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
Day 5 - Club Viva Dominicus
By Geri Murphy
Our next stop on this whirlwind tour is Club Viva Dominicus. We drive 72
miles along the country's south coast in our mini van trip from Punta
Cana to the region of La Romana. As we entered the lobby, we were met by
Laura Gualazzi, Director of Viva Diving. She takes us on a quick tour of
the resort and introduces us to our dive guide Luca, the dive center
The beach at Club Viva Dominicus.
Club Viva Dominicus is another one of those all-inclusive beach resorts
that offers room, all meals, snacks, beverages, liquor, most beach
activities, dancing, music and shows as part of the one price package.
Wow, what a happening place! Music is being played everywhere,
Loading the dive boat.
a soccer game going on, a dance class by the pool is underway, a group
of people have formed a circle in the water for ocean aerobics, and the
dive center is busy setting up guests for several dive trips.
Our dive guide--Luca.
At the dive center, the staff provides us with tanks and plastic baskets
in which to store and dry our gear. Everything is clearly marked with
our names on pieces of tape. Viva Diving is a well organized operation
with a staff of six multi-lingual dive instructors and underwater
guides. They offer PADI training courses and operate two very fast dive
Having fun at the beach.
We load our gear aboard the dive boat at the beach and zoom out to the
wreck of the St. George which lies directly out from the resort. The
ride is less than 3 minutes. The St. George is a 170 foot steel hull
freighter which was sunk a year ago as an artificial reef. She is
considered an advanced diver wreck site because she lies in 100 to 130
feet of water. She sits upright on a sand slope with the bow pointed to
deeper water. The wreck has already begun to accumulate marine life
growth as well as a resident fish population.
Enjoying the ride to the dive site.
A large 4 foot long
barracuda and 2 smaller ones maintain a vigil over the ship's funnel and
superstructure. The places we found most interesting on this wreck were
the bow, foredeck winches and machinery, a steel ladder attached to the
outside of the hull amidships, the bridge and the ship's giant 4-bladed
propeller. I would rate the St. George as a very good wreck dive because
she is totally intact.
The bow of the St. George.
For our second dive, we cruised over to Aquarium, a shallow coral reef
just inside the National Marine Park boundary. It was a quick 20 minute
ride from the wreck. This site is a low profile coral reef in 18 to 25
feet of water bordered by a flat white sand bottom.
We're impressed by the quality and variety of living reef structures -
beautiful colonies of pillar corals, large brain corals and swaying
gorgonians. We encounter tons of fish life - schools of yellow grunt, at
least four yellow stingrays, a pair of
Carolyn checks out the Pillar Coral at Aquario Reef.
French angelfish, blackbar
soldierfish hiding under ledges, a lobster in a coral cave and so on.
It's the classic Caribbean reef and a perfect second dive.
Sunset after a great day of diving.
Tomorrow, Luca promises to take us to the legendary Catalina Island
drop-off and one of Saona Island's best reef dives. I can hardly wait.
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