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Scuba diving in 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.
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Highlights

Punta Cana Underwater Museum

Created by Don Thimo Pimentel, the Punta Cana Underwater Museum features submerged sculptures representing important symbols of the native Taino culture.

The Wrecks of Punta Cana

Several historical wrecks are positioned nearby. The Aston Wreck combines both Atlantic and Caribbean fauna while the Monica is the most picturesque.

Cave Diving in Punta Cana

La Cueva is particularly popular due to its cavernous features and at depths of between 26 to 43 feet (8 to 13m) even the beginner diver can enjoy it.

Diving in Punta Cana

Quick facts

The coastline of Punta Cana is home to the longest reef in the country which stretches north to Bavaro. Here you’ll find an exciting variety of dive environments from caves and canyons to shallow reefs and deep wrecks. Night diving is a popular excursion on the area’s reefs. Nearly all of the dive sites in the area are shallow, making this a great place to pick up an initial certification or gain some experience as a new diver. As a word of warning, be cautious on the far eastern tip of Punta Cana where Atlantic currents can create heavy surge and difficult conditions both above and below the surface.

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 Punta Cana is best from June to November when the sea is at its calmest. However, December to May is best for seeing humpback whales.

June to November

Punta Cana 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 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 Punta Cana. During these winter 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 or want to take a diving excursion to the southern coast, book your holiday between December and May.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

You’ll find several wrecks near to Punta Cana, but the majority of sites stretch north to Bavaro. Excursions to Catalina and Saona Islands are also possible.

    Snorkeling in Punta Cana

    Snorkeling in Punta Cana is a popular activity. While many of the resorts will have house reefs, the best snorkeling is further from shore and accessible by boat. You can even try snuba on many of these excursions. In addition, topside spotters may wish to seek out the Punta Cana Underwater Museum where they can see traditional sculptures submerged on the seafloor.
    There are 24 well-known sites near Punta Cana that range from 26-80 feet (8-20 meters) in depth. Here you are guaranteed of seeing a multitude of tropical fish species as well as some of the larger game fish drifting by. If you are qualified, there are the wrecks of Astron and Monica. These wrecks house well-established ecosystems of coral and sea life and divers regularly report seeing masses of squirrelfish, particularly on the Monica. The weathered stern of the Astron is even impressive from the surface as the bow is visible on the boat ride to the dive site. The stern of the wreck extends 300 feet (120 meters) long and is rests at a depth of 48 feet (14 meters). If you are in search of nurse sharks and stingrays, then your best bet is La Cueva. La Cueva is particularly popular due to its cavernous features and at depths of between 26 to 43 feet (8 to 13 meters) even the beginner diver can enjoy it. Divers interested in underwater photography should check out the Punta Cana Underwater Museum and if night diving is on the itinerary, be sure to book a dive at El Deseo.

    What to see

    Game fish and larger species like small sharks and rays are a common sight on the reefs and wrecks of Punta Cana. Nurse sharks are the most seen inhabitants in this region of the Dominican Republic and are more than likely hiding away in the caverns and wrecks. You’ll only see them if you can get past the multitude of squirrelfish.

    At night, the lobsters, morays, and octopus actively hunting for the dinner, so schedule at least one night dive. But if this is not an itch you need to scratch, turtles, eagle rays and all forms of tropical fish are in abundance on the shallow coral reefs. Lucky divers might even hear the song of the humpback whale while under the water.

    Calendar

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