humpback whales silver bank dominican republic snorkeling

Humpback whale, Silver Bank, Dominican Republic

Our snorkeling expedition to the Silver Bank offers tremendous opportunities for experiencing one of the greatest wildlife encounters in the world—eye-to-eye encounters with humpback whales!

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Snorkeling with the Humpbacks of the Silver Bank

Extraordinary In-the-Water Whale Encounters

Snorkeling with the Humpbacks of the Silver Bank route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4695  
Length: 8 days
Arrive: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Depart: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Lodging: 7 nights aboard ship in air-conditioned cabins with private bath and ocean views
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Small Boat & Yacht Cruising, Snorkeling, Wildlife & Natural History, Whale Watching, Whale or Dolphin Swimming
Trip Level: Swimming and snorkeling in open waters, whale watching excursions aboard tenders
2

Highlights

  • Swim and snorkel with humpback whales—one of nature’s most amazing experiences!
  • Enjoy the comforts and amenities of our “mother ship,” with specialized tenders for whale encounters
  • Learn firsthand about whales and their behaviors in an extraordinary setting


The most amazing and wonderful interaction with mammals that we have ever had. I was even touched by a whale calf!Chris L.—San Mateo, CA

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Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Between the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos, the warm and shallow waters of the Silver Bank provide a wintering haven for thousands of North Atlantic humpback whales. It’s also one of only three places in the world where humans can swim right among them! On our phenomenal snorkeling adventure, we bring you into this sanctuary for a whole week of incredible encounters with these magnificent creatures. Topside, you’ll witness spectacular behaviors, including mother and calf interactions. When you slip into the sea and snorkel among them, you’ll see them spin and play, hear their haunting songs resonating through the water, and sense the power and grace of some of the most intelligent mammals on earth. No other trip gives you as much time with these amazing animals—it’s a wildlife experience beyond compare!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic / Silver Bank

From Puerto Plata we cruise to the Silver Bank, a shallow underwater limestone plateau, and anchor our “mother ship.” Our anchorage amid an old shipwreck in the densest part of the reef is the perfect base—just a quick ride in a specially designed tender and you are among the whales. Spacious, with a length of 25 feet, they offer a stable and quiet ride and are configured so everyone gets up-close views (and great photo opportunities!).

Days 2-8
Whales of the Silver Bank

Between five to seven thousand whales are estimated to pass through the forty square miles of the Silver Bank every season to court, nurture their young, and sing their haunting songs. You’ll head out twice each day for incredible up-close whale encounters, seeing surface displays including pectoral fin slaps, breaches, spyhopping (a kind of peek-a-boo—humpbacks are quite inquisitive), and peduncle throws (a crack-the-whip motion that throws their tail in the air). Slipping into the sea with mask, snorkel, and fins, you’ll witness incredible underwater behaviors such as mother and calf nurturing and elaborate courtship dances. We may hear their evocative songs—and feel them, too, as their vibrations echo through the water. At the end of each fantastic day, you’ll return to our comfortable ship for sundowners, delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef, and fascinating talks on biology and humpback behavior with our Trip Leader and the ship’s naturalist. You’ll have the chance to savor warm tropical nights as you relax under a sky full of brilliant stars. After a brief city tour in Puerto Plata, depart on Day 8.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 2, easy to moderate, according to our trip grading system. It is relaxed enough to allow ample time for photography and snorkeling encounters with the whales. Because the primary focus of the trip is snorkeling, we require that trip members know how to swim at least 50 yards easily, and we strongly recommend you bring your own good quality, well-fitted equipment with you, including mask, snorkel, and fins. While the typical whale encounter is not an athletic event, snorkeling on the Silver Bank can be a challenge at times for those who are not adequately prepared. Get familiar with your equipment and how it feels and operates. Try out your gear in a swimming pool before you go to make sure that it works for you and is comfortable. Be sure your mask fits properly and doesn’t leak, practice breathing through the snorkel, be sure your fins fit properly and kick around with them. This is very important, especially if you are an infrequent snorkeler. We will have a “refresher” snorkel in calm waters at the beginning of the trip, but the Silver Bank is not the place to learn how to snorkel for the first time.

The Silver Bank can be as calm as a swimming pool, but it is the ocean, and conditions vary. You should expect to experience light to moderate wind, waves, and current. There will always be a certified divemaster supervising you in the water during any whale encounter, but it is essential that each in-water participant have a base fitness and skill level. Advanced freediving skills are not required to encounter the whales; in fact, deep freediving is specifically prohibited.

We usually have twice-daily snorkeling adventures with the whales, along with plenty of time aboard the tenders to enjoy watching their behavior. A journey to the Silver Bank is filled with opportunity, but as with any other wildlife activity, there may be times of greater or lesser activity, and not every excursion in the tenders will result in an in-water encounter.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2015
Mar 14-21, 2015  Ethan Daniels
2016
Mar 19-26, 2016  Ethan Daniels

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

$4695 (lower deck cabins, #8-10)
$4895 (main deck cabins, #3-7)
$5195 (upper deck cabins, #1-2)

Cruising and Sanctuary fees: $300
Port fees and Fuel surcharge: $300 (to be paid on board in US Dollars cash only) more on pricing

Deck Plan

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and ship naturalist
  • Accommodations aboard the boat
  • All meals included
  • Beer, wine, and house brand liquor
  • PFDs (life jackets), and boat safety gear
  • Brief city tour of Puerto Plata on the last day of the trip (Day 8)
  • Transfer to airport on Day 8

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare to/from the trip, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule or other factors, port fee and fuel surcharge, tourist card (required upon arrival), ground transportation, including transfer to the boat on Day 1, expenses such as immunizations (if any), travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: $1000
121 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

More than 90 days prior to departure: $1000
After November 15, 2014: 100% of trip cost

As indicated in the General Information of the Wilderness Travel catalog, all tours involving yacht or ship charters are subject to deposit requirements and cancellation penalties that differ from “regular” catalog departures.

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Our Motor Yacht

Dominican Republic

Our 124-foot mother ship is a comfortable home away from home, featuring staterooms with individually controlled air conditioning, private bathrooms, desk with chair, and storage areas. Cabins #1 and 2 on the Upper (Boat) Deck offer a queen-sized bed, TV/DVD player, and large picture windows. On the Main Deck, all cabins feature large picture windows: Cabins #3 and 4 have twin beds, and cabins #5, 6, and 7 have twin or queen beds. Cabins #8, 9, and 10 on the Lower Deck are accessed via a circular staircase from the main salon; each includes twin upper/lower beds with long horizontal port light windows (no desk with chair).

On the Boat Deck, we can relax in comfortable lounge chairs and chairs and soak up the sun—it’s also the ideal vantage point for spectacular star gazing! Accessed via semicircular stairs from the Boat Deck, the awning-covered flybridge offers seating for 12 to 15 people, a barbecue, and wet bar—a great place to sip our daily sundowners and watch for whales when not aboard our tenders.

On the Main Deck, a spacious Dive Deck features individual gear lockers, freshwater showers, towels, and rinse tanks for cameras and snorkeling gear. Large stairways lead down to the dive platform, where two in-water ladders hang for easy access to and from the water. Forward of the Dive Deck is the air-conditioned main salon, where breakfasts and dinners are served. The salon also contains an entertainment center with TV/DVD and stereo, as well as access to all staterooms and the galley.

The chef on board prepares hearty meals, with choices for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Water, ice tea, coffee, assorted sugar free juices, fruit juices, beer, wine, and house brand liquor are provided.

Our vessel has a professionally trained crew and is equipped with modern instrumentation and communications system, including 48-mile Simrad radar with proximity alarms, autopilot, Global Positioning System (GPS) with location alarm, digital depth sounder with alarm, digital bottom recorder, computerized chart system with GPS link, satellite phone with data link, cellular telephone, SSB radiotelephone and VHF radios, engine and bilge alarms, and an internal telephone system.

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Ethan Daniels

Ethan Daniels came by his interest in marine biology and conservation during the summers of his youth in Cape Cod, and earned his MSc studying the behavioral ecology of reef fish at the University of Guam Marine Lab. Finding a home away from home in the tropical paradise of Palau, Ethan worked there as a biologist, dive instructor, photographer and Trip Leader for close to a decade, also guiding for film crews including National Geographic, Disney, and the Discovery Channel. Globe-hopping, Ethan joined the US Antarctic Marine Living Resources program for a research project in a completely different region, Antarctica, studying zooplankton in the Southern Ocean. Ethan has been the exceptionally popular leader of our snorkeling and kayaking journeys in Raja Ampat, the Mergui Archipelago, the Solomon Islands, the Dominican Republic, and Palau, and the expert lecturer for four WT eclipse programs. A remarkable teacher, Ethan shares his incredible level of expertise with ease—traveling with him is like being on the most awesome field trip imaginable! “Snorkeling in the Coral Triangle gives one the feeling of flying above a forest of colorful and bizarre life, all competing to survive,” Ethan says, “and in the Silver Bank, the experience of being in the water with North Atlantic humpback whales, one of the largest animals on Earth, goes beyond anything I have ever encountered underwater— above all, the sensation of whale song rippling through my bones." Ethan is author of several books, including Under Cape Cod Waters (published by Union Park Press), Coral Triangle Seascapes (published by Asian Geographic), and a co-author of Palau: Dive Sites, History, and Culture. His award-winning photography and natural history articles can be found regularly in periodicals such as Sport Diver, and Scuba Diving, and Ocean Geographic. When Ethan comes up for air, he makes his home in northern California.

Upcoming Trips:

Komodo Snorkeling Expedition, September 15-25, 2014
Snorkeling with the Humpbacks of the Silver Bank, March 14-21, 2015
Snorkeling Expedition to Wakatobi, May 25-June 1, 2015
Solomon Islands Snorkeling Expedition, July 18-28, 2015
Komodo Snorkeling Expedition, August 4-14, 2015
Snorkeling with the Humpbacks of the Silver Bank, March 19-26, 2016

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Client Testimonials:


Ethan was a very special and wonderful leader. His knowledge made the trip outstanding. Mary T., San Francisco CA
Kayaking and Snorkeling in Burma
Ethan was essential to the enjoyment and learning experience when we were looking at the multitude of marine life. Carol B., San Francisco CA
Kayaking and Snorkeling in Burma.
Ethan Daniels is superb. I would travel with him anytime. His knowledge, enthusiasm energy, and professionalism are tops of any trip leader I’ve traveled with. Cory S., Portland, OR Ethan Daniels is without a doubt one of the very best Trip Leaders we have had the pleasure of being with. Rud and Mary Ellen B.
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Ethan introduced me to wonder of the reefs then brought it all to life with is intense knowledge of the area. Clair H., Austin TX
Raja Ampat Snorkeling Expedition
Ethan's enthusiasm was amazing, as was his knowledge and his personality was warm and easy going. He's the best! Nellda R., Lakeland FL
Raja Ampat Snorkeling Expedition
Ethan Daniels was awesome. Extremely knowledgeable, kind, patient, and fun. David D., Chicago IL
Raja Ampat Snorkeling Expedition
Ethan makes learning fun! Seriously, my head is bursting with new knowledge and I can't believe I had such a good time. Cheryl O., Santa Fe, NM
Snorkeling the Misool Archipelago
Ethan is a terrific leader, very knowledgeable, professional, likeable. Vicki O., Boulder CO
Raja Ampat
Ethan’s evening lectures were great. He always explained very carefully what each snorkel would be like. Vicki G., Oakland Ca
Raja Ampat
Ethan was great: incredibly knowledgeable about the marine life and natural history of the region, a really expert free diver, a tireless teacher, a sympathetic coach. Thomas L., San Francisco, CA
Raja Ampat: The Waigeo Islands
Ethan's knowledge of the area was over the top and his willingness to share was incredible. I hope you can clone him. Tom F., Sarasota, FL
Raja Ampat: The Waigeo Islands
Ethan was terrific in all ways, a quintessential leader—mellow, respectful,solicitous, knowledgeable, and fun. Judith P., Concord, MA
Raja Ampat: The Misool Islands
Superlatives are not enough to describe him. Tom B., Lexington, SC
Raja Ampat: The Misool Islands
Ethan's enthusiasm is infectious, and his knowledge vast. He personifies the ideal trip leader. Rachel M., Arroyo Seco, NM
Raja Ampat: The Misool Islands
Ethan's knowledge of marine biology is formidable and his enthusiasm to share that information was a delight. Patrick T., Danville, CA
Raja Ampat: The Waigeo Islands
Ethan was excellent! So informed, helpful, tactful, and humorous. He is uniquely talented as a trip leader. Michael K., Roanoke, VA
Raja Ampat: The Misool Islands
Ethan's evening slide shows were fascinating, his photos of coral and fish were spectacular, and he can and did speak to the myriad of environmental issues with tremendous sensitivity and a clear love for the area. Carol M., Lafayette, CA
Raja Ampat: The Misool Islands
What a great trip leader Ethan is! Not only does he know tons about the area, the fish, the coral, and the geology, he's a delight to be around. Lyn S., Las Vegas, NV
Raja Ampat: The Waigeo Islands
Ethan is amazing! A great trip leader, very knowledgeable, energetic, and strove to make sure everyone was getting the experience they wanted. Kevin F., Arlington, VA
Snorkeling with the Humpbacks of the Silver Bank
Ethan shared his scientific knowledge generously, and also shared an excellent photographic postcard of the journey. Linda L., San Antonio, TX
Snorkeling with the Humpbacks of the Silver Bank

Client Comments

The most amazing and wonderful interaction with mammals that we have ever had. I was even touched by a whale calf! Chris L., San Mateo, CA Swimming with the whales is almost beyond explanation. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. Stephanie G., Saddlebrook, NJ A fabulous experience! Steven S., San Mateo, CA Would recommend this to anyone. I loved this trip! Sally R., Milwaukee, WI We had such an amazing experience! I have taken trips with many wonderful animal interactions, but this was by far the most intense (in the most positive sense). It was a dream come true. Julie F., Worthington, OH This was an extraordinary adventure. Everything and everyone associated with it was superior. The stars, of course, being the Momma Humpbacks and their babies! Francie M., Park City, UT Enjoyed our time on the boat; loved our time in the water with the whales! Kristi S., Madison, KS
This trip was very rewarding, very well managed and the ship and crew were excellent. What a wonderful opportunity to be with these magnificent creatures up close and personal. Judith M., Albuquerque, NM This adventure is one of the greatest we have done. Lying on the surface of the Atlantic 88 miles from land watching and listening to an adult humpback sing his song for over an hour was incredibly awesome and will be forever remembered and replayed in my mind. Beth C., Lilburn, GA This is the trip of a lifetime. Being that close to one of the largest mammals on the planet really puts things into perspective. Kevin F., Arlington, VA Unforgettable experience! It was amazing the way my heart slowed and I felt a peaceful calmness whenever I saw the whales underwater. Linda L., San Antonio, TX