Rica's underwater wonders range from coastal coral reefs to
offshore islands. Those varied dive spots contain diverse and
beautiful marine life that includes giant manta rays, timid
sea turtles, colourful angel fish, intricate coral formations,
psychedelic sea slugs, spiny puffer fish, delicate sea fans,
curious dolphins and, on rare occasions, whales. Though the
country's waters contain enough marine life to please the most
experienced of divers, you need be little more than a curious
swimmer to catch a glimpse of some of its underwater sights,
since there are plenty of spots that are perfect for snorkelling.
Costa Rica is also an excellent place to learn how to scuba
dive, since most dive centers offer inexpensive certification
courses in English that can be completed in less than a week.
Rica, for example, counts with many diving points, also offering
great biodiversity and beauty. The Caribbean has a spectacular
coral reef, which is absent in the Pacific. This reef is characterized
by a high density of animals in a small space, normally invertebrates
and of a small size, like starfish, shrimp and nudibranchiates.
This is a real paradise for those wishing to enjoy such things
as macrophotography and marine biology. The only points suitable
to dive in the Caribbean are Manzanillo and Puerto Viejo. Nevertheless,
it is hardly predictable due to meteorological conditions in Limón,
but if you arrive in a good day, the area’ll impress you.
If the Atlantic coast is characterized by small-sized species,
the Pacific, on the contrary, is well known for the great amount
of schools of pelagic fish (jurels, tunas, man rays and open sea
fish). On the other hand, the condition of currents, the tides
and visibility are more challenging than those in the Caribbean.
The Pacific has a higher number of alternatives for diving. Among
the most famous is Cocos Island, that according to Jacques Cousteau
(without any doubt the mythical commander of the Calypso knew
something of diving...) is one of the most beautiful spots in
the world.Caño Island is another ideal destination to visit.
Added to it are some sections of the coast in Guanacaste, Murciélagos
Islands and the Catalinas, Tortuga Island, Sámara, Cabo
Blanco and Montezuma. The variety of diving operations and of
ships, specially designed for the activity, will simplify planning
your trips. The scenario as it is, the challenge is making the
initial decision of enrolling on the first course, overcome prejudice
and fears derived from a misconstrued image of this activity,
that by the way, is statistically less dangerous than football.
When you know the technique, the rest is just a matter of having
fun. Diving is an activity that will change the way you make new
friends and plan vacations. Certified divers normally will select
where to pass their free time according to the possibility of
plunging, which is why diving is a way of life, more than just
There are several wonderful snorkelling areas along the southern
Caribbean coast. The country's largest coastal reef is protected
within the Cahuita National Park, south of the town bearing the
same name, where you can rent snorkelling equipment and hire people
to take you out in the boats. The point at Puerto Viejo, south
of Cahuita, has also a protected coral reef that makes it ideal
for diving. Cocles Point and Uva Point, two points south of the
town, have healthier coral formations with plenty of fish around
them. Manzanillo, a small fishing village a few miles further
south, also has some decent diving off shore. There are also a
few good diving spots near the city of Limon, such as the water
surrounding Uvita Island. The best visibility in the Caribbean
is from March thru early May and from mid August thru mid November,
but water quality can change from day to day.
The Pacific has the country's best diving sites, with less coral,
but plenty of big fish. The most popular Pacific diving area is
the northwest, where diving centers in El Coco, Ocotal and Hermosa
Beaches offer trips to several spots at Culebra Bay and Murcielago
Islands, to the northwest, where divers often see sharks and manta
rays. Flamingo’s diving center usually takes people to Santa
Catalina Island, about five miles off shore, which is another
good spot to see sharks and other big fishes. The best visibility
and water temperatures given in the northwest are from June thru
September, though the conditions can change from day to day. There
are good chances of snorkelling at the Curu National Wildlife
Refuge, and near the Tambor and Montezuma beach resorts. There
usually are also good chances of snorkelling off the second beach
in Manuel Antonio National Park, and around the points and islands
between Dominical and Ballena Marine National Park. However, the
best diving off the Pacific coast is found at several underwater
reefs near Caño Island, which can be explored through diving
trips offered by some of the lodges nearby Drake Bay. Contrary
to the conditions given in the northwest, the best visibility
in the waters around Caño Island occurs during the dry
season, though the water tends to be pretty clear year round.
Cocos Island, a national park located some 330 miles southwest
of Costa Rica’s mainland, has the country’s best diving
sites by far. While the Island is covered with virgin forest,
the ocean that surrounds it contains abundant marine life, and
the visibility is good year round. Divers at Cocos Island regularly
see such impressive animals as manta rays, dolphins and hammerhead
sharks, which sometimes gather in schools of 30 or 40 animals.
It takes about 36 hours to reach Cocos Island, and some companies
have ships that run regular dive cruises there, which last ten
days and include three dives per day.