Liveaboard diving in Cocos is your chance to witness a highway of big marine life, expect to see legions of sharks, mantas and even whales and dolphins.
Cocos Island liveaboards
Cocos is a tiny island, around 342 miles (550 km) from the coast of Costa Rica, with barely 10 square miles of land surface. With National Park rangers the only people allowed to live here, the only way to visit the island is on a diving cruise. The sail from Costa Rica to Cocos is around 36 hours long which means that most diving liveaboard itineraries are around 8-10 days.
The Okeanos Aggressor I and II offer the best facilities including a plasma TV with DVD entertainment for the long crossing to Cocos. The Sea Hunter, Undersea Hunter and Argo are all refitted commercial diving boats, so they have special stabilising technology for a smooth ride and impressive dive platforms to the rear. You can even sit on the back deck in the evening and watch the sharks which are attracted by the boats’ lights.
Diving in Cocos Island is world famous for the huge amount of pelagic marine life that can be seen on the dive sites around the island. Scalloped hammerhead shoals are one of the main attractions as well as legions of black and white tipped reef sharks, silkies and huge tiger sharks. Divers can also expect to see giant mantas, shoals of marble and mobula rays and sailfish. There is also the chance to spot even bigger marine life too, whale sharks and dolphins are around and if you are very lucky orcas have been known to pass by.
The dive sites are all around the coastline of the island which is made up of an underwater seamount. The underwater part of the island has huge archways and drop-offs which are perfect for watching sharks and other pelagics from. The visibility is variable and depends on the plankton blooms and weather conditions and can be anything from 30-100 ft. (10-30 m).
The water conditions vary depending on the season as well but can often be choppy with strong currents. For this reason, Cocos Island is best enjoyed when you have a few dives under your belt.
BEST TIME TO GO
June to December
The diving season for Cocos island is year round although the conditions do vary depending on the time of year. The best time to go diving in Cocos island for wildlife is June to December, the wet season when the plankton blooms bring the schooling hammerheads and mantas.
The nutrient rich water from the currents are a big draw from all kinds of pelagic life including whale sharks and mantas. The visibility is quite a bit lower than the dry season but fortunately the temperature doesn’t drop by much more than 11°F (2-3 °C). The surface conditions are also rougher and the currents are stronger at this time.
The dry season, between December and May has much better water conditions with less waves and better visibility, up to 100 ft. (30 m). Less experienced divers might prefer this period and it is worth noting that the crossing to Cocos will be much easier when the sea conditions are calmer.
Cocos island can only be reached by diving liveaboard which depart from Puntarenas town on the coast of Costa Rica.
The nearest international airport is San Jose which is around a 2-hour drive from the departure port. Most dive safari boats will pick up guests from San Jose and take them directly to the boat.