A 3 and a half hour flight from NYC puts you in the Dominican Republic, a country with beautiful beaches, warm weather all year around and great diving.
Where to stay
There are many places to stay in the Puerto Plata area that will fit your needs. All inclusive, hotel with a pool, or maybe you wanna rent a property, there are so many options
There are several airlines that will fly you into Puerto Plata (POP) in the United States, American Airlines, JetBlue and United. JetBlue gives divers the best bang for their buck even though the flights seem more expensive. They have a great baggage plan, 1 check in, 1 overhead carry on and 1 under the seat carry on. My items such as mask, fins, save dive kit, first aid kit, cutting tools, reels, wetsuit and anything else that won't make it through TSA screening go in my check in. In my overhead I put my regs, flashlights and cloths. Under my seat rests my laptop, camera and dive computer.
|Flying to DR is a unique experience especially boarding and disembarking the flight. I always make sure I am in the first 10 rows often buying an even more space seat. This ensures I get an overhead space and can avoid the slow movers. POP is a fairly small airport and you'll know you've landed when everyone claps. Seriously, everyone claps.|
Yay you've landed
You will be greeted by a band playing music as you enter the customs area. The customs process changes every so often, as of my last flight I was given forms on the plane and had to fill out additional forms when I landed. The entry fee is included in your flight price so no money is exchanged at customs. If you decide stay more than 30 days you will pay an extended stay/overstay tax starting at 2,500 RD (that's about 45 dollars). The airport is small so getting lost is not a worry. Once you clear customs, the baggage carousels, money exchange and Duty Free are a few yards away. Do not exchange money there, dollars will get you where you need to go for a better rate, have your boarding pass or baggage receipt in hand.
When you exit the airport there will be a barrage of people asking you for a taxi. Its ok take one if you don't have a pre arranged ride. The cost to the town of Sosua were diving is cost around 20 to 25 dollars.
The beach and diving
Down a narrow road lined with shops, you will find a thriving beach area. There are several dive shops there to chose from, all great and ready to take you out on a diving adventure. I dive and work out of Aqua Adventures, a shop owned and operated by a Dominican local. Most of the dive sites are a few minutes away, so close, you can come back to the shop for your surface interval. There are sites for every skill level, 3 rocks and Coral Gardens are great for beginners, those getting certified and Discover Scuba. Sites like Mini wall, Airport wall and Pyramid are good for those with a few dive under their belt. Then There's "big boy" diving at sites like Ray Point, Mini Wall Deep and the Zinhgara wreck.
|There are many other places to dive in the Dominican Republic too such as Punta Cana, Boca Chica and Samana but for convenience of travel, Puerto Plata is the best bet.|
I took a trip with Aqua Adventures and we drove to the Dominican border and Dove Monzenia Haiti. The reefs were untouched and there wasn't another diver in sight.
Aqua Adventures is a shop I dive at exclusively when I dive in the Dominican Republic, its very laid back safe diving. This is a first hand account of a dive day with them by Sosua One, a premier source for info on the town of Sosua.