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Punta Cana and Bayahibe, Dominican Republic

Beyond the resorts and gorgeous beaches scuba divers will find some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean.

By Terry Ward | Updated On June 4, 2024
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Punta Cana and Bayahibe, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana hardly needs an introduction as one of the most beautiful places in the world for enjoying a tropical beach vacation. Located on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, the country’s resort capital has attracted vacationers from all over the planet for decades. With its heady mix of oceanfront all-inclusive resorts, white sandy beaches and welcoming locals–all set to a backdrop of swaying palms and with the lilt of bachata and merengue music on the air—Punta Cana is the perfect place to spend a fun-in-the-sun vacation.

The longest coral reef in all of the Dominican Republic stretches from Punta Cana north to the beaches of Bávaro.

David M. Benz

Punta Cana makes it easy to make scuba diving as much a part of your vacation as you like, too–whether you’re traveling together with family or friends on a beach getaway or have come on your own to kick back, relax and dive to your heart’s content.

Most of the dive sites here are less than a 10-minute boat ride from the beach. Conditions are optimal for diving around Punta Cana from April through the summer months, when breezes are mild and the sea is calm.

The longest coral reef in all of the Dominican Republic stretches from Punta Cana north to the beaches of Bávaro, where you’ll find reefs, wrecks, canyons and caves all easily accessible from the shore when you head out with ScubaCaribe to dive.

Bayahibe offers more than 20 dive sites to choose from in a compact area, including some high-adrenaline drifts and plunging walls.

David M. Benz

All of the recreational dives off Punta Cana are “anchor dives,” where you’ll follow your guide down the dive boat’s anchor line through clouds of colorful fish to explore sites in roughly 45 feet of water.

It’s the perfect underwater environment for the beginners in your group to gain confidence while getting more experience. And there’s no shortage of thrills for experienced divers at Punta Cana’s sites, too, including seeing the massive propeller of the Astron wreck. The former cargo ship ran aground on the reef here in the 1980s and is covered with fire coral and blanketed with shimmering schools of fish.

If Punta Cana’s dive sites whet your appetite to explore even more in the area, you can extend your adventure by booking a day trip to the beautiful coastal town of Bayahibe, about an hour’s drive away on the Dominican Republic’s south coast.

Dive shops in Punta Cana and Bávaro prepare the whole package, arranging comfortable transport to Bayahibe, from where you’ll set off on a short boat trip to reach the impressive dive sites around Catalina Island.

There are more than 20 dive sites to choose from in a compact area, including some high-adrenaline drifts and plunging walls. This day trip is a great option for the divers in your group with a bit more experience under their belts, but nondivers in your group can join, too. They can spend the afternoon snorkeling from Catalina’s Island’s gorgeous private beach, strolling a nature trail, and enjoying a picnic lunch and freshly opened coconuts. The views of the Caribbean’s turquoise waters from Catalina here are stunning.

Beyond the resorts and gorgeous beaches scuba divers will find some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean

David M. Benz

Depending on the day’s conditions, you might dive Catalina Wall, considered to be the most vibrant and colorful in all of the Dominican Republic. In about 60 feet of water just off Catalina Island’s east side, it’s adorned by huge vase sponges and healthy stands of elkhorn and pillar corals and offers a good chance to see all the typical Caribbean reef denizens. On any given day that might mean turtles, moray eels, all manner of parrotfish and southern stingrays, just to name of the marine life creatures making their home here. Snorkelers can fin above the shallow sections of Catalina Wall, too, for a fun adventure.

Nearby, in just 40 feet of water, the dive site called The Aquarium is a beautiful shallow site loaded with lush coral heads, where bright Caribbean sunlight makes the underwater views pop with kaleidoscopic color.

Schools of brilliant creole wrasse rain down on the reef, and your dive guide can help you scout for seahorses camouflaged so well you might miss them on your own.

A day trip diving Catalina Island’s sites always includes down time on your own to explore the island’s pristine beach, where you’ll have a few hours to relax over a barbecue lunch of typical Dominican fare. The cuisine here reflects the country’s rich history, culture and traditions (think grilled chicken, plantains and tropical fruit).

There’s time to stroll along the short nature trail to Punta Perez here, too, where bright-colored butterflies flit among the plants lining the pathway. At the trail’s end,you can descend a ladder into turquoise seas for another refreshing swim before heading back to Bayahibe and then your return to Punta Cana.

You can be a diver or a snorkeler, exploring the magic of the Dominican underwater world.” – Click Here for more information on diving and snorkeling in the Dominican Republic.

With special thanks to Hotel Riu Bambu and ScubaCaribe for a great stay and diving in Punta Cana, Bávaro and Isla Catalina.