Scuba Diving in Costa Rica: Exploring the Sea

What could be better than enjoying crystal clear water and making memories with the people you love? Absolutely nothing, except if you make the destination of this dream trip Costa Rica!

There are tons of things you can do while visiting this area, including scuba diving. But, how exactly do you plan a scuba in Costa Rica trip without missing out on any vital vacation details?

Below not only are we going to detail for you how to plan the perfect scuba diving excursion, but we’re also going to fill you in on some of the most amazing spots to choose for your scuba diving. 

Grab your gear because we’re getting ready to dive deep.

Caño Island is just off of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula in the country’s southern zone. Photo credit: Peter Andersen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Choose the Right Place

One of the best parts of visiting Costa Rica is that there are tons of areas for you to choose from when it comes to scuba diving. Choosing the right spot makes all the difference depending on the type of experience that you’re looking to have. 

Each dive site will detail what it offers as well as the level of difficulty that you might face when diving in these areas. If you’re a beginning diver, you’re not going to want to choose an area that might be hard to navigate, making the trip less than ideal for both you and your fellow divers.

When choosing the spot for your dive, always remember that safety comes first. If you can’t dive in these areas without injury, it’s not worth diving at all. You can only descend a total of 18 meters down; therefore, if any of these areas are showing a different diving depth, you might want to reconsider diving in that location.

Create an Itinerary

We know sometimes when you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to do is plan anything. You’d much rather go with the flow, but when it comes to Costa Rica scuba diving, we recommend that you create an itinerary to keep you and everyone else on track.

An itinerary for a scuba diving adventure should merely detail the spots that you wish to dive at during that specific day. Your itinerary should ensure that there is adequate transportation and any other accommodations that needed to be made for each diving spot.

Your plan should show the times you will arrive and depart from each spot, transportation required at each spot, and other things like food  very important on any vacation).

Where to Dive?

Earlier, we stated that you want to select the right place for diving, but you now have to think about the spots where you want to dive once you choose the place. Scuba diving in Costa Rica is increasingly popular, meaning that you might not be the only divers interested in one spot.

Before the trip, take the time to contact the diving center in the area and ask for their recommendation for the best spots. They’ll be able to give you recommendations and help you map out which spots are the best to visit in one day.

Depending on the area that you’re in, you might be able to schedule a dive with the diving center to ensure you’ve got someone that knows their stuff with you and your group at all times. And besides, who knows their way around Costa Rica better than a native?

Secure and Check Your Gear

Before you take the plunge into the depths of the ocean, check your gear to make sure everything is working the way it should and that you’ve got everything. The last thing you want to happen is to dive into the water and something malfunction or reach the dive site and remember that you’ve forgotten something back at the hotel.

The diving gear that you will need includes:

  • Diving mask
  • Fins
  • Wetsuit
  • Dive computer
  • Regulators

These are just a few of the items that will help create the perfect diving trip and keep you safe in the process. If you’re a beginning diver, you can always take a crash course in how to use all of your gear with the diving center that you’ve chosen to use during the trip.

When Should You Dive?

Much like any other area of the world, there are diving seasons or designated ‘best time to travel.’ A diving season is when it’s the best time for people to dive in a specific area. In Costa Rica. May to November is considered the rainy season and dry season is between December and April. 

During the rainy seasons, there will be an increase in both hammerhead and bull sharks. 

During December through April, the sea is much calmer, and you can also split your time between laying out on the toasty sand and being in the water.

What Wildlife Might You Encounter?

You’ll see a variety of tropical fish, sharks, giant manta rays, and maybe even a whale shark. In the North American summer months, humpback whales migrate to Costa Rica to mate and give birth. As one diving company puts it, “All underwater encounters [with whales] are on the whale’s terms.”

Diving is a wonderful way to see below the surface and take in just how many animals are roaming below. Now that you’ve got a better idea of how to plan your scuba diving trip, we think it’s time we fill you in on some of the best scuba diving spots that Costa Rica has to offer.

Caño Island

We wouldn’t be doing the area justice if we didn’t list Caño Island as one of the first spots you need to visit. This coveted spot can be found about ten miles off the Osa Peninsula’s shores in the Pacific Ocean. The island is known as being part of biology reserve research that’s done in the area.

One of the benefits of diving in this spot is that the water’s visibility is impeccable, making it easy to complete your dive. Not to mention you won’t be disappointed when it comes to the amount of wildlife that you can hope to encounter in the area.

If you want an area that is plentiful in wildlife as well as beautiful scenery, including the different coral reefs that you can find in this area, this is the spot for you. Depending on the diving center that you use for this particular area, you’ll be able to get to it via your choice of a day trip or by using a charter.

Bat Islands

This area can easily be accessed via Playas del Coco, also known to the locals as Islas Murcielagos. Whenever you hear of Costa Rica being mentioned in songs, this is the area that is commonly talked about.

We want you to consider that if you want to select this location for diving, you have tons of confidence and guts. Why do you need both of these, you might be wondering?

This area is known for its population of bull sharks, and diving in this area means you’re going to be up close and personal with them. To keep yourself and others safe while diving in this particular spot, ensure that you’re up to date on your safety procedures and the best way to complete the dive from beginning to end.

Not only will you be able to see sharks in this area, but you’ll also see a massive amount of fish, and if you visit the site at the right time, you might even catch a manta ray sitting if you’re lucky.

Remember to stay away from their tails as they can be about as long as the manta is large.

Tortuga Island

Tortuga Island is the perfect diving site for those that are intermediate and beginning divers. The reason for this is that there are several shallow and deeper spots that people can choose to dive into based on their comfort level.

If you really want adventure while on your diving trip, we recommend you check out the shipwrecks that this area is known for. Wrecks that you can choose to adventure through include the Caroline Star, the Colonel Lafonso Monge, and the Franklin Chang Diaz. 

Catalina Islands

Do you enjoy exploring different caves? If so, there’s nothing like exploring a cave underwater in all of its oceanic magnificence. This is why the Catalina Islands are the perfect spot for all your scuba diving adventures.

When you go diving, be mindful that some of these caves are homes to the sharks in the area, but that doesn’t keep it from being a favorite spot of many travelers.

Are There Any Diving Restrictions?

Because COVID has taken hold across the world, many places have begun implementing various regulations to ensure that everyone in the area will remain safe and healthy at all times. Costa Rica is allowing people to visit the area, but they must follow all COVID guidelines that are being implemented.

Before you make the trip, it’s recommended that you purchase insurance to cover your travels. The insurance is in case you have to quarantine or become sick while you’re traveling.

This insurance will cover cancellations and any medical expenses that might arise if you become ill and have to quarantine while in Costa Rica.

Scuba in Costa Rica: Taking a Deeper Dive

When you’re looking to scuba in Costa Rica, you need to consider tons of things ahead of your trip. First, we recommend selecting the right place to dive, and then once you’ve selected that place, you can then look at all the spots the area has to offer.

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