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 work, 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 and touristy Punta Cana) I’ve compiled a list of some of the best scuba dive sites in Dominican Republic—  explored and loved by many divers. Boasting more than 50 dive sites throughout the Island ranging from reef to wall dives, caves or famous shipwrecks, the Dominican Republic offer a diversity of dive options for each scuba diver.

The following 5 sites are ones that really take the cake. So if you’re planning an upcoming vacation to Dominican Republic and would like a few scuba-inspirations for your trip planning then here are the winners.

5. Atlantic Princess, Bayahibe      

For the wreck enthusiast the Atlantic Princess is a convenient and accessible shipwreck (in comparison to its nearby neighbor St. George, which is at an intimidating depth of 36 Meter). With a mere 45 feet of depth, the Atlantic Princess is great for divers of all levels (from open water to more advanced levels). Less experienced divers can marvel at the dozens of fish that call the front deck their home, while the more experienced divers have the opportunity to pierce through the various compartment inside the wreck; a spooky and exhilarating experience. Arriving to Atlantic Princess is relatively simple, a 10 minute boat ride from the fishing village of Bayahibe which is located 1.5 hours from Punta Cana.

4. 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 the real charm beneath the surface, it is the Aquarium Reef that boasts a lively coral bed. At an average depth of 40 feet, the Aquarium is home to stingrays, puffer fish, yellow trumpet fish, angel fish and barracudas. Day trips to Catalina depart from La Romana Marina in the southern coast of The Dominican Republic.

3. Airport Wall, Sosua  

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 is perhaps one of the best wall dives in the Dominican Republic. 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 descend along 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.

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 unanticipated surprise for many underwater lovers. Although lesser known, Penon reef made the list for its superb coral formation and diversity of 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 calamaris, scorpion fish, stingrays and giant puffer fish are a few of the species that are often spotted at Penon. A Dive Excursion to Saona Island is the best way to experience both Penon and Saona in a Day.

1. Cayo Reef, Paradise Island

The epitome of Paradise is none the less a secluded atoll known as Paradise Island. Located in the Northern Province of Monte Cristi, on a bay surrounded by mangroves and mountains with lush vegetation, it is no surprise that this little Dominican Gem made our list. Because of the secluded nature of Paradise Island the reefs are in pristine condition, with large vibrant sea fans and sponges. There are schools of surgeonfish and yellowtail snappers everywhere you look. More intriguing is the fact that there are still plenty of marine ecosystems that have yet been explored by humans; making this unique destination (although difficult to reach) a must for every diver visiting the Dominican Republic.

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