Puerto Plata and Sosua, Dominican Republic
David M. Benz
Don’t miss the chance to admire art that’s been placed underwater to form an artificial reef in the heart of Sosua Bay.
Ask any diver you know who’s been here. The Dominican Republic’s lush north coast just hits differently. As soon as you land in Puerto Plata or arrive here by land after diving elsewhere in the country, you will be immersed in spellbinding landscapes, historic sites and cultural experiences.
Verdant mountains drop to the deep blue Atlantic Ocean, where the shoreline is scalloped by coves and beaches that are fringed by swaying palms. The historic town of Puerto Plata has magnificent Victorian mansions, a breezy pedestrian pathway lining the waterfront called the Malecón, and the historic Spanish fortress Fortaleza de San Felipe to explore. Tropical gardens are filled with lovely trees and the fragrance of exotic flowers. Every view is postcard perfect and a treat for the senses. The Dominican Republic’s north coast is a place of endless magic and incredible surprises.
The natural beauty and bounty is found underwater, too. When it’s time to scuba dive, you will be delighted. One of the biggest draws in this part of the Dominican Republic is that there are so many excellent dive sites to explore–and all within just a few minutes by boat from the shore.
David M. Benz
The bay’s location offers clear water and calm conditions that shelter the intricate reef formations that are a magnet for fish life.
That’s particularly true in the pretty seaside village of Sosua, where flowering trees shade narrow streets lined with dive shops, as well as lively bars and cafes to check out once you’ve toweled off for the day.
Follow the beach-going crowds down to Sosua’s scenic bay, where dive boats launch directly from the sand beach to reach the superb sites scattered across the bay. The bay’s location offers clear water and calm conditions that shelter the intricate reef formations that are a magnet for fish life.
You’re never more than five minutes from getting in the water once the dive boat’s engine turns on in Sosua and sets out for the area’s reefs, mini walls and canyons. By the time you’ve sloshed the defogger around your mask it will be time to backward roll into the water.
At the dive site called Coral Gardens, you can drop down to a mini wall bristling with bright sponges and soft corals in just 50 feet of water. Everywhere you look, healthy corals and waving sea fans carpet the reef and common Caribbean reef fish go about their business. You might see banded butterflyfish parading around in pairs or cardinalfish weaving their way through the rocks and nooks and crannies of the reef. Keep an eye out for eels peeking from their hidey holes, too. Surprises are found at every turn—you never know what you’ll see here.
The site called Puntilla–it means “The Point” in English–is a favorite among underwater photographers. You’ve got a good chance at spotting frogfish and seahorses here if you keep a keen eye out for these masters of camouflage.
Divers who love to weave their way like a fish through a dive site will find lots to love at the site called Canyon, more or less in the middle of Sosua Bay. Here, schooling fish are commonly found packing a narrow canyon down at about 30 feet. The whole scene looks like a pair of towering stone bookends, rising up around you and beckoning you to fin through. When French grunts are schooling in the canyon, it makes for a particularly vibrant contrast with the sapphire blue backdrop of the ocean all around.
David M. Benz
One of the biggest draws in this part of the Dominican Republic is that there are so many excellent dive sites to explore–and all within just a few minutes by boat from the shore.
Ray Point is another dreamy Sosua dive site to put on your radar. The coral head here is usually loaded with fish life—which on any given day might mean silvery baitfish or classic French grunts–swirling around the sponges and corals of this pristine and healthy reef.
And for something totally different, don’t miss the chance to admire art that’s been placed underwater to form an artificial reef in the heart of Sosua Bay. One of the largest underwater statues in the Caribbean, it is a crouching figure towering 16 feet high, made of steel and PH-neutral cement that works to attract a plethora of marine life. The statue was inspired by Atabey, the ancestral and universal mother of the indigenous Taino people. And the sculpture was designed as much for the purpose of creating an artificial reef and improving biodiversity in Sosua Bay as it was to honor the wisdom of the Dominican Republic’s indigenous people.
Don’t miss a coral head just a short swim from the statue, too (dive guides are always sure to lead divers to it). It’s another hot spot for marine life–think sharply contrasting yellowhead wrasse and sergeant majors in droves–in these shallow, warm and deeply colorful waters. Be sure to keep an eye on the deeper blue, too, where rays may appear.
When you make Puerto Plata and Sosua your next dive trip in the Dominican Republic, you’ll discover a place of breathtaking beauty, both topside and underwater, that will deliver magical and surprising experiences at every turn.
With special thanks to Senator Puerto Plata Spa Resort and Diwa Dominicana for a great stay and diving in Puerto Plata and Sosua.