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Diving in Costa Rica – The Ultimate Guide

Hammerhead shark

Costa Rica, or Rich Coast, has become synonymous with eco-tourism and world-class diving. Its lush flora and fauna, both above and underwater make it one of the dream dive destinations in the world. Whales, hammerheads, bull sharks, manta and more – it’s difficult to top the diving in this region.

Costa Rica in Pictures

A collection of photos of Costa Rica both over and underwater.

Dive Areas in Costa Rica

While the diving is superb everywhere, here are the top dive spots in Costa Rica.

Coco’s Island

At Coco’s Island, every dive is a shark dive. Hundreds of hammerheads, mighty tiger sharks, gigantic whale sharks, dolphins, mantas and more. It’s an unrivaled destination for oceanic pelagic enthusiasts.

Marine Life in Coco’s Island

Besides all the shark action, Coco’s island is also home to rays; big stingrays, manta, mobula, and eagle rays too. The rich and extensive reefs in this diving paradise attract big schools of bigeye trevallies, blue striped snappers, and other schooling fish. It’s the ultimate destination if you get excited about oceanic pelagics.

Best Time to Dive in Coco’s Island

The best time to dive Coco’s Island is between June and November. Although this is the wet season, which means more rain and rougher seas, it’s the time to see the most marine life, with a better chance of close encounters. Recommended for advanced divers only.

Explore Coco’s Island

Cano Island

Often heralded as one of Costa Rica’s best diving areas, Cano Island is all about world-class diving, snorkeling and whale watching. Its status as a biological reserve since 1978, means that the biodiversity in the area is remarkable – offering a variety of marine life for divers to marvel at.

Marine Life in Cano Island

Often spotted on the dives around this island paradise are barracuda, tuna, turtles, rays, moray eel, parrot fish, giant grouper and schools of snapper, amberjack, and damsels; and the ever-present whitetips.

It’s also the spot to see humpback and pilot whales and dolphins. If you are really lucky, you may even see a manatee.

Best Time to Dive in Cano Island

The best time to dive Cano Island is from December to June. Since it is the dry season, diving conditions are ideal, especially for beginners with an excellent chance of seeing migrating whales. For more experienced divers who like big pelagic action, the rainy season may be preferable.

Explore Cano Island

Guanacaste

Guanacaste and Bat Island diving will not disappoint. Uncrowded dive sites dot the coast, with plenty of to see including manta rays, sharks, and schooling fish in great conditions. At Bat Island, there is an excellent chance to see bull sharks.

Marine Life in Guanacaste Island

The topography in this area makes for interesting and exciting diving. Congregating around the pinnacles are many species of tropical fish, manta, turtles, eels and pelagic fish. Bat Island is known for coming across the mighty bull shark.

Other species found are cortez angelfish, parrotfish, spotted eagle rays, hogfish, and other tropical species.

Migrating humpback whales also make their way through this area.

Best Time to Dive in Cano Island

The best time to dive Guanacaste depends on what you are looking for. June through September offers the best visibility and warmer waters with reef fish and macro life, whereas December through March has cooler waters but larger marine life including pelagics.

Explore Guanacaste and Bat Island

How to Get to Costa Rica

Juan Santamaría International Airport is the primary airport close to the capital, San José. There is also an international airport in Liberia, Guanacaste. Both airports are well connected with Northern and Central America and Europe. Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose also connects with cities in South America and the Caribbean.

Good to Know

The main port for liveaboard departure is Puntarenas, which is on the Pacific Coast about 3 hours drive from San Jose.
There are many protected areas and UNESCO sites in Costa Rica which may require an entrance fee.
American dollars are widely accepted.

Plan and Book Your Trip to Costa Rica

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