Rica is an ecotourism paradise with tropical rainforests, exotic
wildlife, volcanoes and much more. This small Central American country
is also an interesting place to dive. Most of the diving in Costa Rica
is done on the west side of the Pacific Ocean, with an area in the
Guanacaste region located in the northwestern part of the country and
another south of the capital city of San Jose, near half of its west
coast. If you fly into San Jose, would have to do some domestic travel
to get to any of these two places.
Guanacaste area is a bit
easier to get especially if you could arrange a flight right to the town
of Liberia in northern Costa Rica. There are some seasonal charter
flights from North America directly to Liberia.
The town of Playas del
Coco, which is used as the main base for divers is a short taxi ride
from the airport in Liberia. There are restaurants and small hotels in
Playa del Coco, including some U.S. carriers owned dive. These dive
operators usually have package deals available which include both diving
and accommodation in one of the local hotels. Everything in town is
within walking distance.
I made a trip to dive here during the
fall season. The operator I used was Rich Coast Diving. The local
divemaster in Costa Rica, Costa Rica took all diving equipment including
tanks to the beach every morning in a van.
The dives ranged from
about 60 feet to 85 feet from mild to moderate currents. One thing that
all divers will notice here is that diving in Costa Rica is very
different from the usual reef diving in the Caribbean.
The visibility is
much poorer and there are some noticeably colder thermoclines. Poor
visibility due to a greater amount of plankton in the local waters
compared to the Caribbean Sea. In some dive sites, we had to swim
through water sections soup became almost brown color. This cuts off the
sunlight from the top drastically. However, there is a tremendous
advantage of this side visibility poor. The plankton attracts larger
marine animals and if divers came to see the great and not be
Even some of the reef fish here are larger. For
example, we saw trumpet fish here are significantly higher than those
found in Caribbean waters. In addition, there is much more porcupine
puffer fish here. Earlier in the waters of the Caribbean, I have seen
only a few porcupine fish and are usually alone. Here in Costa Rica, I
have seen large schools of them. We find large schools of fish other on a
regular basis as well.
The local divemaster definitely work
differently compared to their counterparts elsewhere. In many places in
the Caribbean, the divemasters would promote a "look only, no touch
'rule. In this case, the divemasters actively turned over every rock to
find interesting creatures for us.
They catch them in their hands and
pass them to other divers. During three days of diving, I had a sea
horse, an octopus, a spotted eel, an orange frogfish and a bloated
porcupine fish. course, this practice marine management is debatable in
terms of ethics, but it was definitely an interesting experience holding
these creatures in my hands. The divemasters were certainly difficult
to work safely, but as they were anxious to ensure that the guests had
good snorkeling trips.
Large animals such as giant sea turtles,
rays and white tip sharks were spotted. On one occasion I will never
forget for the rest of my life is when a very large school of cow-nosed
rays went directly to our group of divers. They looked like a huge fleet
of alien spacecraft. They went over and beyond us as we watched in awe.
Then they disappeared. This memorable experience was too short lived.
for a very different kind of diving compared to the Caribbean without
having to travel too far, Costa Rica is an interesting destination for
divers to consider. There will be crystal clear visibility but the
marine life will be different with larger animals to see. The diving
itself is also very reasonable in cost is significantly less than in
places premium prices as the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. In
addition, there are many other things to see and activities to do in the
land, beside the diving that makes Costa Rica a vacation very complete.