Cocos Island is located off the shore of Costa Rica. It is one of the National Parks of Costa Rica. Surrounded by deep waters with counter-currents, Cocos Island is admired by scuba divers for its populations of Hammerhead Sharks, rays, dolphins and other large marine species.
The only persons allowed to live on Cocos Island are Costa Rican Park Rangers, who have established two encampments, including one at Chatham Bay. Tourists and ship crew members are allowed ashore only with permission of island rangers, and are not permitted to camp, stay overnight or collect any flora, fauna or minerals from the island.
The primary attractions in Cocos are the large pelagics: hammerhead sharks, rays, mantas, turtles and enormous schools of fish. Occasionally, there are sightings of whale sharks, marlin and Bottle-Nosed dolphin. The bottom of the ocean floor at Cocos Island is volcanic rock, and most of the action is between 50 and 100 feet with visibility in the 80-100 feet range. The best diving in the waters surrounding Cocos is done from dinghies. You can make 4 dives a day: 3 scheduled dinghy dives and an optional night dive. Night diving is offered three nights due to new regulations.
Beginner divers may consider Cocos Island diving slightly difficult due to its ruggedness and currents. This trip is not recommended to new divers or handicapped divers.
Best Time to Go:
May through October is generally considered prime diving, but conditions are generally very good all year round. The rainy season is from May through November. Cocos Island supports a true tropical rain forest and receives an abundance of rain, particularly around the mountain peaks. Overcast skies and frequent showers are common. During the winter, water temperature ranges between 73 and 78F, while in the summer it warms up to 78-80F. A wetsuit is highly recommended. A 3mm inch suit with hood and booties is generally sufficient for most divers except during the rainy season it is recommended you have a 5mm wetsuit with hood as thermoclines are prevalent. Gloves are recommended year round for holding onto rocks if necessary.
Top Dive Sites:
- Alcyone: A 600′ long submerged mountain, the top of the mountain is 75′ from the surface. Schooling Hammerheads, Mantas and schooling fish. Possible Sailfish or Marlin.
- Big Dos Amigos: This islet features a 45-foot-high arch and 60-foot pinnacle off the southeast side. Look for Rainbow Runners, Yellowtail Snapper, Bigeye Jacks and lobster. Hammerheads swim between the pinnacle and arch.
- Bird Island, Chatham Bay: Dove from Chatham Bay, southeast of Manuelita, this site provides a variety of marine life including Frog Fish, lobsters, morays, rays, Whit Tip Sharks and Hammerheads. There is even a cleaning station.
- Dirty Rock: A large island with schools of Marble Rays and Hammerheads.
- Lone Stone: Schooling Marble Rays and Mobula Rays
- Manuelita: The northeast corner has a sheer wall. Lots of White Tips, Marble Rays and schools of Creoles.
- Special Sightings: Whale Sharks, mating Eagle Rays, Sail Fish, mating White Tip Sharks, False Killer Whales.
- Ubing Rock, Wafer Bay: This 300′ rock begins at 20′ and drops to a 110′ sandy bottom. The southeast slope attracts schooling Hammerheads.
American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Lacsa and US Airways all offer convenient service into San Jose, Costa Rica from many popular gateways.