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It's hard to resist dipping your toes into the cool, clear waters of the Dominican Republic, and adventurous vacationers will want to go even further than that.
Luckily, diving and snorkeling is a popular pastime. Numerous water sport centers afford travelers the opportunity to explore the world that lies beneath the surface of the Dominican Republic's waters.
...explore marine plants and animals in their natural habitat...
Though diving and snorkeling can be done in many of the same areas, it is important to note that they are two distinct activities. Snorkeling takes place when the participant – equipped with a pair of underwater goggles, snorkel, and swimfins – swims just below the surface of the water while breathing through their snorkel. Scuba divers take it a step further, with participants wearing an air tank (SCUBA is an acronym meaning “self contained underwater breathing apparatus") in order to go deeper below the ocean's surface. The purpose of both activities is to explore marine plants and animals in their natural habitat, with the occasional shipwreck site thrown in for good measure.
Many of the large resorts in the Dominican Republic offer snorkeling equipment to their guests, and some even host scuba lessons in their pools, but the real excitement lies just off the coast. Listed below are a few of the businesses in the Dominican Republic that rent out scuba and snorkeling equipment, as well as offer underwater tours.
|Hippocampo Scuba Dive Center||$305 (USD)||Santo Domingo||809-571-0956|
|Los Tres Ojos||Varies||Santo Domingo||809-472-4204|
|Northern Coast Aquasports||Varies||Santo Domingo||809-571-1028|
|Pelicano Watersports||Dive excursion: $99 (USD)
Equipment: $49 (USD)
|ScubaFun Dive Center||Varies||Bayahibe||809-833-0003|
|Sea Pro Divers||Varies||Puerto Plata||809-320-2567|
|Treasure Divers||Snorkeling: $21 (USD)
Diving: $42 to $47 (USD)
With over one thousand miles of coast line that touch both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the Dominican Republic offers varied dive sites.
The waters that run from the Semana Peninsula to Montecristi are known for their challenging dive sites, but the pay off is hidden caverns, underwater tunnels, colorful marine life, and rich reefs. 120 feet below the surface of the ocean, near Las Galeras, divers will find several coral structures reminiscent of architecture found back on land. La Piedra (translation: the Stone), Cabo Cabron (a tower), and Las Tres Puertas (translation: the Three Doors) are all found down here. A few miles to the northwest in Sosua Bay are several underwater gardens. Further west are the remains of over 200 shipwrecks, as well as the Cayo Arena Reef.
La Caleta Underwater National Park is a great place to start diving off the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. It is 600 miles wide and 600 feet deep, and comprised numerous reefs and shipwreck. Plus, a series of man-made underwater sculptures is to be revealed in the near future. There are numerous underwater caves in this region, such as El Hipodromo, El Tildo, and Cueva Taina; and ship wrecks are in abundance as well. Check out El Catuan and El Limon. Further along the southeast coast is the Dominican Republic's largest shipwreck, the St. George.
Pay attention to currents and how your body responds to them; you don't want to drift too far off course.
Wear a waterproof watch to ensure you don't lose track of time, which can be easy to do underwater.
Don't feed the fish or touch the animals or coral, this could cause their protective layers to be stripped away.
Never stand or walk on reef, and tread carefully in shallow water around reefs. Shuffle your feet to avoid stingrays, and watch out for sea urchins spines.
Never wear jewelry. Caribbean fish, barracudas especially, seem to be drawn to shiny objects that look like their natural prey, small silver fish.
Avoid jellyfish, fire coral, and other stinging creatures.
Never reach into holes or crevices; animals - especially moray eels - like to make their homes in them.
Shark sightings are rare, and sharks that are spotted are usually passive. If you do see a shark, stay calm, and if necessary, move slowly out of the water.
Never remove anything from dive sites and reefs.
Wear waterproof sunblock. Sunburns are a common side effect of the hot Caribbean sun, even under water.
Diving and snorkeling can transform a great trip to the Dominican Republic into an amazing one. Always play it safe by using the proper equipment and utilizing knowledgeable tour guides who will help you to find the best spots to explore the mysterious world that lies just off the coast of the Dominican Republic.
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