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

February, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Irwin Danto, MI, USA
Report Number 2291
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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

choppy, surge  
Water Temp
77   to 77    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
5   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
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".  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
3 stars    
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

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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