Photos by Geri Murphy & Paul Tzimoulis

Geri Murphy is one of the most published underwater photo journalist's in the world. She is best identified with Skin Diver, which has showcased more than 150 cover photos from 1977 to 1999. During that period, she generated more than 850 travel features and product reports under the Skin Diver banner.

She has spent the past 25 years traveling the world and covering such unique activities as shark tagging contests, congregating Manta Rays, encounters with wild dolphins, live-aboard cruises to exotic locations, shipwreck search and discovery and shark feeding advenures. Murphy is also responsible for photographing and naming Stingray City in Grand Cayman - now one of the world's most famous diving attractions.

Day 4 - Punta Cana Beach Resort

Coconut palm trees line the beach.
The next stop is Punta Cana Beach Resort. We flew from El Portillo about 200 miles to the very eastern tip of the island. This is the point at which the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea come together.

A family outing at Punta Cana.
Walking into the open air lobby of the Punta Cana Beach Resort is like entering the Taj Mahal. The architecture and furnishings are absolutely awesome. The atmosphere is entirely different here than at the other resorts we've stayed at on the island. The hotel grounds are so expansive that we needed a golf cart to get from one place to the other. It is rare that you find a hotel with 2,500 feet of beachfront and 2,000 palm trees decorating the grounds. Punta Cana has everything from golf, to tennis, to horseback riding and eco-walking tours.

This area is ideal for sailing.
We headed for the Punta Cana Dive Center located right on the beach. It is a PADI Gold Palm Resort Facility with two dive boats, a multilingual staff of six and all sorts of training programs. Dive Operations Manager Leon Bresser and his boat captain Joselito loaded the 24-foot, high-speed dive boat and off we went.

Carolyn, Vicki and Geri--ready for another adventure.
We were heading to Punta Cana's extensive reef system, which juts out from shore more than one mile. The bottom profile is a series of patch reefs separated by large sand flats--perfect for stingrays, sea turtles and Nurse Sharks.

Punta Cana's dive boat.
Our first dive was at Pepe Reef in 40 to 50 feet of water. It is part of the underwater barrier reef that parallels the shoreline. It was a typical Caribbean reef site with healthy corals, plenty of seafans and an assortment of parrotfish, Blue Tangs, Squirrelfish and Trumpetfish. A nice dive, especially for beginners.

A stingray launches from the sand bottom.
Our second dive was at Anchor Reef, a much more interesting encounter. The bottom was similar but a bit deeper, with much larger expanses of sand flats. We cruised along the edge of the reef where it met the sand at 60 feet. We encountered stingrays snoozing in the sand, a Barracuda flashing its color pattern at a cleaning station and a ton of fish, including Foureye

The resort's guest rooms.
Butterflyfish, Blue Tangs and Creole Wrasse. The most exciting part of the dive was an encounter with two Spotted Eagle Rays that were feeding on the sand flats, digging for clams, crabs and other shellfish. The larger of the two rays had a wingspan of four feet and the smaller one seemed to follow behind. It's always the unexpected that makes diving so interesting.

The freshwater cavern at Laguna Pepe.
The resort's most unique dive was Laguna Pepe, a freshwater cavern in the middle of the golf course, not far from the dive center. Diving depth is approximately 26 feet and the interior of the cavern is 125 by 165 feet. There was a three-foot-deep layer of green water on top with crystal clear water beneath, producing a surrealistic green glow to the underwater scene. There were shrimp and small fish in the cavern.

We devoted the rest of our stay to enjoying Punta Cana's fabulous beach, watersports and fine food.

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Making contact in the Dominican Republic

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Coral Costa Caribe Beach Hotel & Sea Pro 800-288-1332

Don Juan Beach Resort & Treasure Divers 800-820-1631

El Portillo Beach Resort & Samana Dive Center 800-550-1869

Punta Cana Beach Resort & Dive Center 800-815-5019

Viva Resorts--Viva Diving Undersea Adventure 877-564-VIVA

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