Miles of idyllic white-sand beaches fringed by vibrant coral reefs make scuba diving in Punta Cana one of the best ways to enjoy the sun and sea while on vacation, and doing so couldn’t be easier, since some of the best spots for scuba divers are found just minutes from the resort beaches. With outfitters like Blue Vision Adventures, divers can put on their scuba gear at the beach and take a quick boat ride to find thrilling shipwrecks packed with incredible schools of tropical reef fish, protected coral gardens where sea turtles swim and graze, and shallow reefs pockmarked by undersea caverns. If you plan to go scuba diving in Punta Cana on your next trip, here are three local dive sites you won’t want to miss.
Just beyond the reef off of the Puntacana Resort and Club, the wreck of the Patricia lies on her side, with her sailing masts stretched out across the sand. As one of the best spots for scuba diving in Punta Cana, the ship is a haven for schooling baitfish. Giant clouds of these tiny fish ebb and flow around you as you swim through the wreckage. Occasionally a large grouper or barracuda makes an appearance, eyeing the smaller fish as you meander in and out.
Only a few minutes from the Patricia, the Aquarium is another of the best spots for scuba divers, as this shallow network of coral reefs is bathed in Caribbean sunlight. The location allows gorgonians and soft corals to grow, and in turn, offers shelter to myriad types of butterfly, angel, and parrot fish. Like Swiss cheese, the reef has a network of caves and tunnels where you can spot gleaming silversides and snapper. Also interesting, and a testament to the eco-consciousness of the local dive shops, is the coral nursery in a nearby sand flat, where towers of handmade frames hold cuttings of endangered staghorn coral. These towers allow the coral to safely grow until they are large enough to be transplanted onto the reef.
The shipwreck Monica offers a very different experience from the Patricia. Sunk around 1900, this wooden ship has grown into the reef, yet divers can still explore remnants of the ship and her cargo, including railroad supplies and anchors. Among the jumble of the wreck itself, look for tiny trunkfish and moray eels hiding in the crevices, while the sandy areas around the wreck occasionally have southern stingrays.