Scuba Diving in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua and Panama, and washed by the Pacific Ocean and, on the east, by the Caribbean Sea. It is the only country in Latin America, which is internationally neutral and doesn't have a regular army. Tourism and diving are its major sources of income. The country has a great tourism infrastructure and offers services of highest standard. You will be provided with excellent fully equipped diving boats. It is important because safaris lasting many days are the only way to get to the main diving centres on the island. The nature of Costa Rica is lavish and beautiful, so you will get a plenty of impressions. About one third of the country's territory, including water areas, is occupied by reserves and national parks, habitats for nearly half a million species.

Reasons to Visit

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Where to go
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In Guanacaste divers go on a diving safari near the Bat Islands, which are locally called Isla Murcielago. This region is protected by UNESCO. Here you can observe tropical coral fish, come across nurse sharks, manta rays, other rare species of rays, marine turtles, short-horn sculpins, large tunas and rockfish. Bull sharks come here between March and November, and in winter it is a destination for really big whale sharks.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau called Cocos Island one of the most impressive places in the world. This uninhabited island is protected by the government and UNESCO and can be reached only by a diving safari boat. Local waters and underwater creatures can amaze even experienced divers: there are giant manta rays, other different species of rays, marlins, sailfish, a lot of reef silvertip sharks and hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, whale sharks, multiple shoals of fish, lobsters, marine turtles.
Diving in Costa Rica is possible almost all year round and that is the main reason to dive here. However, you should consider climate patterns in different areas and migration seasons of large sea animals. For example, it is better to visit Cocos Island from May to October, and the best time for diving near Osa Peninsula is from November to April. If you are going to dive in Guanacaste, you should come there between December and April, and from March to November you can see large bull sharks near the Bat Islands.
Diving near the Catalina Islands is a real adventure, however, this experience is not suitable for beginners: strong currents and waves on the surface are a common accurence here. While drifting with silvertip sharks, you will reach coral peaks. You will be greeted by majestic manta rays. Nurse sharks, dolphins and marine turtles can be found here as well. Rays, such as golden stingrays and whiptail stingrays, practise their disguise at the bottom while various coral reef fishes swim among the peaks.
Diving near Península de Osa will be truly unforgettable. You can join a multy-day safari to Caño Island with over 10 interesting dive sites, which are 5 to 36 meters deep. Here you can find nurse sharks, reef sharks and even white sharks, pilot whales, manta rays, barracudas, rays, surgeonfish, marine turtles, groupers and many other coral reef inhabitants. There are about 20 types of corals and nearly 60 species of Crustaceans.

Diving Destinations in Costa Rica

The best dive sites in Costa Rica are the islands. Diving safaris to Cocos Island last many days and include the most ivigorating diving with the sharks and other large sea creatures. The great diving sites are near Caño, Tortuga, Catalina, Isla Uvita, Virador Islands, at the Tomarindo Coral Reef, in Guanacaste Province, near the Bat Islands. Although you can dive in Costa Rica regardless of the time of the year, you should carefully consider seasons for different regions.

Memo Notes
Currency CRC - Costa Rican colon
Languages Spanish
Timezone UTC -6
Phone code 506
Emergency Help 911
Electricity

Type A - 120 V, 60 Hz

Type B - 120 V, 60 Hz

Dive Shops in Costa Rica

Multi-day diving safaris to Cocos Islands and to other Pacific islands of Costa Rica are generally booked in advance of the trip. Diving centres offering easier divings in Guanacaste Province, Punta Gorde, near Limon, Cahuita and other towns can be found on the site.

Сlimate & Seasonality
Spring

The diving season on Cocos Island opens in May, in March it you can start diving near the Bat Islands, and in the Osa Peninsula it lasts till April. The air temperature is about +26 °C, the water temperature is between +26 and +27 °C, however the open sea is colder. In May rains become more frequent.

Summer

Summer is the low season for tourists with lots of rains, but it is also the best time to observe hammerhead sharks near Cocos Islands. The air temperature is about +25 °C and water temperature reaches +27 °C. Wave range varies depending on the region.

Autumn

Autumn is considered to be the low season because of rain showers, rough sea and muddy water. The air temperature ranges from +24 to +25°C, the water temperature stays between +26 and +28 °C, open sea is, of course, cooler. Good diving season in the Osa Peninsula begins in November.

Winter

The tourism season starts in November. In December visibility increases and the sea becomes much calmer, though it depends on the region. The air temperature fluctuates between +23 and +25 °C and, water temperature stands about +26 °C. Winter is the best time to dive in Guanacaste.

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The Best Dive Sites

The most exciting diving in Costa Rica is near Cocos Island, along the coasts of Catalina, Tortuga, Caño Islands and the Tomarindo Coral Reefs. Diving in Guanacaste Province and on Uvita Island is also great. There are impressive coral reefs near Cahuita, and in Punta Gorda you can enjoy observing eagle rays.

Health & Safety

You can always get qualified health services in San Jose, the capital city, and in the main tourism zones. There are modern private clinics as well as small medical offices. Health insurance is mandatory, diving insurance for safaris can be purchased in advance, in other cases it is provided on the spot. Mind that Cocos Island is uninhabited and the nearest pressure chambers are hundreds of kilometers away. Vaccination is not necessary. The general safety level is rather high. Most common crimes are petty thefts and bank card frauds.

Dangerous Marine Life

All the sharks that inhabit the Pacific Ocean at the coast of Costa Rica are potentially dangerous for humans. That's why diving near the islands is intended only for experienced divers, especially near Cocos Island, where these predators are numerous. In the waters of Costa Rica you could find large moray eels, reef stonefish, pterois and dangerous corals.

Eat & Drinks

Local cuisine is simple and organic: only here you can try sweet fruit grown on volcanic soils. Tourists can enjoy juicy exotic fruits, such as mango, papaya, lichi, guava and passionfruit. Of course, seafood and exotic fish including crabs, oysters, shrimps, sea bass and red snapper are also popular in Costa Rica. Cooking traditions of the local gurus and chefs are an alliance of Spanish cuisine and Indian traditions: there is a famous national dish Casado (beef with rice and boiled beans), well-known Picadillo (roast meat with stewed olives and tomatoes) and there is a great number of local dishes with corn that range all the way from pastries to bread and porridges. Costa Ricans especially love desserts, such as banana soup, corn pancakes, fruit salads and cream cakes.