The Ultimate Guide to Scuba Diving in Cocos Island

Home to huge schools of hammerheads, plentiful pelagics, deep pinnacles and highspeed drifts, Cocos Island is a scuba diver’s haven in the open blue.

Named one of the top ten dive areas by PADI, Cocos Island has long attracted scuba divers to its wildly diverse waters. The convergence of nutrients also attracts a large number of pelagic species making for adrenalin-inducing dives. You’ll be treated to vertical walls, deep pinnacles, blue water and drift diving in the Cocos Island Marine Park.

Of course, this pelagic paradise doesn’t come easy. Currents around the distant island are strong, meaning this is a destination best suited to advanced divers.

When to Dive Cocos Island

At the convergence between two weather patterns, Cocos Island is subject to changeable weather. The seasons can roughly be separated into rainy and dry.

Dry Season

From December until May, dry season descends on Cocos Island. During this time of year, you will find the best visibility (over 30 meters) and the calmest seas, which is important when you are traveling 36 hours across the open ocean. A bit of rainfall can still be expected during these months and air temperatures are approximately 25.5°C.

Note that there are fewer liveaboard trips during the dry season. At this time, many of the area’s ships alternate between Cocos Island and Cano Island.

Rainy Season

June to November is the rainy season at Cocos Island. This is often considered the best diving season due to the nutrient upwellings that attract hundreds of hammerhead sharks during these months. However, the seas are much rougher at this time and visibility falls to 15-20 meters.

During both seasons, water temperatures average between 24 and 30°C. Keep in mind that these represent the surface temperatures. Divers often encounter a thermocline, with temperatures dropping to 6°C or less.

Where to Dive in Cocos Island

There are more than 20 dive sites around Isla del Cocos. Most divers will experience more than half of these sites during their liveaboard trip.

Dive sites near Cocos Island

Cocos Island is home to more than 20 dive sites circling its ragged shores and accessible by liveaboard. Of these, Bajo Alcyone is the most famous. This 25 meter-deep seamount is one of the best places worldwide to see Hammerhead Sharks. Divers hang on in the heavy current while the graceful creatures crowd their field of vision.

Less experienced divers will want to visit Dirty Rock where a sheltered refuge allows you to view hordes of hammerheads without fighting current.

Other awesome but slightly less hammerhead-filled sites around Cocos include Dos Amigos, Manuelita Garden and Punta Maria.

Snorkeling in Cocos

Because of the remote nature of Cocos Island, most people who make the treacherous journey are scuba divers. However, between dives, interesting snorkeling can be found at the Manuelita Coral Garden or even in one of the inland lakes or rivers where boggling, endemic freshwater fish are found.

What to See in Cocos Island

Hammerheads are the main attraction at Cocos Island. Wave after wave of schooling Scalloped Hammerheads will pass you during one or more of your dives.

However, Cocos is home to a plethora of other pelagic species as well. Divers will be happy to find a variety of sharks, including Whitetip, Galapagos, Silky, Tiger, Blacktip, Silvertip and Guitar Sharks. You’ll also see plenty of Mantas, Eagle Rays, Marble Rays, Marlin, Green Turtles and the occasional Whale Shark.

On the smaller side of things, Cocos Island is home to 27 endemic fish species, octopus and plenty of moray eels.