Most scuba diving on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica takes place along 30-fairly-large islands. Along the Catalina Islands’ formation, there are also 20 smaller islands.
Each one has its own unique underwater marine setting and inhabitants based on the different depths or plateaus for sub-sea exploration. Snorkelling is also a great way to enjoy the ocean’s treasures and it only requires a facemask, snorkel tube and fins.
But to venture deeper requires the addition of aqualung gear. The dive sites are rated by their degree of difficulty or required level of experience. Select your dive-operator requires a special comfort level.
Ensure the dive tour operator is certified and experienced so to avoid being exposed to unnecessary risks or dangers. Don’t hesitate to request referrals from past clients to support their claims.
Diving On the Pacific Coast
On the western side of Costa Rica lies the Pacific Ocean, with 1,200 km of shoreline running from Bahia Salinas in the north-west to Punta Gorda in the south-west where it borders Panama.
In the Bahia Salinas lies the Archipelago Islas Murciélago , in the Bahía Murciélago, Guanacaste, this group of islands provides SCUBA divers sights second to none other.
Moving further south along this coast the next big feature is the Santa Elena Peninsula, there the Gulf of Papagayo and the Catalina Islands are just off shore of the white sand beaches. In Culebra Bay, the Papagayo Project development is well under way.
The project is the largest development project ever attempted in Central America. It is geared to provide the tourist/vacation markets with high-end luxury accommodations and facilities.
The area has already been dubbed ‘The Mini Cancun’. Moving further south, the Gulf of Nicoya presents other great opportunities for undersea explorers. Other islands dot the coastline, San Lucas and Chira are the largest in this area. For details of the featured attractions, take a sampling from these pages here at the Gulf of Nicoya info at Montezumabeach.com.
This is a good place to begin the 500 km journey from the Costa Rican shore into the Pacific, there to discover the Isla de Coco. Many diveboats called sleepovers or liveaboards make regular trips to Coco, the entire trip will consume 7 to 10 days of your vacation, so it is advisable to make advanced preparations for this off shore dive; this will require a larger budget and is aimed at experienced divers and not necessarily beginners.
Isla de Coco is highly protected by local and international conservationists. Only the Costa Rican Rangers are permitted to stay on the Island, thus the sleepover boats serve as a place to spend the night whilst diving around its shores.
The long distance travelled by boat, over 330 miles, is well-rewarded by the underwater panorama that unfolds here. Jacque Cousteau described it as “the most beautiful island in the world”.
Visitors debate whether the Island is more beautiful above the waves or below, a point frequently argued about the country of Cost Rica. The marine life will deliver a performance starring hammerhead sharks, rays, dolphins and other large marine species, the residents of these waters.
The Isla de Coco was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997; then in 2009 it was shortlisted to be declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature of the world by the New 7 Wonders of the World Foundation.
Further south on our Pacific coast journey along the mainland of Costa Rica we arrive at the Osa Peninsula with great forests in the midst of the peninsula; there lies the Golfo Dulce on the ocean-side and the Golfito on the land-side. The Golfito was the original port used for banana exports across the Pacific. The Isla de Cano is just off the coast below Drakes Bay.
Most Popular Costa Rica Pacific Coast Dive Sites
Along the coast the Catalina Islands, the Islas Muricielagos (Bat Islands), Secret Point, the Gulf of Papagayo, Santa Elena Peninsula, and Isla de Cano, provide great dive adventures.
Catalina Islands 19 miles from Tamarindo Best Depth: 18 m
Features: White Tipped Sharks; Giant Mantas & Manta Rays; Groupers; Snappers & an assortment of Eels.
Dive Spots: Los Sombreros; Elephant Rock
Cabo Velas (Secret Point) Best Depth: 12 m- 20 m
Bat Island off the Santa Elena Penninsula, in the Guanacaste Province
Best Depth: 9 m – 28 m
Features: Bull Sharks; Tiger Sharks; White Tipped Sharks;
Gulf of Papagayo, North Pacific Coast
Dive Spots: Aquarium; Baja Triburones, Punta Gorda, Monkeys Head, Surprise
Shallow Dives: Escorpiones; Los Meros
Features: Many species of Sharks; Rays; Seahorses;
Isla de Cano, South Pacific Coast Good Shallow Dive & Snorkeling Trip
Features: Bottled Nosed Porpoises; Sharks; King Angel Fish; Puffers; Surgeon Fish, Parrotfish; Damsels, Morays, and Barracudas
Cocos Islands, Boat Trip and sleepover Best Depth: 8 m – 45 m
Established as a National Park (1978) & UNESCO World Heritage Site (1997)
Dive Spots: Baja Alcyone; Dirty Rock; Dinner Bell; Dos Amigos Pequena;
Features: Many species of Sharks including, Whale Sharks; Turtles; Jacks; Rays; Porpoises; Tunas; etc.
The writer highly recommends COSTA RICA SCUBA.COM
We love the ocean and scuba diving in particular, and are dedicated to bring you the best and most complete information about diving in Costa Rica.”