The Monte Cristi Underwater National Park
The Monte Cristi Underwater National Park is highly regarded for Scuba Diving and snorkeling, It is the most important barrier reef and ecosystem of the Dominican Republic. It is entirely in Monte Cristi province. The Park starts at the mouth of the North Yaque river and ends near Punta Rucia and covers over 96 mi² (249 km²).
The Monte Cristi Underwater National Park is a protected area. It boasts a pristine and vibrant barrier coral reef. The reefs are excellent for scuba diving, snorkeling and underwater photography. Nearly 90% of all the live coral in the Dominican Republic is within the park. You’ll see various hard and soft coral beds. In addition, you’ll find impressive Elk horn corals. Along with the reefs, there are the colorful schools of tropical fish, sponges, manatee and sea turtles in the national park.
The Sea Floor
The national park protection not only includes the coral colonies. It also includes the marine floor. The park protects sand banks like Cayo Arena (Paradise Island), the natural swimming pools, the mangrove forests and shipwrecks.
The natural pools are sand shallows in the mangrove forest near Monte Cristi. They have sand that resembles oat flakes. The sand is excellent for exfoliating the skin.
Marine archeology and wreck diving are other popular park attractions. The park is a ship necropolis that contains more than 450 sunken galleons and shipwrecks. These wrecks date from the colonial period to the 19th century. You can find many of the wrecks near the coastline and the keys. Still today, many wrecks remain undiscovered.
A.D.M.A.T. has identified and is studying several famous shipwrecks within the park:
- The Pipe Shipwreck Late 17th century
- The Tile Shipwreck 1720
- Le Casimir 1829
- Le Dragon 1783
- The Island Shipwreck
Other famous wrecks include:
- Costa Verde Shipwreck (recently discovered)