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Dive Review of Pelicano Watersports & Dressel Divers/Ocean Blue & Iberostar Bayahibe in
Dominican Republic/Punta Cana

Pelicano Watersports & Dressel Divers/Ocean Blue & Iberostar Bayahibe, Feb, 2006,

by Irwin Danto, MI, USA . Report 2291.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Last divers in 2005 were on the Nimrod Explorer at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 77 to 77 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 5 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Although I am SDI Solo certified all the resorts required that I stay with the dive guide. At times they even assigned a dive guide to shadow me - something about "management rules".
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales >2
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments No photo facilities on any of the boats. The typical boat is a 20' mono hull with a single outboard. There were no "dry" facilities. Dressel Divers in Bayahibe had a nice, new boat which handled the ocean great and at 31 knots, but with limited accomodations for UWP.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments I knew going in that diving in the Dominican Republic, especially around Punta Cana area would be difficult and perhaps disappointing. There was little solid information on the web. Trying to make advance plans was very difficult as most diver operators spoke poor english. There are 40+ mostly all-inclusive resorts lined up on the east end of the Dominican Republic in an area known as "Punta Cana". Each resort has contracted out with a watersports operator. Transportation between resorts is very difficult and risky as poverty grips the area. This poverty translates to steel bars on every window, door, gate, etc. At night the resorts all "lock down" to prevent unauthorized entry.

I saw and experienced no professional diving operators in this part of the Dominican Republic. There is no nitrox available, limited access to advanced dive training, and a somewhat careless attitude. There is no controlled system to monitor for a missing diver. Most of the diver boats are mono hull 20' with an out-board and a driver with a 5 watt walky talky for communication. I saw limited other safety equipment. No GPS or other navigation equipment. Boarding the small boats required getting out of your BC and sometimes pushing yourself over the boat gunnels. Some boats did not have a ladder. All the resorts had better, what I would call limited dive boats but they could only be used with larger groups of 6 or more divers.

I was never sure what real certification or training was owned by any of dive staff. Once I arrived in Punta Cana everyone was very positive and had good attitudes. English went better in person than over the phone. Don't even think about trying to get through the resort operator. It took me 8 attempts to filter to the watersports desk at the Iberostar.

Still I made the most of it and actually found some good stuff to grab pictures of. In fact the quality of my UW pictures was the best ever which I credit to working with a high shutter speed of 1/250 to 1/320 of a second. I got some unbelieveable pictures of a Spanish Dancer to add into my collection. Otherwise most of my pictures were duplicates of those taken on other diving trips. I managed to get in 9 dives over 5 days.

Seven of the divers were good to great. One was a waste with 5' visibility and heavy surge . Another dive was one of those suppose to be drift dives at 90' which turned out to be a swimming experience with no pictures to take as the underwater topology was dead with no fish. Worst was that the dive staff was completely confused by PSI and Bars. My wife was on that dive and I literally had to yank the dive guide's hand off my wife as he wanted to continue the dive at 90' with her having less than 500psi in her tank. She got back on the boat with 200psi.

Another diver ran completely out of air and two others shortened their safety stop when surfacing. I had to follow that ascent experience up with a loud arguement with the boat captain who wanted to put the group back in the water on a shallow 30-40' dive just 35 minutes latter. I made them wait it out for 60 minutes as the previous dive was 34 minutes at 90'. As a PADI Master Diver I probably had the most experience on the boat of 14 divers including the boat staff. I don't fault their attitudes which were for the most part very positive but clearly additional training would be beneficial.

Typically I am use to a set of morning dives and then a set of afternoon dives. In Punta Cana the standard seems to be one morning dive followed by a single afternoon dive. The rare exception was the "2 tank" dive described in the last paragraph.

There is supposedly good diving on the north shore of the DM which is a 3-6 hour ride from Punta Cana. Most diver's searching for better diving out of Punta Cana should head south to the Bayahibe area which is near Catalina and Catalinta Islands. The Bayahibe dive area was full of life and great dive sites. There is nothing like it in the Punta Cana area when almost all the reefs are dead and there is very, very, few fish.

The Ibeostar Bayahibe is a 5 star resort and would be my destination if I ever get back to the Dominican Republic. My resort in Punta Cana was the Ocean Blue. It was huge with 710 suites, perhaps rating 4 1/2 stars, all-enclusive with 8 restaraunts and wonderfull beach facilities. Unfortunately it is a 2-3 hour trip from Punta Cana to the south end of the island where the good diving is at and that translates to a torturest bus ride which heads out before 7 in the morning and doesn't return until after 7 at night.

So Punta Cana was not my idea dive resort destination. I didn't get to choose as the trip was sponsored by one of our vendors at a price I could not overlook. The weather was sunny, 85' everyday, with a gentle breeze coming off the ocean.

Before I sign off let me give a plug to Suunto. These dives were with a my new Vytec DS which has the same deep stop software of the D9. I was very impressed with the computer and highly recomend the brand. I have it mounted to my Zeagle Ranger BC with Vytec's combination compass retractor. It was a slick package.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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