For divers Costa Rica offers many spectacular dive sites. Costa Rica is one of the few places where a diver can enjoy both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Each side is very different.
The Caribbean is warm with reefs that protect many brightly colored species. Diving in the Pacific includes descending shelves, which offer dive sites on many levels with caves, underwater caverns and pinnacles, a backdrop for feeding pelagic species and frolicking in sight. On average, water temperatures range from 70°F to 85°F. Here are some top 10 Scuba dives in Costa Rica.
The best scuba diving sites in Costa Rica
The west coast of Costa Rica is divided into 3 main regions; the province of Guanacaste in the northwest and Puntarenas, which is divided in two along the coast, Puntarenas South and Puntarenas North. In addition, a fourth region, which particularly attracts divers, is located 36 hours by boat from the country… Cocos Island!
1. Cocos Island National Marine Park, Isla del Coco
Located 342miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The island was granted national park status in 1978 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.
In addition, the island is uninhabited, with the exception of the few guardians of the site, and has no airports. Access to Cocos Island and the surrounding marine park is limited and left to the discretion of the rangers. This means that only a few cruise and diving boats venture there.
The sea surrounding the island is of incredible depth and rises abruptly to form the seamount whose summit is actually Coco Island. These special conditions make the water cold and nutrient-rich, which brings its share of marine life. It also attracts several species of sharks and other pelagic fish.
Specifically, the Cocos Island Marine Park has the second highest bio-mass in the world, just after the Galapagos Islands! We are therefore talking about a bio-mass 5 times higher than the one found in the Caribbean!
2. Caño Island
Many will say that Cano Island is the mini Coco Island! Indeed, there are adrenaline-filled diving conditions similar to those found on the remote island of Coco. Isla del Caño is a protected marine park located off the coast of South Puntarenas, about ten miles from Punta Llorona in the Osa Peninsula.
Several diving centers operate in Drake Bay, which is located 13 miles from Cano Island. In addition, visibility underwater is very good, the island being remote and in a sparsely populated area, it is not affected by any pollution. Indeed, visibility of 80 feet and more is frequent. Dolphins and turtles are among the most friendly species with divers around Cano Island.
Also, there are several species of sharks and marine mammals that pass through there, including the very popular whale shark. As for coral reefs, they are colourful and teeming with life. Finally, there are also wreck diving sites and even sites accessible from the Drake Bay shore… diving for all tastes!
3. Nicoya Peninsula
Located in the far north of Puntarenas province, the Nicoya Peninsula offers the opportunity to dive either into the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Nicoya. The majority of scuba diving is centered around Mal Pais and Santa Theresa, very close to Montezuma and a domestic airport.
4. Catalina Islands
This is a group of islands located near the shore and can be reached in 30 minutes from Playa del Coco, in the province of Guanacaste. The underwater landscape around the islands is particularly attractive to divers.
Indeed, during the dives you will see arches, caves and caves through formations of volcanic rocks covered with corals. The area is teeming with life, both in terms of the abundance of fish and the presence of sharks and marine mammals. It is important to note that depending on the marine currents, the area is sometimes accessible only to experienced divers.
5. Bat Island
This island is also located in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. Indeed, Bat Island is even a little more isolated, located 1 hour by boat from the coast. The currents around the island make it accessible to advanced divers and promise memorable drift dives.
6. Cahuita National Park
Located in the southern Caribbean of Costa Rica, has one of the largest coral reefs in our country and despite having a variety of beautiful fish and sea turtles, the main attraction for divers in the area is its reef populated by rare species of corals.
Normally it rains in this area, but you can visit it in the months of September to October which are the driest and also enjoy a colorful Carnival in the best style of Reggae. In the town of Cahuita there are tourist facilities. The park has trails, camping areas on the coast with tables, latrines, shower, water, information office and parking.
7. Uvita Island
Located in the province of Limón, it has an enormous natural beauty and historical interest. Cristobal Colon baptized La Huerta, on October 12, 1502 and was declared a National Monument in 1985.
In it you will find areas planted with coconut trees that offer the tourist an ideal shade for rest, and small white sand beaches for sunbathing. To get there you can take a boat that serves from the Pier of Puerto Limó and in just 20 minutes be there. On the island there is a small business where you can buy drinks and meals at reasonable prices, sanitary services, drinking water, electricity and camping areas.
8. Golfo Dulce
This place is home to dolphins, and in the reef you will see a great variety of creatures. There are many places to dive and explore the sea on the coasts of Costa Rica and its islands. We invite you to make your own ranking of favorite places and tell us what you found under its waters.
9. Caribbean Coast – Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo
Differentiating on several points of the Pacific coast, the Caribbean coast does not currently have a lot of diving spots, however, the few that are there are able to distinguish themselves. On this side of the country the fish are more colorful and the waters contain small coral reefs. In addition, visibility is generally better in the Caribbean, especially if it does not rain and the swell is weak!
10. Gulf of Papagayo – Islas Murcielagos
Part of the northern part of Santa Rosa National Park, the Murciélagos Islands are a paradise for experienced divers. Be careful though, waves and strong, unpredictable currents. It is not uncommon to see dorados, mackerel, swordfish, leopard rays, manta rays or bull sharks benches! This is probably why we often compare this site to Coco Island!
The best months for scuba diving Costa Rica are September and October when the waters are more transparent because they are the months when there is less rain in this area.