Cocos Island Diving
Scuba Diving in Costa Rica is renowned in the world-class sites of Cocos Island. This remote island can only be reached via a Cocos liveaboard.
The Cocos Island National Marine Park is sometimes compared to and even called the Little Galapagos. The similarity is due to its diversity and quantity of marine life resulting from the climate and position.
At 550km from the mainland, the island is only reachable by a Cocos liveaboard. Cocos Island is renowned for some of the most incredible shark diving in the world.
The Costa Rica diving along the coast and especially the Cocos Island has nutrient-rich deep water. The nutrients attract a diverse range pelagic of life making it a world class dive destination in the Pacific ocean. Hundreds of hammerheads school here along with manta rays, whale sharks and reef sharks making it a must for any shark lover.
Joining one of the deep water submarine dives can be a unique experience on the Cocos liveaboard. Diving to depths way beyond recreational limits where there are extraordinary marine creatures on the deep seamounts. Some aquatic species have even been discovered in this incredible environment. A submarine dive can be a once in a lifetime experience.
Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.
Cocos Island Diving - 4 LIVEABOARDS
Sea Hunter Liveaboard in Cocos Island was extensively renovated and redesigned to form a commercial dive support vessel. She is the pioneer liveaboard for diving Cocos Island. She has a spacious dive platform, with a comfortable interior offering 10 cabins for up to 20 guests on board. Sea Hunter is explicitly designed for long range expeditions to Cocos and Malpalo Islands. Diving is supported by two tenders. Photographers, both amateur and professional, will appreciate the facilities provided for them on board.Book Now
Okeanos Aggressor I
Okeanos Aggressor I Liveaboard in Cocos Island is a comfort and style aboard the luxurious 33m vessel, part of the world-renowned Aggressor Fleet. She accommodates a maximum of 22 guests in 10 en-suite staterooms with individual climate control. Yacht amenities include a spacious indoor lounge and a large sun deck with chaises longues, deck chairs, a bar and grill. Dive amenities include Nitrox, free use of a personal GPS locator device, camera table, charging station and a complete digital photo/video editing centre.Book Now
Okeanos Aggressor II
Okeanos Aggressor II Liveaboard in Cocos Island is a comfort and style aboard the luxurious 36m vessel, part of the world-renowned Aggressor Fleet. She accommodates a maximum of 22 guests in 11 en-suite staterooms with individual climate control. Yacht amenities include a spacious salon and a covered and uncovered sun deck area with chaise lounges, deck chairs, a bar and grill. Dive amenities include Nitrox, free use of a personal GPS locator device, camera table, charging station and a digital photo/video editing centre.Book Now
Cocos Island diving is one of the top 10 best places to scuba dive in the world, described by Jacques Cousteau as “The most beautiful island in the world.” Cocos Island is the most remote liveaboard diving destination worldwide.
Costa Rica's Cocos Island was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and diving here you can see the largest quantity and sized species of every type of Pacific fish and mammal of the area.
Best Places to Dive in Costa Rica
Cocos Island, Costa Rica is around 36 hours travel by liveaboard from the mainland, making it a remote and mostly undisturbed haven for marine life and divers alike. A protected area that has nutrient-rich waters provides a unique experience for shark diving, making the Cocos Island diving an amazing once in a lifetime experience.
Best Dive Sites in Cocos Island
A seamount that is the best place to see schooling hammerheads around Cocos Island. The hammerheads arrive in their hundreds along with other pelagic life such as mobula, manta, marble and eagle rays. Galapagos, white tip, black tip reef, silky and oceanic blacktip sharks along with whale sharks give this site not only vast numbers but a great variety of shark life to see.
This is one of the most popular dives around the island due to the large population of scalloped hammerhead sharks at around 25m of depth.
The nutrient-rich water also brings in white tips, black tips, marble rays, eagle rays, mobula rays, jacks and whale sharks. If this is not enough for scuba divers, then safety stops are often completed with turtles and bottlenose dolphins.
There are two sites reachable only by submarine in Cocos Island that can be added to your trip on some liveaboards.
At 80- 90m of depth, this is a truly magical and unforgettable experience. Mobula rays, schooling hammerheads, silky sharks, tuna and giant groupers are seen around this seamount. The rare red-lipped Cocos batfish is found in the deep water. The experience of ascending up an underwater volcanic mountain to its summit is unique.
At 300 to 500m deep and as such has no natural light. The topography is vertical walls and ledges with overhangs and steep sandy slopes. The fish, corals and marine life are unique in this dark environment and include Jellynose fish, the goosefish, prickly shark plus some unidentified species. This is a 2-hour dive that will be entirely unlike anything you will have experienced before.
Scuba diving in Costa Rica includes the fantastic Cocos Island, which is in the top ten dive destinations in the world. A liveaboard cruise reaches this shark diving destination. For more information about Cocos Island Dive Sites please click on the photo.
Costa Rica Scuba Diving Highlights
- Common sightings - Hammerheads, whale sharks, dolphins, white tip sharks, turtles, Galapagos shark
- Special sightings - Whales, jellynose fish, goosefish, prickly shark
- Topography - Boulders, swim-throughs, deep seamounts
- Visibility - 10- 30m depending on the time of year
- General information - For diving in Costa Rica and Cocos Island, it is advised to have 25 to 50 hours experience with an Advanced open water level. It is a remote open sea area so divers should be comfortable in currents.
- Onboard options - Island visits
Best Time to Go
Cocos can be dived year-round with schooling white-tips, dolphins, marble rays, mantas, sailfish, whale sharks plus other marine mammals present along with the tiger shark as a year-round resident. But the time of year you visit can quite dramatically affect the numbers of the marine life present.
The dry season is December – May and offers the best sea conditions, warmer water and excellent visibility. As the boat journey is so long, divers who are not comfortable in rough seas would be best to dive at this time of year.
Much of the pelagic life is still sighted in large numbers, just fewer than the rainy season.
Schools of fish are often seen at a distance from the rocks, hammerhead sharks, individually, and in schools, marble rays and white tip sharks are seen in large numbers, and most dive sites are open at this time.
Rainy season from June to November can have pretty rough sea conditions, high plankton levels and the highest rainfall.
But, it is the peak time of the year for hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and manta rays. July offers the most sightings of these creatures but with variable sea conditions. Long open ocean crossings are likely to be less comfortable during the rainy season.
During the rainy season, the south wind limits the number of days diving at the east and southwest sides of the island as the calm water in the northeast provides safe mooring for boats.
Whale sharks, hammerheads and white tip reef sharks are at their peak numbers around June and July.
Water temperature is around 25°C, and the visibility averages 12-24 metres. During July through October, the hammerhead shark sightings are at their peak, hundreds can usually be seen in very shallow waters, and at very close proximity to the rocks. Cleaning-stations are incredibly active for long periods of time. Humpback whales, mothers and calves, usually visit the island every year between July and September.
Whale sharks and bull sharks can be found in these Pacific waters during the winter months of May to August. Migrating green turtles will come to the beaches to lay their eggs in August and September including the leatherback turtles. At the end of the year, manta rays will make their appearance, and January brings the migratory humpback and pilot whales.
Ocean temperature is 24-29C, but cooler during the dry season, from December to March as low as 20C with some thermoclines possible.
A general recommendation is a 5 mm full-length wetsuit, hood, gloves and boots to be prepared for all eventualities.
Local time vs GMT
What to pack
Food and drink
Colon, but USD is widely accepted.
On entry for most nationalities
- 6 hours
Spanish and English is spoken widely
Juan Santamaria (SJO)
Suncream, lightweight and beach apparel
30 - 32 C daytime - 20 to 22 C evenings
Simple food like beans, rice and plantains with beer