With a location bang in the middle of Central America, Costa Rica is blessed with access to two oceans. The Pacific coast is home to the big animals such as sharks, manta rays, whales, and large schools of fish. The Caribbean side boasts wonderful coral and epic tropical vistas. The jungle and rainforest in between is home to a vast population of wildlife including amazing bird life, monkeys, and jaguar. The beautiful volcanic landscape offers jungle wildlife tours once the diving is finished.
Costa Rica diving is for everyone, there are calm and easy sites on both coasts that are perfect for beginners and classes. For the more adventurous, Cocos Island offers liveaboard trips to one of the worlds top shark diving destinations. With many locations to choose from it only becomes a question of what kind of diving you prefer.
Costa Rica is a destination that offers diving all year round. The dry season in the Caribbean offers the best overall conditions for diving and lying on the beach. The wet season in the Pacific brings more pelagic encounters with larger numbers of sharks and whales.
Scuba diving is available year round with air temperatures around 27°C (82°F) in winter and 33°C (92°F) in summer. On the Pacific coast the dry season funs from December to April and the wet season is from May to November. The Caribbean coast has higher rainfall in June to August as well as November and December.
The water temperatures hover around 26-29ºC/78-84ºF most of the year in the Caribbean. On the Pacific side there are cooler currents from December through March, with water temperatures as low as 19ºC/68ºF. The wet season in the Pacific features warmer temperatures of around 25-28C (76 – 82F).
Cano Island Biological Reserve
A small island lying 15 kilometers from the mainland in the southern end of the country, Cano Island Biological Reserve is one of the best diving locations in Costa Rica. Enjoying status as a marine protected area, the ocean life here is off the charts. Featuring a rocky subtstrate, this destination is all about large marine life. Known as a miniature Cocos Island, the seas of Cano Island feature mobula rays, white tip sharks, hammerheads, dolphins, mantas, and even whale sharks! Diving can be done by day trips or liveaboard.
The jewel of Costa Rica, Cocos Island is truly a bucket list destination for any serious diver. With large schools of hammerheads, silver tip sharks, oceanic mantas, endless schools of fish, and the occasional whale shark. Located 550KM (390NM) off the west coast, this UNESCO World Heritage site is part of the hammerhead triangle which also includes the Galapagos and Malpelo. Cocos is only reachable by a 40 hour liveaboard journey and is for experienced divers only due to possible strong currents. Don’t miss the incredible night dives here with hundreds of white tip reef sharks.
Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge
Located in the south east corner of the country this wildlife preserve is also home to beautiful coral reefs. The calm Caribbean Sea boasts beautiful coral and plenty of tropical fish life. It’s a perfect destination for newer divers as well as snorkelers. There is even the chance to spot manatees and crocodiles along with the more common turtles and dolphins. When not diving, the refuge offers incredible tours of the local wildlife including sloths and monkeys.