Dive Travel: Dominican Republic
This week we're going to look at diving in the Dominican Republic, specifically the Silver Banks. The Silver Banks are located 80 miles north of the Dominican Republic in the Atlantic, southeast of Turks and Caicos Islands.
In 1986 the Dominican Republic declared the Silver Banks a whale sanctuary. The Silver Banks is one of the few places in the world where snorkelers are allowed to enter the water and interact with humpback whales in their natural environment.
The Silver Banks is a 75 square mile shallow coral reef area (only 20 to 75 feet deep) which derives its name from a large amount of Spanish gold and silver lost in shipwrecks in the 1600s. The "banks" are an underwater plateau of limestone. The coral heads which break the surface provide protection for the whales and their young from the ocean swells. It is estimated that between 3,000 to 5,000 humpbacks pass through Silver Banks between December and mid-April each year, making it the largest breeding and calving grounds in the world. The Silver Banks is reached only by live-aboard boats that have obtained a special license issued by the Dominican Republic Whale Commission. Only a few boats hold this license which allows travel and mooring in the waters of this sanctuary. These boats must adhere to strict guidelines of non-invasive travel near the whales.
The average water temperature ranges from about 76°F to 82°F. Average visibility ranges from 50-100'. The best diving months for the Silver Banks is between February-March.