This beautiful country bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, is a paradise for divers worldwide. Costa Rica has always been at the forefront of the conservation of species with almost 25% of its territory devoted to national parks and nature reserves. It represents 6% of global biodiversity for about 0.03% of the land surface of the planet. This exceptional terrestrial diversity is also true underwater where there are hundreds of species of vertebrates and invertebrates. It makes Costa Rica one of the most beautiful destinations for diving holidays.
Where to dive?
Located 500 km from the coast of Costa Rica, this former pirate island is accessible only by liveaboard. This territory includes some of the finest dive sites in the world with an exceptional biodiversity and an impressive density of pelagic, particularly of sharks, rarely seen elsewhere. Be aware, however, that it is essential to carefully plan your journey in order not to miss any of beauties of the Cocos Island. Indeed, the weather is sometimes unpredictable and the species change seasonally.
Isla del Cano
This island paradise is a protected natural reserve. It is accessed from Drake Bay where many dive shops have settled, offering diving day trips. Underwater, we met many white tip sharks, manta rays, turtles and hundreds of other fishes.
Gulf of Papagayo
This wide open Gulf on the North-Pacific Coast is the most popular area for half- and full-day dive trips in Cost Rica. It can be visited from different starting points, but Playas del Coco allows access to all the diving areas which include the famous Catalina- and Bat-Islands which are famous for their Bull-Shark and Manta-Ray encounters for the experienced diver. But there is also a great variety of dive sites along the coast which are accessible to all levels of divers with great encounters such as reef-sharks, eagle-rays and uncountable inhabitants of the dive sites around the rocky Islands.
In Costa Rica, you will also find other beautiful places to discover the beauties of the Caribean sea such as Playa del Coco or Hermosa.
Best time to go?
In Costa Rica, you can dive all year round, depending on the areas. You have to know that there are two seasons: the wet season from june to mid november heavy rain only september and cotober and the dry season from November to April. On Coco Island, during the wet season from june to november, you will see a greater concentration of pelagic but the diving conditions are less favorable than during the dry season, when visibility is exceptional but wildlife is more scarce. You will have to make your choice.
Visibility is generally excellent; however, heavy rains may disrupt water during the wet season.This concerns only the Rain-Forest areas, i.e. the entire Caribbean coast, where you have massive river run-offs even during dry season, and the South Pacific from Puntarenas to Cano Island where most dive operations will actually stop operating in September and October, some even staring July…. The North Pacific Gulf of Papagayo has it’s very best diving conditions during rainy season because rain is very scarce and there are no rivers running in the ocean around the diving areas. Diving conditions at that time are warm 25 to 30C water temperature, 10 to 30m of visibility. However, the Gulf of Papagayo is least interesting for diving in dry season: Wind makes it impossible to visit the most spectacular diving areas Bat Islands and most of the time also the Catalina Islands. The same wind produces deep-sea up-swells for much cooler 18 to 22C water with less visibility 5 to 10m.
Ocean currents vary a lot from a location to another, ask for more details to your dive shop.
Difficulties : To learn scuba diving, most divers go on the north Pacific coast. The dive sites are easy to access and diving conditions are optimal to see big marine life: sharks, rays, schools of fish.
The water temperature can vary between seasons from 18C to 30C.
Costa Rica diving cruise
Enjoy your diving holiday in Costa Rica by booking a diving cruise. To discover a wide selection of cruises, we invite you to visit our liveaboard partner. You will have the chance to be accommodated and practice diving with enthusiasts. And discover throughout your cruise different diving spots, for some accessible only in cruise. You can book your next dive cruise in Costa Rica by booking on liveaboard. Thanks to our partner, you will be able to observe different dive sites such as Cocos Island, one of the best diving sites in Costa Rica, Cano Island or the Bat Islands.
What to see underwater?
There are thousands of species, from the largest to the smallest, including some endemic species. You’ll understand, Costa Rica is one of the best diving destinations in the world to enjoy large pelagic and dives full of emotions. Many divers embark on a diving trip or a liveaboard in Costa Rica for the sole purpose of seeing sharks: Whale shark, bull shark, tiger shark, hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, bull sharks, sand tiger sharks, white tip sharks, but also silky sharks. Manta rays are also part of this amazing underwater wildlife. Sometimes, giant manta rays are over 7 meters wide, like the eagle rays, very present on the dive sites of Costa Rica. You can also admire marine mammals such as humpback whales, dolphins and many pelagic fish barracuda, tuna, jacks …. Finally, another exciting show attracts many travelers: the nesting of sea turtles that takes place on the many beaches of Costa Rica.