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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.