Location: Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Overview: There is much talked about this tiny uninhabited island well off Costa Rica. Pirates, sharks, currents and no hotels?? All true. Luckily the pirates were long gone, in fact they last visited way back in the 18th century! The only form of habitation is the National Park Rangers Station. To visit here you travel by boat from Puntarenas, Costa Rica. If you love shark diving and live-aboards this is the place for you!
Fish Life: The fish life is prolific. Masses schools of pelagic fish on nearly all the dive sites. Snappers, Jacks and Rainbow Runners are common. But there are plenty of reef fish and small stuff. Zebra Eels, Crabs, Frogfish, Goatfish, Hawkfish, Pufferfish and Parrotfish.
Reef Health: Since l have been I understand the island has suffered from serious coral bleaching so the health is reported to be quite bad. That was over 5 years ago and coral does have the ability to re-grow.
Highlights: The schooling Scalloped Hammerhead sharks were awesome! I saw them on many dives but schooling on Dirty Rock. We saw 2 Whale sharks on the last day, amazing! The were Marble Rays everywhere. Manta Ray, Devil Rays and Eagle Rays on all the sites. Turtles were also common. Many of the dive sites had loads of Whitetip Reef Sharks, a harmless alternative to the Hammerheads and often found in groups lying on the ground together.
Dive Centre/Boat Service: I travelled here on my own yacht MV Ocean Trilogy with family and crew. We stayed for 2 ½ weeks and dived everyday. We only once got into trouble when the dingy missed us coming up from a dive and we drifted off the rock and weren’t found for over an hour. Not much fun in shark infested waters !!
First Time/Return: Feb – May is supposed to be the high season here and the driest period. Never been before and delighted we made the effort to go. Its a long way by boat and there is no other way to get there. An amazing place almost like ‘the land that time forgot’.
Current/Vis: At times the currents could be very strong. But on the hole they were manageable and didn’t effect our diving. Visibility was usually fantastic over 90′ but less on the inner dive sites.
Favourite dive site: Dirty Rock – It just had the most sharks more of the time. Close 2nds were – the archway at Dos Amigos I. Sharkfin Rock. Manuelita Island dives are where you will find the small stuff.
Marine Park: Cocos Island National Parc. The marine park wardens do their best to protect the shark and fish rich waters but they have limited transportation to do this. US$200
Other: This is probably the of the few places on earth you can see schooling Hammerheads most of the year round. Cocos lies in an area where 4 different currents converge to provide nutrient rich waters with tropical vegetation on land. There are many waterfalls and I recommend you visit them. Pirates and adventurers are known to have visited the island for food, fuel, shelter and water. It is suspected that the pirates buried their treasure on the island even though very little has ever been found. It would be nice to go back with a digital camera and huge memory card!