Diving in Costa Rica

Submerge Yourself Into a New Realm of Adventure!

While in Costa Rica, you will find intense sea-land adventures. This country has put a lot of effort into protecting its natural resources, which reflects in the paradisiacal splendor of the flora and fauna found in the forests, the fascinating and imposing volcanoes, and beaches for all kinds of activities.

The long shores along the Pacific and the Caribbean, plus the tropical climate, will lead nature lovers to discover an undersea world of extraordinary beauty. Discover the spectacular shades resulting from the combination of a great number of marine landscapes, the coral reef formations among them, combined with thousands of colors offered by the different fish you may observe. The biodiversity coexisting in the coral reefs is only comparable with the one existent on tropical land forests.

So, once you decide to discover Costa Rica's fascinating sea world, you will understand why this is one of the major eco-tourist destinations for some thrilling scuba diving adventures. The proof of this is the 2004 Readers' Choice Award, granted by Rodale 's Scuba Diving magazine to Costa Rica's Pacific coast as one of the top five destinations of the world for advanced scuba diving.

Rich Coast Diving

In the Pacific region, as well as in the Caribbean region, Costa Rica gets adrenaline pumping for all tastes and ages, depending on what kind of experiences you want to have.

Rich Coast DivingThe action of diving is thrilling for open water divers, who may practice it in the different areas of the country. There are places for the more experienced, who may wish to go deep. During the greatest part of the year, you may find a temperature ranging between 26ºC (78,8ºF) and 28ºC (82,4ºF) and extreme conditions caused by currents or thermocline; the temperature may descend to 19ºC (66,2ºF). These waters are home of sharks, octopuses and ray fish, among other kinds of marine fauna.

The main diving sites coincide with the very rich in marine biodiversity, most times located within the protected marine wildlife areas, with wetlands of the fringing type, which is one of the main habitats of the live forms and colors present.

North Pacific Region

In the Pacific region, as well as in the Caribbean region, Costa Rica gets adrenaline pumping for all tastes and ages, depending on what kind of experiences you want to have.

The action of diving is thrilling for open water divers, who may practice it in the different areas of the country. There are places for the more experienced, who may wish to go deep. During the greatest part of the year, you may find a temperature ranging between 26ºC (78,8ºF) and 28ºC (82,4ºF) and extreme conditions caused by currents or thermocline; the temperature may descend to 19ºC (66,2ºF). These waters are home of sharks, octopuses and ray fish, among other kinds of marine fauna.

The main diving sites coincide with the very rich in marine biodiversity, most times located within the protected marine wildlife areas, with wetlands of the fringing type, which is one of the main habitats of the live forms and colors present.

Puntarenas and the Gulf Islands

The country's exemplary System of National Parks and Protected Areas provide more than ample stomping grounds for birders, but just about anywhere you look in Costa Rica, you spot interesting avian species. Even some of the hotels in the San Jose area have such colorful critters as blue-grey tanagers, great kiskadees and crimson-fronted parakeets in their gardens.

However, those interested in bird watching will want to see the resplendent quetzal, which lives in the cloud forests of Monteverde, Los Santos region and the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, and the equally spectacular scarlet macaw, which can be seen on the Osa Peninsula or the area around the Carara Biological Reserve.

Cocos Island

This world-famous National Park was established in 1978. In 1997, UNESCO declared it a World Natural Heritage Site.

Located in the Pacific side of Costa Rica, 543 km of Cabo Blanco, Coco's Island is a real treasure that has been safeguarded, where you can dive deep into the sea and discover such unforgettable natural richness. To visit the Coco's Island you should contact a tour operator in order to organize your trip. The journey lasts approximately one day and a half, and when arriving to the Island, you will find anchoring services, lectures, walks, trails, and potable water.

Coco's Island counts with a great diversity of natural environments, owing to conditions related to its geological origins, geographical location, and of being an oceanic island. Its flora and fauna, marine as well as terrestrial, are exceptional; even though they are known to some extent, recent studies have determined that the island houses approximately 600 species of marine mollusks, 300 species of fish and 32 species of coral, 9 of them belonging to the deep waters.

The large number of white tip sharks (Triaenodon obesus and Carcharinus albimarginatus), schools of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) during migration at the cleaning stations, tuna fish (Thunnus sp), parrot fish (Scaridae), mollusks, and other coral species, make this island one of the most marvelous places on earth to explore.

Central Pacific

Only a few hours away from San José, this is an ideal diving zone during the Summer, because of the great variety of fish, lobster, and white tip sharks (Triaenodon obesus) that can be spotted in the area.

Your senses will be overwhelmed when observing the impressive rock formations and the underwater cave of the Manuel Antonio National Park, where you may explore the waters at Cathedral Point, Puerto Escondido, and the Mogote and Olocuita Islands.

Access to the area can be by the road going to Orotina, trip lasting almost 90 minutes, from San José. You can also reach there with the local flights to runways located in Hermosa Beach, Garabito canton, and in Quepos, Aguirre canton. Access to Hermosa Beach by sea is possible thanks to a marina located in Herradura Beach, while the access to Quepos is through Puerto Quepos.

South Pacific Region

Plunge into a whole submarine garden full of coral formations and an impressive colouring.

The best diving spot in this zone is found in the Caño's Island Biological Reserve, 45 minutes away from Drake Bay-Osa Peninsula, where you will find a marine ecosystem beyond compare. In this beautiful place, you may observe hammerheaded sharks (Sphyrna lewini) , white finned sharks (Triaenodon obesus), whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), and ray fish. Your trip will be done in the pleasant company of dolphins and the migration of the humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) or finback whales, as they are also known. These may be seen almost any month of the year, but their best season is when it is Winter on the Northern Hemisphere of the American Continent. A special attraction is that this area is the only place in the world where these whales come to, both from the North and the South, at different times of the year.

You will be able to explore the Tres Hermanas small Islands and the protected marine area of the Ballena Marine National Park, which possesses a huge number of coral species. This park is complemented with the abundance of existing marine life, among which we may mention the humpback whales' (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrations.

South Caribbean Region

In the company of an exuberant vegetation and the exotic Caribbean culture, these fantastic and mystical waters that just a few have explored, are characterized by a coral reef ecosystem protected by the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, and the Cahuita National Park.

Approximately 4 hours from San Jose, the beautiful marine landscapes will attract visitors to Cahuita.

The depth of coral formations varies from very few meters to those up to 11 vertical meters high. These coral formations have a biodiversity composed of over 123 species of multicolored fish, like angelfish, queen angelfish (Holacanthus sp.), parrot fish (Scaridae), three-spined stickleback fish (Diodontidae), among many others. There are also over 35 coral species, which include Moose Horn (Acropora palmata) and Brain corals (Diploria sp.).

Costa Rica offers several conditions that will facilitate your diving experience:

  • Professional companies with the diving tour services, equipment and complete line of accessories, special boat equipped for diving and repair of equipment. All of it gives you the possibility of bringing your own gear, or renting it, without undermining the degree of security or professionalism.

  • Shark by Avi Klapfer
  • Open water diving courses, advanced in all its specialties, rescue and salvage, first aids, oxygen therapy, cardiovascular reanimations, courses up to the instructor level and other diving specialties for physically disabled persons, all acknowledged by the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors, located in California, the United States), NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) and SSI (Scuba Schools International) among others.

  • Comfortable, good-quality accommodations in diverse hotels to suit every budget.

  • Access to other adventures like: Sport fishing, white water rafting, canopy tours, National Parks tours, bird watching, kayaking, hiking, and many other attractions.

In Costa Rica it's important to follow some precautions to make your diving experience safer and pleasanter:

  • Look for recognized companies that represent well-established associations and search for operators with valid permits.

  • Verify that the ships count with the emergency equipment exacted by the law.

In Costa Rica, this activity is regulated by the Adventure Tourism Regulation, which may be consulted at Regulation for Adventure Tourism companies. This same site may be visited when searching for the available diving tours in Costa Rica.

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