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 5 - Club Viva Dominicus

By Geri Murphy

The beach at Club Viva Dominicus.
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 manager.

Loading the dive boat.
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,

Our dive guide--Luca.
there is 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.

Having fun at the beach.
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 boats.

Enjoying the ride to the dive site.
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.

The bow of the St. George.
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.

Carolyn checks out the Pillar Coral at Aquario Reef.
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

Sunset after a great day of diving.
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.

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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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

Dominican Republic Tourism Information
USA 888-374-6361 * 888-358-9594
From Canada call 800-563-1611

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