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Costa Rica

Capital: San Jose
Language: Spanish
Current: 110V/60Hz
Currency: Colon (CRC)
Population: 4,400,000 (10% foreigners)
Departure Fees: $26USD paid in USD
Recompression Chamber: Yes

Ocotal Beach Resort

Okeanos Aggressor
Sea Hunter
Undersea Hunter

Costa 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.

Costa 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 an activity.

Dive Sites

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.

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