Liveaboard diving in Costa Rica is big fish diving at its best, in the Cocos expect schooling hammerheads, tiger sharks, sailfish and even whales.
Costa Rica liveaboards
Costa Rica which means ‘rich coast’, sits between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean in South America. The waters around Costa Rica are fantastic for diving, with the very best liveaboard diving centred around the remote islands of Cocos and Caño. The islands are uninhabited, except for the National Park rangers who stay to look after the islands’ protected flora and fauna. Diving in these areas is therefore possible only from a diving liveaboard. Due to the distance from the mainland, diving safaris to Cocos and Caño have an itinerary of around 8 to 10 days.
Diviac offers five diving liveaboards in Costa Rica that can be booked online. For comfort and stability, Sea Hunter, Undersea Hunter and Argo are perfect. All three are former commercial diving boats which have been customised as liveaboards. These diving boats are perfect for longer passages and have large rear platforms for easy dive entry. The Okeanos Aggressor I and II also offer a high level of comfort on their diving cruise with air-conditioned, ensuite cabins. The crew also provide warm towels and fresh fruit after each dive.
The waters around Costa Rica are certainly as rich as the country’s name suggests. Divers can find plenty of eagle rays, mobula rays and even mantas. There is also a huge variety of sharks and not just the smaller ones like nurse sharks and white and blacktiped reef sharks. In Caño island there are bull and tiger sharks and if you are lucky, whale sharks cruising by. Cocos island in Costa Rica is also one of the best places to see schooling hammerhead sharks, which come to the islands in huge numbers.
The waters around Costa Rica do have coral reefs, so you should expect rocky reefs with interesting life but not so much colour. There are however some spectacular caves and underwater archways with huge shoals of snappers and cardinalfish inside. These swim-throughs are well worth taking a small break from the big life for, especially if you are an underwater photographer.
BEST TIME TO GO
January to December
The diving season for Costa Rica is year round, the conditions in some areas do vary though depending on the time of year. Liveaboard diving in Caño marine reserve is during the dry season from January until June. Cocos island on the other hand is fantastic all year, although most liveaboard diving is done in the wet season around June to December. This is due to plankton blooms in the wet period, which attract more hammerheads, mantas and whale sharks.
Most diving cruises depart from the town of Puntarenas on the West coast of Costa Rica. Puntarenas is around a 2-hour drive from the international airport of San Jose. San Jose has daily flights from major U.S cities and Europe. Most liveaboard operators will pick up guests and transport them to the harbour from the airport or nearby hotels.