The Dominican Republic is justifiably famous for its tropical shores, beautiful crystal-clear water, thriving early modern colonial cities, and its people who are passionate about dancing, food, and life in general. The island’s varied terrain includes savannah, rainforest, highlands like Pico Duarte, the tallest mountain in all of the Caribbean and wonderful beaches so it is definitely a destination where no one will get bored. If you are one who enjoys exploring the undersea world, this Dominican Republic snorkeling guide will give tips on what places you should visit!
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Best time to go snorkeling in the Dominican Republic
There is no bad time to visit the Dominican Republic, but if water activities are on your things-do-list, there are periods and locations that offer better conditions than the others. The island has two seasons, a dry which is running from December to April, and a wet from June to November.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the peak season falls for the dry months. This is when you can expect wall-to-wall sunshine with temperatures in the high 70s (21C) and low 80s (26C), but these ideal conditions mean busier beaches and higher prices too. The wet season brings more rainfall (it rains usually once per day) and high humidity that can be exhausting for some, but this is when the island is not crowded and the prices are lower.
If you plan to visit the best Dominican Republic snorkeling places, keep in mind that during summer, the north coast is better with calm seas and sea temperatures averages in 28°C/83°F, while in winter the south coast offers good conditions meaning that the sea is calmer, however the water temperature is around 24°C/76°F only so wearing a snorkeling suit is recommended.
Top Dominican Republic snorkeling spots
Playa Rincon on the Samana Peninsula ranks as among the island’s most stunning beaches on earth with good reason. The three miles (five km) generous beach is not too developed, but its pristine, stunning white sand and turquoise sea offers perfect conditions to enjoy the sun and sea, while the marine life filled waters make it a nice place for snorkeling in the Dominican Republic.
Along one edge of the beach the water is protected, this is where snorkeling and swimming is the best. On the opposite northern edge there are bodysurfing sized waves. Should you get hungry, you can enjoy fresh fish directly on the beach sold by a few seafront restaurants.
>>> the closest accommodation nearby is the Rincon Rubi Hotel about 30 mins walk from this wonderful beach.
While all the Dominican snorkeling sites are beautiful, there is one that offers an experience you should definitely not miss out. If swimming with humpback whales is on you bucket list, Silver Bank is the name of the place where you need to go.
About 90km north of the island, Silver Bank is an important calving and breeding zone for the North Atlantic Humpback whales that was declared a marine mammal sanctuary by President Joaquin Balagaer.
About 5000-6000 humpbacks migrate every year from the cold northern waters to the warmer southern seas to mate, give birth and teach the young, therefore a very exciting behavior can be observed if you sign up for a whale snorkeling tour. The whales are breaching, tailing their lob and slapping their fins while the water is filled with their song! A lifetime experience you definitely won’t forget!
Boca Chica is the best place to go for people who are looking for good snorkeling near Santo Domingo, the national capital city. The waters are sheltered, the sand is white and the whole beach is protected by a coral reef offering ideal conditions for snorkeling and swimming.
The beach is very busy on the weekends because this is the place that people from the capital love to visit, so if you can, come to Boca Chica on a weekday.
There is an islet off the beach, La Matica that is covered by mangroves amidst the shallow bay that is also worth exploring. Moreover, on the other side of the bay there is the La Caleta underwater park which is also a top Dominican Republic snorkeling spot with submerged shipwrecks and coral reefs!
>>> our hotel tip here is the Boca Beach Residence
The Playa Sosua beach crescent-shaped bay lies about twenty minutes to the east of Puerto Plata. The golden sand stands in sharp contrast to the stunning turquoise sea lined by a sandy, white bottom.
This is the original home to international beach tourism in the country. The Playa Sousa is justifiably renowned for its restaurants, bars, shops, and world-class sunsets. It is a favorite with both snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
Right next door there is Playa Alicia in the same cove, which is just as gorgeous as Playa Sosua, but less touristy. If you want to avoid the crowds, this is the place to go!
The little island found to the Samana Peninsula southeast, Cayo Levantado is not only a beautiful island with white sand and turquoise waters, but also an excellent spot to go snorkeling in the Dominican Republic. The island is owned by the Bahia Principe Luxury Resort that has a private beach along the island’s southern coast.
The west coast of the island provides two public access beaches where non-resort guests can go snorkeling from the beach and enjoy observing the variety of marine life living here. It is possible to see butterflyfish, angelfish, flounders, and moray eels here besides several dozen other types of Caribbean fish.
With stunning white sands and a shore checkered with coconut trees, Playa Fronton is one of the most idyllic beaches in the Dominican Republic for snorkeling that can be most easily reached by taking a boat from Las Galeras. Alternatively, you can hike here too.
This paradise beach is pretty remote that explains why the popular Survivor series has been filmed here. Thanks to the mysterious caves and the incomparable beach scenery, it should come as no surprise that Playa Fronton is beloved for snorkeling but note that there are many sea urchins in the water so be careful with them (wear water shoes when walking on the beach).
Cayo Arena – Paradise Island
Cayo Arena is a little sandbar that is referred to as Paradise Island. The sand is stunning white and encircled by aquamarine water and this is why snorkelers and divers love coming here to enjoy the surrounding coral reefs.
Snorkeling in Cayo Arena means seeing literally hundreds of different fish. You may swim around in the shallow waters but also to the coral reef edge where bigger fish can be seen. To get to Cayo Arena, look for a boat at Playa La Ensenda or Punta Rucia that depart during the whole day.
The small fishing town of Bayahibe is a beloved area to visit among those who love underwater sports because several dive centers locate here offering trips to the best Dominican Republic snorkeling and diving sites.
Those who are looking for off-beach snorkeling can visit Playa Bahahibe, Playa Dominicus or Playa Caleta and Playa Caleton in La Romana where the water is clear and you can expect to see some fish and maybe small coral patches, but if you are looking for better snorkeling, take a trip to the nearby Isla Catalina or Isla Saona!
Snorkeling in the Dominican Republic would not be complete without coming out to the Saona Island nature reserve that is renowned for its coral reefs and mangroves along with its palm-lined beaches.
It is often called as starfish island, so you can count on seeing starfish within the shallow waters. Be sure to visit Mano Juan the peaceful fishing village found close to Flamingo Lagoon with its tropically colored shacks and turtle sanctuary.
The tropical island called Isla Catalina lies about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) off the mainland close to La Romana and La Altagracia and is considered as one of the best beaches of the Dominican Republic with its awesome clear waters and fine, golden sand. If is often busy with cruise ship guests since there is a private beach here that Costa Cruises owns.
Isla Catalina is a superb diving location since the seas surrounding the island are replete with wildlife including numerous tropical fish species, but it is an ideal Dominican Republic snorkeling spot too that can be enjoyed by young and old.
Punta Cana is the island’s most popular tourist destination. Although a long reef runs along the Punta Cana shoreline, due to the heavy boat traffic and often sometimes rough seas, unfortunately most Punta Cana beaches are not really good for snorkeling. If you are looking for the best spot where you can go snorkeling from the shore in Punta Cana, consider staying at Club Med Hotel.
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