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Scuba diving in 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.
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Highlights

Humpbacks in the Silver Banks

From December to April every year, humpback whales migrate near the island to calve and begin another mating season. The males put on a spectacular show.

El Dudu Caverns

A two hour drive from Puerto Plata, the crystal clear Lake Dudu is home to eel, freshwater shrimp and several fish species two diveable caverns.

The Zingara Wreck

Intentionally sunk 20 years ago, The Zingara Wreck now sits at 120 feet (36 meters) and is covered in corals. This wreck can be affected by harsh currents.

Diving in Puerto Plata & Sosúa

Quick facts

Diving on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic is far different from that of the southern coast. The Atlantic Ocean tends to be rougher than the Caribbean Sea and many of the dive sites are deeper. However, Sosúa offers a unique environment that makes Atlantic diving accessible to even the most novice divers. Here current is minimal and most of the colorful coral reefs are shallow enough for Open Water divers. There are also deeper walls, reefs and wrecks for advanced divers. Anything outside of the confines of the bay, such as dive sites closest to Puerto Plata, are subject to harsh currents and reserved for divers with plenty of experience. Tec divers may also wish to explore the inland freshwater cave system.

Most of the diving in this area takes place from powerful speedboats. Many of these boats make the journey from Puerto Plata to Sosúa daily. If you are prone to seasickness, pick a dive operator who utilizes a catamaran or trimaran. These will forge through the rough seas with ease.

Finally, keep in mind that insurance is mandatory for anyone who wants to dive in the Dominican Republic.

When to go

Diving in Puerto Plata and Sosúa is fantastic year-round. June to November have uncrowded dive sites whereas December to May is best for humpbacks.

June to November

Puerto Plata and Sosúa enjoy 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 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 pass 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 Puerto Plata and Sosúa. During these summer months, you can expect sunny, hot and mildly humid conditions. At this time of year, winter squalls move through the northern coast creating rough sea and heavy surges.

Air temperatures during the winter months range from 70-80°F (21-26°C) while water temperatures are 75-79°F (24-26°C).

On the other hand, 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 high season for tourism in the Dominican Republic. Therefore, you should book early to get a good deal on accommodation and flights.

If you wish to see humpback whales, book your holiday between December and May.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Beginners will want to stick to the protect waters of Sosúa while advanced divers can head to the wrecks and deep walls near Puerto Plata.

    Snorkeling in Puerto Plata & Sosúa

    Sosúa is often called the best place to snorkel on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Here you’ll find colorful coral reefs in calm and clear waters. Any tour operator will be happy to arrange a boat trip to many spots in the bay or a day trip to Paradise Island. You may also wish to consider a trip to Silver Banks during humpback whale season.
    Of the more than 20 dive sites surrounding Puerto Plata and Sosúa, many are considered “favorites” by returning divers. In particular, Airport Wall, set at the foot of an airport runway, is well-loved. Here you’ll find some of the best marine diversity of the Dominican Republic’s northern coast. You could easily spend five tanks on the wall alone but several pinnacles and tunnels lie just a few hundred feet away. The Zingara Wreck is another frequented site. This deep wreck was purposely sunk 20 years ago although it never made it to its intended resting place. Instead, it now sits at 120 feet (36 meters) just outside of Sosúa. Other favored dive sites include The Zingara Wreck, Three Rocks and Coral Gardens, Canyon, West Wall and Mini Wall.

    What to see

    Don’t expect to see anything too big in Puerto Plata and Sosúa. Instead, you’ll spot a wide variety of reef fish and crustaceans. Spider crabs, octopus and tiny shrimp hide among barrel sponges and whip corals. Rays lazily stare up from the sand while barracuda swim nervously nearby. A common sight is the spotted sand snake eel which leaves only its eyes exposed from the sea bottom in order to surprise its prey. Triggerfish, schools of grunts and large jewfish add their unique twist to reef diving. Finally, be sure to book a night dive when squid and lobsters hunt for food, creating a fascinating spectacle.

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