Snorkeling Dominican Republic’s Atlantic coast

The Atlantic coast of the country is known for its harsh currents and rough waters. Snorkeling can be practiced there only at some specific locations, particularly in Samaná Peninsula. While Punta Cana, at the eastern tip of the island, features the longest reef on the island, snorkeling is generally not recommended there.

Samaná Peninsula is Santo Domingo’s north coast snorkeling hotspot. Playa Frontón, at the eastern tip of the Peninsula, offers good snorkeling in a spectacular setting. Boat tours are the best option to reach this reef located at the foot of impressive rocky cliffs, but you can also hire a guide and hike to the beach. When the sea is calm and the visibility OK, you can also snorkel from several beaches of the northern coast of the peninsula, especially in Rincón, Playa Ermitaño, Portillo, and in Playa Las Ballenas. From Playa Bonita area, you can also take a boat trip to explore Cayos Las Ballenas, 4 small coral islets laying some 3km off the coast.

Apart from Samaná Peninsula, Playa Sosúa is one of the best options for snorkeling Santo Domingo’s northern side. This sheltered bay hosts a vibrant coral reef right off the beach.

Snorkeling in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
Playa Magallanes rocky shore is home to a fascinating marine life (left, a smooth trunkfish; right, a yellow stingray).

Snorkeling Dominican Republic’s Caribbean coast

The Caribbean coast of the country, sheltered from trade winds, offers the best conditions for snorkeling. Here, the sea is much calmer, with a good underwater visibility, and almost no currents. In Santo Domingo area, you will find good snorkeling in Parque Nacional Submarino La Caleta (near the crossing between Las Americas highway and the road to Las Americas International Airport) and in Boca Chica beach, where snorkelers will enjoy a shallow lagoon sheltered by a coral reef.

Bayahibe region boast some of the best snorkeling from the main island’s coast. Its rocky shore is home to a vibrant underwater life, that you can for example encounter at Playa Magallanes, at a walking distance from Bayahibe village. Just south of Bayahibe, the huge Playa Dominicus resorts area has decent shore snorkeling. Some small coral patches are found at Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach, while artificial reefs have been installed in front of several hotels beaches (especially at Be Live Collection Canoa, Catalonia Royal La Romana, Dreams Dominicus La Romana, and at the southern section of Iberostar Selection beach). These artificial reefs, made of concrete jars, attract a lot of fish and invertebrates, just 50 meters from the shore.

But for the best snorkeling in Dominican Republic, book a boat tour to the islands of Saona, Catalina or Catalinita, all reachable by day tours from Punta Cana, Bávaro and Bayahibe resorts. These islands are fringed by vibrant coral reefs, especially in the most remote areas.

Santo Domingo’s coastal waters attract a colorful aquatic life, typical from the Caribbean reefs. You will easily spot butterflyfish, surgeonfish, grunts, triggerfish and angelfish over seabeds packed with sponges and gorgonian. Several moray eel species also dwell on the reef and lobsters can be seen, especially in the preserved areas. Rays can also sometimes be spotted, including in shallow beach areas.

When to go snorkeling in Dominican Republic?

The Dominican Republic is a year-round snorkeling destination, thanks to a pleasant water temperature around 27°C (81°F). Two main seasons occur in Dominican Republic: a dry season, from December to April, and a wet season, from June to November. The dry season is characterized by warm temperatures (25-29°C/77-84°F in average) and low levels of rainfall, but is also the peak tourist season, when loads of visitor come to enjoy the country’s beaches. During the wet season, the temperatures increase with daily highs of 30°C/86°F or higher and humidity is at its highest. Shower rains are frequent, but you can still snorkel the rest of the day. Be aware that the wet season is also the hurricane season, and that the country gets hit with a major storm every decade or so.

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Our favorite spots in Dominican Republic
FreeShore
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
Playa Magallanes
Nestled in the rocky shoreline of Bayahibe, the small Playa Magallanes is one of the most easy-to-reach snorkeling spots in the area. Above all, snorkelers come here to explore the caves and rock overhangs found along...

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