More on Costa Rica Diving
Diving is different, as you are diving in colder waters and around rock formations rather than coral. There are more very small colorful creatures, and more larger animals.
For example, I never saw so many octopus out during the day as I did during Costa Rica diving. When I look at our pictures, almost every day has photos of octopus.
Fish Life we Encountered
And the blennies hide in the rocks – all different colors and patterns. They peek out of their tiny holes in the rock, so look closely to find these little beauties.
One dive dropped the group off on top of a gigantic whale shark. Unfortunately, that was a day we took a dive break. Everyone raved about the size and experience.
Out Island Costa Diving
We went to some of the islands to see the giant rays. One day when the seas were not too rough – we still had 3-5 foot seas – we went.
The currents are strong off of those islands. Actually that is an understatement. The currents zing you. You truly need to be an advanced diver for these dives. After our first dive, the novices decided to stay on the boat. The second dive was quite an experience. Once we descended, the dive master led; we held on to each other and traveled together in a line so nobody got carried away by the current. The dive master moved by grabbing rocks to advance forward. We hung on to the legs of one guy who was videoing so we did not lose him. On that dive we were so close to a large school of giant rays that we were careful not to let the current throw us into them. I was glad to be wearing gloves because I grabbed a rock to hold on, and it was a scorpion fish (yikes!).
That was quite an adventure, and it was exhilarating so I am glad that I went.
Know that the deeper you go, the colder the thermoclines get. I recall being at about 70 feet and it was freezing, so I looked at my computer and saw 64◦ F. So I rose a few feet and the water temperature warmed up enough. It was still colder than my preference, but I enjoyed it enough to complete the dive.
Other Dive Trips
There are long-range dive trips to the Catalina and Bat Islands, 14 and 21 miles from Ocotal respectively. These are home to some of the best of Costa Rica’s diving. The diving here is quite advanced due to extremely strong currents. Dive sites on these islands attract rays, sharks, angelfish, grunts, snapper, octopus, as well as many species of eel. Fish such as buffoon, giant grouper, morays, and a great variety of many other species of different sizes and colors can be seen here. It is best to descend to a depth of 60 feet to encounter more species. At 60 feet the visibility is better; horizontal visibility is approximately between 16 and 110 feet. There are 6 dive sites regularly done here.
Manta rays are most commonly seen at the Catalina Islands between December and April.
Gulf of Papagayo
There are over 40 dive sites in the Gulf of Papagayo. Some of the more popular ones are Aquarium, Surprise, Virador, Monkey Head, Punta Gorda, Baja Tiburones for normal diving and Los Meros and Escorpiones for shallow dives. All are volcanic rock formations with lots of marine life such as spotted eagle rays, white tip sharks, schooling fish, mobule and cow nosed rays, frog fish and sea horses.
Other Popular Costa Rica Dive Areas
Another area that is popular but more remote with no real resorts is Cano Island near Drake Bay, on the South Pacific coast. It was very interesting, lots of Sting-ray, white-tip-reef sharks, turtles, Jacks, eels etc.
A place that I still want to go in Costa Rica is Cocos Islands – 340 miles off of the Pacific Coast. It is known for mantas, whale sharks, and hammerheads.
This site lists the Dive operations in Guanacoste on the Pacific Coast – http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/americas/costa-rica-diving.html
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