Whether you’re celebrating a family milestone, enjoying a getaway with friends, working as a digital nomad, or launching your solo travel adventure; your visit to the "Rich Coast" is sure to be memorable. And what could be more memorable than a cool and gentle exploration of life under the sea? Unknown to many divers. Costa Rica offers world class dive sites for beginner and advanced divers, and great snorkeling spots.
Our shortlisted favourites
Whether you’re in the hunt for a relaxing drift dive, boost your adrenaline with some currents, or want to see what lies in the deep; Costa Rica has a dive for you. In this blog we will discuss the best dive sites in Costa Rica.
Divers planning their visit for a diving holiday often ask us when the best time to dive in Guanacaste. Our favourite time of the year is half May until end November. Overall, our location offers excellent year-round diving opportunities but the Pacific Coast has unique geographical conditions that change the diving conditions from day to day, and in our experience May to November are the best months. Also the weather is less dry and hot so everything is beautifull and green. On top of that, these months are a quiet time of the year in terms of visitors so you can get great deals on accomodation, car rental and tours. Generally our water temperature range from 23 – 28 Celsius throughout the year so a 3 - 5 mm wetsuit is sufficient to keep you comfortably warm under water. In Costa Rica the seasons are divided between the rainy season (which runs from May to November) and the dry season (which runs November to April). But note that the name "rainy season" is somewhat misleading as Guanacaste is one of the driest provinces of Costa Rica and is far less rainy then the other states. But if you plan to come outside the suggested period (May - November) then we could say that the dry or wet season do not affect our diving conditions. So any time of the year is great to come diving with us !
Whether you're an avid scuba enthusiast or a novice looking to embark on your first underwater adventure, diving in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, promises an unforgettable journey into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. The diverse marine life, ranging from schools of tropical fish to magnificent sharks and rays, coupled with the stunning underwater topography, create a captivating and exhilarating experience like no other.
The fantastic thing about scuba diving in Costa Rica is the variety of scuba dive sites. For some travelers, having a number of options to research is a dream come true. Other travelers, however, prefer to get a quick and dirty snapshot of the best sites in the area. If you are the latter, then we’ve narrowed the list to the best dive sites we think will help you get the most out of your time in this beautiful country. And for a quick peak we included our latest dive video below.
PLAYAS DEL COCO (Guanacaste)
Located on the northwestern Pacific coast in the Guanacaste province (40 min from Liberia International Airport), Coco Beach is home to more than 15 different dive sites that cater to both beginner and advanced scuba divers. If you had to choose one dive destination in Costa Rica mainland then this beach town in Guanacasta offers the easiest access to the best divesites in Costa Rica. Each site features stunning topography with steeping pinnacles, naturally formed rocks and boulders, and bright sandy bottoms. There are even small wrecks where you can see fish congregate. The marine life is a feast for your eyes as you observe (but don’t touch!) white tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, different species of rays and eels, and reef fish. Schools of pelagic fish will make you feel like the littlest mermaid and the giant schools of the cutest puffer fish will make your scuba heart smile. Tiny critters like spider crabs, harlequin shrimp and nudibranchs will show you colors so exquisitely vibrant that you’ll never want to put your underwater camera or GoPro away. The best part about Playas del Coco is that it’s where your forever friends at Rich Coast Diving work and live! Read our latest reviews and see what our customers say about diving in Costa Rica!
Are you curious about our dive sites. Have a look at our dive site map below. This map of dive sites covers the best dive sites accessible from Playas del Coco including Bats Islands (Murcielago Archipelago) and the Catalinas Islands.
Bat Islands (May - October)
Costa Rica offers one of the best and safest places in the world to dive with bullsharks. Islas Murcialégos (‘Bat Islands’ in Spanish). Dive site: The Big Scare, is where advanced divers go to see bull sharks. This is a protected marine reserve, and fishing is prohibited there, so the pacific mantas, enormous schools of jacks, eels and other fish can thrive. Make no mistake - the bull sharks are the Beyoncé, the Steven Tyler, and the Harry Styles of this site. This is where the bull sharks come to get cleaned by other fish, so it’s more like a stop by their favorite carwash than the ferocious descent you see at an all-inclusive resort buffet. Black Rock is the second dive on this trip and the species of fish vary at both the dive and during your safety stop. Keep in mind that Bat Islands is the furthest dive site from shore, so there’s a good chance you’ll spot dolphins playing alongside the boat when you’re not soaking in the sun on the bow or taking pre-dive nap on the stern. This dives are for more adventurous divers and at Rich Coast Diving we require minimum AOW level and a day of local diving first.
Catalinas Islands (December - April only)
“Cats Islands or Catalinas” is an archipelago area that contains a chain or group of islands. Like most archipelagos, the 7 islands that form Cats Islands were created when volcanoes erupted from the ocean floor. Additionally, a large continental shelf extends from the coastline to a drop-off point that descends to the ocean floor. Algae, plants and other organisms that fish feed on, grow on these continental shelves, attracting a wide range of marine life. Currents tend to be stronger here, but manageable for divers at all levels. You won’t want to miss the huge oceanic mantas, Pacific blue fin tuna, large schools of grunts, snappers, octopi, sea turtles, scorpion fish, other pelagic species, and varieties of shark (though, not bull - go to Bats Islands to see those beauties!). This is another location that’s a bit of distance from shore, giving you the chance to see jumping devil rays, dolphins or humpback whales on your way to and from the site. Catalinas are one of the best and most popular dive sites in Costa Rica and easily accessible (40 min boat ride) from December to April during the Manta Season. Divers of all levels can dive at Catalinas and we require a day of local diving before, to make sure everybody is comfortable.
This is where the hardcore divers go to dive. If you are a beginner, this may be the location you work up to as you build your scuba diving PADI certification portfolio. The sole method for diving the island is on a liveaboard. Think of a liveaboard as a college dorm on the ocean where you only have 1 amazing subject to study. Liveaboards are limited so you’ll want to book this trip as far in advance as possible. Some divers have booked as early as a 1 year in advance!
To say the dive is worth the wait is an understatement. Cocos Island’s remote location results in the marine life being largely unbothered by humans, their boats, and fishing. With 20 dive sites that are easily accessed via the liveaboard, divers get to experience nearly every type of dive imaginable. Drift, deep, walled, bluest of blue water… it’s all at Cocos Island.
Why Cocos? Three words: Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks. One dive site, Bajo Alcyone, is best known for seeing groups of hammerhead sharks in the hundreds as they descend to below the thermocline. This is one of the reasons why advanced divers do best at this site. When you combine the colder temperatures below and choppy water above with more intense currents and gigantic schools of big fish; experience matters. The shark enthusiasts will be happy note that our shark friends make appearances at Cocos Islands in the form so silky, tiger, blacktip, whitecap, reef, and guitar sharks. Mantas and eagle rays also swim around for places to get clean, too. A whale shark could make an appearance, too, along with eels and jacks.
If the makers of “Jurassic Park” found this as the perfect place to film movie scenes, then it’s probably worth a visit.
Cocos Island Shark Research Expedition
Rich Coast Diving has an exclusive partnership with Costa Rican biologist, Randall Arauz, Science and Policy Advisor with Marine Watch International (www.marinewatch.org) to coordinate 7-day dive research expeditions to Cocos Islands. Live and scuba dive with the scientists from CREMA, The SeaChange Agency, and Turtle Island Restoration Network to learn about the latest science and policies in shark conservation. Participants will support researchers in tagging and gathering tissue samples of turtles, hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, blacktip sharks, silvertip sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, manta rays and eagle rays. This is an excellent opportunity for early talent to determine if this is the right career path or for those with a passion for shark conservation to have a direct impact on the industry.
Isla del Caño can be found in the southwestern Pacific coast, in the Puntarenas province. Located near the sleepy little town of Drake Bay and an hour boat ride from the more populated area of Uvita, the waters attract all manner of ocean lovers. The protected area and biological reserve limits the number of guests on and to the island in order to maintain the biodiverse flora, fauna, coral and marine life. Ecotourism is limited to activities like humpback whale watching, hikes limited to 20 people on the trails at time, snorkeling and scuba diving. In fact, diving is limited to 10 people in designated areas at a time. Divers can appreciate not having to share the ocean with many other people when they take a peek at manta rays, dolphins, sharks, barracudas, nearly 20 species of corals, puffer fish, seahorses, the occasional manatee, sea turtles, and oodles of fish on the island.
If you want advice on the best time to scuba dive in Costa Rica based on the marine life you hope to see, the ocean conditions, weather, and adventures to be had on dry land; feel free to reach out to our team. Rich Coast Diving is not only here to provide you with a superior diving experience, but also to help you fall in love with the place we call home.
Costa Rica offers world class dive sites for beginner and advanced divers and snorkelers. We look forward to show you Costa Rica Above and BELOW !
For more information about Diving in Costa Rica
Contact Rich Coast Diving
Mrs. Céline Monfort
WhatsApp +506 8610 0914