With nine distinct ecological regions, the Dominican Republic attracts scuba divers, hikers, spelunkers, birders, and culture hounds.
From December to April, the famed offshore region of the Silver Bank fills with the haunting melody of whale songs, as humpback whales come to calve.
There’s also a wonderful array of scuba diving sites off every coast, including vibrant, fishy reefs, light beam-filled caverns, and a long list of brag-worthy wrecks, both natural and purpose-sunk.
Warm water and generally good visibility make most of the Dominican Republic a year-round destination.
Diving in the Dominican Republic is easy and trouble-free.
There are many dive operators who don’t plan their excursions but wait to find out from the occupants of the boats where they would prefer to go. Underwater environments in the Dominican Republic include mangrove forests, deep wrecks, and a vast reef structure featuring cavernous swim-throughs and extensive coral formations.
Many of the dive sites are suitable for beginners, and many of the island’s resorts offer discovery dives for those who have never blown bubbles before.
However, beginners will feel most comfortable on the southern coast where currents are calmer.
Advanced divers can explore both coasts as well as the deep wrecks and walls.
WHEN TO GO
Diving in the Dominican Republic is fantastic year-round. June to November boasts uncrowded dive sites, whereas December to May is best for humpbacks. On the north coast, summer brings calmer seas and better visibility while winter holds better sea conditions on the south coast. The average temperature across the year is about 25°C/77°F. Summers are hot and humid, while the winter months are cool and breezy. Keep in mind, that June through October is the Caribbean’s hurricane season. Furthermore, on the Caribbean side of the island, water temperature averages 28°C/83°F in summer and 24°C/76°F in winter. On the eastern, Atlantic side, it is just slightly cooler with averages of 27°C/81°F in summer and 24°C/75°F in winter.
JUNE TO NOVEMBER
The Dominican Republic 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. However, the summer months bring the calmest seas to the northern coast, meaning this is the best time to dive into this part of the country.
June to November is also hurricane season. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean during these months, consider taking out travelers’ insurance on the off chance a hurricane forms during your vacation. In recent years, the DR has not sustained a direct hit from a hurricane, but several passes nearby annually.
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, diving at uncrowded dive sites or wish to visit the northern coast, book your trip from June to November.
DECEMBER TO MAY
December to May is the dry season in the Dominican Republic.
During these summer months, you can expect sunny, hot, and mildly humid conditions.
This is also the best time of year to dive on the south coast as the seas are calmest there during the winter months.
Air temperatures during the winter months range from 70-80°F (21-26°C) while water temperatures are 75-79°F (24-26°C).
In addition to great topside conditions for the southern coast, December to March is the best time to dive while listening to humpback whales.
This is the time of year the island plays host to the 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.
However, December to May also represents the high season for tourism in the Caribbean. Therefore, you should book early to get a good deal on accommodation and flights.
If you wish to dive on the southern coast or see the mating rituals of humpback whales, book your holiday between December and May.
WHERE TO DIVE
Because of prevailing wind patterns, the calmest dive sites are found in Juan Dolio, Boca Chica, and Bayahibe.
The Samana Peninsula has advanced dives.
Bayahibe allows access to Catalina Island, Saona Island, and miles of fringing reef. Come here to relax, and leave with an abundance of diving memories.
- JUAN DOLIO:
On the protected southern coast of the Dominican Republic, Juan Dolio attracts divers with its abundant and colorful marine life and historic wrecks.
- LA ROMANA & SAONA ISLAND & CATALINA ISLAND:
With the calmest waters in the Dominican Republic, Diving in La Romana offers access to Catalina and Saona Islands, wrecks, and miles of fringing reef.
- PUERTO PLATA & SOSÚA:
The premier scuba diving destination on the Dominican Republic’s north coast, Puerto Plata and nearby Sosúa are home to humpbacks, wrecks, and reefs.
- PUNTA CANA:
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.
The Samana Peninsula includes several resort towns with pristine beaches and decent dive operations to take you to wrecks, caves, and coral formations.
- SANTO DOMINGO & BOCA CHICA:
On the protected south coast of the Dominican Republic, diving Santo Domingo, the capital, and Boca Chica offer pleasant reefs and historical wrecks.
WHAT TO SEE
The marine life in the Dominican Republic is populated by four species of marine turtles, namely the leatherback, green, loggerhead, and hawksbill. These sea turtles are regularly spotted on the colorful reefs. Also commonly spotted are tropical fish species – from grazing parrotfish to butterfly and angelfish. You can also find eagle rays, eels, nurse sharks, and jacks, depending on your exact location. In the warm waters near the estuaries, live the manatees which form a special treat for the few divers who spot them. In the deeper water, barracudas are often seen and a lucky few may see sharks, such as the hammerhead. Whales can be watched nursing their young at the SilverBank near Samana Bay in the right season.