palm tree.  6 thatched huts sit atop this island to provide shade to the tourists who come daily to visit this incredible natural wonder and enjoy the stunningly healthy coral reef.  Take a look at this Google Earth shot of the island and you can see the gorgeous reef that surrounds the sand bar.  For diving, it couldn’t be more perfect for beginner divers and for photographers considering the shallow depths allowing for lots of sunlight and long easy dives.