Cocos Islands (Isla del Coco) – Costa Rica
The island and its surrounding waters have been declared Marine National Park in 1978. It is a single island 550 km away from mainland. The only inhabitants are the park rangers.
What to see: Sharks, sharks, sharks – huge schools of scalloped hammerheads, galapagos sharks, silky sharks, tiger sharks, silvertip sharks, whale sharks and white tip reef sharks just everywhere. There is rays too like marble, mobula, eagle and manta ray.
Diving: Liveaboard diving. Only a tightly regulated amount of liveaboards is allowed in the National Park at the same time and the dives are coordinated by the rangers. Therefore only one group of divers will be at the same place at any given point. A short dinghy ride brings the divers to the site. Backroll entry and depending on conditions negative entries.
Level: Advanced, at least 50 dives, because of deep dives and strong currents. Most boats allow people with less experience. In my opinion it makes more sense to gain experience first to be able to fully enjoy the dives. Diving on nitrox.
Who should go there: Experienced divers who love sharks and don’t get sea sick very easily
How to get there: Flight to San José in Costa Rica. The liveboards will transfer the guests to Puntarenas to board the boats. Around 25 hours crossing in the open ocean to reach Cocos Island.
Liveaboards and Rates:
A limited number of liveaboards visit Cocos Island. Book early to safe your spot as the boats might be fully booked or be flexible and book last minute.
The most popular are Okeanos Aggressor I and II from the Agressor Fleet ($ 4700 to 5100) or the more luxurious MV Sea Hunter and MV Argo from Undersea Hunter ($ 5600 to 6300). The trips are usually 10 days with 7 diving days due to the long crossing. Inula Diving offers combined trips between Malpelo and Cocos a few times per year, 17 day trips cost between $5300 and 6500. It is also possible to charter boats or join a chartered trip for example with MV Yemaya.
Discounts may apply during low/dry season between January and June and for last minute bookings.
Climate: Around 30°C all year round, down to 23°C during the night
Water temperature: 25°C May till November, 27°C the rest of the year
Visibility: 10 to 30 m, even in rainy season the visibility can be up to 25 m
Season: Dry season between January and June. T rainy season from July till November is worth the lower visibility and rougher seas as there is more action. The upwell of nutrient-rich water during this time attract more sharks and rays.
Favorite dive sites: Bajo Alcyone with hundreds of schooling scalloped hammerhead sharks on each dive and the night dive at Manuelitas Garden watching white tip reef sharks on feeding frenzy.
I arrived in Puntarenas by bus as I was traveling around Costa Rica and boarded the Wind Dancer (now Okeanos Aggressor II) there. Most guests were picked up from their hotels in San José. After the long and luckily quite calm crossing (try not to get drunk the first night) I experienced some of the best dives in my life. The amount of sharks cruising around the dive sites in Cocos is incredible. The boat was not too luxurious, but had everything you might need during such a trip. The crew was amazing and the guides experienced. They gave us a lot of freedom to dive as buddy teams away from the group. I was lucky to find a half-price offer last minute and paid $ 2400 for 10 days.